Tag Archives: Books

The Bookshelf – A Troublesome Inheritance

I finally finished A Troublesome Inheritance. I started reading it last year, then for no discernable reason it fell to the wayside with only a half-chapter left. I finally got around to finishing the last chapter this month, so I figured I’d talk of it a little here. Sadly, given how long ago it was that I started the book, I only remember general impressions of most of it, but I need a post, and don’t have much time to write on anything else, so I’ll give my general impressions.

The book is essentially a mainstream-friendly primer on HBD. Most of the information presented within will not be much of a surprise to anyone who has spent much time reading in the Steveosphere. The essential thesis is that human evolution has been recent, copious, and regional. Humans have evolved recently and the different races having evolved seperately and in different conditions have probably evolved somewhat differently.

Some in our little sphere object to some of the arguments presented within. I do not remember having any major issues with the book myself, but that I am not really an expert on these issues. As a moderately informed layman already inclined to agree with Wade, I found his arguments were good.

The book was decently well-written. The writing served it’s purpose, but it wasn’t particularly engaging. Although, he did have what has got to be the best burn I can remember reading in a while, if only for how subtle it is.

Lewontin’s argument has other problems, including the subtle error of statistical reasoning named Lewontin’s fallacy.

Anyhow, my impressions of Wade’s book were somewhat similar to one of the impressions I had of Men On Strike. The ideas presented within were nothing particularly new or informative. I’ve absorbed most of the important things Wade wrote during my travels around the Steveopshere. If you’ve been around these parts for a while, you’ve probably absorbed and accepted the general ideas Wade presents as well. Although, it is nice to have a systematized volume of the basic knowledge.

But, on the other hand, if you are unfamiliar with HBD or are new around these parts, I would highly recommend giving it a read. It will provide a good, coherent introduction to the ideas that are implicitly accepted around these part and it will provide a counter-point to the “genes don’t matter” crowd.

The true strength of the book though, is that it is an NYT writer writing it. Someone with Cathedral-approval actually wrote a book challenging the Cathedral’s position on race and genetics. This is something you can recommend to others (who aren’t completely off the SJW deep-end) without it being rejected as crazy racist propaganda.

Sadly, I don’t think it has had as much an impact as some around here were hoping when it was first released. When it was released I had thought it might have indicated a lessening of mainstream hostility to genetic explanations of human behaviour and greater openness to discussions of the same, but after the first round of buzz, I haven’t seen much in the way of references to it. It doesn’t seem to have had much of a noticeable effect on such discussion either, which is somewhat disappointing.

Recommendation:

If you’ve been reading HBD blogs for a while, you probably won’t get too much out of this book. But if you don’t know much about HBD or want something on the issue to recommend to your liberal friends, I’d recommend picking A Troublesome Inheritance up.

The Bookshelf – Mister

Recently I finished Alex Kurtagic’s Mister, a dystopian novel set in the not-so-distant future. Mister is the story of the everyday frustrations of anarcho-tyranny experienced by an unnamed Englishman referred to as Mister as he goes on a business trip to Spain. The novel could be summed up as ‘This is the Future You Chose: the Book’. This is the fictionalization of the scenarios outlaid in such books as We Are Doomed, America Alone, or Suicide of a Superpower.

Mister is the main character and he functions well as a self-insert for the types of people who would read his books. He’s an intelligent, detached, and cynical observer of the world around him who is trying his best not to get involved in the everyday lunacies that end up overwhelming his life, but throughout the book he finds that although he might not be interested in anarcho-tyranny, anarcho-tyranny is interested in him. He’s not particularly likeable character, but he is sympathetic, if only because of the unjust persecutions the world inflicts upon him will resonate at least some with those aware of the growing anarcho-tyranny in our own society.

There are numerous cameos of varying importance of various alt-right figures occur throughout the book, adding some easter eggs for those in the know. Apart from that, most of the other characters are not very fleshed out, they are mostly caricatures who play their part on the story, but that’s doesn’t harm the book in any way, as the world itself is the main focus of the book not the characters, as it should be.

