journal

Wanting to Believe

It occurred to me recently, when seeing someone talk about how much they want to believe in a benevolent creator, that maybe most people have that desire. That desire to believe some creator set things in motion, and that it all has a purpose. But there’s this question that pops up in my head, completely sincere: Why?

I don’t understand it. Never will.

Even if there was a god, it wouldn’t be one to believe in.

If ever there was an exercise in futitlity…..

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Contamination

Written June 27th, 2011…

Masks are a relic of the past when it comes to conveying what my path is all about. So is aloofness, escapism, playing the victim, forsaking compassion, and so on. As is the shrewd selection of ‘proper’ friends. I do not “pick my company wisely”. I interact with people in the world around me, and I contaminate them; not the other way around.

I know, I know; we are not islands unto ourselves. Blah, blah, blah. I know. But the influence other people have on me is up to… guess who… That’s Right! Me. And the avoidance is not my only option in dealing with influences I don’t care for.

I am the way I am.

I know the kind of qualities I admire, and the ones I despise. And I’ll say so. Some people don’t like honesty, and they avoid me. People more akin to what I like, and that like me, tend to gravitate towards me. I don’t move out of the way of people I don’t like, nor of those that don’t like me. They want me out of their world, they’ll have to run, ’cause I won’t.

I am open to the virus of undesirables, the contagion they carry, but I try to be aware of how that can affect me, how I want it to affect me, and I decide. I do not believe in avoiding them, or their weakness and decadence. I am the one who decides how people affect me. When it comes to Me, their power is within Mine.

(Inspired by Luciana)

Note: this was a journal entry from one of my more memorable journals online, the one I kept at the previous version of the Order of the Sith (before we moved to new web hosting). Don’t have much to say here at the moment but I happened to log in today and remembered this was in my drafts folder.

Arrogance & Modesty

There’s something to be said for demureness. Brazen, unapologetic arrogance has been all the rage at times, but it doesn’t suit me. Of course that’s far from saying I’m humble (lower, or less than), or that I’m lacking in arrogance, but pride, confidence and modesty aren’t mutually exclusive.

For me, their co-mingling has always been the most to my liking, the most honest demeanor I’ve been seen to embrace and express. It’s an interesting shift in perspective on this, for me, if I look at how it’s changed over time, because years and years ago I wrote what was probably my first ‘lecture‘ (entitled Power, Arrogance, and Corruption) and the essence of it was a warning about the danger to oneself and ones progress posed by becoming arrogant (the tell-tale sign that power had corrupted).

Somewhere along the lines though, I ended up on the other side of the spectrum. It started to look to me as though humility was a cop out, a nifty device to fall back on; in other words, a person being humble only acted that way because they couldn’t handle the baggage that comes with arrogance, and they didn’t want to admit that their weakness – their inability to act or feel secure in their sense of importance – was the reason.

On some level, I still think that’s right on the mark, but what I’ve since realized is that the two (arrogance and modesty) aren’t mutually exclusive. It’s one of those things that seems like it should have been obvious, but it took a while to fully dawn on me. Not to long ago, I was of a like mind to something David Edge said…

Pride and arrogance are so easy a child can do them, seemingly. The problems people have with pride and arrogance is that it is NOT easy to do, at least not well. So, in an effort to mask inadequacywe have conceptualized humbleness. People think its better to claim theyre not playing than to admit they play poorly.”
~David Edge

At first glance the statement he made didn’t seem to me to leave any room for humility or modesty; that is, if you were someone that could ‘play well’. If that is really what’s meant by it, then from that perspective any sign of humbleness or tendencies to be unassuming becomes anathema, signs that you play poorly and don’t want to admit it. At least that’s the way I took it for a while, kind of on the other end of the spectrum from my earlier views, and I came to agree with it. But my view of all this has changed as I’ve reflected on it lately.

The way I see it, arrogance tempered by modesty is playing par excellence, because I still have an underlying belief that I’m better than others, but I don’t usually assume that about any specific ‘somebody’ I meet or talk to or don’t know. I’m very unassuming in that sense, in that I take people as they are. It just doesn’t take away from the underlying belief I have that I’m better than other people, generally speaking.

