Since I am not all right, I sometimes find myself reading self-help books. I am not proud of this. There is something pathetic about a man almost forty-five who is still trying to straighten himself out. There is something still more pathetic about such a man relying on mass-market paperbacks in order to do so.
I realized I was ashamed of myself for reading self-help when I noticed that I would always hide the cover of the book if I happened to be reading it in public. And the thought of an acquaintance appearing out of nowhere and saying “So, what are you reading?” mortifies me.
I deal with this problem by restricting myself to manly self help books, or to ones published back when people were less pathetic (e.g., Dale Carnegie’s books). My most recent manly acquisition is Richard “Mack” Machowicz’s Unleash the Warrior Within. The author is a former Navy SEAL who now has a lucrative business as, I guess you could say, a “life coach” who also teaches self-defense. The Amazon reviews were encouraging. What Machowicz promises to do is to apply what he learned in the SEALS to the challenges of daily life.
I’m now about 70 pages into the book and I have to say that despite its flaws I have learned a few things of value. In fact, it led me to a momentous realization.
On page 27 Machowicz introduces the acronym CARVER, which is used by the SEALS in deciding whether or not a target is worth going after. I won’t rehearse all the details, but here’s the gist of it:
CARVER stands for:
Criticality: how critical is this to the mission?
Accessibility: how easily can this target be accessed?
Recognizability: how easily is the target recognized?
Vulnerability: how vulnerable is the target?
Effect on the overall mission: will this advance the overall mission, or not?
Recuperability: Can the enemy recover from this? How long will it take them?
Both the “Criticality” and “Effect on the overall mission” criteria presuppose that the action being contemplated is part of a larger effort. CARVER only works by keeping that larger effort in mind. For example, our mission is to win the war. Will taking out this particular target really help us do that? Is the target important enough?
Machowicz goes on to explain pretty straightforwardly how to apply this to daily life. We are constantly confronted with choices about what to go after in life. CARVER can help us decide what truly is worth going after. Do I really want to change jobs? Do I really want a relationship? And so forth. However, just as in war, CARVER only works in life if you have an overall “life mission” – i.e., a purpose. It is only by keeping that purpose in mind that you can decide on the reasonableness of various courses of action.
This way of thinking immediately appealed to me when I read it the night before last at around 9:00 p.m. I like orderliness and system, and this appeared to me to be a great way to go about making rational decisions in life. I suppose I had been doing this all along, to some extent, but to have the technique laid out so clearly and systematically gave me a sort of a warm but manly feeling.
But then I had a terrible realization. As soon as I tried to apply the technique to a specific question I had on my mind, I realized it would not work for me. It would not work because . . . I have no purpose in life. The thought danced through my head as negative thoughts sometimes do in the latter part of the evening. I was ready to dismiss it as “the bad thoughts” marijuana often gives me, but then I realized I was not yet stoned. I thought the thought again. No, this can’t be true, I said to myself. So, I tried to identify what my purpose is. And I could not.
One of the many strange things about this situation is that it took me so long to realize I had no purpose, no real reason for living at all. I really did think that I had a purpose. In the past there were many “goals” I set for myself that had to do with getting an education, getting a job, etc. But these were relatively short term goals. I realized that I have now, in fact, accomplished all of the goals I set for myself when I was in college – and that nothing, no larger goal or mission, has taken their place.
I was sitting on the couch when this hit me, the book in my lap. The stereo was off. It’s actually pretty quiet in Queens, and all I could hear was the low, high-pitched hum that normally sings in my head (the result of hours of caffeine intake). All of a sudden the room seemed to get smaller, and I felt butterflies in my stomach. It was the sort of feeling I get when I realize I’ve forgotten to do something of major importance and now it’s going to cost me big. It was a moment of clarity. I started thinking “is this the beginning of my midlife crisis?” That thought was easily dismissed. My midlife crisis began when I was 24; it is my normal state of existence. This was just a new wrinkle – a realization that things were even worse than I thought they had been. It’s one thing not to have a purpose in life, but quite another to be subconsciously deluded into thinking one does. A further sign of madness, I thought.
I went and fetched a legal pad and began jotting notes to myself. (One thing I have learned from self-help books is always write things down.)
“What is my purpose in life?” I wrote. I immediately copped out by channeling Aristotle: “Living well,” I wrote on the line below. But what is that? Is it being “comfortable”? No, because I actually am comfortable but I don’t feel any fundamental satisfaction with my life. Besides, I have complete contempt for people whose aim is to be “comfortable.” Is it “financial security”? No, that’s just part of being comfortable. Is it “professional success or respectability”? No. I have complete contempt for the people in my profession, and the profession itself just seems to me now like a bullshit waste of time. Is it “living in a particular place?” No. As the sage said “wherever you go, there you are.” Besides, I live in New York City. Why would I go to another city? And I’m not the farm type. Is it “having a relationship”? At this I began to heave.
The truth is that none of the things that give other people satisfaction are going to do anything for me at all. I have plenty of comforts and plenty of “fun” but seldom actually enjoy any of it. I suppose I am the sort of person who simply cannot be satisfied by happiness. I can’t really feel satisfied unless . . . unless what? Unless, I suppose, I’m living for something big. I thought I was doing that, but I guess I was wrong.
So I sat there staring at the legal pad. And all of a sudden a voice spoke to me. It was a thin, somewhat high-pitched voice that sounded slightly speeded-up. What it said was “The destruction of the modern world.”
