Preaching from the Peak: A Conceptual Parable for the Information Age

[Warning: This is a very different post from what you may be used to. It has multiple layers.]

Come with me on a thought experiment where I will play with your perceptions. To begin, you must blank your mind and, try as best you can, to empty it.

Successful? Good.

Now, what do you perceive? I should be the only thing on your mind right now, besides perhaps a persistent perception of yourself. How do you perceive me? Can you see me in your mind’s eye? Or am I more like a disembodied voice in a cave, speaking to you in ethereal tones? Perhaps you see me like some miserly old man, hoarding knowledge and secrets in his ivory tower. The way in which you perceive me will influence how you perceive my message; no matter how carefully I encode it, meaning does not exist until you decode it. And in order to decode my message, you take several things into account even if you are not aware of these things. Decoding is largely a process of perception, but it is also a process of assigning meaning; in other words, your very reality is constructed as you decode the world around you.

Allow me to treat you as tabula rasa, now. I will explain the story of the world to you; even though you think you know this story, and I think I know you think you know this story, I will be telling it anyway.

Imagine this image is like a tarot card I’ve slid across the table to you – a visual aid to help with the myth I am making. It is obvious to some that the world was begun in chaos, and as time passed, the world slowly worked itself into order. This is a very simple idea which is validated by pedestrian observations –mustn’t this be the case, we ask, when we realize the relative order we perceive as we age? Life begins chaotically and proceeds unto order. Minor pockets of chaos, swirls of disorder, are smoothed out by the immutable and eternal flow of time – this is the way of things, optimistic and reassuring despite evidence to the contrary. Perfection is merely a function of eternity. Or so some perceive.

Don’t like that tarot or what it implies, wanderer? Don’t worry. I probably have the world view for you somewhere in my stack. Here, try this one. Can you decode the reality here? I’ll lend you my aid – this is a more cynical outlook, though not necessarily a fatalistic one. A person who thinks like this feels like the good old days are in the past and the future doesn’t hold as much promise, yet this isn’t enough to get too worked up about. Life goes on, after all, and even if the future isn’t what it’s cracked up to be, you still have a life you’ve got to live.Mustn’t this be the case, wanderer?

I can sense you are not satisfied, wanderer. Moreover, you are frustrated, aren’t you? I hope you don’t feel I’m being patronizing. It’s easy to lose the fundamentals when you’re drowning in a sea of complications, and I felt as though maybe you were looking for something more basic. I’ve got one last tarot that may suit your needs – take a gander. You know what they say – third time’s a charm! Let’s decode the reality here – seems like life is very competitive and chaotic. Mustn’t this be the case,wanderer? Weakness cannot possibly survive at all, and in fact, death and destruction may bring about great change – although, it is recognized, we are unsure of what is beyond the great beyond. After all, that time has not come yet. But you’re the confident sort, aren’t you wanderer – the kind who likes to advocate that which you do not know?

Hmm. I’m getting the feeling you’re not sold. You must be very clever. Most of my customers have already bought in by this point! I’ve been in the business a long time and I’ve seen all kinds. That’s okay, though. I don’t mind a hard sell. In fact I rather look forward to them – they’re such a rare treat! Eons last an awful long time, don’t you know? The tarot hat trick didn’t do the trick for you, but that’s okay traveler. I have more tricks up my sleeve. Just take a look at this here rune:

Now there’s a holistic perspective if ever I’ve heard of one! It’s the circle of life, traveler, can’t you see it? It explains so much more than those silly tarot cards – don’t look at me that way, traveler, I knew you wouldn’t want any of that fake stuff anyway – and doesn’t it just give you a certain sense of…certainty? Things are inevitable, but since you understand your fate and the mechanisms that drive it, you can take comfort. No sense in fighting against the circle of life – it will crush you with its omnipotence and the natural order of things will carry on in only the way nature can. The more things change the more they stay the same – mustn’t this be the case, traveler?

