The Shattered Will: Neural Circuits and Compound Failure
This article is going to be something like a follow-up to the two willpower articles I wrote around this time last year (which will be required reading here), Defeating the Three Demons of Failure and the 10 Day Challenge. Since I wrote those, I’ve done a lot of experimenting with building willpower, some of it based on what’s in the book I co-authored, The Five Pillars of the Ascendant Mind. Anyway, if you’re really compelled it may be beneficial to read my recent article, The Origin of Consciousness, but that’s way more complex than what I’m writing about today, so it’s not super necessary. Also consider reading Value in the Highest and To Choose Life, as they both cover a more philosophical approach to the capital-W Will. Today, though we’re going to talk about what I’m going to call the Shattered Will, neural circuitry, and some strategies to use to start developing your willpower.
UltraSelf, Ch. I: From Zero To Marathon in Four Months
At long last, I’m back with another blog series, so this is technically a continuation of In The Desert, FasterSelf, and The Carnivore Challenge (meaning you should probably read those). I love doing these because they’re way easier to write and I can make them significantly funnier than abstract philosophy stuff, though not for lack of trying. On this episode of “Garrett does things sane people don’t do,” I have decided to become an ultrarunner- here’s how I went from not running at all to running a marathon in just about four months.
You Am What You Is (Guest Post Ft. Billy Red Horse)
Today we have a guest post from the honorable Mr. Billy Red Horse, who you may know on Twitter (@BillyRedHorse) as The Gentleman Mystic. The Red Horse was kind enough to supply this delightful story- the first fictional piece on the site. I hope you enjoy it as much as I have.
Zero Sum: Abundance, Sanity, and The Generative Force
There’s something that a lot of people in a certain corner of Twitter talk about a lot that I never really cared for- “abundance mindset.” This is right up there with the Law of Attraction in my book, as far as woo-woo nonsense is concerned. Mostly, though, I think people get attracted (forgive my pun) to these simple ideas when the truth is a little more complicated. With that being said, I’m going to attempt to make this as easy as possible- we’re going to talk about zero sum games, the effects that scarcity and abundance have on the mind, the nature of creativity and sanity, as well as something I call the Generative Force.
The Origin of Consciousness: Dreamtime and the Lotus on the River
Today we’re going to be taking a look at a pretty nebulous, complex concept- the origin of consciousness. This is no small task, so for the sake of your sanity, reader, make sure you’ve read Solomon, Pieces of Mind 0.1, 0.2, and 0.3, Triple Meta, and AION, II), Myth and Meaning I and II, and, if you’ve seen the show, the Westworld article as well. We’re going to hit all kinds of stuff here, from an old Buddhist story about the lotus, Julian Jaynes’ theory of consciousness, the Aboriginal Dreamtime, the Triune Brain theory, artificial intelligence, and we’ll even discover what the opposite of the word ‘meta’ is.
Not Today: Thanos, The Night King, and Cultural Nihilism
Today I’m going to be looking at two of the most fascinating examples of nihilism in the culture- Thanos from the Marvel Cinematic Universe and The Night King (and more broadly, the White Walkers and Wights) from Game of Thrones. It’s going to be beneficial to have read The Desert of Nihilism and the Throne of God before this one. Along the way, we’re going to touch on how the Avengers are the new Greek pantheon, the fact that the Lord of Light (R’hllor) represents the force of life, and that both shows are notable for being centered around fighting nihilism as the core theme.
Truth, Ignorance, and the Veil of Maya
Today we’re hitting the third piece of my three part series on the core values, Love, Will, and Truth. I’ve written (and will continue to write) about the notion of Truth at length before, but I feel compelled to continue to do so because it’s so central and critical a concept to understand. Truth is, of course, the highest value in my philosophical system, and the specific idea of Truth (that I explained in my article on the Hindu concept “Sat”) that I’m using is absolutely essential to grasp. We’re going to look at Truth, its opposite, Ignorance, and the illusions that make up the Veil of Maya.
