This is a really good talk. But it’s also Jordan Peterson, so that’s no surprise.
“Philosophy is pointless.”
Jordan Peterson: “Hold my beer.”
“‘I had forgotten that you are only a common boy. How should you understand reasons of State? You must learn, child, that what would be wrong for you or for any of the common people is not wrong in a great Queen such as I. The weight of the world is on our shoulders. We must be freed from all rules. Ours is a high and lonely destiny.”‘
C.S. Lewis “The Magician’s Nephew”
1. “Literally to ascribe to capital a power of producing value is thoroughly to misunderstand the essential nature of value, and thoroughly to misunderstand the essential nature of production. Value is not produced, and cannot be produced. What is produced is never anything but forms, shapes of material, combinations of material; therefore things, goods. These goods can of course be goods of value, but they do not bring value with them ready made, as something inherent that accompanies production. They always receive it first from outside—from the wants and satisfactions of the economic world. Value grows, not out of the past of goods, but out of their future. It comes, not out of the workshop where goods come into existence, but out of the wants which those goods will satisfy. Value cannot be forged like a hammer, nor woven like a sheet. If it could, our industries would be spared those frightful convulsions we call crises, which have no other cause than that quantities of products, in the manufacture of which no rule of art was omitted, cannot find the value expected. What production can do is never anything more than to create goods, in the hope that, according to the anticipated relations of demand and supply, they will obtain value.”
2. “There is no power in any element of production to infuse value immediately or necessarily into its products. A factor of production can never be an adequate source of value. Wherever value makes its appearance it has its ultimate cause in the relations of human needs and satisfactions. Any tenable explanation of interest must go back to this ultimate source.”
A man came by the house today. He was a man I’ve known my entire life. And it wasn’t the first time that he’s ever showed up at the house.
He had some cards that he was wanting to know the value of. Some Yugioh, Pokemon, Magic, and some other cards that I’m not sure of. I told him that I had gotten out of cards a while back, and didn’t know how much they were worth. He then started saying some very profound things that I was not expecting.
He’s had some drug problems that I’ve known about. He was on a scooter. And I don’t recall what exactly started it, but suddenly, he started talking about religion. Unprovoked. But it was not like what you might expect when being preached at. Most of the time, when someone is preached at, they hear about how terrible they are as a human being, and all of the things they need to do to alleviate themselves from the consequences of their sin. But this conversation was nothing like that. In fact, one might say that it was the exact opposite.
He started talking about energy. He said that energy is neither created, nor destroyed, but that it just exists. That there’s no time. That there is only energy. That we are energy, and that we all share this common humanity. We all share upon this energy. And we can give good energy, or we can give bad energy. But the energy is always there, and we can’t destroy it. It reminded me very much of a Bill Hicks joke: “All my point is, all my point is is there’s a lot of ways to look at the world. You know what I’m sayin’? Why pick the way you learn over TV? Cause it’s usually wrong. You ever see a good drug story on the news? Never. News is supposed to be objective, isn’t it? Supposed to be the news. But! Every drug story is negative. Well hold it. I’ve had some killer fuckin’ times on drugs. Let’s hear the whole story. Same LSD story every time, and we’ve all heard it: ‘Young man on acid thought he could fly. Jumped out of a building. What a tragedy.’ What a dick. He thought he could fly, why didn’t he take off from the ground and check it out first? You don’t see ducks lined up to catch elevators to fly south. He’s an idiot. He’s dead. Good! You mean there’s one less moron in the world? Wow, what a fuckin’ tragedy, huh? I guess I’m one car-length up in traffic tomorrow. How about a positive LSD story? That would be newsworthy. Don’t you think? Anybody think that? Just once? To hear a positive LSD story? ‘Today a young man on acid realized that all matter is merely energy condensed to a slow vibration; that we are all one consciousness, experiencing itself, subjectively. There is no such thing death. Life is only a dream. And we are the imagination of ourselves. Here’s Tom with the weather.’”
One connection I made between the two of them was the drugs. But I don’t know if drugs really tell the whole story. Maybe they do in Bill’s case, but I’m not sure about this guy’s. But he continued. And things got really deep.