As far as the cost of such a stance… if I interact with you, whether it’s the first time we’ve had an exchange or it’s the thousandth, my view and attitude towards you specifically isn’t going to be affected in a ‘bad’ way by my ego. If I don’t know you, then I don’t know you, so there’s no reason to say “I’m better than you” or, really, even think it, because I wouldn’t know (yet). And if we’re talking about someone I know, then what I think about who’s better than who is going to depend on context and on what I know about that person.

(Written awhile ago, still more or less applies…)

Sojourn

It is a constant struggle for me to cast aside dead skin, or burn it away, to keep from being smothered by it. It seems as if I am always in danger of asphyxiating on the ashes I can’t help but inhale, or suffocating as I make my way out of the husk of old growth that’s wrapped around me. More often the latter, actually, because it takes an intense flame to burn it away and I don’t seem to always have that. And so I wrap myself in dead skin, like a cocoon that’s warm enough, comfortable enough… and miserable enough, but that I’m compelled to break out of.

Even in creating a journal I’ve struggled in trying to reconcile it with the ones I’ve kept in the past; the intentions behind them, the value they’ve had, how I might find inspiration from the way I went about writing in them. Again and again I kept getting stuck on the possibilities, and worrying about a new journal I’ll just lose interest in writing in if I don’t figure out how I want to go about it, and what intention the tone should be set with. But I’ve finally decided to just say fuck it. See, I know better. The idea, as ever, is to choose, and act. Far more effective an approach than over-thinking and getting all indecisive about it.

I’ve returned many times to the question of what a journal is, what purpose it serves, and I have plenty of answers. To many. This is one of those times I’ve had to collapse the overwhelming amount of possibilities to bring the important things into focus, because a journal can be used in countless ways. Reflectively, contemplating memories and lessons of the past. Actively, tracking progress in the present and leaving a trail that can be looked back on later. It can be abstract, intellectual, centered around ideology, concepts, and explorations of one paradigm or another. Or it can be visceral, emotive, filled with emotional texture and tied inseparably to the context of the present moment of each and every entry.

As a notebook too, a collection of quotations, rough notes, fragments of thought, preserved bits of text from external sources, and personal studies of people, methods, experiences, or anything else deemed noteworthy enough to put into a book of notes. And it can be a place to preserve certain lessons, exercises, assertions, and any other material one might wish to be showcased in the manner of a journal, a sort of disorganized compendium to store less refined materials and unpolished writings. There’s really no shortage of possibilities.

So to choose and act, I am incidentally brought back to the sweet scent of ashes I all to often get seduced by, only to choke on. As unintentional as that circle jerk was though, I don’t think arriving back at some of my own self made, fiery dust is going to have the usual effect. It was made from something William Blake said about desire only being restrained if it is weak enough to be restrained. That, and a poem I wrote a few years ago. Neither being likely to trip me up because I arrived at them quite by accident. See, it might be a struggle, but that’s how I operate, and I just keep on ticking. This is what brought Blake’s words to mind…

When there is a want, there is a way.
Whether it’s found depends entirely on how bad you want to find it.
I wanted a journal that felt right, and now I have it: Sojourn.
Which, like this blog itself…

is whatever I want it to be.
A managerie of poetry.

Filthy love or clean hate.
Parts of the self I won‘t sedate.

And other things from inside of me.
Begging and tearing to be free.

A Reflection

Think of your blog as a mirror: what does it reveal? Consider your blog name, theme choice, design, bio, posts… what does every element tell you about yourself?
Daily Prompt: Mirror, Mirror, On the Wall Aug. 14th

The title is Latin for Evil Love. It might be taken as a nod to the dissonant forces within myself, to the nature of polarities and how they coexist and compliment each other (e.g. passion and reason). Assuming, of course, that there’s an awareness of them and that the individual can be decisive. That there’s conflicting forces within (and without) that can be coupled together to great effect, directed, doesn’t mean choice gets taken out of the equation. If you’ve got mixed feelings on whether you want to buy a composition book or a leather-bound journal, if you don’t pick one you’re probably not going to get either… or you’re going to settle for something you’re not sure you want. Being indecisive isn’t ideal.

The theme was chosen because it appealed to my aesthetic tastes, it’s clean, simple…. I might even say elegant. Plus, the black and white is another allusion to polarities. The home page was a big selling point. It displays the latest post, so whatever was last posted (especially in a splurge of three or four posts at once) was posted last on purpose. So it’s be the one on display. Most of the time. And the widgets are set out in what I feel to be a simple manner, in line with the reason I picked it. The number of posts displayed on the home page is usually determined by how everything else looks with the size of the posts listed, and (more so) by what I know of numerology and the meanings associated with certain numbers – when I was the Head of the Dark Aspect at the Force Academy, there were seven of the most recent posts on display there; now, it’s set to nine.