Still haven’t bought in, eh? You’re no mere traveler, are you? I didn’t mean disrespect. I deal with a lot of people and I don’t experience time the way you might think that I do…there I am rambling again. What I’m getting at, is, sometimes I have difficulty reading people and knowing how it is they really see things. I’m just trying to give you want you want, interloper – the reality that will jive most closely with your inner desires and secure you that happiness. Who was the jerk that guaranteed us the pursuit but not the reward, anyway? But boy, you’re a tough sell. Let’s see if the next rune is for you, interloper:

Pretty clever, huh! You probably don’t even need my assistance decoding this one and constructing reality. You’re awfully clever interloper, but just in case there’s somebody else listening in, let me try and spell it out for them a bit. No sense in hoarding the truth, right? Obviously there’s no such thing as a circle of life – that’s silly, it doesn’t take into account culture; you know, time and place. Still, though, things tend to follow patterns, even though exceptions exist, and maybe there’s a universal culture and maybe there isn’t, and maybe some things are immune to the patterns but most things aren’t so why bother considering those paradoxes? This is all very enlightening, as you well know, interloper. It explains so much, but the world’s awfully big and hard to change, isn’t it? Oh well. Pick and choose the culture that fits you – that’s the secret to success! Mustn’t this be the case, interloper?

You’re still here? I should apologize, friend; I’ve been seriously underestimating you! Like I said, I’m just trying to give you what you want, and most people just want it easy. You’re a tough customer, a hard sell, that’s for sure. Nothing wrong with that, nothing at all. You know, this is a real treat. I don’t often get to dig into my collection of glyphs but it looks like this one might speak to you. Wouldn’t you know it, I got a glyph for everybody, that’s far too many glyphs to be having since so very few actually want ‘em. In any case, take a look, friend, and tell me what you see:

Awfully confusing, isn’t it? That’s okay. Maybe you see what I can see; maybe you perceive what I perceive. After all, friend, perception is reality. Mustn’t that be the case? I could help you understand this better, in theory at least, but there’s another rule. Something about prophets in their own land – I can’t remember the rule exactly, but I know it means I can’t share all the secrets with you. I’m sorry friend. I really am!

But you’re still here? You haven’t bought in yet? You…you want the secrets anyway? Well, brother. They’re not really secrets – not at all. You already knew the biggest secret – the best things in life come for free, brother. Here, let me show you:

Simple, really, when you stop and think about it. By the way, I’ve got a special task for you. Could you find me a reckless youth? I have a wild quest for him. I’m looking for somebody with pointy ears in green garb, golden hair. Swordsmanship skills are necessary and if he takes crazy and mystical sounding advice well from strangers that’d be a huge plus. Do you know the sort of youth I’m looking for? Well, I guess he doesn’t have to be a youth, brother, so long as he is free to act in a time of need – I think I remember something about him being destined to dispel the darkness. Awful alliteration and rather ominous but that’s the way these things go sometimes.

I don’t know if I should ask it, but, mustn’t this be the case, brother?

The Fullness of Time (Part 4) – Transcendence

[Standard Disclaimer: This analysis represents only my personal interpretation of the lyrical content of Redemption’s suite, The Fullness of Time, and is not representative of the opinions of either the band or any affiliated persons involved in the production of Redemption’s music; past, present or future.]

This is absolutely my favorite song of all time. I wanted to share this song with the readers of The Spearhead because I believe it contains a very powerful message that many could benefit from, but in order to fully understand why I believe it is so powerful, it was necessary to walk you through the three songs that feed into this one. Recall that Man has been betrayed and has been slowly coping with his responses – initially he was filled with Rage, which melted into Despair, until he was able to Release himself from the entropic nature of his initial responses. Here, he will Transcend and understand why he was made to suffer.

Without further ado, the first verse:

The smoke has finally cleared
And I can see the wreckage of my past that lies about me

The song opens with a (relatively) slow, reflective piano interlude, followed up with some acoustic guitar work before the vocals slowly work their way in. It is a big change of pace from Release’s heavy and fast guitars. The lyrics are likewise reflective, with Man looking back over everything that has happened to him and trying to understand what to make of it all. The sound of the wind gives you a sense that Man is taking a reflective journey through the “ruins” of his past, so to speak.