The Spain Kurtagic paints is a generally realistic extrapolation of current discivic trends happening throughout the Western world. It is a world where government growth, inflation, political correctness, multiculturalism, anti-natalism, mass immigration, pathological altruism, and apathy are rending the fabric of society. The world-building is excellent, and often times its the little things and minor inconveniences, like the price of a coke, that really drive home the dystopia. He really captured the bizarre madness of progressive totalitarianism.

The writing itself is impeccable, if a bit high-brow for my tastes. This is very much done in a literary style, with all that entails. Although, it never get so literary that it becomes unreadable, thankfully. Kurtagic is very detailed and very precise in his descriptions which is often a good thing, but sometimes it seems he is drawing the description out. My friend who first recommended the book to me said that it was the greatest piece of fiction he had read and every word was perfect, so your mileage may vary.

One thing I did not like about the book, was that a lot of the minor characters were described as ‘he looked like Obama’, or ‘he was a skinnier version of some-name-I’ve-never-heard-of-before’. Given the precision and descriptiveness of the rest of the book, this tactic of just describing someone as looking like a (somewhat) famous person seemed somewhat lazy to me.

Another problem I had with the book was also with the characterization. I really don’t want to sound PC, but there was far too much overuse of descriptions along the lines of ‘bestial sloped-brow savages’. This is the kind of book I would like to be able to recommend to others as a narrative so they can viscerally understand the problems faced by our descent into anarcho-tyranny, but because of the descriptions there’s no way I can recommend it to ‘normal’ people without it being immediately disregarded and me labelled as a horrible person.

Despite these shortcomings with the characterizations and descriptions, which admittedly not everyone might see as drawbacks, the story itself was excellent. Mister’s torturous journey through the hells of anarcho-tyranny was realistic and frightening. The insane adventures imposed upon Mister are well-done. I particularly enjoyed the interrogations of Mister, which were bleakly humourous in their Kafkaesque madness.

Recommendation:

Overall, despite a few flaws, I very much liked this book. It is an excellent story of anarcho-tyranny that really drives home all the theory the alt-right puts out. I’d highly suggest picking up Mister and giving it a read.

The Bookshelf: Bachelor Pad Economics

Aaron Clarey has come out with a new book, Bachelor Pad Economics, in which he explains basic financial planning for young men. He wrote the book as a reference to be used when needed rather than reading it cover, I ignored this advice and read it cover-to-cover. It didn’t really hurt the book.

As usual, Clarey writes in a straightforward, but engaging manner. Despite the subject matter, it never becomes overly dry or dull. With this and Enjoy the Decline, Clarey has begun proof-reading his books, I didn’t notice any of the grammatical errors and sloppy editing that plagued his earlier books.

The book comes in at about 500 pages divided into 15 chapters covering all the aspects of basic financial planning you’d expect and some you wouldn’t. He covers the normal things like budgeting, career planning, and retirement planning, but he also goes beyond this into covering things like girls and family. I didn’t notice any important area of financial planning he missed; it look like he covered all the basics.

On the other hand, I knew most of the basics of financial planning and have read his other books (parts of Enjoy the Decline overlap with this book), so I didn’t get too much new information out of it, but the basics are good and worth repeating.

One thing I like about the book is it goes beyond just financial planning and establishes beforehand the reason you need to financially plan. Clarey makes the point it’s not stuff, but people that make life worth living and financial planning should be geared not towards accumulating more stuff for not reason, but towards creating a better life.

As with Clarey’s other books, there’s a stream of amoral hedonism throughout and he again advocates his Smith & Wesson retirement plan. So, some people might not particularly agree with morality of the book.

Recommendation:

This is a solid, engaging guide to financial planning for young men. If you’re a young man and need to get your financial house in order or don’t have a financial plan, I would heavily recommend getting Bachelor Pad Economics; it’s probably the most boredom-free way to get this kind of advice. It could also be useful to young women, but a lot of the advice might not be as applicable.

