A wave toward the clearing sky

All this time we’re talking and sharing our Rational View
A billion other voices are spreading other news
All this time we’re living and trying to understand
Why a billion other choices are making their demands

Talk of a Peaceable Kingdom
Talk of a time without fear
The ones we wish would listen
Are never going to hear

Justice against The Hanged Man
Knight of Wands against the hour
Swords against the kingdom
Time against The Tower

All this time we’re shuffling and laying out all our cards
While a billion other dealers are slipping past our guards
All this time we’re hoping and praying we all might learn
While a billion other teachers are teaching them how to burn

Dream of a Peaceable Kingdom
Dream of a time without war
The ones we wish would hear us
Have heard it all before

A wave toward the clearing sky
A wave toward the clearing sky

The Hermit against The Lovers
Or the Devil against the Fool
Swords against the kingdom
The Wheel against the rules

All this time we’re burning like bonfires in the dark
A billion other blazes are shooting off their sparks
Every spark a drifting ember of desire
To fall upon the earth and spark another fire

A homeward angel on the fly
A wave toward the clearing sky

“Peaceable Kingdom” – Rush (2002)

III. Peaceable Kingdom

“This process of coming to see other human beings as “one of us” rather than as “them” is a matter of detailed description of what unfamiliar people are like and of redescription of what we ourselves are like. This is a task not for theory but for genres such as ethnography, the journalist’s report, the comic book, the docudrama, and, especially, the novel. Fiction like that of Dickens, Olive Schreiner, or Richard Wright gives us the details about kinds of suffering being endured by people to whom we had previously not attended. Fiction like that of Choderlos de Laclos, Henry James, or Nabokov gives us the details about what sorts of cruelty we ourselves are capable of, and thereby lets us redescribe ourselves. That is why the novel, the movie, and the TV program have, gradually but steadily, replaced the sermon and the treatise as the principal vehicles of moral change and progress.
In my liberal utopia, this replacement would receive a kind of recognition which it still lacks. That recognition would be part of a general turn against theory and toward narrative. Such a turn would be emblematic of our having given up the attempt to hold all the sides of our life in a single vision, to describe them with a single vocabulary. It would amount to a recognition of what I call the “contingency of language” – the fact that there is no way to step outside the various vocabularies we have employed and find a metavocabulary which somehow takes account of all possible vocabularies, all possible ways of judging and feeling. A historicist and nominalist culture of the sort I envisage would settle instead for narratives which connect the present with the past, on the one hand, and with utopian futures, on the other.
More important, it would regard the realization of utopias, and the envisaging of still further utopias, as an endless process – an endless, proliferating realization of Freedom, rather than a convergence toward an already existing Truth.”

“Contingency, Irony, and Solidarity” – Richard Rorty (1989)

“This is a brilliant campaign, for technical and artistic reasons. What is the brand that it conveys? Heirloom quality.

The ads use black and white photos: we’ve been around for a long time. Even the advertising campaign self-referentially broadcasts this– it has been the same [campaign] since 1996, i.e. longer than a 40 year old has been in the market for an expensive watch to notice it wasn’t always thus, reinforcing the longevity of the brand.

I know you probably figure this ad isn’t for you because you’re not a railroad baron or a Rothschild, but ask yourself a question: have you seen this ad? Then it’s for you. Time to learn why they know you better than you know yourself.
The target demo is not the 1%; the target demo is the Aspirational 14%. They know they are supposed to like quality and goodness and etiquette and discretion, but no one ever taught them what those things look like, so when someone does point it out to them they will go all in. Hence: anything in Trading Up.

And they don’t care about the next generation. Not really. They don’t want them to be eaten by zombies but anything past 2069 is of no consequence. What they do care about is how a product brands them, what it says about them now, now that time is running out. Can’t afford to be subtle, which is the same thing as saying I’m willing to pay $10000 to get the message across.