He said he’d be sitting around, drinking and smoking a bong with some people, and they’d say to him “How can you call yourself a Christian when you do all of that?” And he said to them that they didn’t get it. He told me that he’d tell them that the Ten Commandments aren’t laws which need to be strictly obeyed, but are rather more common sensical than that. To paraphrase, he said “Think about it. ‘Obey your father and your mother.’ That’s just natural, isn’t it?” The thing that struck me about this conversation was that I’ve been thinking some of these very things myself. He continued:
Once again, to paraphrase, he said “Life isn’t about obeying the laws of God. It’s about love. It’s about all of us loving each other. It’s about giving good energy through love. We are all part of this loving energy. And it doesn’t disappear: it just gets transported somewhere else when we die.”
Here was a man I hadn’t seen in months, if not a couple of years. Who I’ve known my whole life. Who just came to my house and started telling me this stuff. He asked a couple of times if I understood what he was saying. And, to my shock, I actually did. I’ve been thinking some things lately, but they aren’t fleshed out enough for writing. But I actually did understand what he was saying. And when I told him so, he’d say “I know you do.” And I could tell that he was being genuine. That he was serious. We shared a very human moment together. I thought “You know, I know people who would’ve asked him to leave. But I’m glad I just stood here and listened to him.”
He could be pretty emotional at times. Not to the verge of tears, but just very excited. I thought about telling him to calm down because I didn’t want the neighbors to check out what was happening, but he seemed to sense it every time without me saying anything. Of course, he couldn’t contain himself at times. He wasn’t sad, and he wasn’t angry, but he was very enthusiastic. Passionate. But he felt completely genuine to me. He wasn’t putting on a show. This man was pouring out his heart. And I could feel that.
He told me some very personal things about himself that I will not ever repeat to anyone. I don’t know if he was high or not. I believe I could smell a little liquor on him. But I swear, in that moment, I think his head was more clear than it had ever been.
He said he’d talk to Biblical “scholars”, to use his term, at nearby churches. Talking to them, presumably, about some of the things he had been talking about to me. He didn’t seem to think that they actually got it. Once again, it was a miracle that I was on the same brainwave as him. Maybe my natural thought processes are just as scattered as his, but I understood what he was saying. For the most part.
There were some things about tectonic plates and volcanoes and the world opening up that I was skeptical of. But I dismissed those pretty easily, because he was back on the loving energy topic pretty quickly. I don’t know if he’s right, if he’s wrong, but I guess time will tell.
He said “I’ve never told anybody any of this stuff. I’ve rarely read any of the Bible. But something just compelled me to come here and say all of this stuff.” And I understood exactly what he meant. It was a very touching moment.
He also said some stuff about seven nations, like America, Brazil, Peru, and others being a “seven-headed beast”. That “liberty” was just a myth. That there was some volcano off of the coast of southwest Australia that was going to open up like a pit of Hell. I was a little skeptical of all of that. He started losing me there. But I agreed with him, and understood what he was saying, earlier about loving energy, so I stuck with him.
He said he loved me, and I told him I loved him too. And we hugged each other. I could tell that he was genuine. And then, he was on his way.
I thought about that moment. I thought about dwelling on it. About trying to force that moment to be meaningful every moment of my entire life from here on out. But that isn’t how moments work. Moments exist within a specific time and place. Forcing them beyond that makes them lose what made them magical in the first place. But it gave me some interesting thoughts about love, and about advantage.
The way I grew up to think about love is incorrect. I thought that one had to love everybody to the fullest extent that one could, so that the world would be a good place. So that we could all get into Heaven. But the first part of that is actually more important than the latter, believe it or not. I treated love as something to always be working toward and striving for. But not just love: perfect love. “Am I being as loving as I could be?” This question always bothered me tremendously. Religion had taught me that I should love my fellow man, but how do I know how much I need to love my fellow man? Well, this was never answered specifically, but I believed that the answer to that “amount” question was the same as other “amount” questions that religion attempts to answer: “As much as you can, but that will never be enough. But you have to struggle towards that goal, anyway.”
So I put a lot of pain upon my heart to try to love people. But it only made me resent them. It made me hate myself. It confused me. I’m introverted by nature, and my idea of “love” (such as always listening to everything someone says when they talk to you, never disagreeing with someone, never getting angry at someone, etc.) was immature and, plainly, just incorrect. My old way of thinking about love put a lot of pain upon my heart that created a lot of hatred. And I don’t think my old way of thinking about love was even correct.
I believe that guy was on to something. I believe that love is a lot deeper than that. Way deeper than that. He said that he was struggling to find the words to explain what it was that he wanted to explain, and I feel the same way at the moment. I’ll bring up a conversation that I had with my best friend recently, Devin Stevens.
