Crossing the Abyss
"Alice laughed: 'There's no use trying,' she said, 'One can't believe impossible things.' "
"'I daresay you haven't had much practice,' said the Queen [...] sometimes I've believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.'" ~ Through the Looking Glass
I'm still tired from the day's activities, and I have to work tonight, but I feel like if I don't get this out now, I might lose the energy to do it later and the opportunity will be lost as people move onto something else.
Those of you who read my blog - all five of you, if that - know that I've made political neutrality part of my brand. In my article on feminism, I described myself as being the Switzlerland of identity politics, even before hearing Styx had apparently been given a similar moniker.
Great minds think alike.
You probably also know I'm a devout student of (read: apprentice wizard under) Master Persuader, Scott Adams, one of my biggest mentors and personal heroes. Having gotten to know him over the past several months, he's becomes something of a grandfather figure to me. I have so much love and respect for him and it saddens me how much he's been maligned by the mainstream media. With how selfless and compassionate he is, contrasted with how much he's lost in terms of friends, family, opportunities, income, and even threats to his life, all for speaking the truth as he sees it, I don't think it'd be an exaggeration by any stretch of the imagination to call him a living saint.
If he weren't against statues, I'd suggest we build one of him.
Scott has often talked about this new paradigm shift that's emerging, in which people's conception of reality is changing drastically, wherein things we once thought were impossible are now becoming quite ordinary. He was among the first to predict Trump's presidency and has been right more often than most any other pundit. He was right about North Korea, about Syria, about the economy, and many, many other things, both about himself and the world in general, all thanks to his use of the Persuasion Filter - an elusive dark art I have sought to master and harness myself, to help the world not be shit.
Even before I knew Scott, I'd come to accept through the course of my own path the Simulation theory of the universe.
I just tweeted out a video by Mike Cernovich talking about how one's mindset can help you hack reality to achieve the outcomes you want in life. Tony Robbins has built a career on that idea as well. Donald Trump built his business, his career, and his presidency on the brute-force power of positive thinking to hack his way to victory. Styx refers to the same idea through occult magick practices reinforced by hard cognitive and physical science, which is closer to how I arrived at that particular conclusion.
Candace Owens, and now Kanye West - along with many other black conservatives - have publicly and vociferously rejected attempts made by self-interested parasites within the media-political complex to dictate what they should think, feel, and believe. And I'm currently reading Tim Ferris' book The 4-Hour Workweek in which he talks about many of the same ideas concerning redefining what success looks like and whether you have the tools necessary to achieve it. That first you have to dream bigger.
Again, great minds think alike.
My own contribution to applying the dark art of persuasion to achieving seemingly-mystical ends has largely been focused on transposing those same ideas often spoken of in terms of race relations and applying them to gender relations, particularly with regards to human sexuality and the culture war, particularly feminism. The work Scott has done with Hawk Newsome, and Candace has done with Kanye, I have attempted to do with feminists, most notably Anita Sarkeesian.
Like many others employing the Persuasion Filter, I had been mocked and ridiculed for even attempting this, for attempting to #HealTheDivide and reach across the dark chasm that split open years ago.
People said it could never be done. It was something considered as impossible as walking on water, to cross over to the other side and survive, let alone come back to tell the tale. Yet I approached it from a different perspective. Thanks to Scott's teachings, I was able to see something in Anita - a person those in "my camp" at the time told me was an irredeemable enemy. A social pariah, a fraud, and a violent, abusive radical:
Nothing more than the caricature of a heartless, unfeeling monster.
Maybe it would be simpler just to say that I saw her. The real her. I saw her for who she was - at least I thought I caught a glimpse of it once, and then again sometime later, and again over the course of several months. When I peered across the chasm, I didn't see a screeching demon, but a human being, just like me. A simple girl just trying to make her way in the world like the rest of us. Someone trying to live her life as a good person and playing the hand the universe had dealt her the best way she knew how. She didn't always succeed, and sometimes she made bad plays, but I willed myself to look past that and to see that she was trying.
So too then, should I try, in the hopes she might see me.
I donned my hooded cloak and mask, equipped my wizarding staff of +1 Charisma, and took a leap of faith into the void. Not surprisingly, I had a Wile E. Coyote moment wherein I was walking on air for a while before suddenly I looked down to check myself against reality and that's when I fell. I failed the first jump.
I failed the first time when I thought I was really succeeding. I thought I had managed to get through to Anita, but it quickly became apparent that I'd done something wrong.
Somehow, I had miscalculated and made a rookie mistake. I failed in my attempts to reach her.
Worse than that, I could tell my the way she and her colleagues reacted to me in online chat - which is to say by the way they reacted to everyone but me - they were all giving me the cold shoulder and the silent treatment. They were actively ignoring me, all because I was a Trump supporter.
Somehow, I'd said or done something to offend them without meaning to, and without yet having gotten the chance to help them understand where I was coming from or what my intentions were. I thought about giving them time and space for a while. Maybe I had come on too strongly and the sudden shock of my audacious actions was overwhelming to them. Maybe they were still experiencing cognitive dissonance that someone like me could be so genuinely supportive of them.
