Two weeks ago I wrote about exiting Modernity. In which I began to define the nature and shape of the phenomenon I call the Modern. It is a cancer on the body and soul of a culture.
Cultures are not abstract entities floating around in space. Cultures are not photons or electrons, or incorporeal bodies made of Hegel’s absolute spirit (although reading Hegel will make you WISH you had a bottle of Absolut spirit). A culture is comprised of blood and flesh and bone; it is embodied in language & songs & books & ideas, yea, but none of that matters if there are no people embodying and carrying its flame, walking around talking and living and doing stuff.
Then a week ago we explored Five Ways of looking at Modernity. I could discuss more ways in which you can see we have reached a stage of late or peak Modernity, especially in the industrialized nations. If time permits I would love to write a rambling post of some bullet points or similar detailing further signs and symptoms of civilizational decay. Or you could walk around an Amerikwan city or a Walmart and see for yourself. Go ham.
I’m in a generous mood so here are some more notes on signs and symptoms of peak Modernity. Enjoy.
Do you know where your food and clothing and material objects come from? They just appear fully formed, don’t they? This secular magic dis-enchants the pre-modern world where it was a given that you understood how things were made. Even if you couldn’t make them yourself.
Enter a supermarket. See that there is nothing super about it. Seethe with contempt at everything in it that is false. The goldfish biscuits that have no relation to recognisable biscuits or goldfish. Water that costs a dollar per million gallons to extract from the ground, bottled and sold back to you at $2.99 per pack of 20. Half the butter in the display is 30% canola and soybean oil. Even the stuff you put in your body has been adulterated.
And so it is that once you begin to question everything you buy, from buying vegetables to produce to clothing to petrol. You begin to change. You begin to look around and question other areas of your life. What other presuppositions did you take for granted.
The appropriate attitude to take toward shopping malls is one of horror. Revulsion. That the noblest of beasts is reduced to idle window shopping and purchasing. Why? Do we need even a tenth of what we buy? The answer of course is no.
The prison camp of Modernity wants to reduce you to a passive unit who only knows to consume and never create. If you ask if you really need a new X, Y or Z, congratulations - you’re a step closer to being free.
Be mindful of the way your desires and actions are guided or pulled by the currents of manufactured persuasion. Advertising, newspapers, magazines, the Internet, music, books, television, Netflix, movies, video games, social media – almost all of it is rotten and corrosive to the spirit.
Many Millennials say that it is better to spend on experiences and travel, not things. Minimalism, or the act of conscientiously reducing one’s possessions, is typically good rather than bad but in many cases this becomes just another excuse for consumption. Gotta be spending your hard earned money on something, you only live once, amirite??? If it’s not stuff, then it’s travel or eating out.
Foodie culture is a symptom of civilizational decay. You are literally treating food as entertainment to get over the boredom in your life. People who can not afford these things will gladly spend hours of their life watching videos of people eating food. Is there anything more decadent and degenerate? Get out there and live, man! Think! Act! Do something about your shitty life!
So, look… there is no such thing as boredom. Boredom is just the FEELING that one gets when one is in a consumption mindset. Boredom is the sense of unease that one is missing out on an experience whether food or clothing or experience. Curiously, all these things cost money. Nobody questions the underlying presupposition here.
We shop and consume because anything that staves off boredom is good. Moderns are incapable of being bored. Of having even one minute with themselves. Nothing but themselves. It is that thing which must be avoided at all costs. Existential fright.
Nobody told you it is okay to just Be.
Don’t you find it strange that for the many thousands of years humans have been recognizably human, they were content to just walk around with their hands in their figurative pockets, they looked at the sun & the moon & the constellations at night. They had not the books or media we take for granted. And they were all OK, people. They had good sex, raised babies, ate fine meals with friends and family, they created art and culture and lived lives rich with meaning, albeit sparse on what we Moderns call Content.
Modernity largely consists in adding on monstrous complexity which is then obscured by further layers of abstraction. Therefore we are atomised from one another and the products of our life’s work.
Once you have achieved an image of sufficient clarity & resolution, you may experience a feeling of dread or awful realization akin to post nut clarity.
What you’re experiencing is the natural reaction of a healthy beast who wakes up and realizes it has been living in a cage. There are cameras everywhere, and the trees & rocks are all made of styrofoam & bullshit, and the food is made of cockroach protein & canola oil & soy. You begin to look around for an exit. You want to Exit Modernity.
Only losers are content to go live innawoods with their hunting rifles and canned rations. It is not enough to flee burning cities. We must return at some point to build. Anew. Do not grieve so much that the world is in flames. The decrepit & sclerotic & corrupt must be cleansed. Only after a wild fire can the forest try again – better this time. It has always been this way.
It has taken me seven years of reading & thinking, and one year exactly to find the words to say this. I started the Better Barbarians newsletter one year ago. I’ve discussed the virtues of a life of vitality through physical training. It is not enough. Moving forward you must cultivate the life of the mind, and the life of the soul.
Exiting modernity is just the first step towards creating a life where you can build and create and excel, not just consume and live a pathetic half-life mediated by corporations, the state, and the media.