There’s a difference between what the brand is and what the brand says about you. You’ll pay 10x for the former and 100x for the latter.
If this is confusing, remember that the watch is for the father. The point isn’t to give it to the kid, the point is to convey the impression that he is going to give it to the kid. To convey the impression that he has other things to leave to the kid as well, just like those other high class Americans who pass on connections or defense attorneys or the Greek Prime Ministry. That’s the kind of man he is.

It may also help to understand that Patek Philippe is not here competing against Rolex or Breguet; it is competing against vacations and cars and kitchen renovations. That’s where $10k might have gone, so Patek must brand itself as an important generational necessity, a marker of European-style class, not a frivolous transient American-style expense.


Something else about these ads: men and women never appear together. Here we see the explicit pairing of same-sex members, never a family. They both get a watch but what the son inherits (everything) never overlaps with what the daughter inherits (a husband).

These are brand ads, not product ads, they sell the aspiration, and, if I am reading this right, that aspiration is to become European. Not Eurozone European, of course, but Hapsburgs and Romanovs European.
If you imagine a magazine’s ads as the unconscious fantasies, the dreams, of the readers, then the wish fulfillment they depict is not riches or bitches but a return to the old feudal order.
It is a sleight of hand on the American dream, and it’s been a decade in the making, the Great Crash only accelerating it. On The Apprentice the big prize is a Rolex and a job with Donald Trump, but the person evaluating you for that position are two generations of Trumps, take that American meritocracy!

There’s no illusion you can become a Trump, the best you can do is become a wealthy employee of Trump. And you’ll take it.

But if The Apprentice is indeed a metaphor for this European feudalism, then you should observe that the show’s original judges were Donald Trump and his business partners (=American capitalism); Trump’s kids were a later addition. The evolution of the show was towards dynasty, not away from it, just as the Patek Philippe ads have moved, after 172 years in the branding business, towards this:

–towards this, during a time of social and economic upheaval, flattened earths, “student” revolutions in many Middle East countries and all out wars in many others; towards this, during the time the most important person in Europe is a woman; towards this in the pages of higher brow magazines for the “intellectually curious.”

“Luxury Branding the Future Leaders of the World” – TheLastPsychiatrist (link)


“If you really want to excel as a privileged person you need to learn to value data, statistics, research studies and empirical evidence above all things, but especially above personal experiences. You can pretend you are oblivious to the fact most studies have been carried out by privileged people and therefore carry inherent biases, and insist that the marginalized person produce “Evidence” of what they‘re claiming.Their experience does not count as evidence, for it is subjective and therefore worthless.


You see, the very capacity to conduct studies, collect data and write detached “fact-based” reports on it, is an inherently privileged activity. The ability to widely access this material and research it exhaustively is also inherently privileged. Privileged People® find it easier to pursue these avenues than marginalized people and so once again you are reminding them you possess this privilege and reinforcing that the world at large values a system of analysis that excludes them, and values it over what their actual personal experience has been.

The process of valuing “fact” over “opinion” is one very much rooted in preserving privilege. Through this methodology, the continued pain and othering of millions of people can be ignored because it’s supported by “opinion” (emotion) and not “fact” (rationality).”


“Explaining Postmodernism” – Stephen R.C Hicks (2004)


“Maps of Meaning: The Architecture of Belief” – Jordan B. Peterson (1999)

It is very likely, however, that [the revolutionary hero] will be viewed with fear and even hatred, as a consequence of his “contamination with the unknown” – particularly if those “left behind” are unaware of the threat that motivated his original journey. His contamination is nothing to be taken lightly, besides.

If the exploratory figure has in fact derived a new mode of adaptation or representation, necessary for the continued success and survival of the group, substantial social change is inevitable. This process of change will throw those completely identified with the group into the realm of chaos, against their will.

