Still Stealing the Culture
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July 19th, 2021
On the one-year anniversary of The Stoa—March 21st, 2021—we had a party, the Maybe the End of The Stoa Party. It was a beautiful party full of mystery, anticipation, and tenderness. There is no way I am going to make the second-anniversary party as magical as the first, so I am not going to even try.
I was indeed thinking of ending The Stoa prior to the first-anniversary party. I was fluctuating back and forth on that decision. The thought of ending The Stoa still comes up now and again, but I probably will not be ending it when year two comes around, so perhaps our next party should be called Probably Not the End of the Stoa Party.
Yeah. That’s it. The daemon has spoken. What about year three? Hm. I sense that party is going to be epic, maybe even in-person epic. The name that feels most right for that party…
The End of The Stoa Party
A three year project? Something about that feels right. Something always feels right about the number three. Maybe I should not tease another ending though. I am not sophisticated enough with the daemon yet to see that far ahead, and as far as I know this thing could be a life project for me. So yeah, ignore what I just wrote, but I am going to leave what I just wrote, because there is something helpful in having time constraints.
If this thing called The Stoa is only going to continue on for a year and eight months more, then I want to use this time to create something beautiful, really beautiful. I sense that can be done. So, where are we at with The Stoa now, and where is it heading? Well, I do not fully know, which checks off the first step of any good philosophical inquiry, but let us see what destination awaits…
To start with today’s inquiry, it might be good to recap some past entries where I went meta on The Stoa, and mused on its direction. I am mainly thinking of “The Stoa Game Plan” and “The Four Attractors of The Stoa” entries. I will recap The Stoa’s formula, game plan, and attractors that were mentioned in those entries.
The Stoa Formula
Steal the Culture = Seduce the Culture + Heal the Culture
“Steal the culture” has been the spiritual battle cry of The Stoa since the beginning. It was the phrase John Vervaeke dropped in his first appearance, and who our friend Akira The Don took clips of to make a dope song with the same title. It was our blackbird, Raven Connolly, who first dropped the phrase “seduce the culture,” and the Stoan Isaias Ardaya was the one who first mentioned “heal the culture.”
All of these fit really nicely with one another. First, we have to seduce the culture, but we've got to seduce it towards something that is healthy. So basically, we've got to seduce people into something whole, or holy. Once that occurs, we will steal back what was always rightfully ours. Easy, eh?
Okay. So, what is the algo of seducing the culture?
The Stoa Game Plan
The game plan has three seductive steps…
Step 1. Seduce the intellectuals.
Step 2. Seduce the artists.
Step 3. Seduce the normies.
My sense is that intellectuals, or what I playfully refer to as “galaxy brains,” are the most important people to seduce first, because they are like the programmers of the noosphere, and most people, including the artists and normies, have an awestruck reverence towards them.
Left unchecked, galaxy brains can unwittingly be the architects of our memetic prisons, especially ones who think out loud in the hyperconversation with a felt-sense of what Richard Rorty calls “knowingness.” Having a place where aporia is the encouraged state upon arrival can be a seductive force, for both the galaxy brains and those who follow them.
The artists are next because they are the ones, at least the good ones, that have what Alex Ebert calls “vessel-hood,” e.g. the daemon cleanly channels through them. The artists do not “speak” through propositions, which are often intimidating and unrelatable for most. Instead their art is rawly connected to the daemon, and hits people right in the feels, without any need for system 2 processing.
If our spiritual kingdom is going to be built, we’ll need the artists on our side, creating beautiful “lifeworks” that promote communitas, and not deathworks that promote narcissistic atomization.
Lastly the normies, aka those who are walking on the Path of Doxa, and who are being memetically manipulated by our intraspecies predators walking on the Path of Power, need to be existentially emancipated from Plato's Cave once and for all, then we can all hear the music.
Perhaps there is some kind of wisdom economy, and only a minority of a population can live the examined life, walking down a Path of Wisdom. If this wisdom economy is a thing, as history seems to show, I not only sense that this time it will be alright, I sense that this time it will be different.
The generator function of wisdom, or the launch codes if you will, are ripe to be discovered, and given to others, in a decentralized way, en masse. I see no reason why the Path of Wisdom cannot be walked on by many more.
Returning to Daniel Schmachtenberger's timely words...
If we are gaining the power of gods, then without the love and wisdom of gods, we will self-destruct.
We all need to be wise now, and not outsource our sensemaking and choicemaking to the cognitive elite. I might be engaging in some “normie mimicry” soon, cutting most of the epistemic fat so I can help present the launch codes of wisdom in ways that are attractive to the intellectuals, artists, and normies.
It is not lost on me that I simply may have too much espresso in me right now, with too much time on my hands, perhaps needing a real job or something. I am also open to the possibility I am on to something here. One of these could be true, or something in between, or something outside the parameters of this framing. I do not know, but I do know I am attracted to a few things...
The Stoa Attractors
I first mentioned the four attractors of The Stoa after Maybe the End of The Stoa Party. I felt pressured to announce something exciting, like a big project, in order to justify the hoopla of maybe ending this place. No project felt alive, so I ended up introducing four attractors that did feel alive. I will revisit them now, and see if they still hold up…
Attractor #1. Being a Lifework.