If you’re already knowledgeable of financial planning, this book won’t really impart much new. If you’re older, you might get some value out of it, but its market is primarily young men.

Previous Reviews of Clarey:

Enjoy the Decline
Top Shelf
Behind the Housing Crash
Worthless

The Bookshelf – Finding Flow

One of my friends has been recommending Finding Flow by Mihaly Csikszentmihaly to me for a while. I got around to reading it this last month and figured I’d review it here.

The book is about flow. The author spends the first third of the book explaining flow. Essentially, flow is that peak experience where you lose yourself in the task at hand. Everything in your being is focused and you’re concentrating solely on what you’re doing, totally immersed in your activity. We’ve all (probably… hopefully?) experienced it at some point. It’s when you’re playing a sport and nothing exists except you, your opponent, and ball; when your writing and there is nothing but you and your words; or when you’re working on that difficult project, look up, and find that 2 hours have just somehow disappeared. That’s what flow is, being in the zone. He differentiates flow from happiness, concentration, and motivation.

Mihaly argues that flow comes from a meeting of a high level of both challenge and skill. If something is not challenging enough, people become bored, if something is too challenging people become frustrated, but if the challenge is just right right for someone’s skill level, he will enter this experiential high. (This concept of flow actually aligns fairly well with my last post. Devote your whole being to your work for God and flow will be one of the immediate rewards).

The second third of the book concentrates on analyzing where flow can be found in work, in leisure, and in relationships.

The last third of the book give some advice on arranging your life so you are more likely to encounter experiences where flow is likely, describing the autocelic personality, and discussing the role of flow and transcendent goals on society.

Two major concepts aside from flow he writes of are the autocelic personality and psychic energy. Psychic energy is pretty self-explanatory; each person has a reserve of mental energy and attention they can devote to activities, things, and people. Autocelic individuals are those who seem to have high levels of psychic energy which they devote to the tasks they are working at allowing them to experience flow often.

The book is fairly short, at less than 150 pages of writing, and is easy to read through. It’s well written and moderately engaging. The ideas are interesting and are mostly backed up with science. Overall, the book was solid.

I do have two criticisms of the book. The first being that, despite being called Finding Flow, there was little practical advice for finding flow. There was some general advice, mostly lumped into the 7th chapter, for putting yourself into situation to experience flow, but given the title of the book and the impressions I got from my friend, I was expecting a more practical book.

As well, the general advice basically boiled down to: try new things, pay active attention when you do things, do things you like, don’t watch too much TV, make lists, and prioritize your time. None of that is bad advice. In fact, its all good advice, but its also pretty standard fare; that kind of advice can be found everywhere and most of it was too general to be immediately useful. It might have been the hype of my friend, but I was expecting something more groundbreakingly insightful or life-changing.

The second criticism of the book comes from the last chapter. There was a slight bit of a new-ageyness feel throughout the book, as is not uncommon in self-help books, but for the most part it the book was grounded in science which made it ignorable. During the last chapter, however, he follows a decent section on our societies narcissism with his ruminations on creating transcendent goals for people to work against entropy apart from traditional religion. He talks about science throughout this and explicitly separates it from New Age mysticism, but its disconnection from first principles was off-putting and made it felt like repackaged, semi-spiritual. New Agey mumbo-jumbo. Although, he did ameliorate this some at by stating that it might be possible everything is meaningless in the last paragraph of the chapter and book.

Despite these criticisms, Finding Flow was a decent psychological self-help book that mostly avoided the off-putting inanity of many self-help books. The concept of flow is a good one and his discussion of where flow can be found was interesting. On the other hand, his recommendations were more general than practical and were not particularly novel. I was expecting more and was a bit disappointed, but that was probably more because my friend had been hyping the book to me for such a long time than any actual deficiencies in the book itself.