On the home page are also included widgets for my twitter account, the Facebook page for the Order of the Sith, and links to my home sites. The last of which is due to be changed again, I think. There is still a link to The Sith Resource, and that might be removed since everything I was interested in exploring with that has been redirected to the Order. And though I still check in to see if there’s anything of interest, the Force Academy is hardly at the forefront of my mind. I’m really quite over the place, to put it in clearer terms. So it might stay there, but it might not. The twitter feed isn’t going anywhere though; I fucking love that platform. The last tweet I make on any given day, or the last of a bunch of them, is usually tweeted with the fact that it’ll show up on the home page in mind, as with the latest post.

Throughout all of this, my way of life (as a Sith) is impossible to avoid running into, in one way or another. I suppose one thing that’s obvious is my fondness for simplicity, and in presenting things with that in mind, and that I enjoy things having a meaning, even if it’s often hidden. I mean really, who the hell out of the people that read this would have guessed my choice in the number of recent posts displayed is almost always tied into the interest I take in numerology. Beyond that… what all of this says about me, I leave for the reader to decide. I could do what’s suggested in the prompt, tell you what I see in this ‘reflection’, but where’s the fun in that.

Shedding Things

“The Force will change you. It will transform you. Some fear this change. The teachings of the Jedi are focused on fighting and controlling this transformation. That is why those who serve the light are limited in what they accomplish. True power can come only to those who embrace the transformation. There can be no compromise. Mercy, compassion, loyalty: all these things will prevent you from claiming what is rightfully yours. Those who follow the dark side must cast aside these conceits. Those who do not, those who try to walk the path of moderation, will fail, dragged down by their own weakness.”
~Darth Revan

I think the idea put into words here, of embracing ones own transformation, is a quintessential part of what a Sith is. And it fits in nicely with the idea of monsters (that is, as a lens through which the practice of Sith alchemy can be applied to individuals) that I’ve explored off and on. How the two relate? To stop thinking so much, and start being, mercy, compassion, equality, guilt, shame… a great deal of notions lots of people like to hold near and dear, they start to fall away. They’re shed, like dead skin from a snake.

“A monster is a person who has stopped pretending…”
~Colson Whitehead

From some of my notes: A monster is someone who has stopped lying to himself. For a while, after discovering the value of it, he tests this new approach of honesty. It’s taken not just with himself but with other people. He drops all the bullshit, the posturing, the masks, the armor, and even the composure; it’s taken to the extreme. But in time it always comes back to the self, full circle. For while learning to express your true nature is essential to the evolution of a monstrous soul, it is just as important to restore the lies that had previously protected others from you, so that you might now protect yourself from them.

Putting it that way, it sounds worse than it really is when it’s truly understood. I don’t have to actively lie to keep myself at a distance or hidden from others, none of us do. All I’ve got to do if I want to keep something from someone is not say much about myself. Thing is, engaging in this actively only works in the short term; long term, your spirit, the real you, always shines through well enough for someone to see. So aside from it being a learning experience (both in dropping all pretense and in learning to use pretense), it falls away in the end to. Because it circles back again to just being what you are, with minimal self-conceptualization.

The intellectual elements involved are just a doorway to walk through in a lot of ways, and after that they become indulgences. Wanted by some, maybe, but not really needed and not always the best means for stimulating further transformation; it can be pretty easy to get absorbed in the reasonswhy‘, the justifications, the mental gymnastics, but that absorption is usually a sign of getting bogged down, stagnating.

However, contrary to what’s said in the red text, rotting isn’t stasis, it’s a part of the process:

“Cut a chrysalis open, and you will find a rotting caterpillar. What you will never find is that mythical creature, half caterpillar, half butterfly, a fit emblem for the human soul, for those whose cast of mind leads them to seek such emblems. No, the process of transformation consists almost entirely of decay.”
~Pat Barker (Regeneration)

Due Consideration

(Free-write on the idea of seeking agreement and how disagreement is taken?…)

You know… I don’t always want people to agree with me. Aside from the fact that I can’t be ‘right’ about everything, %100 percent of the time, personal preference comes into the equation. So does experience, but I don’t really factor that in as much when I’m dealing with people, because more often than not it still goes back to preference. But when there is disagreement, most of the time… I try to give some consideration to viewpoints that contrast with mine, and hope that the same respect is afforded in return.