“Free Women, Free Men: Sex, Gender, Feminism” – Camille Paglia (2017)

History moves in cycles. The plague of political correctness and assaults on free speech that erupted in the 1980s and were beaten back in the 1990s have returned with a vengeance. In the United States, the universities as well as the mainstream media are currently patrolled by well-meaning but ruthless thought police, as dogmatic in their views as agents of the Spanish Inquisition. We are plunged once again into an ethical chaos where intolerance masquerades as tolerance and where individual liberty is crushed by the tyranny of the group.

… The liberal versus conservative dichotomy, dating from the split between left and right following the French Revolution, is hopelessly outmoded for our far more complex era of expansive technology and global politics. A bitter polarization of liberal and conservative has become so extreme in both the Americas and Europe that it sometimes resembles mental illness, severed from the common sense realities of everyday life.

The tyrannical attitude maintains society in homogeneity, and rigid predictability, but dooms it to eventual collapse. This arrogant traditionalism, masquerading as moral virtue, is merely unexpressed fear of leaving the beaten path, of forging the new trail – the entirely comprehensible but nonetheless unforgivable shrinking from destiny, as a consequence of lack of faith in personal ability and precisely equivalent fear of the unknown. The inevitable result of such failure is restriction of meaning – by definition, as meaning exists on the border between the known and the unknown.

Repression of personal experience – which is failure to update action and representation in the face of an anomalous occurrence – means damming up the river of life; means existence on the barren plain, in the paralyzed kingdom, in the eternal drought.


Our understanding of sexuality, a paradigmatic theme and indeed obsession of modern culture, has been clouded by its current politicization. Sex and gender have been redefined by ill-informed academic theorists as superficial, fictive phenomena produced by oppressive social forces, disconnected from biology. This hallucination has sowed confusion among young people and seriously damaged feminism.

A gender theory without reference to biology is absurd on its face.

But as a proponent of dynamic free will, I certainly do not subscribe to a wholesale biological determinism. As I wrote on the very first page of Sexual Personae, “Sexuality and eroticism are the intricate intersection of nature and culture.” Furthermore, my key idea is that art itself is a line drawn against nature .

It is personal experience, anathema to the fascist, eternally superseding group categorization and the interpretations of the dead – personal experience that is novel and endlessly refreshing.

The security of predictable society provides an antidote to fear, but a too-rigid society ensures its own eventual destruction. The future brings with it the unknown; inflexibility and unwillingness to change therefore bring the certainty of extinction. Adaptive behavior is created and/or transformed by those driven to resolve the tension inevitably existing between dynamic personal experience and society – driven to resolve the tension between what they know to be true and what history claims.

Re-adaptation, during times of crisis, does not necessarily constitute simple addition to the body of historical knowledge – although that is heroic endeavor as well. Full readaptation may necessitate revolutionary measures, partial or complete reincarnation – dissolution to constituent elements, and systemic reorganization. Such reorganization alters the meaning of experience, and therefore, the mythology of history and being.

If resolution is not reached in time of crisis, mental illness (for the individual) or cultural degeneration (for the society) threatens. This “mental illness” (failure of culture, failure of heroism) is return to domination by the unknown – in mythological terms, expressed as involuntary incest (destructive union) with the Terrible Mother.


The vicious attacks on Sexual Personae by academic and establishment feminists (who in most cases had plainly not bothered to read it) will stand, I submit, as an indictment of the sorry process by which important political movements can undermine themselves through the blind insularity of their ruling coteries.

Blow-by-blow chronicles of my public clashes with leading feminists and their acolytes, including documentation of their outlandish libels against me and my work, can be found in my two essay collections, Sex, Art, and American Culture (1992) and Vamps & Tramps (1994).

Sexual Personae was reasonably well-received by most reviewers. It was my piece on Madonna in The New York Times later in 1990 that made me instantly notorious… in 2010, The New York Times featured this piece as one of its most significant and influential op-eds in the 40 years since it had invented that now standard form.