Maybe they weren't quite ready to process what they'd just seen me attempt, or weren't sure how to process it, even if they had been ready.
The silence was worse than if they'd just told me to go fuck myself. I could have gotten over that more easily and moved on, but not knowing was worse. My mind went to dark places - back to the darkest depths of the abyss. I quickly began to imagine far more horrible and depressing interpretations of events than what likely happened in actual reality.
Yet still, I would check every once in a while and none of them had blocked me.
Strange, I thought. I guess it couldn't have been all that bad. Maybe my initial instincts were correct, that these were wholly decent, reasonable people, not rampant ideologues like I'd been told. I turned my attention inward and began thinking about what it was I'd done wrong and how was I going to get out of this mess. Could I recover from this and go on to achieve my dream of opening up lines of communication with them again, to #HealTheDivide, or was that game over?
I resolved to back off and give them space to deal with it on their end in their own way, instead focusing for a while on cleaning up my own camp. I remembered what Anita (or whomever) said in her email to me about being a "persistent presence" in their Twitter feeds; so inevitably, when criticisms came in response to their content, I dialed it back and instead reached out to the authors of hate instead. I linked them to my articles and had conversations, sharing with them the newfound perspective I'd gained from my time in the valley between MAGA Mountain and Mt. FemFreq.
Some people still had reservations, but a lot of them were actually quite receptive to what I had to say and were grateful for the effort. Some of them were inspired by the amount of work I'd done in crafting those articles and found themselves persuaded by my nuanced analysis of Anita and company.
I'd even managed to reach a few die-hard anti-fems and persuade them that Anita wasn't so bad.
None of the major players had yet seen it (not Sargon or Anita or anyone like that), but these small victories were encouraging. If nothing else, I knew in my soul I could still make a difference in changing the outcome of the culture war.
Still, it hurt to hit the bottom.
Like Neo, my mind made the mental pain all the more real, and I certainly felt like I was bleeding inside, though in retrospect, I think it was mostly just heartache. Most of it wasn't real - just a simulation - but my mind made it real and my negative thoughts made me physically ill.
But it's ok. Everyone misses the first jump. Even the One.
"Why do we fall? So we can learn to pick ourselves up." ~ Batman Begins
The concept of a great fall is an ancient archetype. One of the oldest, perhaps, in storytelling stretching back to the dawn of man. People have been falling as long as there have been things to trip over. Many would-be heroes face some seemingly insurmountable object in the course of their quest, but what makes them actual heroes is the determination and resourcefulness to find a way to ultimately overcome them.
Jordan Peterson tells the story of how, in the tales of King Arthur, the knights of the round table each set off alone in search of the Holy Grail. The question arises of where to even begin such a monumental task, and the answer given is that each of the knights peers into the forest surrounding the castle and enters into that place which appears darkest to them. Peterson explains this as a metaphor for that which makes us most uncomfortable in our lives. It's the fear of the unknown, of failure, of the worst parts of ourselves and others.
Peterson counsels that, much like the Arthurian Knights, our own quest for the seemingly impossible goal begins by confronting that very thing that is most uncomfortable to us.
In my case, that was facing Anita Sarkeseeian.
I know that may sound ridiculous. She's just a 5'4" girl who hates violence and wouldn't harm a fly. If there was anyone you reliably didn't have to be afraid of, it was her. Yet her reputation still remained a thorny bramble in my mind. I wanted to believe everyone had been wrong about her. It was my own chill moment. That place of discomfort between knowledge and uncertainty. I was taking a leap of faith and I'd already fallen before, and watched others fall before, but no one had yet succeeded in that domain that I could see.
Were anyone to succeed in doing it, I'd be the first, and that was scary.
As I laid out in my previous article, I had given her a Sword of Damocles to hold above my head and was trusting her not to let it go. She knew everything about me except my identity, but with her resources and what I'd already given her willingly, she could have easily figured it out. She's smart like that. In some ways smarter than me. I was still unsure whether or not I could fully trust her; but I at least trusted that, if I really fucked up, or if she really had it out for people like me, she had the little red button on her desk. She could have doxxed me at any time.
I trusted her enough with the power to unmask me if she wanted. A power she, if I'm being perfectly honest, never asked for; and in a way, I must admit I've been frankly unfair to her in that regard. I realize that, but at the same time, what else could I have done differently to get her attention and accomplish the same ends? Still, that doesn't change the fact I never asked her consent. Never asked if she wanted to be a part of this experiment. To meet with me, or to help me end the culture war. I barged into her life unannounced with a sense of entitlement and expectation and forced it upon her and that was unfair.
That was where I'd fucked up. I was too focused on what I wanted and never stopped to consider what she wanted. No wonder I crashed hard. The rejection hurt.
How, then, could I make up for it?
I prayed for an opportunity to present itself and divined that such opportunity would come when I would get to attend the live recording in Brooklyn.
Before I go on, I just wanna pause here and ask that, if you're reading this, do not contact Anita or anyone on that team asking them about who I am. It's disrespectful, harassing, and I'll disavow you if you do. So don't do it! More than that, I'll pre-empt your attempts and give her special dispensation to out me if she really wants. There is no reason she has to bear that burden. As I said, she never asked to carry that sword. Never asked me to be a part of her life, and so it's unfair for me to hold her to that standard against her will. To expect her to maintain a secret she had no choice in keeping if she decides she doesn't want to.
