power

My Old Lectures

Sometimes, I’d like to disown some of the lectures I’ve written. Like when someone references it in a discussion. Or when I happen to be revisting some of my own, and see one that’s gotten worse with age. Fortunately the ones this usually applies to, with how far back they were written and the age I was, that’s not to much of a real issue… It’s not that I ever really want to pretend it was someone else that wrote them, it’s that I’ve come far enough in my understanding and actual practice that I pretty much just look down my nose at those past writings. None of them are that bad either, to be honest; especially not for what they were at the time.

Some of them, I even have enough fondness for to rewrite. I did that with The Necessity of Power. It’s just that I’ve come so far since writing things like Power, Arrogance, & Corruption and The First Line: The Lie, I hardly know where to begin when I think about revisions. They seem so alien to me, and clumsy as hell. The message wasn’t conveyed clearly enough, the tone wasn’t as confident or definitive. When it comes to catologuing though… whether they fall under the category of what I’m talking about here or not, it would be nice to have some of the dates for when I wrote them. A select few… their age really ought to show as much as possible, because they’re just so far off from what I might say now.

That is, if they’re included, because in the end maybe they just don’t deserve to be archived or preserved. Case in point being with something like Power, Arrogance, & Corruption. You could probably find it somewhere anyways, with enough research. But as far as making an effort to keep it “logged”, so to speak, it just isn’t good enough to include. I kind of revisited the same things I wrote about recently in Arrogance & Modesty, and while that’s far from what I’d consider an adequate ‘replacement lecture’, it still gets across a more up to date understanding of arrogance than what I had back when I wrote my first contribution to the written lectures of the Sith.

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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.

Merry Christmas

Christmas… A time to celebrate and revel in the connections we have with one another. Perhaps to reflect on the influence I’ve had on those around me, and the affect they’ve had on me. It’s not that different from how I saw it when I was a kid, actually; I use different words, but in many ways it’s still the same.

It’s fascinating, really, in the sense that gift giving, family gatherings, and parties are all customs that we engage in which demonstrate the connections we have to others, and the ties they have to us.

Cut out all the religous and anti-religious crap, all the commercialism and the griping about said commercialism, and that is what you’re left with. Demonstrations of the webwork of power we all exist within. It’s not about spreading love, being jolly, or giving and recieving; it’s not even about family or friends. Not exactly. All of these things come into it, but underlying everything…

…Christmas is about power.
How much we have, and how much we allow others to have over us.
The ways we all exercise it with one another, and the intensity of those influences.
The place (within) that it springs from.
The tapestry our connections make between us.

So fellow practitioners, and casual roamers of the internet…
Merry Christmas. Have a good one.

Vulgar Displays of Power

The Nature of Power

The only time I ever seem to hear people talk of power is when they’re talking about politics. Or when someone commits genocide. Or else something of the like. I find this hilarious, personally, and I’ll tell you why. The only time they talk about this is when it is a vulgar display of power. It’s almost a profane word in the way most people use it. Me? I happen to like power, in fact I am exercising my power in writing, at this very moment. And these words have an affect; whether you think I’m full of myself and reject every proposition of mine, or you completely agree with what I say. Furthermore, how you react to that power is within your power. It’s your choice on what you take and what you filter out, it’s even your choice to continue reading or, alternatively, to ignore these words.

In the simplest terms, power is influence. It’s hardly exclusive to the politicians and the business executives. It’s comical to me that anyone would believe themselves not to have it. You don’t think your choices have affected what talents you have, what college you’re attending, or what hobbies you pursue? And what about your relationships, do you really believe you have no impact on the thinking and emotional state of people you interact with on a daily basis? You don’t think you have an effect on what your best friend thinks of you? No, you have power. The question isn’t “do I have it?”, but rather, “will I admit that I have power?”

There are what I might call different intensities though, if someone were interested in a sort of classification system. The kind most commonly cited today is, as I said, vulgar. It’s heavy, in your face, and is rarely seen in a ‘positive’ way.

The Role of Choice

Choice is the agent through which power is exercised; and we all have the power of choice, inevery aspect of our lives. Does a drug ‘addict’ have a choice in doing heroine? I would say yes, it was a choice to start, and the physical dependency is a symptom (or consequence, if you will) of that choice. Does a homeless guy have a choice between starving and stealing food? I say yes, because even if in some uncommonly principled man, the principles driving his decision would have been his choice. I could give you examples all day, or you could offer your own and I doubt it’d take long to see where it came down to individual choice.

This is what power’s all about: choice. Fate is a crock, destiny’s bullshit; if this life is a rollercoaster, I’m not just the one riding, I’m also the grunt that makes the tracks.

Ripple Effect

Consequences. When it comes right down to it, there will always be ripples, affects of the choices you make. If you just saved someone’s life, that wasn’t God, it wasn’t a miracle, it was your choice. If you just flunked an exam in your favorite college class, that’s a ripple of your choices.