The New Ideal: In Search of the Perfect System
One of the things I’ve been interested in for ages is the idea that there could theoretically be a perfect system, an ideal means by which a man could live his life. Many of the strange things I’ve done (like going over a month without food and eating only meat for three months) can be attributed to this, as well as the overarching theme of this site. For a long time, I was only theorizing that such a system could be possible, but now that I’ve mastered a few of the basics, I’m convinced that it exists. To that end, I’m going to explore some of the components I think are essential in the defining of this new ideal, as well as discussing one of my crazier plans for the next few years. (This article is more or less a follow-up to “The Birth of the Hero,” so that’s probably worth a read here.
To Choose Life: Suffering, Denial, and The Will
When was the last time in your life you made a decision? I’m not talking about deciding where to go for lunch or picking what you’re going to wear in the morning. I mean truly deciding to do something, understanding the implications of your choice fully and committing wholly to being responsible for whatever may come of it? If you’re like most people, you’ll never really decide to do anything in your life. “But Garrett, people make choices all the time, don’t they?” No, most people live their lives in a noncommittal, lukewarm state of just doing what they’re told, or what’s expected of them, or what they expect that others expect of them. Most people never decide to choose Life. They never really choose to live.
On Leadership: Competence and Command
I had a realization today. In most cases, good leaders seem to be the exception rather than the rule. This seems to be the case in almost all areas of leadership- I’ve had significantly more bad bosses than good, and most management structures seem to be weak. It always strikes me as amazing that large groups of people even manage to function at all. If you’ve ever seen the inner workings of a bureaucracy, you’ll know what I mean. Beyond that, even among the American presidents, we only remember a small handful. On that note, we’re going to take a look at what exactly it is that so many miss when it comes to leadership.
Self Love (Like Kanye Loves Kanye)
I came up with the idea for this article’s title in the shower this morning, and while at first I thought that was just a great article name, I’m convinced that Kanye West is probably the best person to use as an example when talking about self-love. (To be fair, I hadn’t really thought about this topic before I came up with the title, but let’s see what I can do with it.) As of right now, I’m thinking this will be the first of three articles exploring Love, Will, and Truth in more depth (although only this one will be Kanye-centric, unfortunately). Without further ado, let’s get learn how to practice self-love (like Kanye loves Kanye).
Fragmentation and Reconciliation: Branches in the Tree of Life
I was fortunate enough to be a guest on Jason Snyder and Jared Janes’ podcast, Both And, which probably won’t be out by the time this is published, but it’s definitely still worth checking out. One of the things that we discussed was the change over the last hundred or so years in the berth and flexibility in the nature of roles. As society has become increasingly modern, the variety of identities and lifestyles available has multiplied tremendously- and I think I have an idea as to why. We’re going to call this process fragmentation.
The Desert of Nihilism and the Throne of God
Despite much of MasterSelf being inherently built on the opposition to Nihilism, I don’t think I’ve directly touched on the concept until The Burden of Existence, II. Beyond all other issues, the black and bleeding heart of the ills of the world is rooted in the philosophy of Nihilism. This belief (or perhaps unbelief) system is so widespread and commonplace that most people are wholly unaware that their own lives are ruled, or at the very least, influenced by it. Today, we explore the Desert of Nihilism and the Throne of God to understand the horror and responsibility that it represents.
No Separation: Free Will and the Expanded Self
Today I’m going to be talking about something that’s fairly nebulous, even by my standards. This concept is something that I believe the Memetic Identity article touches a bit, but we’re going to go much, much deeper. The notion we’re going to be exploring is the idea that our traditional conception of self is very limited. Because we operate out of this flawed, imperfect perspective, we end up with a bunch of contradictions and paradoxes that would normally be avoided. Much of this draws from the mind body dichotomy, and our attachment to ideas of duality, when in reality there is no separation.
The Problem of Solipsism: Self and Other (Pieces of Mind 0.3)
Today I’m going to be discussing something I’ve touched on briefly before- solipsism. Now, in the past, I’ve looked at a more metaphysical/epistemological sort of solipsism, the kind you get in a lot of religions and bad philosophy. In this case, however, we’re going to be taking a fundamentally different approach to solipsism- what it looks like in practice. Let’s begin by defining the term. Solipsism, as per the OED, is defined as: “The view or theory that the self is all that can be known to exist.”