That said, I wouldn't have given her that info to begin with if I didn't believe she was trustworthy.
So if you don't trust her, or you don't trust me, trust that I've created a situation where, if either of us behaves badly towards the other, it'll result in our mutually assured destruction. Neither of us wants that, so the only other alternative is peace and friendship.
Such is my hope, at least, or else I've made a very huge and costly mistake.
I think it'll be ok in the end, though. My spirit tells me this ultimately will be ok. Obviously, I trust her not to release my billing info or anything like that, because that's standard human decency and business ethics; but as far as my identity itself, that's up to her. I wrote in my FAQ that maintaining my anonymity is, in many ways, a hassle for me and a damper on my personal and professional life. It's really more of a cursed sword than a sacred shield. A weapon for striking down identity politics and getting to a place where people meet me at the level of what I say, not who I am. It's a place I trust and believe that people like Anita genuinely want to get to as well, because wouldn't it be nice if all of us could be there together? Sadly, we can't just yet, but I'm trying to help it along.
My anonymity is a sword that also makes me invisible, even when I don't want to be.
That said, I can still be effective even without this disguise. Many people I look up to are. I just can't take it up again once I drop it. So I had to do it now, from the start, if at all, or I would lose the chance to do so later. If I'm forced to cast it aside this early on in the game to accomplish my goals, so be it. It's worth the sacrifice. Worth the attempt to achieve the impossible.
Essentially, I knew that going into this event.
I spoke before of a great fall. Ironically, it was the same great fall that Sargon experienced, though I got a fair ways further than him before it happened. Enough that it mattered. Enough that I could see just the slightest bit more clearly than he could to the hope of actually reaching the other side. It was within my grasp, so close I could feel it as it whizzed by me.
I also had something he didn't. I had something I could jettison that would give me another chance. A second life. An extra life. A 1-UP, you might say. Like an astronaut sent hurling into the void, I could work a bit of resurrection magic and save myself from my own mistakes. By sacrificing something that no longer served me to the gods of the abyss, I could completely change my momentum, and get back on track towards my goal.
I could cast off my virtual disguise and meet her in the real world,
thus returning as a wizard reborn. A thief of life.
Or such was my hope. It was still a long shot, but at least it was a better chance than surrendering to dark despair in the abyss without a fight. I resolved, then, to meet her in disguise, as it were. Disguised as my real self, rather than some online persona. The risk was worth the reward; and though she herself is by no means a prize to be won, the promise of peace and understanding, of being able to teleport across the abyss and commune with her directly, to see her face-to-face, and talk of building bridges, of seeing clear to the other side, to help #HealTheDivide, most definitely is.
So that was my plan. I would go to the event and pray for an opportunity to talk to her.
The weeks leading up to it were torturous. Again, the mind tends to fixate on the darkest part of the forest. Often times, it looks darker from afar than it really is when you go through it; but it takes a certain degree of courage that I wasn't sure I had to even approach it.
For starters, I didn't know how many people were going to be at this event. For all I knew, it could have been hundreds. If that were the case, the odds of me even getting thirty seconds alone with her seemed itself an impossibility. Then there was the question of what would I even say to her? Not knowing how long I would have to say anything I might say - or even if this would be my one and only chance at this - made me feel like I had to be extremely careful to balance tact with sending a strong message of intent.
But what even was my intent?
I knew I wanted her to trust me as I had come to trust her. To see that she didn't have to be afraid of me and there was no cost to talking with me. It wasn't the end of the world. In fact, I wanted to help her become a better person. To refine her arguments where I thought they had merit, reshaping them in a way her critics could more easily understand, much like Scott had done for Hawk Newsome, while offering my own services to her as a mediator and a translator of the other side's way of thinking. To let her know she'd won me over as an ally and that I saw her as an equal partner. As an indispensable half of the conversation that needed to be heard. Someone who had taught me many things and from whom I still had more to learn. That I was willing and able to listen and learn, but I was also someone willing and able to teach her where her blindspots were as well. To show her a whole new world, and to see and experience all that hers had to offer, and help others do the same. That I was a self-appointed ambassador of peace on diplomatic mission of cultural exchange.
That's a lot to pack into an elevator pitch, and I didn't think I had to persuasive chops to do it.
Frankly, I probably lost years of my life just due to the mental and emotional stress I put myself under, spending my waking moments fretting over how to craft the perfect argument to deliver to her in a way that wouldn't send her running out the room shouting angry profanities at me. I shadow-boxed with myself, trying to project as best I could how I thought she might respond to any given approach.
It's probably better if I spare you the details. It's not pretty.
There were a few avenues and approaches I intuitively thought would work better than others, and right up until the week before the event - and even the day of and the hour of - the universe was still sending me hints on how to narrow down what I needed to say and do. Right down to Ebony coaching people live at the recording on how best to talk to Anita - keep it short and simple. I could feel the hands of destiny tugging at my arm. All the stars were aligning themselves for this one dramatic moment. I got to something approaching a workable script, but in the end, the universe would wind up throwing me into the deep end of the pool and forcing me to either sink or swim.