I called him up one night cause I hadn’t talked to him in a while. I was thinking some things about religion, and I know he’s been thinking and writing about it for a very long time now, so I just wanted to hear some of his take on religion. I asked him some questions. And he told me some personal things that I won’t break to anyone, but he’s planning on making these public in a giant religious treatise that he’s writing, so I look forward to seeing the complete piece myself. But as we talked, I came to the conclusion that, even among Christians, each person’s faith is different from one another. Christians experience Christianity differently. That was one thing that seemed very clear to me in that conversation. And I was very relieved.
It made me think of politics. In politics, force is used to make everyone “equal”, but it destroys their humanity and makes them miserable in the process. It made sense to me that, much like humans need freedom to experience the fullness of their diverse, individualistic humanity, that this humanitarian diversity and individuality would be experienced with God as well. God has made us individual, and diverse. That’s got to mean something holy. God created the Earth, and made us out of dirt. Despite our sins, I don’t think that God hates humans, nor do I believe that He hates the Earth. He created it, after all. No, most of the things He hates are common sense, I believe, just like that guy who came by my house was talking about. Stuff that most of us just naturally hate, like murder, or theft. Basic, common sense stuff. Yes, that is the stuff that God hates. That is the stuff that a loving God hates. That’s the stuff that love hates.
My old conservative ways of thinking about love and God, I have now come to believe, were wrong. There was too much emphasis on “completeness”. Too much emphasis, in effect, on the impossible. Which led me to failure, which led me to fear. But the emotion which plagued me the most about love, the old way I thought about love, was guilt. When I was younger, if I would’ve heard a story like that man told me today, I would’ve felt extremely guilty. My life has been nothing like his. And yet, this man was showing me love, and saying that we had a common bond. I would’ve felt guilty about that when I was young. But the truth is that I’ve had a much easier life than he’s had. It does make me feel bad for him, although I hope he can turn his life around, and I hope that what he said in our meeting today continues with him throughout the rest of his life. But I didn’t feel guilty today. I didn’t feel guilty for not having the troubled experiences that he has had. I just felt lucky. I felt blessed. I didn’t feel like a “better” human being than him, but I felt absolutely blessed. I said to myself “I have been lucky. I have been advantaged.” But that didn’t make me feel any need to bring myself down to any level that he has been at. Rather, it made me realize, or rather, it made me continue to think what I’ve been thinking about for a while now, that life is about taking advantage. It isn’t about “taking advantage” of someone else, but it is about “taking advantage” of yourself. Life is about taking advantage of your natural, God-given abilities and desires. That’s how human progress moves forward. That’s how things get better. When people experience the fullness of their humanity, and become the best that they can be. Not out of fear, but out of love for the world. Striving for improvement, maximizing their natural skill-sets. Bringing other people joy. The key is to accept what you have. Accept whatever it is that you have. And the key is to eliminate false humility. The key to love is accepting it when other people give it to you, for whatever reason that they do. Accept it, and move on to the next thing in your life.
For me, I’m pretty smart. Halfway decent with words. I can’t feel guilty about these things simply because I’m smarter than someone else, or a better communicator than someone else. And that lack of guilt on my part does not mean that I don’t love someone else. Advantage and disadvantage aren’t signals of love. Guilt isn’t even love. Love was that moment when this man told me very personal things, I listened to him, and then we hugged each other. The differences in our lives, past and present, had nothing to do with love. I shouldn’t feel guilty for having a much easier life than he had, but that doesn’t mean that I don’t wish him the best of luck in the future, and feel sympathy for his past.
That’s the biggest thing I need to continue developing in my life: how to take advantage of myself. How to remove anxieties and guilts, and be the best goddamned Cody Alan Reel that I can fucking be, with whatever it is that I have been given.
I’m sure I’ve heard this a lot growing up, and I’m sure I’ve dismissed it frequently, but all of those phrases about “Life being about the experience”, and “Living life to the fullest”, make a lot more sense to me now. The lesson didn’t come from the church. But I’m going to continue to take full advantage of myself, and figure out how to feel emotionally about myself as I go along. There has been a large transformation on that front as the years have gone on. A complete 180. A lot of blessings, and a lot of introspection. It’s a process. It’s an odd mixture of myself and things outside of my control. I’m going to think about it and write about it as much as I can stand it. As much as it brings me satisfaction to do so. But that’s part of my individual journey here on Earth.
I wish everyone the best of luck, and I hope that everyone can take full advantage of themselves.