Recommendation:

This book was fairly good read on an interesting concept with some good, if not original, advice. It’s readable, not overly long, and the Kindle version is decently priced (at $13 the paperback price might be a bit on the high side for its length). If the concept of flow is interesting to you or you are looking for some general self-help advice based on scientific study, this book would be worth looking at. I wouldn’t say it’s a must-read, but if my description interests you, pick up Finding Flow.

The Bookshelf: Shoot Deer

Manosphere-affiliated blogger Tim, has created an introductory ebook on hunting deer, called, in blunt style, Shoot Deer. He gave me a copy to review.

I am a beginning hunter; I went out by myself this fall for the first time.  For my first hunt, I simply drove out to the nearest crown land, parked at the side of the highway and walked a few hundred meters into the bush til I found a small clearing. I then sat on the ground in small dip leaning back against a tree and waited, shotgun in hand. Probably not the most effective way of harvesting anything, but it was a learning example for next time (while hoping not to get lost in the woods), when I plan to prepare a bit better.

As could be expected, I didn’t catch anything, which was somewhat frustrating as I could hear scraping/crunching within shooting range, but couldn’t see anything through the trees. I would move a bit closer, wait 5-10 minutes, then move again, but it always was just out of sight. In retrospect, it was probably just another hunter and we were simply spending a few hours hunting each other.

Other than that attempt, I’ve never hunted and I don’t really know anybody who hunts, so the topic of this book really appealed to me. Learning a few tricks of the trade would be handy.

And that, this book provided. It had a lot of information on deer hunting. I can’t tell you if its correct or not, as I don’t have the proper experience, but what he writes makes sense and he seems to give due consideration to methods of which he disapproves.

There a lot of things in here I simply would never even have thought of. As one small example, he talks of finding special detergent to wash camo, as most detergents make clothes brighter, something you do not want for your camo.

The book cerainly delivered on its main purpose of providing solid information for beginners on deer hunting. I plan to re-read it again closer to the next deer season.

The major problem I had with the book is Tim focuses a lot of the book on maintaining private hunting property, especially in the first half of the book. He devotes 8 chapters to the topic and only two to alternatives.

For a beginner, its quite the expense to purchase a decent chunk of land for hunting. I live in an area that’s not overly expensive, but checking Kijiji, the cheapest hunting land is $12k for 40 acres. Although, that might be cheap for real estate, that’s quite a bit of upfront investment for a beginner. (I wish I had $80k to spare, there is a lot of beautiful land I could get on Kijiji).

I think the book would have been better for beginners if it had a bit more on hunting on public land (although, maybe public land isn’t as abundant in the US as it is in the western Canada). It would also have more flow if the property chapters were more towards the end of the book rather than right near the front.

That being said this book is excellent and I wish I had had it this summer. There’s a lot of information, and it all seems good. The book is written in a conversational, first-person tone which fits well enough. It also looks well edited for self-publishing; there were few typographical errors and none that interrupted the flow of the book.

At $8 for about 200 pages, the price is good for the amount of information presented.

Recommendation:

If you’re thinking of starting deer hunting, this will be a gecent book to helping you get started or to give you a some information on what’s involved in hunting. Pick up Shoot Deer, but skip the chapters on property ownership (unless of course, you plan to purchase property right off the hop).

If you’re not interested in deer hunting this is obviously not going to be all that useful.

If you’re interested in more information on deer hunting, check out Tim’s blog, Shoot Deer.

Also, Tim, I would suggest putting up an easy to see link to your book on Amazon on your blog; I didn’t see one.

The Bookshelf: 10 Laws and What is Neoreaction

Today, we’ll look at two tracts created by people from the masculine reactosphere, the 10 Laws of Finding Your Mission by LaidNYC and What is Reaction? by Bryce Laliberte. Both works are rather short, respectively 14 and 59 pages, so one post should cover an overview of both. We’ll start out with the 10 Laws because I read it first because it’s shorter (I’m pragmatic that way).