Thankfully, I was born a fish, or this might have ended badly.
The day of the event, my cousin and I went into Manhattan to do some promotional work for my book and my blog. We spent several hours wandering around the city, engaged in guerilla marketing, which is where a lot of those photos on my Instagram came from. We had planned on heading over to Brooklyn around 5:30 to make it in time for the event, which started at 6:30 at the Kickstarter HQ.
Originally, when the event was scheduled, it was only open to patrons. That got called on a count of rain and pushed back a month to April 23. I reserved two tickets and asked my cousin if he wanted to go since we'd be out there anyway. He, being the adventurous sort, said yes.
I made him promise to be on his best behavior and not start shit, because this meant a lot to me and there was a lot riding on it. I didn't want him getting us expelled. Thankfully, he was chill.
As a brief aside, today's April 24 - the anniversary of the beginning of the Armenian Genocide that took place a little over a hundred years ago. I knew a bit about it. I also knew Anita was Armenian and knew it was a topic she personally cared a lot about. Not surprising really. It's as big a deal to Armenians as the Holocaust is to Jews.
In the days leading up to the event, it occurred to me to wonder whether to ask her about it. Most people know of the Holocaust but few in my experience know about the Armenian Genocide, so I thought about suggesting to her she maybe do a video on it, telling people what it is, and what it means to her specifically (like what Ben Shapiro ultimately did on his show). I saw it as a decent thing to do, showing interest in something meaningful to her, though I worried about the logistics of getting that into the conversation. Ultimately, I wound up sending her a tweet about it today since I didn't get a chance last night. We'll see what comes of that, if anything.
They posted this after I'd sent my Tweet, but I feel like that's something Anita would have done anyways, so I wouldn't take credit for that. Probably a coincidence.
Likewise, it occurred to me to wonder whether Anita herself knew anyone who'd been caught up in the horror, perhaps even within her own family. You can read up on it yourself, but it's really fucking brutal with women and children being raped, drowned, and burned alive as they fled! In one episode of her podcast, Anita went off on her critics about why she never talks about the horrors of the Middle East, chewing them out, reminding them she has family still living there.
We don't often think of Armenia as being part of the Middle East, but it does border on Iran.
That would certainly put a new perspective on things, wouldn't you say? My heart grew heavy just thinking about it. I'm tearing up right now just writing about it. I visualized myself giving her a big hug and saying I'm sorry.
Apologies, I have to pause to go have a cry.
"People are so conditioned to take sides that a balanced analysis looks to them like hatred." ~ Scott Adams
In the weeks leading up to the event, I practiced visualization, trying to will the outcome I desired in the hopes of creating a self-fulfilling prophecy. A task made all the more difficult by a myriad of factors, not least of which was my inability to formulate a clear and specific end goal, because I had so little data to work with and no point of reference. I was in free fall, well passed my comfort zone. There were just too many variables to consider. Too many unknowns. I was out of my depth. This fell outside of my experience and, I often felt, my skill set.
Staring into the darkest part of the forest, my mind was in chaos.
The morning of, I went to my chiropractor for my triweekly adjustment. On the ride over, I blasted Elton John's Circle of Life in an attempt to just try and get out of my own head for a while. To refocus on being present in the moment, taking things as they come, and not worrying so much about outcomes.
That whatever happened later would happen as it was meant to and I should accept that and just do my best, keeping things in perspective, and looking at the big picture.
My doctor is a fellow Piscean and an amazing man. A real miracle worker and a gifted healer. We have a great relationship and are very chummy. He asked how I was and I told him the added stress I felt today was because of anxiety. He laughed and said he noticed. We chatted for a bit about why that was. I didn't go into any detail - I like to keep my online life and politics apart from him to maintain a positive relation - but I gave a truncated version of what I had been going through and the prospect of meeting with Anita.
We talked for a while and he gave me some good counsel about trying to visualize the outcome I wanted and to really ask myself what the end goal was, because without it, I was just flopping around like a fish out of water (my words, not his). He also gave me some practical advice in terms of people skills and how to make a good first impression.
The whole thing lasted maybe five minutes, but I felt better afterwards.
Last week, I broached the subject with him of having "a friend" in San Francisco who had a bad experience with a chiropractor that turned her off to the idea. That friend being Anita, as she mentioned in one of her episodes. My doctor promised to get me the name of someone he knew out there that I could potentially pass along to her. We'll see if anything comes of that.
As I did my traction exercises and my vibrational therapy, that old familiar voice in my head softly whispered to me, "Trust her."
Over and over it repeated that mantra. I asked the Spirit for clarification and it explained that I wanted her to trust me and so, I should commit to trusting her as well. To trust that she is every bit as reasonable as I imagine her to be and she won't bite my head off just for talking to her. That whatever I say, it may upset her, but ultimately she's a big girl who's been through worse and she'd be ok and so would I. We'd both been through worse.
The Spirit then proceeded to outline a number of events in my life - really horrible things - that were a lot scarier than this and how I survived all those too. I would survive this and so would she. I had to trust her and myself as well.