With people I genuinely feel to be either stupid or stubborn, I sometimes get angry and do what I can to affect them, to make them consider my perspective, but there are times I’ve felt that someone was being dismissive, or wasn’t grasping my point(s), when in fact they completely understood. They just disagreed. Very rarely do I feel this way, at least with the former, but every now and then I do.

It helps to know the difference, to learn to spot it, and to ask questions to find out if need be, for the sake of effective communication. If nothing else, I think it’s important that people don’t feel like they’re wasting their time with each other – I know that when it comes to my own choice as to whether to bother, I don’t like wasting my time and elect not to where and when I think it’s going to happen.

But I’ve also been returning to an earlier disposition I once had, because the fact is, no interaction is a waste of time unless I make it so. Worst case scenario, an exchange or conversation goes nowhere, but there would still be the option to learn something. The fact is, whoever you deal with, whatever you do, you’re the only one that can choose to make anything a waste of your time.

Rising From The Ashes

A recent journal entry at OotS, posted here as Motivations & Timing, seems to have acted as a catalyst for shifting the attention, intentions, and experimentation I’ve been giving to the Resource over to the Order of the Sith. I’m personally both glad and irritated, because on the one hand the success of the former has been on a fairly rapid rise. I know there’s interest, even if most there are quiet and the rest read through without bothering to sign up, because in places like Facebook people are all over it (at least in comparison to the Order), not only in likes, but in that it catches peoples interest. I’ve also enjoyed the blank slate it’s allowed me, among a few other perks.

Hence the irritation. But I suspect that in some ways it’s going to go the same way as the ‘mystery blog’ I started when I went on my little break from the communities; that is, I had a blank slate and got a lot out of it, in part because it was something entirely new, but when I ‘returned’, I realized that it wouldn’t be a satisfying substitute or replacement for this blog. So I took what I’d experimented with and liked, and the things I learned, and integrated them into what I do here. Best of both worlds if you ask me.

But the bitch of it is still this: the fate of the Sith Resource is up in the air, and if we’re making comparisons to that blog I did for a while elsewhere… then it’s future isn’t looking so bright. So there’s irritation, but on the other hand there’s that process of integration, and further, when you get right down to it the Order of the Sith is my home site, which is touched on a little more in the announcement I made over there, so I’ll share that here as well (below).

The Announcement (as it was posted at the Order)

Nearly four years ago, I handed the reigns over to the two most competent, pro-active Sith Lords of the time.
In the announcement that made it ‘official’, the opening paragraph was this:

“I may have started this site, but recently me being the sole administrator – especially with my increasingly extended absences over the last few months – and my shifting focus on where my path as a Sith is going has caused me to come to a decision. I will not be leaving the Order of the Sith, but I am stepping down from leadership and administration responsibilities. While I will retain my abilities as an administrator, I will not be acting as one except to help the new Leaders when possible.”

As I made an announcement back then, it makes sense to do the same now.
So for anyone it may interest, I’d like to announce that I’m stepping back up.
Rising from the ashes, so to speak.

For me this comes after a time of reflecting on changes, personally and in relation to the Order. I know that this place has been described recently as a monastery, and it brought to mind a question: is the state of the place as a monastery really viable or, more to the point, desirable? My own answer: It doesn’t entirely satisfy what I would want to see in a site centered around Sith Realism. Initially I created the Sith Resource as an outlet for that dissatisfaction. But this is my home site, a place I’m very fond of and attached to, so it is here that I’ve decided to redirect my enduring desire to see the Sith Ways continue to develop and evolve as I believe they can.

So while Miles isn’t going anywhere, I’ll be taking lead in the direction of the site overall. However having said all of that, the strength of this site is only ever augmented by the members here and their participation, which will always be both welcome and encouraged. Of course, along with that I feel compelled to say… don’t feel obligated, as this is an invitation to be as involved as you wish, not a demand. But with every change, large or small, I would appreciate feedback if you have any to give. And if you have any questions, now or along the way, feel free to ask.

In the meantime, as always, don’t hesitate to start or participate in discussions if you feel moved to do so.
Above all, make sure you’re getting something out of being here.