The Burden of Existence, I: Efficiency, the First Virtue
This is a direct follow-up to Existence Exists- today we begin a series about a concept I touched on briefly in the first article: The Burden of Existence. What is the Burden? This is the non-negotiable price that reality exacts from every person who chooses to live in it, the weight of the mantle that must be taken up if life is to continue. Our culture has been moving further and further from accepting the challenges presented by life, with some even stooping so low as to abdicate the role or even abnegate the Self in an attempt to escape reality. The time that such childishness and cowardice can be tolerated is rapidly nearing its end, as existence cannot long be ignored. We will start with the primary virtue, efficiency.
All Hail: The Archetype of the King and the Burden of Command
Today, we’re going to be taking a look at the supreme masculine archetype, the King. This article is somewhat complementary to the issue of contemporary masculinity I laid out in the second half of Syzygy, so it may be beneficial to read that first. The issue, as far as I can see it, arises from the inherent relationship between masculinity and responsibility (or, in today’s case, the lack thereof). What better, then, to examine such a burden, than to look at the archetype of the King?
Syzygy II: Bearing the Fruit of the Divine Union
I had been meaning to write the second half of my syzygy article for a long time, but I hadn’t yet come to a complete conclusion as to what the process looked like. However, somewhat recently I realized that the fundamental flaw in prior approaches (like that of Jung): the creation of the syzygy is not the goal. Instead, we must bear the fruit of the divine union. This, as far as I can see it, is the reason for the extreme sense of division and frustration between men and women in our day and age, and I’ll get into that as we go.
The Meaning of AION, Part I: The Perfect Element
Many years ago, I began my attempt to create a theory that would unify the subjective and objective, a means of explaining the world and refuting nihilism. Everything you have read on this site has drawn from this same theory. I have attempted many times to express this coherently, and each time I have failed, because there were too many terms to define, concepts to express, and it seemed I simply lacked the capacity to articulate it properly. However, I believe the time has come to finally complete the theory. Today, we will discover the meaning of AION.
Real Talk IV: In Pursuit of the Universal Language
It’s been a long time since I’ve done an episode in this series, and I’m definitely not going to be following up where I left off, but the prior chapters are probably useful to have read here. Recently, I had a conversation with Jason Snyder (@cognazor) that really shook up my worldview a bit. Going into it, it seemed that we disagreed on a great number of things, but in reality, we were almost completely on the same page. What was the issue? If you’ve read the earlier parts of this series, I bet you can guess- it was semantics. This prompted two concepts that I’m going to explore today- the nature of dialogue and the idea of the Universal Language.
Myth and Meaning II: To Kill the Demiurge Within
Today we’re going to be looking at what I consider to be the most fascinating mythology (that isn’t Norse mythology, because Ragnarok is completely badass)- Gnosticism, and how it relates to the Self. While there are a number of fatal objections I have with the Gnostic philosophies, it has a number of really fascinating ideas and gorgeous imagery that can be taken away and turned into something useful. The name Gnosticism comes from the Greek word gnosis, which means knowledge,” and the religion is based around the attainment of the true gnosis, which we’ll explore in more detail. First, however, we need to start with the Gnostic creation story.
A Philosophy for Eternity: Teleology, Attractors, and the Eschaton
If we’re going to build a good philosophy, we have to have an end goal- this is called teleology, from the worlds telos (purpose, end, or goal) and logos (reason). It seems that lots of philosophers have issues with teleology, because it normally takes on some kind of religious significance. That being said, much as a person cannot orient their life effectively without a goal, neither can Man orient its future effectively without telos. In the same vein, our telos should be something consistent across all time- what we need is a philosophy for eternity.
Memetic Identity: Gurus, Replicability, and Immortality
Today we’re going to touch on a really phenomenally strange idea that I’ve had recently. There’s going to be a bit of metaphysics that I touch on here that will have to be explained in full in a later article, but this should be a good way for me to start moving in that direction. The concept I’m going to be exploring is what I’ll be calling Memetic Identity, that is- a theory of identity that combines the earlier articles into something closer to a coherent whole.