I thought back to that one video about Boogie2988 and how she gave him fifteen minutes and treated him really well and they had a productive conversation. I knew it was possible.
Like Neo seeing Morpheus, I knew the jump was possible because I'd just watched someone else do it before me. The first crack in the mental barrier had been made. For a year now, I'd been watching Trump and Scott work the impossible, and the stakes in what I was doing were far, far less than nuclear war with Korea. What was I so afraid of? Suddenly, it seemed really silly to me and I stopped being afraid and felt at peace for a while.
The peace was short-lived.
Hours later, I found myself sitting on a bench in the city, eating lunch, waiting for my cousin, who was fashionably late. My cousin has many street skills and people skills, which is why I asked him to help me do some marketing.
Apart from checking in on him, as I sat there, I put away my phone away and just engaged in people watching in the Fashion Center square on 7th Avenue.
Otherwise known as the one with the giant sewing button near Port Authority.
A Hare Krishna man came around the corner, practically out of the bushes behind me. He offered me a bracelet made of wooden prayer beads and a small medallion that said "Work Smoothly, Lifetime Peace." Literally, the only word of English he seemed to know was "Peace," since he kept saying it over and over again. He opened his little notebook and showed me a picture of what I assumed was the temple he was building. He pressed it into me and I figured he wanted me to give him money. I didn't wanna give him money, so I just signed a fake name and made illegible scratches on the payment column.
In the middle of the list, the word "Peace" was written over and over by all the other signatories. I just put that down too, assuming it was the thing he'd be praying for. I caved and gave him a dollar before sending him on his way, even as he asked me for two. Cheeky bastard.
I put on my new bracelet and meditated on the medallion he gave me. It didn't take long for me to come to the conclusion that this was a sign from the universe. Proof we were living in a simulation.
Peace was the exact thing I needed in that moment and peace was also my objective. It was the whole point of even going to the live event in the first place. To meet with Anita and sue for peace. In a way, I felt bad about not giving that man another dollar, as the sort of peace I sought was frankly priceless.
What a perfectly timed "random" encounter, I thought.
I finished my halal lamb over rice and contemplated getting up to throw my trash away, but waited. A street cleaner came by and changed out the garbage before I could commit to following through. Drat, I thought. I'd missed my chance and made more work for him. Not to mention I wasted time and space in the process and it'd be kind of embarrassing to go up there now.
Oh well, no big deal. It's just garbage. Happens all the time. Get over it.
A short while later, I then thought about moving to the end of the bench before some lady - who'd been eying that spot - managed to go there first, but I hesitated and she got there before me. Turns out some other lady then approached her and asked for directions to Madame Tussaud's wax museum. Neither of them knew where it was, so I helped translate in Spanish and guided the wayward soul to where she wanted to go, since I'd just been past there last week.
This was now two signs from the universe in the span of ten minutes. I resolved that, the next time my gut told me to do something, I'd act upon it. I'd also need all the good karma I could scrounge up.
My next opportunity didn't take long. Some street crier from the Nature Conservatory (who kinda reminded me a bit of Carolyn Petit, actually) was walking up and down the square waving to people and going right up to them, initiating conversations. I noted his technique and his fearlessness. My gut flared up again, so I stood up, walked right up to him and introduced myself, saying I'd been watching him and he seemed like a gregarious fellow.
We chatted for a while and I felt guilty for wasting his time that he could have used to get signatures from other people, so I wound up signing up for the Nature Conservancy program.
I suppose there are worse things I could be spending money on.
Turns out he was from Brooklyn. He loved my Full Metal Alchemist bag and my Black Panther t-shirt. I told him I was heading into Brooklyn myself for an event. He asked me what event and I in turn asked if he knew who Anita Sarkeesian was. Turns out she once spoke at his high school.
I parlayed my observation of his apparent people skills into a request to know how I could acquire such Promethian Fire myself, by which I mean I asked if he had any tips for talking to Anita.
Most of what he said was fairly run-of-the-mill stuff I already knew, but that wasn't the point. The point was for me to persuade myself - to trick my mind into thinking that talking to some random stranger you never met before was really no big deal and that some good could actually come from it.
Plus, I got to earn more karma points for helping the environment in the process.
Eventually, my cousin arrived and I filled him in on what happened. I handed him his lunch and we had a great time scheming our way through downtown Manhattan, working our street magic. He thought of some tricks I'd not considered last time and I was glad to have him along. I soon mastered the art and we were hitting up all the places, all of them. At the same time, I briefed him on Anita and about the event we were going to. It soon dawned on me I'd be an emotional wreck without him by my side for support and guidance through it all.
It's better if I don't go into detail as to why, but I was completely drained by the time we arrived at the Kickstarter venue. Mentally, physically, emotionally, ...
As a matter of fact, I was too tired to even be anxious, which was its own small relief. We had been walking for many hours that day and the night was still young. If you're looking for a way to master the subtle art of not giving a fuck, try just tiring yourself out before doing anything that might be stressful; and if you wanna add to the synchronicity, I saw at least three separate people reading that book that day while we were out and about. Coincidence?
I took a moment to calm my nerves before going inside. My cousin followed my lead.