Motivations & Timing

The Sith Resource… why now? While I feel I still have plenty more to offer the Order, it’s a different style and has become the product of someone elses vision since I handed over the reigns, and while I’m not opposed to collaborating, offering support in a sense, and helping things along here, it doesn’t entirely satisfy what I would want to see in a site centered around Sith Realism. The resource is an opportunity for past teachings to be showcased and possibly dissected, torn down, or built upon, and its a return to the roots of the Sith. Miles has a peculiar relationship with the word ‘Sith’…

“This place frustrates the hell out of me sometimes.

Part of it is the association with Sith probably. The use of the term is difficult to preserve, in the way I use it to label my path. The symbol has such beautiful possibilities to me but it also has a major drawback. The origin is a symbol created in popular culture, and what has emerged as my path is nothing like that popular cultural identity. It may use that identity as a launching point, but it looks behind it for value.”
~Miles, Sith Lord

Which has, in fact, been a point of contention between us from time to time. Not that I hold it against him, but we’re not exactly the same ‘brand’ of Sith. Enough to co-exist, to help each other out, to connect and conflict with each other well, but there’s a subtle distinction between us, and what we resonate with. So when I say a “return to the roots of the Sith”, I doubt it is something he or others that resonate with his approach and outlook will always feel drawn to. But I have always possessed a certain passion for the mythos, for the older teachings (perhaps because of their flaws, rather than in spite of them, and for their burning passion, their brazen attempts to blaze a path forward and define what a Sith is). I might even go as far as to call it a sense of reverence.

The drawbacks of shallow thinking have always been outweighed by the benefits of dedicated, sincere, genuine practitioners of the Sith, and the count of how many will always remain one, for oneself, so – projection or valid observation – I rarely find it to be frustrating. Not to mention, shallow thinking (and it being shared) has always served as a potential gateway into something more. Not always… to be sure, some people are lost causes not worth knowing, but they’re truly few and far between, and almost inevitably weed themselves out or defy expectation to grow into someone that commands attention.

So the resource, as it exists now, is a showcasing of various highlights from different eras, many of them arguably a representation of the Sith Ways being articulated in a very early, infantile level of development, some being brilliant, ahead of their time, what you might call… “classics”.

As it may come to be, maybe others find resonance with the mythos, with older teachings and how they can be used as starting points, points of contrast or gestation for further evolution of different facets of the Sith Way, with a shameless willingness to draw on the fiction outright when it’s so desired, and in a place where recognition, hierarchy, and things of the like take a back seat, where the site itself isn’t so pretentious, doesn’t take itself so seriously (and this is less a stab at OotS than at other sites) that it requires regular activity on a weekly or monthly basis to retain the ‘privilege’ of an account, or attaches arbitrary standards to things like the ‘Darth’ title in an ass backwards attempt to give it weight and meaning.

Works In Progress

I’ve recieved a copy of most of my lectures from Kiss, so yipee for that. I really wish I’d put the latest versions of them in the wiki or something before doing my disappearing act though. They all still needed worked over a bit more, but the versions posted in the lecture hall under the Dark Council account wlre the very latest and I’m still holding out hope that I’ll be able to work on them from with the latest version as my starting point, at least for a couple of them. Barring that though, the drafts that were sent to me are the next best thing, so that’s a plus.

The Institution was pretty generic, and did little beyond state what should be obvious, but for lack of any material at all and given the atmosphere of the time, I think the message of it was necessary. It’s just not all that relevant now that the people that were bitching at me are actually doing something themselves (which is not to say I hold hard feelings; quite the contrary actually, I’m glad Richard, Khaos, and a few others are actively engaged in putting something into the DA again). And the Joining & Training snippet was never meant to be anything but a temporary placeholder, which, given the recent surge of production from others, is a quality that’s already rendered it obsolete and useless.

I think the rest of the leltures might be fun to play with and, in any case, will be nice to have for reference and historical value (Dark Teachings: Inherently Flawed preceded certain pieces that were posted – and ones that were never posted, even in the dark council draft section – with good reason. The Dark Side is a Poison, for instance, is not only rough around the edges, but intentionally flawed. It’s a nice piece, in large part, for that it might’ve been used to revise, rework, and branch off of into a gorgeous concoction of a few different contradictory ideas and concepts. I still rather like it, even as it is.