But Alex, you say, I listened to Joe Rogan’s & Sol Brah’s podcast, I read Mishima and BAP and Ted K, I lift weights and I have a siqq fizeek. I rack stacks, blow backs, and live high. I have a cute girlfriend & I practice semen retention & Taoist sex exercises. I am happy. I am thriving. I am healthy. What do you mean there’s more I have to do???
Cover your face in a blizzard of shame!
You are still living within the confines of the prison camp. You left behind a cage but lost yourself inside a slightly bigger, slightly fancier one. So much for progress.
You’re a handsome devil to be sure, but as long as you define your life by the standards and praxis of Modernity you are still ultimately held in bondage.
The path of one who chooses to Exit Modernity is encapsulated in that word: Exit. You’re making the choice to leave, good reader.
You’re leaving and there’s no home out there for you to rest your weary arse.
How then shall we live?
This is the final post of 2021. This isn’t going to be a post detailing 10 things you need to do right now to fix your life. Go read Jordan Peterson and he’ll get you sorted. The time for action will come eventually. But action is fruitless if it is not oriented correctly. You need a mindset update. This is that post.
There is a certain mindset, a way of regarding the world & moving through it. It is something old, something that some today talk about in hushed tones, but practically nobody practices. It is hideously impractical. It can frequently be the object of ridicule and much misunderstanding. It has been practiced by mystics & sages and & holy men since the dawn of time. I am referring of course to the practice of asceticism.
“To understand the liberating effect of asceticism, consider that losing all your fortune is much less painful than losing only half of it.” - Taleb, The Bed of Procrustes
Do you understand the pompous Phoenician?
Walk away from the world, before the world is taken from you.
The negation of desire is the zero of suffering.
What you need to understand is that Exit (that’s a capital E, which makes this a crucial distinction), is not a one-time event. It is not a singular action, encased in time, one and done. It is a conscious and intentional decision you commit to, moment by moment, day by day. Exit in this sense ceases to be a merely volitional action and instead becomes a mode of Being.
Not something you Do, then, but a part of who you Are.
So, Exiting is a continuous mode of BEING; there is no complete Exit until one is dead. We’ve been over this and it bears repeating: Modernity is not a place or a box but an idea-structure. Thus, the spiritually inclined among us, otherwise known as people who are completely sane, will be in the same predicament as Evola’s higher man. There is no revolting against modernity or escaping from it. Everywhere you turn there is only the tiger of Modernity.
What Evola prescribed men must do is to ride the tiger; to live in the world and yet not be tainted by it.
You must be IN this world but not be OF this world.
A common misconception of asceticism is that to be an ascetic one must forsake their job, give away all their belongings, eat a minimal diet, and live the life of a wandering monk or mendicant. Minimally minimal. This is certainly the most common way of living ascetically but it is in no wise the most practical solution, nor do I think it is even the most desirable solution for most people.
Minimalism is merely the first step on the road to sanity.
You could do all those things, be the most ascetic of ascetics, the monkiest of monks, and…. what exactly will you have accomplished? Some cosmic Fuck You to the system? It will laugh and replace you then shit you out. You will be forgotten. That simply won’t do.
Here’s a better idea:
Have a job. Make money. Save more than you spend. Invest the rest. Eat well, lift heavy & run fast. Build a strong body and mind. Read widely and deeply Get lots of sun. Accumulate financial & social & cultural wealth that you can use to help build up the community around you. Start a community garden. Farm. Create. Teach. Train. Coach. Build. Anything. Benches, barns, stools, spice racks, houses, a tribe, an online forum – just build. Live in a house that’s precisely as big as you need it to be. Have few possessions. Buy the best tools and things you can afford, and use them ‘til they break. Wear simple clothing, made well and fitting to your stature. Learn to repair clothes and belongings. Live a simple life. Have good & close relations with your parents and family. Keep few friends, be discerning in the company you keep. Ditch bad influences. You know exactly who they are. I’m giving you permission to stop associating with losers. Stop travelling so much for meaningless reasons like tourism. Be healthy so you are at all times an asset not a liability to your people. Don’t smoke. Drink seldom or never. Avoid promiscuity and casual sex. Avoid debt. Don’t do drugs, they’re lame and you don’t need ‘em to have communion with God. BUILD.
It seems terribly complicated but as with most good things it is quite simple. In fact, the simpler your life becomes, the more ascetic you are, the closer you are to freedom.
Cut through the bullshit!
Have some self respect.
Know your self worth.
Give yourself permission to be unencumbered within this lifetime, because one day everything may be taken from you.
And when that happens you won’t be scared.
Your pack will be light and your burden won’t feel heavy.
You will have built within yourself a mountain of the mind.
This concludes Year 1 of the Better Barbarians newsletter. I will be taking a break from posting in January, as I will be busy with work. In the meantime, you can reach me on Instagram.
Thank you for joining me in 2021. I would appreciate any and all feedback on this year’s posts. If any posts resonated with you, please do share them with your friends and families.
I wish you a Happy New Year, and and an excellent start to 2022.