We checked in at the door to the Kickstarter HQ and traversed across the raised walkway that spanned a literal abyss above where we'd be meeting. Not deep enough that you couldn't see the bottom, but high enough the fall would still kill you.
I peered down upon a small, close-knit gathering of maybe a dozen people. About the size I'd hoped for, actually. I stared out into the chasm of the Kickstarter lounge area. There she was. Anita Sarkeesian, live and in person, not more than twenty feet from me! And that was about as close as I would get to her all night, though not from lack of trying.
If that sounds anti-climactic to you, just hold on. There's more to the story and it ends on a happy note.
"I wished I had one more chance, to say what really mattered ... by the time I knew I'd said what I wanted to, it was too late. But you brought me back. You gave me my wish. One more chance to say what I really wanted to say." ~ Trinity
We crossed the bridge, now firmly on the other side, and the first thing I did was make my way to the bathroom, to wash up and collect myself. I'm not gonna say I felt nauseous, but I did feel disgusting and that wasn't a good look. I splashed some water on my face, which was quite hot from all the walking we'd done out in the sun after what seemed like an unusually long winter. I took a few long, slow, deep breaths and calmed down.
The atmosphere in this place felt relaxing. It seemed like a really cool place to work or to hang out.
I told my cousin I was glad we came. That even just making the journey was a victory, and I was grateful to him for having made it with me, because I didn't think I could have survived otherwise. Emotionally, I mean. Obviously, I'd be physically ok, if not a bit world weary.
My mind was now calm enough that I felt comfortable going out there. We were in disguise as ourselves and would blend right in. No one would know we were really libertarian centrists.
We went out into the main room. By this point, Anita and Ebony were gone. Did I mention I saw her from the balcony too? I guessed they were probably setting up for the event in the back. No big deal, I thought. We could grab some snacks and mix and mingle with the other guests. One of the staff came up to us and greeted my cousin and I, making us feel welcome, releasing the tension. I forget his name, for which I'm really sorry. I wanna say his name was Trav.
I'm still super tired. Forgive me.
He poured me a drink and we made small talk. I needed a drink after the day we'd had. In fact, I need several. A little liquid courage always works wonders.
As I imbibed my second magic potion, Ebony Astor came out and started taking pictures before going around and talking to people. I met her in the corner near the end of the bar. I walked right up to her and introduced myself by my real name, not letting on who I was, though I think by the end of the night she had figured it out on her own.
She's the one on the right if you need a visual. Visuals help. 38D
For those who might not know who she is, and without meaning this to sound belittling (even though it'll probably still come off that way), she is Anita's cohost, friend, and the operations manager of Feminist Frequency, which basically makes her Anita's right hand. She's the one who reads all the laughable hate mail you send them and sets the calendar for events, among other things.
She's also a fellow human being with her own mind, voice, interests, etc. Let's not forget that. I hate that I have to write sentence because it should just be understood, but I know some of you need to be reminded of it in order to see passed tribal partisanship.
Now I know how they feel.
Anyways, I walked up to Ebony, told her my name, shook her hand, and gave her a hug. She seemed somewhat surprised by that, but not in a bad way. She's probably just not used to hugs from total strangers. I told her how much I enjoyed her show and then proceeded to make a complete idiot of myself by stating something patently obvious that I'm too embarrassed to repeat here, but she was very cool, and very forgiving in giving me space to fail. That first hurdle cleared, I segued into a jovial complement on how well she did in the bonus episode the week Anita and Caro were away, how I was sorry I wouldn't get to meet Caro, and so forth.
Very light and casual and friendly.
From there, I tried to see if I could get her to tell me once and for all what Anita's zodiac sign was, even betting her that I could sell Anita on there being a scientific basis for astrology. We laughed about that together and she seemed to indicate that she knew but wasn't gonna tell me without Anita's permission.
That's fair. I can respect that.
Judging by the sly, knowing grin she flashed me when I brought it up, I'd say with 99% confidence I had guessed right. For those of you wondering why I'm so obsessed with answering this question, and why I spend so much time talking about myself in terms of my own sign, it's because I value the predictive quality of astrology as a form of psychological profiling, beyond whatever spiritual insight I might derive from it as an archetype. While it's by no means deterministic, and people should still be viewed as individuals, you can often times get a reasonable approximation of how a person thinks and behaves just by knowing that one factor, even if you know nothing else about them.
It'd be akin to knowing their IQ and Big Five scores, or their spot on the Political Compass.
Unfortunately, people don't wear their signs on their sleeves, so the only way to know is to ask, which if they won't tell you means you have to find out by some other means.
Well, some of us wear our signs on our sleeves, as it were.
Ebony then excused herself to go start the show, leaving me and my cousin to chat with other guests and staff. I felt pretty good at having managed to break the ice. Seemingly, the hardest part was over.
I had made first contact.
By this point, you're probably thinking that's great we managed to talk about basically meaningless stuff, but that's way different than being able to talk to them about more controversial things. Yes, yes it is very different, but it's where you have to start if you wanna be persuasive and build trust with someone. That's called pacing and leading. How many of you reading this who are critical of Feminist Frequency just follow their channel and blurt out the first thing that comes to mind in response to something they said in their post or video?
