3 Books That Inspired This Heretic

I’ve been influenced by dozens of sources, but some books have exerted unusual influence.

This does not mean I’ve become a disciple of the authors of these books. Nor does it even mean I interpreted or used these works in a way the authors would have ever intended. Nor does it mean that they would in any way approve of my views.

The important thing is that they propose models of reality that make sense.

1) Diplomacy – Henry Kissinger

If you want to learn how a shepherd of the human herd sees the world, this book is a useful resource.
Kissinger not only gives us an entertaining history of the powerful men who drew all the lines on maps in grand conferences, his role as one of these men makes his narrative resonate on another level.
His envy for the truly powerful monarchs and nobles of Napoleon’s day is transparent – as are his own frustrations with having to placate the public while negotiating with North Vietnam.

Whatever we may think of Kissinger, his ideas boil down to one coherent concept: Power.

Kissinger cuts right through the veneer of diplomatic ceremony and tells us exactly what each side seeks to gain with every cordially worded dispatch.

One of the most important lessons that this book can teach is how even the herders are mere slaves to the macro trends. In a three hundred year slice of European history we repeatedly see how the rulers are impotent as their kingdoms careen toward a tragedy of the commons.
The balance of power determines outcomes far more than kings.
He contrasts the conference of Vienna that changed Europe by decisively altering the balance of power to the treaty at Versailles that failed to make any fundamental changes.

Many of us tend to blame the troubles of the world on an omnipotent cadre of elites. This book is a primer on just how small elites are next to much larger forces.

2) The Culture Code – Clotaire Rapaille

By gathering randomly selected sample groups and asking them questions, Rapaille distills their collective concept of anything down to a single word.

He asks them how they feel about a certain topic or he might ask them for childhood memories about it.
For instance, he might ask a group to brainstorm whatever words come to mind about ‘luxury’ or ‘peanut butter.’

There are patterns that are consistent throughout samples of hundreds of people from the same cultural bloc.
If you talk to hundreds of Americans from all ages and both genders you will find that:
Food = FUEL
Money = PROOF

The key is not in asking any single person what they want, but in learning what is in the mind of the collective.
Products that give this collective subconscious what it wants are the products that sell. They are ‘on code.’

Reading this book, I realize that I’ve never quite been ‘on code’ with the collective will. Many of the difficulties I’ve had in life make a lot more sense. It has little to do with individuals I’ve met. It’s about the collective.

This book explains how the American hive mind sees the human body as a machine and cares mostly about status climbing.
He spells out everything I’ve always felt down in my gut. I’d always felt a deep contempt in my birth culture for the needs of the flesh and perceived that no matter what people say, income is the truest measure of our worth.

This book is potentially an excellent survival guide for a heretic. It allows one to consciously avoid ‘off code’ opinions and behaviors in public.

One can predict with remarkable accuracy how people will really judge in their heart of hearts and who can really be trusted:

-If you don’t have a ‘career’, the ‘on code’ person will see you as a loser no matter what they tell you.

-If you eat a delicious goat cheese instead of a bland plateful of spaghetti, they will secretly hate you. Food is fuel! Expressing more than contempt for our bodies breaks a powerful taboo.

If you look inside someone’s pantry and see Jif or Skippy peanut butter, the dissident ought to tread lightly. This mass market gooey peanut butter is the ambrosia of those with warm and fuzzy feelings for mainstream American culture.

3) Class – Paul Fussell

Fussell exactly predicted most of the decorations in my maternal grandmother’s house – apparently she was a textbook example of a high prole.

It became painfully apparent as I read this book that both my parents began as high proles and spent a lifetime trying to be middle class.

Thus growing up, I got a double dose of the stifling anxiety that defines all things middle class. My life practically stood explained and there was nothing cool or extraordinary about it. In many ways, between nature and nurture I was set up to be a prime candidate for heresy.

This book really strips away illusions and reveals the truth about your place in society in its full banality.

It’s also hilarious. The author includes illustrations of the stereotypical dwellings, dress, facial features, and facial expressions of each class.
He associates furry toilet seat covers and garden gnomes with proles.
He sets forth airports as high temples to middle class mediocrity, pointing out how terms like ‘flotation device’ cater to ridiculous middle class notions of gentrified language.

Most importantly, Class is a manual for escaping the class rat race.
No matter how much one might want out, one inevitably repeats patterns of behavior learned early in life.
This brutally honest look at the class structure can help us break the cycle.

I would of course invite readers to suggest books that shaped their own world view.

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15 responses to “3 Books That Inspired This Heretic

  1. 48 Laws of Power by Robert Greene – I first read that book when I was 12, and read it every day until I was around 16. I was homeschooled, so I would flat out ignore the lesson plan sometimes and spend hours just reading it over and over again.

    Art of Worldly Wisdom by Baltasar Gracián – Some of the ideas are heavily dated, but it still stands up pretty good considering how old it is.

    Unleash The Warrior Within by Richard Machowicz – Again, read this one every other day for several years.