Personal Sacred Practice (Guest Post ft. Chance Lunceford)
Personal sacred practice is just that, personal. It requires a lot of effort to develop, and it will continue to evolve your whole life. The following is an outline for how you might go about doing that.But before we get too carried away, I want to come to terms on what I mean by sacred. This is a loaded word, so let me define it in the way I am framing it here.
Memetic Engineering: Nootypes and the War for Man’s Soul
Now that we’ve covered the (questionably) basic concepts in Intro to Memetics, we’re going to get into the really heavy stuff. The premise of this article is an examination of the question “if ideas and belief systems seem to have a dynamic that governs their adoption and transference, would it be possible to tailor a set of ideas for maximum effectiveness?” The answer is what we’re going to be searching for in our exploration of the theoretical field of memetic engineering.
Will to Order: Tendency Towards Complexity
Today we’re going to be talking about a few ideas I haven’t touched on on MasterSelf before. If you’ve been following the site for a while, you may have noticed that things have changed a bit recently. Whereas I started MasterSelf with the vague idea of talking about self-improvement, over time I realized that what this site really is is an attempt to create a coherent theory of the Self, and to outline how the Self fits into the world of others, as well as in the universe as a whole. This shift has moved us in a more complex philosophical direction, yes, but a direction in which we can tackle more interesting and original topics than the infinite number of self-help gurus out there nowadays. The first thing we’re going to talk about is what I call the Will to Order.
Introduction to Memetics: Symnoesis, Nouosis, and the Metanoetic
I was really tempted to call this article “Intro to Memes for Mind-Controlling Teens,” but we’ll have to save the mind control for the chapter about Memetic Engineering. Today, however, we’re going to be just scratching the surface in this introduction to Memetics, the article I promised in Triple Meta. For those who are unfamiliar, a meme (pronounced meem, not me-me) is essentially a unit of idea.
Integration and Dissonance: Sculpting a Coherent Self
Today we’re going to talk about two (very related) subjects that I’ve been meaning to write about for some time: integration and dissonance. Integration is, in a sense, the true nature of what self-mastery is, and dissonance (more specifically, cognitive dissonance) is the means by which we are spurred on towards integration.
Chaos and Order in the Self (Pieces of Mind 0.2)
Today I’m going to begin expanding on my theory of mind from 0.1. We’ve established the concepts of the undifferentiated self, petty ego, Ego proper, and the true Self. Let’s imagine these as concentric rings laid out on the plane of the X and Y axis of the mind, where X is left and right and Y is front to back. We’re going one step farther- we’ll be looking at the gendered dualism of chaos and order in the self, laid out across the X axis and the evolutionary progression that is the Z.
The NPC Meme: Narcissism, Personality, and Collectivism
Watch out pardner, there’s a new meme in town. If you haven’t had the pleasure of being introduced yet, meet the NPC meme. It allegedly originated on 4chan, but the real groundwork was done on Twitter by @thefaceberg (editor's note, he has since been banned). This meme would prove to be probably the most devastating usage of memetic engineering to psychologically traumatize people on the internet that I’ve personally ever seen. Let’s get down to it.
Why I Don’t Talk About Politics (or: Philosophy 101)
If you’ve been following this site for a while, you may have noticed the (hopefully refreshing) lack of any sort of political content. You’re welcome, America. On a serious note, though, this is not because I don’t have any strong opinions. No, it’s a bit more complicated than that, actually. Personally, I don’t think you can change anyone’s mind politically through a discussion- and what’s more, I think it’s generally counterproductive to try. However, I think there is a trick to changing people’s minds that doesn’t involve a (questionably civil) argument, and that’s what we’re going to explore. Let’s find out why I don’t talk about politics.
Triple Meta: Metaconsciousness, Metamind, Metanarrative
We’re going to be getting in to some seriously heavy stuff today. I’ve been toying with writing about these concepts for a while, but they’re so abstract and hard to define that I’ve ended up putting it off. No more, however- I’m going to jump right in and start trying to get some degree of definition established. The three metas we’re going to be looking at are metaconsciousness (also called metacognition, but I don’t like that as much), the metamind, and the metanarrative.