I'll admit I've done it to other people too, but not to them. I'm not gonna lie, the desire has come up many times, but I try very hard to resist that urge when it comes up, because it's not persuasive.
To stop, cool my jets, think for a minute, consider that I might be the one who's wrong, and come back later with a better argument if I'm sure they're still wrong; or better yet, to just say nothing at all if I can't say something nice. Do they still teach that in school?
You think you're arguing with facts while they're arguing with feelings, but the truth is, you're not. You're just as bad as the postmodernists because you're just masking your own feelings with facts.
Ben Shapiro can argue facts without involving feelings. Charlie Kirk can do that. Candace Owens can do that. Most of you can't, or at least you don't. The postmodernists generally hate those people, though, because they come off as callous, unfeeling robots. It's why people make fun of Mark Zuckerberg and it's why people generally hated Anita's Tropes vs. Women series, which she ultimately recognized and then changed her approach accordingly.
What the postmodernists have over you guys, however, is they understand that feelings matter too; they just maybe swing too far in the opposite direction and overcompensate by giving too much credence to them, which is why you see things like safe spaces and hate speech laws and diversity quotas.
The toxic side of postmodernism that is often times weak and naive.
But the modernists like Shapiro and Sargon tend to go to the other extreme and come off like a bunch of dicks, even though they're being very logical and moral in the process.
The phrase, "It's not what you say, it's how yo say it," comes to mind.
This is why the post-postmodern level is one of integration and a balance between the two. People like me, Scott Adams, Dave Rubin, Jordan Peterson, Styxhexenhammer, Stefan Molyneux, Mike Cernovich, Hawk Newsome, etc. You're not gonna like hearing this, but Anita and her group are actually far close to that level than most of you are; and it's an upward spiral, meaning you're always going up, never going down. If you are, you're regressing.
Don't get me wrong, Anita still has her moments of derpitude wherein I wanna put my fist through the screen after hearing her speak; but in many other ways, she's very much a progressive in the true sense of the word. Some of you probably think she has nothing enlightening to offer. I'd say maybe 10% of the time you're right, the rest of the time is either because you're not listening or you can't understand her (and she you) because you're each speaking two different languages.
That's where someone like me comes in.
Part of what I'd like to make happen, if they'll let me, is to help nudge them that last little way from postmodernism to integrated consciousness. They ultimately might not want my help, and if that's the case, that's something I'll just have to accept and find someone else more willing to play ball.
But the invitation will remain open to them nonetheless.
Returning to the scene at Kickstarter, most everyone there was very nice, though some seemed a bit on edge any time the topic switched to politics. Trump Derangement Syndrome was in effect here among at least a few triggered souls. I could tell just by the way some of them carried themselves. I had to resist the urge to speak my mind, remembering where I was. I admit, I'm not very practiced at this and I could have done better in hindsight, but that's always the case, right?
The hardest part was just being comfortable in an otherwise uncomfortable place, referring to the situation more-so than the venue. The venue was quite comfortable!
I tried to empathize with the fact that some of them were just as anxious as I was.
Keep in mind that, while my main goal was ultimately talking to Anita and Ebony, I knew I could still do some tangential good by talking to the other postmodern feminists who were there. The abyss is deep and the chasm long and there are many opportunities to build bridges.
Every little bit helps when trying to #HealTheDivide. As David Rubin says, this is the year of unusual alliances and who could have predicted the sort of alliances we've seen thus far?
But I'd say it went well overall. I made some new almost friends and planted a few seeds in what was essentially foreign soil. My cousin seemed to fair better with a few of them than I did, but I expected that. Again, I'm glad I brought him along, and after the event, he and I talked about ways I could have done better.
On the train ride home, I recalled how the first guy we talked to was really shaken. He described to us his experience of having the cops called on him for his outbursts (caused by Trump Derangement Syndrome) shortly after the election. Poor unfortunate soul. I did my best to get at what he thought and why, and to push back on some of the things he believed; but like the first pancake, it never goes right on the first attempt. I'd quickly, and inadvertently. outed myself as a Trump supporter, which put him on edge. Near the end of our conversation, he asked if I voted for Trump. He didn't like my answer, because of the result it produced, but it also wasn't the answer he was expecting, which probably threw him for a loop. Suffice to say, I left him with more questions than when he arrived.
I noted to my cousin that, in hindsight, I probably should have spent more time listening to him, hearing him out, and pacing why he felt the way he felt. That people like that are akin to PTSD victims.
There was another group of ladies talking about economics and labor. I had asked them their thoughts on technological displacement and mass unemployment due to robots and AI. Something I viewed as a bigger, more imminent problem than identity politics bullshit. We had a fairly heated exchange. Not exactly endearing, but not unfriendly either. I pointed out how their (I'm hoping hyperbolic) argument of eating the rich could actually be taken literally and still not work out mathematically:
They didn't seem to like that very much because it didn't jive with the narrative they constructed in their heads. Likewise, I tried pointing out that we spend two-thirds of the budget on welfare, even more than defense, and even though I agreed with them that defense spending was too high. They seemed to not believe that, but my goal wasn't to get them to believe that, or anything. My goal was simply to provide friction and open them up to new ways of thinking they might not have heard before so that the next time someone mentioned it, they'd already have a framework for engaging with it. Thus, they could either craft better rebuttals down the road and prove people like me wrong, or they'd slowly inch their ways towards accepting it.