It’s all become so clear to me
And I have learned the
Truth behind the lies and the lies behind the truth

Man has realized that absolute truth is a powerful lie that can lead him to make poor decisions. As Voltaire once famously observed, “Those who can make you believe absurdities can convince you to commit atrocities.” Man has woken up to the nature of language ideologies and learned of the “truth behind the lies” as well as the “lies behind the truth,” or, in other words, how feminism had caused him to believe absurdities which caused him to commit atrocities. Understanding that truth is, ultimately, relative (not to dismiss the power of independently verifiable observations, ala scientific studies), he arrives at a conception of truth not unlike Kierkegaard’s – “The idea is to find a truth that is true for me; an idea for which I can live and die.” That idea is most certainly NOT feminism.

Everything in context finally makes sense
I see the paths I walked
Some I paved myself
Some where I went gladly
Some against my will

Context is extremely important in making truth evaluations – it is hard to understand what has happened or what really took place if we do not understand the context of events that have happened in our life. All too often, we go through life without understanding the context of the larger social forces of our culture (or cultures – we may be part of one culture, say a branch of the military, which is subservient to a still larger culture, such as the Department of Defense, which is subservient to the bureaucratic culture of government, which itself is still subservient to American culture…that’s just one example), let alone the forces that other cultures may have on ours as well. Perhaps here Man is saying he finally understands why feminism came about and how it has impacted his life in various ways. He sees the paths he had chosen for himself and how they were influenced by feminism, but he also understands his own culpability in what has happened to him. Some paths he paved himself and some he even went down gladly – I’d imagine that, in keeping with our analysis earlier, marriage was one such path. However, some paths were taken against his will – perhaps if he had understood better the differences between men and women and hadn’t been led to believe social lies like how gender differences are negligible, he might not ever have chosen to be so supplicating and placating in general. This is in line with discourse that understands that men are the ultimate enforcers of feminism or any other social force.

In any event, the next verse (the music kicks into high gear here):

Can leave behind the fear and doubt
And cast aside the shackles and the chains
Of flawed assumptions I learned as a child
I can’t let them distract me
So I’m putting aside the memories
Of the things I never had but thought I always wanted

Here, Man is fully rejecting the prevailing language ideologies that he “learned as a child,” likely in public education. Recall that the main enforcers of language ideologies are public education, the news media, the entertainment industry, corporate culture and the legal system – and none of these systems is immune to bias or misuse. These institutions taught Man flawed assumptions (one such assumption being that genders were equal in quantitative measures rather than qualitative ones – for example, that the genders are more or less “equally intelligent” rather than teaching that all people have equal worth as humans and leaving it at that). He can’t let these flawed assumptions distract him as he continues forward in life, on a more productive foot. Furthermore, he needs to set aside his longing for things he “never had but thought he wanted,” such as the perfect romance and domestic tranquility many Men assume will come with marriage. The last two lines are powerful in that they reference a word – memory – which implies events happened that man can recall, when really, there is a double meaning at work. Kierkegaard once remarked that “the most painful state of being is remembering the future – particularly one you can never have.” Man is remembering only illusions and the passed-down stories of a bygone era, and desiring things he never truly experienced himself – this is especially true of men my age (I am 21) who grew up in a completely feminized society, where romances of yore really are just myths and legends.

Next verse:

My notions of what makes relationships have a new light
I have gained an understanding
No more false facades
Covering my feelings
Preventing a connection

This is an important verse as well. Feminism changed the score for both men and women, and did away with traditional male values. Therefore, traditional male strategies may not necessarily apply anymore. One of the old rules of being a man was to keep constant vigil over our emotions and to never speak of them with other men, who we viewed as competitors for female affection. This thinking may not necessarily apply in contemporary times, where we as men need to work together in order to overcome the challenges that lay ahead for us. Man has realized here that the true purpose of communication is connection and understanding (this does not necessitate agreement!), and because Man now knows firmly where he stands and what he believes, he is not afraid to be “wrong.” In fact, he can’t be wrong – others may disagree with him but this will not shake his conviction or effect his contentment. The best relationships (regardless of gender) are always built on a bedrock of mutual trust, honesty and respect – and none of these things necessitates agreement though almost all of them necessitate understanding.