Seeing power in a different light, almost to the point of trivializing it, is just a matter of accountability, to yourself above all others.

Responsibility

Yeah, that’s right, responsibility. To yourself and, by extension, to the people you care about. I’ve heard people talk about wanting to do whatever they want whenever they want all the way through high school, I’ve heard myself gripe about that to over the years. The only response I have to that these days is pretty straightforward… Everybody has the power to do as they please; the trick is to legitimately figure out what you want as an individual, what your dreams and aspirations are, to put value into saying “I want”.

And once you’ve done that, there’s no excuse. With that kind of awareness, you have responsibility to yourself to make choices and exercise your personal power, moving yourself closer to those dreams you’ve had. If you don’t, that’s your choice to… and it’s a weak one.

Concerning others, they are accountable to themselves to. As self-absorbed as I can be, I am not the only Individual in the world.

“Respect the Individual, not just yourself.”
~Khaos

Returning once more to this lecture as an example, I don’t feel I’m responsible for how you take my words. Do with ’em what you like, I couldn’t force them down your throat even if I wanted to. Power over others is just as much of an illusion as others having power over you, at least in the sense that most people seem to see it.

Vulgarity and Subtlety

Some of the examples, as broad as they’ve been, hopefully point out that those blatant displays of influence aren’t the whole picture. Power, like passion, is a defining point of all life, from one-cell organisms to humans.

Violence is blatant, and there’s power in it; legislative influence affects a lot of people, so it’s easy to see. But take a closer look, and you can see it’s a hell of a lot more than that.

It’s only a matter of awareness. Right under your nose is all the power over your life, maybe more than you would believe. It’s not something you can attain, just something to recognize. The air you breath, it’s there to, even if you don’t acknowledge it. You use it even if your ignorant of its presence.

The Dark Is Nothing

Black HoleIf I equate the individual to a black hole, the following question comes to mind: does the abyss contain an all-consuming fire, pulling inward all that it can, or is it empty, a void of nothingness? I would say both; in order to synthesize the two ideas, another idea might be introduced that brings a greater understanding of what seems to be a contradiction at first glance. It is the assertion that nothing isn’t really nothing… that ‘nothing’, if it can be pointed to and called anything at all, must be ‘something’.

“Strong hope is a much greater stimulant of life than any single realized joy could be.”
~Friedrich Nietzsche

Hope is empty, unfulfilled, hollow. Like desire, like ambition. They are, in their own strange way, voids. And they are also an important part of the strength and reach of gravity an individual can have. They ache to fill themselves. Little ambitions, small hopes, meager embers… they allow only for a quaint field of gravity. A flame that’s fed though, a dark flame that grows into an inferno… well, I’ve been known to say that we’re all born bright and shiny, but few develop the true gravity and darkness of a Dead Star fallen in upon itself.

DarkStar[1]For the successful Dark Adept, that so-called ‘nothing’ is the flame within, one that grows exponentially, insatiable, devouring all it is able to, and growing more able all the while. So it is indeed ‘something’, but beyond the experience or range of perceptions possessed by any true servant/follower of the light, and perhaps even beyond what most people can see or grasp, in spite of whatever brushes or flirtations with it they might have had in the past. The lighter folk especially… they can’t really pin it down as being anything, and so they call it nothing.

The Dark Side is a thing you must be enthralled in – in the grips of it, immersed in it, married and devoted to it – to truly perceive, appreciate, or understand. Dionysian, beyond the experience of a purely Apollonian spirituality. It is forever beyond reach of light bearers for the same reason that light will always be beyond me… I am not of it, and they are not of the Dark. To them, the dark is nothing. To us, it is everything.

Sith Aphorism

Be what you are – make choices and act on them – and there are no limitations.

The Passionate Teachers

I think a big part of the problem I had with teachers in high school was that they weren’t people I respected. To this day, I still say that’s with good reason too, because there were a few throughout the years that I had a lot of respect for as people that were worth paying attention to. It didn’t really occur to me until just now, but in retrospect it was their passion and their striving to feed it that caught my attention; these men and women fucking cared, about their students and about their jobs (really, their callings). Not all of them were the typical ‘cool’ ones either, in fact almost all of them expected a lot… some expected excellence as a base line.

Which is something they had in common with a lot of teachers that I wrote off as idiots or lazy twats, but in them I took it in stride because of what it sprang from. The latter wanted precision and perfection because they were snobbish, to lazy to do their part and fulfill their role, and – in my eyes – seemed to hate their job. But the ones I liked expected it because they cared, not just about their students but for their own responsibilities (which, really, is the only way you can do your students much good). And I could see it. I imagine it’s not unlike instilling morale and loyalty in a group of subordinates, or inspiring confidence and receptivity in people you work with on a regular basis.

