Author Archives: Benquo

Childhood Memory

It feels almost like my childhood was a mashup of the movie It,* and Never Let Me Go.**

I've been coming to terms with just how much of my childhood self is inaccessible to me. Last night I had an apparently deeply triggering conversation with a childhood friend. Afterwards, a more recent friend managed to clarify the extent to which I had simply lost access to my perspective as a child.

Today I made some progress, and got some detail on things like:

There wasn't a binary compartmentalization between books (real) and mundane life (fake), there was some kind of more complex thing going on where I was conditioned to let reality slide out of focus for my intellect so that I could implement a Pass As Normal procedure. Passing As Normal isn't actually an opinion about reality, just a behavior.

My friends and I were definitely aware that something was wrong with the grownups, but it somehow didn't feel available to discuss the problem directly. We were being kept in this locally humane setting by adults who were trying to be kind to us now but definitely expected us to eventually go and participate in the world that had dimmed their inner light.

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The Logic of Pol Pot

Adele asked:

as far as i can tell, whether you get a Pol Pot or a Ho Chi Minh is a matter of luck...
has anyone thought of ways to robustly get the right person in charge?

This seems like either a somewhat confused question or at least one that relies on some core assumptions I don't share. Why is "get the right person in charge" the right level of intervention?

Pol Pot's policies aren't indicative of his personal badness, they reflect a certain level of skepticism about expertise narratives that benefit extractive elites.

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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