I sat there a moment and smiled slightly. No, I thought, that’s silly. It’s too big a purpose, for one thing. Too impractical. But then the voice spoke again, insistently: “The destruction of the modern world.” This got me thinking. When I was a child my mother took me to see a psychologist. I don’t remember why and thankfully my mother is dead so she can’t remind me. She did, however, tell me years later what the psychologist had said: “He will always set his goals too low.” Well, so much for her! See if you can top destroying the modern world. That’s a pretty ambitious goal. But did it make sense for me? Was it proactive enough? Did it empower me? (To use some words I’ve picked up from self-help books.)
I began to think of an incident that occurred the last time I talked with a good friend of mine. We were walking on the beach in San Francisco at sunset and I was discussing with him my various doubts, dissatisfactions, and insecurities. “But there is one thing I am in absolutely no doubt about,” I said. “And that’s that the modern world is completely fucked up. I have no doubt that I am right about that.” And I spoke truly. This time there was no little voice in my head pestering me with Are you sure? Or Do you really mean that? And I went on: “There is no doubt in my mind that it’s all bullshit: feminism, multiculturalism, diversity, egalitarianism, democracy, globalism, gay liberation, progress, capitalism – all of it.”
I have set myself against the whole of the modern world. As I sat on the couch with my legal pad, the ten o’clock hour approaching, I reflected on how this opposition between myself and everything else might form a true purpose. My hatred of the modern world is the only thing I am truly passionate about (well, that and film – but it’s too late to go to Hollywood). It is the only thing about which I have complete and absolute moral certitude. And I can think of no greater undertaking than setting myself against this world and making its destruction my sole, animating purpose in life.
The modern world is my dragon, and I must slay it. To do this I must be as pure and as single-minded as Sigurd. This is the sort of stuff that excites me. I love to subject myself to rigorous regimens and schedules for physical and mental self-improvement. Now that I have found my purpose, I can orient everything else around it. Everything I do, say, or think – everything I eat or drink or buy or watch or participate in, must somehow directly or indirectly serve my cause. These thoughts made me look forward to tomorrow, something I haven’t done much of since I was small.
I’m sure other readers of Counter-Currents have had thoughts similar to mine. And I’m sure they have also had the experience I had the following day. I woke up filled with enthusiasm for my new life, but almost immediately a serious problem occurred to me. Exactly what can I do to destroy the modern world? All those ideas about disciplining myself for the cause are well and good, but what will be the direct actions that will help to destroy everything? Admittedly, the task is daunting. I would love to be Tyler Durden and coordinate Project Mayhem. But I’m fairly sure I’d get caught eventually and sent off to be some huge black man’s cellmate. (This is worrisome, as I am still pretty cute.) Nothing would be served by my going to jail. So what is there to do?
I went back to the legal pad, and made the following list:
- Write. Write for Counter-Currents, or whatever. Use the internet to try and corrupt the minds of as many people as possible. (“Corrupt” is ironic – it’s only corruption from the standpoint of the establishment.) Help to create a new counterculture.
- Read as much as possible, and try to understand this world. Read (or re-read) Evola, Guénon, DeBenoist, O’Meara, Heidegger, Spengler, etc.
- Network. Find others like yourself. Encourage them. Meet. When I was a child I dreamed of starting a secret organization like the ones in the James Bond movies. I could sit behind great steel louvers, and my cat and I could electrocute people in their chairs or feed them to piranhas. So naturally the idea of an international brotherhood of men dedicated to the destruction of the modern world greatly appeals to me. It’s a dream, but it’s not a totally unrealistic one.
- Contribute money to worthy causes. As far as stuff on the right goes, I think Counter-Currents is pretty much the best thing around. So many of the other groups or websites are hung up on scientism and are nothing but IQ, demographics, etc. It’s as if they think that all we have to do is run out the blacks or Mexicans and everything will be all right again. This is insane. There is something seriously defective about a culture that would allow our sort of problems to arise in the first place. Nothing less than a ruthless critique of modernity itself – really of the whole post-Christian, Western world – will suffice. That’s what Counter-Currents is all about. These guys are aiming to establish an American version of the French New Right – but a New Right that is not locked into an ivory tower, a New Right that is engaged with the critique of popular culture and the creation of an alternative community. That’s why I donate money to them every month. (No I was not paid to say this, and no Jef Costello is not the pen name of Greg Johnson or Mike Polignano. Jef Costello is not my real name but I am a real person, and I think that Counter-Currents has the most promise of any New Right/Traditionalist website/publishing enterprise out there.)
This may not seem like much, but actually it’s quite a lot. Certainly enough to become the centerpiece of my life. Certainly enough to allow me to plan everything else around it.
So this is how I found my purpose in life. If you, the reader, feel that the modern world is worth destroying then you need to ask yourself: what am I doing to destroy it? And if this is not your top priority, why not? Do you have something more important to do? What could that possibly be? Raise your children, you say? That’s fine. Your children can play an important role in destroying the modern world. Fill them to the gills with your hate. Turn them into ticking little time bombs filled with dangerous ideas. You don’t want to make them unhappy, you say? You want them to be well-adjusted? But if they were well-adjusted to this world you couldn’t respect them! Now that you’ve brought children into the modern world, the least you can do is to turn them into decent people, and that really entails turning them against the culture.
So, please: no excuses. Take stock right now. Today. If you are spending your days on things that have nothing to do with destroying the modern world then you must change your life.