Ultimately, I students are responsible for their own accomplishments in failures – in school, at the Force Academy or the Order, in the work place… anywhere. And piss poor teachers are only an excuse to fall back on for failures. It comes down to what the student learns, not what the teacher teaches. But if there’s to be an actual, genuine relationship between teacher and student it has to be symbiotic. If a teacher wants to be respected, listened to, or worked with, then their heart needs to be in it just as much as that of the student; it’s a two way street.

I got to thinking about this because of a blog I follow called Mysteries and Manners. See, when I’d first stumbled onto it, I’d thought about this, and before reading through all of her last post I decided to articulate the thoughts that had been simmering on it, because I can already tell she would have been a teacher that had my respect and attention in class. I think it shows in the things she writes that she’s one of those teachers that’s got a calling, and a passion for what she does. The fact that she has so much to say about school, her students, how she approaches them and things she’s learned from her experiences… the blog kind of centers around this, which you’ll see pretty quick if you read the “About” page.

Anyways, that’s what inspired this post (i.e. the passion she seems to have for what she does). It’s admittedly from a student’s perspective and reflections on experiences in public schools (K-12th), which I can’t help but see as a bit one-sided given the experience I’ve accumulated over these last few years, but it’s probably close to what the student in high school (or in earlier grade levels) sees and responds to on an instinctual level at that age, in that setting.

Degrees of Control

Control is a relatively meaningless word for me these days. Control what? People,circumstance… myself? No, what people are really talking about when they talk about control is mostly about comforting themselves, or whining about how they’re uncomfortable because they lack it. But it’s bullshit, a bad joke, and that’s all it really is. You can talk about it in ‘degrees’ if you want, but why not just call it what it is? Influence. Power. The only way ‘control’ factors into it is in degrees, and anything you want to learn, any related skill, can be learned by experimentation with your own influence.

What people call self-control is, more often than not, developed from firsthand experience and application of power, testing how far yours reaches, how much you can sustain and expand it, and how to do that effectively. Focusing on control itself though, at least from where I stand now, reminds me of the idea that developing ‘dark traits’ – such as those outlined by Paimon in Traits of a Dark Warrior – can be done by having a list of traits to aspire to, and doing ones best to cultivate them. Sure you can try, you can even succeed I guess, but you’re missing the fucking point.

If you resonate with darkness then there are no extra dark traits you need beyond the ones you have and the ones that grow naturally from the qualities that are already present. It’s the same thing with “control”; it’s a word slapped onto something others perceive as an indicator of something, and instead of tracing it back to where this “control” they see actually sprang from, they focus on the “control” itself. As with dark traits, what people see as “control” doesn’t usually (if ever) truly develop out of striving for control itself – that’s not the heart of it. It’s power, and power is built on passions, on those needs you have to satisfy.

“It’s like a finger pointing away to the moon. Don’t concentrate on the finger or you will miss all that heavenly glory.”
~Bruce Lee

As long as your focusing on one of the branches though, you’ll never see the tree they grew outwards from. Or as Bruce Lee put it, if you concentrate on the finger, you won’t experience the divinity at the heart of it – and unlike the moon, it’s not far away or even all that difficult to see if you stop forcing things for yourself, over-thinking, trying to do this or that, and do what comes naturally to you. It’s in your heart. These traits, these distracting jokes, are either something you eventually learn to see past, or it’s something you get hung up on (in which case, well, it sucks to be you), never realizing that the finger you can’t look past is a middle finger, and if it belonged to anyone they’d be laughing at you. Besides…

“If everything seems under control, you’re just not going fast enough.”
~Mario Andretti

Par Excellence

It is of the utmost importance for dark practitioner to hold himself to the highest standard. The natural bleed over, especially in those that do this successfully, is in attempts to hold all others to higher standards. On one level, this is fine; and from this, there are two options: to be vocal in criticisms or to judge others in silence. Given the understanding a devotee of the dark side might have of power, especially as a seasoned Student or newly christened Knight, the former probably seems the most obvious choice. To affect change in such enviroments as the ones we converse in, the outright vocalization of one’s judgements is probably seen as the most expedient and effective way of getting others to do, be, and perform ‘better’. In any case, I would say that historically it has been the most common choice. That being said, I wouldn’t necessarily regard it as the most effective.

Silence, if you stop and think about it, can actually have a bunch of different implications. It could signify apathy, it could indicate agreement and therefore a lack of need to say anything else, it might mean that someone disagrees with something but sees a way in which challenging it would detract from the furtherment of their own agenda (or that it might even serves ones purpose better to remain silent). It could be that to break ones silence (especially selective silence(?)) would ruin what the individual aims to achieve in a given context in the same way a magic trick would be ruined if you told the audience how the tirck worked just before performing it for them.

(Written May 18th, 2012 // Totally incomplete & abandoned.)

Sith Quote (D. Draconis)

“Hate weakness all you want, but the weak have their uses.”
~D. Draconis