The Art of Nonconformity

You are never above a system you participate in.

Boycott what is disagreeable and engage fully with the rest.

The cog must escape the machine, or sacrifice himself for the sake of its destruction. To scoff and snarl at the machine is of no use. It is forgivable only to young men, at the time of their first realizations.

The sooner they understand what bravery is, the better. Bravery is striving to destroy what you despise, fostering and cultivating what you love, and never operating under principles that are not your own.

Beyond that, opinions are vanities. Sympathies unacted upon are vanities. Regrets are vanities outside their capacity to instruct us to better actions in the future. Cowardice is slicks words and a fine identity founded upon flexible principles.

Constitute yourself in accordance with observable instances of success in the natural world. Past failures are the signs of a mind out of sync with nature’s rules. Understand that punishments for mistakes often take years or generations to come, but they come.

The modern man has nothing so much to fear as his own tendency towards sloth and distraction.

If he wills himself capable of the commitment to toil half in measure with his peasant ancestors, he will find joy, for it will not be work in the field he does, but work in the mind, done not in order to take a single step on the treadmill of subsistence, but to improve the world at least somewhat in his own image, according to his own ideals of what is good and right and beautiful–

That is, if he does not sell his spine or let it erode unnoticed under the pressure of a social heard thousands of times more powerful than that of his ancestors. They exert force upon him through almost every aspect of his upbringing, if his parents be unexceptional. They educate him on books written in summary of their common consensus and confine him to some small corner of the globe where he may remain small and uninvolved with larger affairs.

Whether he is the greatest metropolis or the smallest cul de sac, this is the feeling, this is the message; you are not smart enough, you are not great enough. Stay where you are and don’t get caught climbing towards truth. Climb towards money if you wish, or status, or fame, even power so long as you fill a position that was already filled, and maintain the hulking culture as it steers towards the uncertain future.

They do not tell him the truth, the all too obvious truth; that he will be loved if he strives, loved so completely it cannot be imagined, perhaps by the world, but at the very least by himself. They do not tell him his only option is to climb up the very rungs they said were forbidden.

It is either fall into a poison well, into a life fabricated with the discarded pieces of norms no one ever liked or consciously agreed upon, or to climb as high as he can, as long as he can, with the thought in mind that even that strain will be better than the slow death of a life lived in defeat, in response to the powers that very deep down wanted him to climb, when all was said and done.

What is Self-Esteem?

Most negative conditions in life, both psychological and external, can be traced back to one underlying cause:

A lack of self-esteem.

Whole sectors of the modern economy rely on this lack and play off the powerful addictions and drives we seek to fulfill by the acquiring of goods that denote status and temporarily bolster pride.

Many books are written about how to acquire self-esteem, talking about it as if it were simply a set of beliefs one can acquire by proper internal manipulation.

But self-esteem is not the inevitable outcome of positive beliefs.

It is part of our rewards system, the most integral, least hedonistic part, that grants us joy and lasting confidence, not in return for mindless pleasures and dopamine triggers, but for virtuous action.

Lack of self-esteem is what you get when your behaviors and thought patterns do not live up to your unconscious standards of the proper and good.

Many people, in an attempt to escape from their own standards, drop those standards and thus gain the illusion of self-esteem. This is a difficult hole to come out of because once you reject your own standards and accept the improper behavior, you lose sight of what was meant to guide the course of your life.

This is why low self-esteem leads to deep bouts of hopelessness and bottomless depression. Because if you lose sight of those standards, that higher guiding force within your psyche, the future does indeed become a dark place.

It is also why to have high self-esteem is to be largely optimistic, because if you submit to your own standards, your life will proceed as is best for your capabilities and desires. A positive projection of the future will be appropriate to your conduct because your conduct will align with your goals.

Self-esteem is directly correlated with the size of the divide between you and your goals. The farther away you are from that conduct which would eventually accomplish your goals, the lower your self-esteem will be.

Self-esteem is a reward, not a treasure to dig up out of your psyche or something to be granted via the acquisition of high-status objects and environments.