Repetition is important to persuasion and there's only so much I can do in that time.
Most people have the attitude that you should be able to change a person's mind after a single encounter. That can sometimes happen, but it's not how our brains tend to work. Not unless you're dealing with a Master Persuader, which I've previously said Anita was.
You want further proof of that?
My cousin was initially very skeptical of the sorts of things we might hear at this event, probably expecting a bunch of stereotypical SJW bullshit, but he was actually won over by the panel discussion, noting to me afterwards that he thought Anita, Ebony, and Jay made a number of really good points and he was glad I brought him with me.
That's basically what I told you in my previous articles when it was just me.
Again, the point is not to go in there expecting grand sweeping changes. Look at the North Korean negotiations or the DACA negotiations and how many months things like that took. Rome wasn't built in a day, but you can begin to lay a foundation. Repetition is important to persuasion and so the goal is to construct a new framework to build upon.
Probably the longest conversation I had with anyone there was this one dude who, I'm sorry I forget his name too. It was right before we all left. He and I talked for at least a good fifteen to twenty minutes about general political stuff. By this point, I'd already outed myself to him as a Trump supporter and a Scott Adams supporter, saying that I grew up knowing the legacies of Clinton, Bush, Obama, and almost Hillary, and found it to be a corrupt imperial nightmare. That it wasn't until Trump came along with the promise to take a wrecking ball to it that I first started to feel optimistic about this country's prospects.
It was a much needed breath of fresh air after being down in the depths for so long.
He seemed genuinely shocked and intrigued by that statement, as if I'd just conjured a glowing orb in front of him. I suspect he might never have heard anyone express such a sentiment before. To him, it maybe just never occurred to think that that was a thing that could exist. That real people felt that way, even though from my end it was quite common place.
That was the whole point of my going there. To expand people's Overton Windows and to open their minds to new possibilities. To see a glimpse of how the other half lives. To cast a portal across the abyss and to show them other worlds.
To teach, but to also listen and learn so that I might become a better teacher.
I paced the guy and told him I understood people were afraid of Trump, that taking a wrecking ball to things was scary, however necessary it might have been. That there was certainly a legitimate question of what gets built after, but the demo work still had to be done. He seemed surprised again when I told him I don't really follow any news outlets but just get most of my information from what I'd called "news aggregators."
That may not be the best term for it, but it was the best I could come up with it on the fly. Maybe "information aggregrators" would have been better since I included people like Scott Adams, Styx, and Anita in that. People who look at both sides and just give me the distilled essence of what's actually relevant to my life.
Something the mainstream media was supposed to do for us but failed.
We talked for a bit about capitalism, natural rights, and things like that. My general strategy when I don't know what someone knows is to assume they know nothing and work from the ground up, always taking things back to first principles. That's essentially how I came to adopt libertarian principles, and I don't know of any other way of doing it. For instance, I asked him to give me his definition of capitalism and he gave me an answer about means of production or systems or something. I can't remember exactly (this is where repetition helps, since we remember things we hear more often than those we hear just once if there's no emotional attachment to it).
Regardless, it was about the sort of answer I expected and I returned to the notion that we're speaking two different languages; or as Scott puts it, seeing two movies on one screen. We're both using the same words, but they mean different things to each of us and that's the source of the problem.
I then opened up a portal in reality and gave him a glimpse of the other side of the abyss by explaining that - generally speaking - when people on the right say "capitalism," all they really mean is voluntary exchange, free market, and absence of coercion. That's it. I then paced him further, giving him the benefit of the doubt that he's a nice guy who wants things to be voluntary without coercion and he basically agreed with all that. I asked for examples of when markets failed and we talked about that. I told him how we hadn't really had true capitalism since 1913 with the Income Tax and the Fed and the gold seizures of 1933, etc.
We kept pace with each other and, at one point, since I noticed he seemed a little anxious, I let him know I was enjoying our conversation. He expressed the same and, whereas I'm not a mind reader, I took him at his word.
But yeah, once you see how it's done, it's not that hard. Anyone can do it, it just takes practice. It's the way Molyneux does it. It's the way Scott does it. It's the way Judge Napolitano, Jan Halfed, Styx, and many others do it, taking things back to first principles. Ben Shapiro, at his best, can do this. I know he can, I've seen it. When he's on his game, he's a force of nature. There's a reason I refer to him as my spirit animal, because when he's on a roll, he's straight fire:
He just doesn't do it very often, tending to retreat to the modernist level. And just so you know, I have my disagreements with Ben on issues of transgenderism and abortion and plenty of other things, I'm just complementing him on his persuasion skills with that video.
Libertarianism taken as a whole is generally considered the ideology of logic for the simple reason that, if you start from scratch and build your way up from the bottom, you're pretty much going to wind up at the same place by the laws of reality and logic. There's certainly wiggle room - many libertarians disagree amongst themselves on things - but by and large the reason I'm a libertarian is because it's the only ideology that makes any sense to me.