Passion, Purpose, and the Theme of Your Life
I firmly believe that every person has an innate purpose- not some mystical destiny or anything, but a place where the nature of the world and the nature of one’s Self intersect. A great example is Charles Darwin- he was pretty much terrible at everything his father wanted him to do, but he loved studying nature. Despite what was expected of him, he pursued his deep passion for nature and ended up doing what we all know him now for.
Myth and Meaning I: Parents, Serpents, and Innocence
This will be the first part of an infrequent series that I’ll be calling Myth and Meaning. We’re going to start off by exploring the story of the Garden of Eden. Now, as with any sort of biblical exegesis that I do on this site, we’re not going to be commenting on the religious component of the stories, instead we’re looking for deeper mythic and psychological themes (and serpents- lots of serpents).
The Birth of the Hero: Towards A New Ideal
One of the primary goals that I have kept in mind since the beginning of the MasterSelf project is the definition of a new ideal by which we should measure ourselves. This ideal is, of course, that of the Hero of our time. Interestingly enough, the definition of the word hero has changed dramatically as the value systems of the world evolved. The Greek heroes were prideful killing machines who sought glory and fame, far removed from the medieval Christian heroes of chivalry and self-sacrifice. However, it would seem that we must once again redefine what is the highest value in our lives- the time has come for the birth of the hero.
The Humbling River: Paradox, Dichotomy, and Zen Cows
The concepts of duality and non-duality are among the most complex that can be dealt with in philosophy. I often use the phrase “the Truth is what, in knowing it, changes you,” or some variation on that, and this is certainly one of those cases. The history of western philosophy has basically been one of dualism since after the Sophists, if I remember correctly, and because of that, we’re stuck with a sort of puzzle. How do we cross the Humbling River of paradox, dichotomy, and contradiction?
How a Failed Business Taught Me Everything
Not too long ago, MasterSelf celebrated its one year anniversary. The site originally came about during a phone call between Arda Cole and myself. At the time, I was living in a hotel room somewhere between Colorado Springs and Pueblo. Arda had mentioned he was looking to start a fitness blog (he’s a record holding powerlifter) and I was looking to start writing about philosophy, the mind, and that sort of thing. The reason why I mention this all is that it’s about the time of the year where I start looking at where I was last year and how far I’ve come since then- and I’m sure I’m not the only one in that regard. I don’t really have a clever way to sum this one up, so here’s the story of how a failed business taught me everything.
Life Like Jazz: The Power of Improvising
I was fortunate enough to be able to attend a spectacular performance by local jazz outfit The Bayberry Cast the other weekend at the Reno Little Theater this weekend. During the show, I was struck with an interesting realization that I am convinced was not solely caused by the wine. Maybe a bit, but I digress. What could this realization be, you might ask? Life, in many ways, is approximated well by jazz, and what better medium than jazz to discuss the importance of developing the power of improvising?
The Ground Beef Diet (Carnivore Challenge, Ch. IX)
Hello again, friends! The time has finally come- my 30 Day Carnivore Challenge has ended. However, that does not mean that I will stop eating zero carb. On the contrary, as of right now I have no plans to change my (primarily ground beef) diet. This way of eating has been one of the most dramatically different experiences I’ve ever had, and I once went 40 days on just water for comparison. Carnivore seems to provide nearly all the benefits of fasting with the added bonus of getting to eat food- go figure.
The Meat Only Meal Plan (Carnivore Challenge, Ch. VIII)
Hello again, friends! As of the time of my writing this, I have three days left in my 30 Day Challenge- the home stretch is here. Truthfully, it hasn’t been very much of a challenge. I really enjoy this way of eating, and I will certainly be continuing it. I’ve totally adopted the meat only meal plan. On top of that, I don’t know how I could go back to the standard American diet, having learned what I have about the dangers of carbs and sugars. Like I said at the start of this experiment, I was essentially sold from the jump, and looking back, I feel the same way.