Because Man has realized that no one controls his emotions except for him, there is no reason to maintain a “false facade” and convince others that he is something he is not; there are few reasons to mask and deny his emotions. This is not encouragement to allow our emotions to control us, obviously, but really an embrace of true Stoicism. Too many men misunderstand Stoicism and think it is a philosophy of denial – just ignore emotions and they won’t bother you. This is not the case at all – true mastery of Stoicism is a true mastery of our responses to emotional stimulus. There is no reason to pretend that we are not sad when we are in fact sad; that being said, we need not make grandiose emotional displays of our sadness, either.

My favorite verse in the entire song is next:

I’ve been spending my whole life pursuing those who built this cell
Lamenting all the hateful things that happened to me
Never thought to look at how I might have played a part in what I am
Or what it means to lose the game before it starts

How many of us here can relate to this verse? I know I certainly can. I spent a large portion of my life looking to blame others for my misfortunes, trying to understand who built the cell I felt trapped in, complaining about all the injustices I was forced to endure. Like Man in the song, I never thought to look at how I might’ve been to blame for some of the things that happened to me, or even look at how the “game” was rigged to have me lose before I’d even begun playing. What I mean here is that feminism was in full swing well before I was born, and there was little I could ever hope to achieve or succeed at in light of that situation. Rather than look at the big-picture, however, and understand that the odds were stacked against me because our entire social system had been corrupted, I focused on my own life and trying to find individuals to blame (like my mother). I never thought that my complicity and happy agreement to buy into the party line – go to school, get good grades, go to college, get good grades, work hard, get a good job – was another factor contributing to building that “cell” around my life. As we at The Spearhead now know, much of feminism is funded on the taxes of single working men, and those who do their best to “succeed” (ie, make a lot of money) are contributing to the system, not necessarily making a better life for themselves.

This verse doesn’t just apply to big-picture items, however. I’m sure the readers can relate it to private events and transpirings in their lives. I know I can.

Next verse:

Now I know that I cannot turn back and change the past
And that the only choice to save myself
Is changing what I carry from it
Everything I did to myself
Everything that’s been done to me
I’ll turn my back on that and walk away

This is another poignant verse. All too often in the men’s community, I see men who are too happy to relegate themselves to a constant cycle of complaints and lament about the system. Man in the song, however, realizes that the past is the past and nothing can be done to change it. What can be done is change the things that we carry from it (rather than focus on all of the negatives of the past, we can choose to learn from the mistakes that have been made – by ourselves, by our friends, by our society – and carry these lessons into the future). The last three lines are Man’s resolve to forget about all the negative things that have happened to him – it’s more or less water under the bridge. He’s going to turn his back on those things and walk away. He’s going to “go his own way” and find a more productive and satisfying life – whether that be through a mastery of Game, through a successful expatriation to a foreign country, by marrying and settling down with a foreign wife, starting a brotherhood of his own, devoting himself to the deconstruction of feminism, or some other as yet undiscussed productive solution, Man has learned it is not productive to be locked into a constant cycle of Rage and Despair. Having Released himself from those negative and entropic mindsets, he can achieve Transcendence and actually get on with doing something fulfilling in life.

Next is a fairly straightforward verse:

And left with only me
At last I see the answer
And what I need to be
Letting go
I destroy my shell
Embrace my heart
And free myself

Again, Man has realized that ultimately, he has only himself to worry about – he can choose to worry about others if he wishes, but he is the master of his own destiny and he is the only one who can ensure his own happiness. He sees his answer (his strategy for carrying forward in life, see the above paragraph) and he lets go of the shell that was created for him in a feminist society (the old script of going to school, landing a good job, paying taxes, etc). He embraces his heart (that is to say, his true self) and, most importantly, frees himself of the system designed to trap him (one could even argue, enslave him). He is, perhaps for the first time, truly free in his thinking, speaking and doing. He can choose whatever it is that makes him happy – he can go his own way. He has discovered the truth that is true for him – the idea for which he can live and die. (Props to Kierkegaard for figuring this out way before I did.)