    Ca$hvertising by Drew Whitman – This is essentially the baseline of learning to sell things. A much more complete look at human nature than you get from the PUA culture that tries to establish sex of the basis of everything.

    Men Among The Ruins by Julius Evola – Evola frequently lied and fudged info in his political works (they were a means to an end), but his spiritual works are pretty spot on.

    Breakthrough To Creativity by Shafica Karagulla – The scientist that tutored Ingo Swann also wrote a few books. One of the few people who could tune in to the intersection of conspiracy theory, psychic research and hard science.

      • Claude Swanson also has a series called the Synchronized Universe, it’s an attempt at creating a sort of theory of everything from known things about the paranormal, lots and lots of pages if you get the two volumes he’s finished so far.

    • I’ll second Robert Greene – all of his works. The guy’s got a really interesting mind, and he manages to communicate the ephemeral patterns of the human network.

  2. Ha, as soon as the title of this post popped up in my email, I immediately clicked to your site to see if you mention ‘Class.’ It was a much-discussed book in my house 20 years ago. Of course we were X’s and had great fun labeling folks.

    I think it’s dated now though with everyone struggling and in survival mode. It also makes a difference where you live, down here on the border life is very different from the Northeast US. And the blogs I read are written by people who defy labels, or whose labels may have drastically changed. I long to live among proles now, I’d take proles any day over what I deal with here on a daily basis. I haven’t seen a dear gnome in many years, just religious icons, animal abuse, and crime which grows worse on a daily basis and is so close that I’ve had to turn my home into a tiny fortress.

    Giovanni, as you get older you stop caring about where you fit in. I’ll try to check out the other books you mention if they have them at the library, maybe they’ll help me better understand. But to tell you the truth it’s hard to care anymore. It’s all many people can do just to hang on to what we have. Where I live there’s a saying: “What’s a B—– yuppie? A person with two part time jobs and a car that runs.”

    • Class was written right about the time I was born yet I don’t find it to be dated.

      Some of the specifics of class differentiation have drifted, he tends to emphasize Northeast culture, but the principles he observes are timeless.

      I bet Ancient Mesopotamians could relate to Fussell’s observations about social divides in mass society even though the dress and manners are superficially different.

      My experience is that economic scarcity has caused people to care about class more than ever.

      A person born middle class who hasn’t worked a middle class job in a decade is going to be more anxious than ever. They’ll be sure to show off their classiness to proles every chance they get. Class is all they’ve got left!

      Those still solidly upper middle class now live more like upper class or top out of sight in their gated ‘communities.’

      The spirit of superficial class egalitarianism that animated Western culture is falling away. More and more proles are being forced to face the reality that they’re not ‘middle class.’

      In the early 80s Fussell astutely pierced through a sense of ambiguity about class in America. In our present society, there is much less ambiguity.
      If anything, I think this book has only grown in relevance since it was first published.

  3. Pingback: Linkage is Good for You: Week of February 26, 2012

      • It’s not hate, it’s reality. The guys takes credit for things, while in reality back then the CIA and others were playing the games behind the scenes without his knowledge. He was just a facade.

        -
        Thanks for clarifying. I just wanted you to explain the reasoning behind your opinions.

        I don’t take all of Kissinger’s accounts of his own historical involvement at face value. I bet he does embellish or omit as it suits his purposes, but he certainly did occupy a high place in American government at a critical time.

      • Btw, read John Loftus’ books. The man made an inquiry into classified documents of the CIA and interviewed many old spies. There is one section of his book “The Secret War Against the Jews”, devoted to the era of Kissinger.

  4. “One of the most important lessons that this book can teach is how even the herders are mere slaves to the macro trends”

    Wilson could have kept the US out of the Great War if he’d really wanted to. OTOH, in an alternate universe where FDR was a genuine anti-interventionist he would have been denied a third term either at the convention or the general. Willkie was a British insurance policy.

    • You make a good point here.

      History has its truly decisive battles of Hastings that really are forks in the road.

      Much more often I think, we see a 1914 Europe headed for catastrophe, a massive trend with an inertia that no few individuals could have stopped.

  5. Thank you for mentioning “The Culture Code” by Clotaire Rapaille, I checked it out at the university library and found it eye opening. I, too, was not suprised to see you mention “Class” by Paul Fussell. That book was as fun to read as it was enlightening and also disturbing.

    A few books that changed my way of thinking would be: 1) Prometheus Rising by Robert Anton Wilson. I first read that book in my early 20′s and it changed my worldview, as in it messed with my head and everything I thought I ever believed in. Although I don’t agree with a lot of what Mr.Wilson says, this is definately a book I would recommend.

    2) The True Believer by Eric Hoffer. If you have ever wondered how mass movements come about and especially how fanatic personalities are formed this is the book to read. Since I was a young I wondered how people could follow leaders that seemed to be crazy yet so charismatic. This books brought a lot of answers and also a lot of questions.

    3)Finite and Infinte Games by James P. Carson. I still dont know what to think about this book. I can only say that the view of life being a game has always resonated with me. This book provided the words and concepts I needed to further my thinking on the subject.

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