Attractor #2. Culture War to Culture Dance.
Attractor #3. Stoicism Reborn.
Attractor #4. Philosophical Coffee Shop.
Okay cool, all of these still feel pretty good. I’ll go through each, and give a sense of where I am at with them...
Being a Lifework. Yeah, I am still lifeworking over here, like I am doing right now. I am here, practicing being here, with you, with these words. It is very simple really. I settle into what is most alive, aka the daemon, then I say the truth, or said more accurately, I say truthfully what I believe to be true. Being truthful is a forcing function to becoming good, or virtuous, and real beauty will only be attracted to those who are virtuous. A beautiful life will then emerge, which will promote a beautiful world, and a beautiful world is a heavenly one.
This is all that eudaemonic stuff, aka being in the right relationship with the dameon, which requires what is good, true, and beautiful to be fully expressed. Those ancient philosophers, aka the artists of life, were crazy about this eudaemonic stuff. I could be wrong about all of this of course, but like a good Stoic cowboy I am called to take a gamble on the above propositions and see what wants to emerge when I do.
Culture War to Culture Dance. Given that I bounced from the culture war yesterday, this one might need some reframing. The ContraPoints and Chomsky conversation we had recently was, well, underwhelming for me. It did not have that special energy that other big sessions have, and after the session the following thought came to me: did I just set this up to show off that I could set up a big event?
This seemed a part of the motivation. The event was a big event. It already has over 100k views, and it is well on its way to becoming the most watched session on The Stoa. After it was posted, I was reading some of the buzz on social media, and man, I was surprised, but not really surprised, to see all these intra-left squabbles about how Natalie or Noam were not left enough.
This turned me off from trying to set up the “conversation that will make the internet,” aka a conversation between Jordan Peterson and Natalie. So much noise is going to come after that session. I am still in correspondence with Jordan about him visiting The Stoa, and while he expressed some openness I sense his disinterest, or perhaps I am projecting here, because I became less interested after seeing his conversation with John Vervaeke. Peterson interrupts John like an interruption champion in that interview, as he does with many other people, and if he does come to The Stoa I will have to call him out on that, because holding space for someone is one of the main ingredients needed to culture dance.
As I wrote about yesterday, I am going to forgo the whole culture war framing, and just focus on culture dancing. The best thing I can do here is continue to promote people who are engaged in doing good work related to intersubjective dialoguing. I want to help make things like Circling and Collective Presencing as ubiquitous as mindfulness and jogging are today.
Stoicism Reborn. I might not even be a Stoic at this point, and I am excited about the prospect of alchemically becoming something philosophically different. That being said, I am very down with virtue. Being virtuous is basically living one’s life in accordance with wise reasoning. I do not really care about the “Stocisim” label, but I sense this label will soon be serving as an entry point for eudaemonic goodness for many people.
The folks spearheading the Modern Stoicism movement, like Donald Robertson, and $toics like Ryan Holiday, have been doing great work promoting Stoicism, it does seem like it is becoming more popular these days, and we will be seeing more pieces like Vice’s recent “The Revival of Stoicism.”
As mentioned in the last week’s talks on Stoicism at The Stoa, those on career paths that have lots of VUCA (volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity), such as entrepreneurialism, medicine, and the military, naturally gravitate towards Stoicism. Many are practicing the philosophy without even knowing about the philosophy on a propositional level.
My prediction: those career paths are simply foreshadowing what is to come for many more people.
The world is becoming more VUCA, and those that figure out how to thrive in our VUCA world naturally will become more Stoic whether they like it or not, and whether they explicitly know the philosophy or not. Knowing the philosophy will be helpful of course, because learning the philosophy is learning the meta-language of being VUCA-ready. Knowing the meta-language of something helps one grok the object language better. I see the proselytizers of Stoicism in service of this, and this will be helping the philosophy gain many more adherents.
I sense whatever I am doing here at The Stoa will eventually intersect with what is happening with this Stoicism/VUCA meeting. I only see people teaching Stoicism as a philosophy ready-made for adoption. While this is helpful, because it will be helpful with becoming more VUCA-ready, it still does not teach people how to “do philosophy,” aka the praxis of wisdom. This is where I may have a role to play.
Philosophical Coffee Shop. This is still alive for Camille and I. We actually have our eye on a place that is for sale in a small town in Ontario. I like the idea of doing the coffee shop in a small town first, rather than in Toronto. A few coffee franchises in Toronto started that way, aka they got successful in a small town, then opened another shop in the city. I am actually not keen on calling it The Stoa though, or the Stoa Cafe, or something that has the word Stoa in it. My sense is to keep it memetically separated.
I do feel like I can let all of these things go—the formula, the game plan, the four attractors—at a moment's notice. I am not attached to any of this stuff. So with this non-attachment in mind, what is next for The Stoa, and for this maybe Stoic, within the next few months?
I will discuss this tomorrow.
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