The next verse has several different lines being sung simultaneously, so they’ve been split up and we’ll take a look at each in turn:

The point of the search, may not be the answer
The value of a want, is not always a need
Still I stand, I’m not going to crawl
Now I know, I’ve got to believe

Once I was a person without malice
Once my heart bled red instead of black
Openness and introspection now show me the way
To reclaim all I’ve lost and take it back

You may have taken everything I ever had
But you cannot take my future

Just release yourself (x4)

In (A), Man repeats a platitude we’ve heard before but which has taken on a new significance in light of his recent epiphanies – sometimes the journey is just as important as the destination, if not more so. The lessons you learn in your travels can be more important than the perceived value of getting to your goal. The third line references the previous song’s conviction to stand and not crawl (to stand tall, as a man should, and believe in himself and his own convictions) and the final line reinforces the idea that it is all-important to discover that truth which is true for you, the idea for which you can live and die.

In (B), the first two lines reference Rage. The last two lines represent a strategy for overcoming Rage – Men must be open and honest about what it is that has troubled them, and they must abandon the old paradigms which view other men as competitors and enemies. The game has changed and feminism requires that men work together, at least for a time, in order to overcome it. It may be possible to reclaim what we have lost (our society) but it will not be easy and it will certainly require a lot of soul searching and commonality among men who may otherwise never have been allies.

In (C), a simple but powerful statement is asserted. Someone may be able to rob you of all your worldly possessions, but so long as they do not rob you of your life, you still have a future to forge. You can take this attitude to extremes – noted Stoic philosopher and slave, Epictetus, was a master of not letting things get to him and taking true control of his own life. He very clearly realized what was within his total control to do and what was not, and managed to retain contentment and dignity in situations ordinary men would despair and give up hope.

(D) is very simple – it is absolutely necessary as Men to release ourselves of the baggage of Rage and Despair first before we can proceed forward with anything productive. As tempting and alluring as it is to be caught in the vicious cycle of Rage and Despair – especially in light of some of the most horrible crimes that feminism has wrought on some men – we can never move forward if we do not Release ourselves from those forces. Transcendence is impossible otherwise.

Last verse:

All I was and
All I’ll ever be
Finally are integrated
And I am whole again
Now I know the reason for this suffering
I’m a better person for having known the pain

A better person having overcome the pain

The song/suite ends with an important revelation. Transcendence allows us to put our own lives into context – all we were and all we’ll ever be can become integrated, we can make ourselves whole. We don’t need to lament the “hateful things that happened to us,” we can instead choose to merely accept and understand them. I cannot tell you, the reader, what your personal reason to suffer was, but I have a good grip on why it was that I suffered, on my own personal reasons. Once again, openness and introspection are the keys – you can’t figure out this reason merely through one or the other (introspection without openness and discussion often leads to stagnation, openness without introspection rarely leads to self-revelation). We can be better people for having known our pain, and, more importantly, stronger people for having overcome our pain (Rage and Despair).

That’s all he wrote, folks. I hope my analysis made sense and I hope you learned something useful along the way, or saw things in a new light. I highly recommend checking the songs out for yourself if you get a chance, and moreover, I encourage you to do some introspection now on what you’ve read. Once you’ve done that, be open about it here on The Spearhead, and engage your fellow brothers (and some enlightened sisters who have likewise rejected feminism) in honest and frank discussion, lest you stagnate in your introspective endeavors. Being a man, a lot of my writing here was focused on the male perspective, but I want to make a caveat here. We should not be so quick to dismiss all women in our discussions and analyses – ultimately, if our species is to continue forward, some sort of gender reconciliation – whether it be one fueled by Rage or one fueled by Transcendence – is inevitable. Ladies, if you found anything to relate to in these songs, please do share. That being said, remain mindful and respectful of male perspectives. Civil discussion, folks.

I wish you the best of luck.