Monthly Archives: August 2020

Compassionate Defetishization by Mindfully Viewing Pornography

I've had a lot of success from a couple sessions on Pornhub, noticing something that seems like a weirdly intense/familiar turnon, getting curious/confused about it until it clicks that this is a pattern I've been seeking out in multiple contexts.

But it wasn't about safely enjoying the thing - in one case I noticed that the hook was predatory and based on fear in a way that didn't really add up, and I just kept looking at it until I was just kind of sad. Then I was ready to move on.

This can't be done without unconditional self-acceptance, though.

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To-Do Stress

NoSilverV asked:

What even is stress?!?!?!?! why can't i just go through my to-do list without stressing out!?!?!? is it fake-ly adding urgency to motivate myself to do things i wouldn't do otherwise and then i must pay the costs!?!?!!?

You've been conditioned so that task lists trigger you into a high-SNS state, expecting punishment of some kind. This isn't autonomously motivated, there probably isn't contemporaneous pressure towards it if you're not still in school, so you can just condition yourself back out.

By practicing calming down when you look at your todo list (via meditation, progressive muscle relaxation, slow deep breathing, just pausing) and then figuring out whether you want to do anything on the list right now.

Benefit to calming down before you start driving to the next task: you might decide the next task is dumb and skip it, saving time.

On Transgressive Coordination

Selentelechia asked:

how on earth did we get the *pedophiles* for our elites 
frankly at this point I would vote for the lizard people at least they wouldn't have any reason to, well, you know

By declaring pedophilia the worst transgression, we made it the Schelling point for elites to bond via shared transgression.

You might better ask, how did we end up governed by transgression-bonded elites

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On Straussian Esoteric Readings

People have been hornswoggled about how hard proper Straussian esoteric reading is - or perhaps about how proper Straussian esoteric reading is hard. All you have to do is track separately:

  • The literal implications of the text which add up to something coherent
  • The connotative subtext that doesn't literally add up to anything coherent

This is hard because people lose reading comprehension when triggered (and we're triggered MUCH more often than the connotative subtext of trauma discourse would imply); it's hard to stay logical while engaging with misdirection, but reading comprehension requires logic.

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Against Conservative Liberalism

From Twitter:

PSA: I'm not agreeing to dismantle sh*t until you can tell me:
1) What we're building instead
2) By what means
3) On what time-frame
4) How it will function, &
5) How it will *better* guard against misanthropes' impulses to exploit, oppress, & divide masses for self-serving ends

The implicit assumption here is that humans are trying to make bad things happen, and destroying a demon by default empowers an even stronger, nastier demon (I think this is at the root of my (and Robin Hanson's) disagreement with Zvi on blackmail.) This sort of conservative bias fails to get the right answer to questions like "should I sabotage the train tracks to Auschwitz?". (That was a live question for the US during WWII, and Roosevelt got the wrong answer.)

Very often, the correct answer to "what will we replace it with?" is "nothing." It's often hard to dismantle stuff, and we often sublimate violence instead of deescalating, but that's not really the same problem.

Related: Raise the Crime Rate, Reflections from the Halfway Point

Reason as an Identity Group

@nosilverv tweeted:

Wait so what happens literally after french invent the supremacy of reason and decide to overthrow tradition gets dubbed the 'Reign of Terror' because it was nothing but multiple massacres and public executions and we somehow still are default yay-reason boo-tradition!?!??!?!!?!?

I responded:

Cause the "reason" faction won the meme war. As factions that kill off all their enemies sometimes do. The Catholic Church's mind control regime was similarly strong pre-Luther, and Team Reason let the Church survive since the Church didn't seem like a live opponent. Tocqueville helped me track how the Rationalism that "won" was State Rationalism. Corey Robin's intro theory course tweet is relevant.

To be fair we have primary sources to check, and the Enlightenment really was pretty persuasive before the French Revolution, although there were actually two, one of which was less identified with the state (the Spinozan-Scottish one).

I'm pro-reason, but an important part of doing that right is understanding the circumstances under which life-aligned Rationalism gets coopted or replaced by power-aligned Rationalism

Bob the Builder, and the Neo-Puritan Deal

It’s story time, and our protagonist’s name is Robert Moses. He’s responsible for building most of the highways and bridges around NYC, as well as much of the parkway infrastructure in New York State.

Let’s say a new highway was getting built. What would Moses’s job be?

Moses was the guy who oversaw the design work to propose the highway, lobbied the legislature and governor for funds, got the budget passed, oversaw the construction work, and collected any revenues afterwards if there were tolls. He was very clearly the but-for guy.

He personally accumulated massive amounts of political power and funding and responsibility, and used it to force aside political opposition to get things built when no on else could. He built his own fiefdom within the New York State government, that was in practice unassailable by mayors and governors, made himself the natural coordination point for getting funding for things, and leveraged his power to get more power etc, which he used to build more things, setting off several related positive feedback loops:

Robert Moses had credibility because he got credit for everything that got built. Therefore, he could shape the narrative to assign him the lion’s share of the credit for future projects, less he use his moral authority to discredit naysayers.

Robert Moses had power because he controlled ongoing funding sources and political offices overseeing most government construction. Therefore, he could use this as leverage to acquire control over new offices and projects, lest he freeze decisionmakers out of existing construction.

The man was a power-mad maniac. But the interesting thing is how his public persona - and a lot of how he got his initial endowment of power, credibility, and consistent media support - was entirely built around a personal brand of meritocracy, the impression that he was a disinterested, technocratic public servant, above the politics of pull.

Robert Caro found this interesting enough to biograph, and I think he's a good case-study of how narratives of public service, meritocracy, and objectivity can be a sort of elitist self-dealing.

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