What caused a storm was first, my open attack on the normally protected feminist establishment and second, my closing sally, “Madonna is the future of feminism,” which was widely ridiculed as preposterous. But that prophecy would come true in the rise and resounding victory of long-silenced pro-sex feminism in the 1990s.

Furthermore, my cheeky use of slang, which was debated by the editorial board, broke long-standing rules of decorum at The New York Times and opened the way for later writers like Maureen Dowd. Finally, the piece started a stampede for op-eds among humanities professors, who had previously considered writing for newspapers beneath their dignity. It was mainly historians, economists, and political scientists who had been doing op-eds before.

The human mind increasingly manifests the capacity to upset itself – to produce revelations, so to speak, that knock gaping holes in the previously-sufficient adaptive and protective social and intrapsychic structures. The ever-expanding human capacity for abstraction has enabled us – as a species, and as individuals – to produce self-models that include the temporal boundaries of existence.

We have become able to imagine our own deaths, and the deaths of those we love, and to make a link between mortal fragility and every risk we encounter. Emergence of such capacity – which re-occurs with the maturation of every new human being – introduces the most intractable anomaly imaginable into the developmental course of every life.

Myth represents the ever-recurring appearance of this representational ability – this emergent “selfconsciousness,” the heritable sin of Adam – as incorporation of the “forbidden fruit,” development of knowledge of good and evil, and consequent expulsion from paradise. This appearance is an event of “cosmic significance,” driving the separation of heaven and earth, making human experience something “eternally fallen,” something ever in need of redemption.


Erosion of liberals’ fidelity to free speech can be partly traced to the Civil Rights Act of 1968 (following the landmark 1964 act) which imposed federal penalties for crimes committed because of “race, color, religion or national origin.”

The demarcation of certain groups for special protection, later extended to gender and sexual orientation, split them from the general populace by defining them as permanent victims, burdened by an inescapable past.

I strongly oppose the categories of “hate speech” and “hate crimes” that arose from that law and others throughout North America and Europe. The laudable attempt to make reparation for past injustice unfortunately created segregated zones of new privilege and drew government into curbing the exercise of free speech.

As I argued in Vamps & Tramps, government has no right to intrude into or speculate about the thinking or motivation of any citizen, except during the sentencing phase after criminal conviction.

The freedom to hate must be as protected as the freedom to love. It is only when hate crosses over into action that the law may properly intervene. Without complete freedom to explore the piercing extremes of human emotion, we will never have great art again.

Many kings are tyrants, or moral decadents, because they are people – and many people are tyrants, or moral decadents. We cannot say “never again” as a consequence of the memory of the Holocaust, because we do not understand the Holocaust – and it is impossible to remember what has not been understood. We do not understand the Holocaust, because we do not comprehend ourselves. Human beings, very much like ourselves, produced the moral catastrophes of the Second World War (and of Stalin’s Soviet Union, and of Pol Pot’s Cambodia …).

“Never forget” means “know thyself” – means recognize and understand that evil twin, that mortal enemy, who is part and parcel of every individual. The heroic tendency – the archetypal savior – is an eternal spirit, which is to say, a central and permanent aspect of human being. The same is true, precisely, of the “adversarial” tendency: the capacity for endless denial, and the desire to make everything suffer for the outrage of its existence, is an ineradicable intrapsychic element of the individual.


Feminism must end its sex war, which is stunting the maturation of both girls and boys. Upper-middle-class career women in the Americas and Europe blame men for their unhappiness. But the real cause is systemic. In the shift from the agrarian to the industrial and now technological era, women have lost the daylong companionship and solidarity they once enjoyed with other women when they ruled the private sphere.

In a new world where men and women share the same ambitions and workplace, perhaps a mutual incompatibility or creative tension between the sexes may have to be tolerated. But what is indisputable is that women do not gain by weakening men. An enlightened feminism, animated by a courageous code of personal responsibility, can only be built upon a wary alliance of strong women and strong men.


“Nash Equilibria and Schelling Points” – LessWrong.com (link)