****

The 10 laws of Finding Your Mission

The 10 Laws has the unbeatable price of free, but Laid is asking for donations to help his puppy. Dogs are awesome, so help him out.

The first thing I noticed was that there were actually 11 laws, because there were 2 Law #3’s. So, you actually get more for your moochery than advertised. Despite this minor mistake, there are relatively few typos or grammar errors; it’s well-edited for a free online book.

The book essentially reads like an extended series of blog posts combined into a single document. Each law takes about a page and is mainly independent from the rest. The writing is mostly straightforward and competent with the occasional bit of humour. It’s functional.

But that’s not why you care, you’re reading this for the laws, not the writing style. In that the book is good. He outlines why you should have a mission and gives you some hints on how to go about finding your mission. He is both optimistic and realistic at the same time, which is a nice combination to have.

The book gives an excellent amount of value for the price of free, At the very least, I suggest giving it give it a skim; the page headers make it very easy to do so.

Recommendation:

If you are trying to find your mission, I would recommend the 10 Laws; it won’t take much time and could be very useful. I would especially recommend it for younger men who may not even know they are looking for a mission. If you are still in high school or college, make sure to read this; it could save you a lot of stumbling and regret later in life. It’s good value for money; if you like it, send LaidNYC a donation.

*****

What is Reaction?

Bryce Laliberte at Anarcho-Papist came onto my radar in July after writing a lot of insightful posts in a short period. It took effort to keep up, but keeping up was worth it. He’s since slowed down, and in a period of blog downtime he wrote a tract with the academic-sounding title of “Ideology, Social-Historical Evolution, and the Phenomena of Civilization Or What is Neoreaction?” as overview to neoreaction. He asked me to review and I was looking forward to reading the essay since reading the teaser, so I agreed and here it is.

At first, I thought this would be an introduction to neoreaction, but it is not, it is more an overview and is probably not for the beginner to neoreaction. As well, this is written at a very high level; it is mostly high theory and is written in very academic language. Do not be fooled by the short length; this is not a simple read.

In the essay, Laliberte examines starts with some examination of what ideology is and what is required for an ideology to succeed. He outlines the difference between the occult motivations of and the vagaries/superstructure of an ideology. He posits the reactionary occult motivation as order (protestantism/liberalism’s being equality), while the various manifestations of neoreaction (capitalism, nationalism,futurism, monarchism, anarchism, etc.) are vagaries of this motivation.

He then examines the main concepts of reactionary philosophy: the ascendance of modern spiritual egalitarianism (the Puritan/Protestant hypothesis), hierarchy and stability, the social determinism of biology, the importance of time preference, patriarchialism, anti-modernism, futurism and the effects of technology on man, hedonism, race, capitalism, monarchism, nationalism,and tradition.

I’m not going to critique the analysis of the essay, as most of it is not particularly novel; if you’ve read a fair amount of neoreactionary blogging you’re probably familiar with most of the concepts. But his explanations of the concepts are good ones; as just one example, I’ve read about the benefits of patriarchy many times already, but I still very much liked his explication of the issue and his explicit linking of it to societal time preference.

There are some smaller quibbles I could make; for example, he seems to implicitly posit nazism as a virulent form of reaction, when I see it more as more of a demotist movement, but for the most part his analysis of neoreaction seems sound upon first reading.

My one problem with this essay is the academic-style writing. I’ve always hated the self-important bloviating and purposeful obfuscation of the academy and this essay seems to drop into it at times. I understand that complex topics may require complex terminology and writing and mostly Laliberte sticks within these reasonable bounds, but, especially closer to the beginning of the essay, it seems he is being unnecessarily complex and obfuscating in that particular way academics are. On the other hand, writing in the academic style might be necessary to push neoreactionary ideas into mainstream academia, so this might not necessarily be a bad thing. (When the restoration comes, I hope one of the things we do is destroy the idea in the liberal arts that writing should be complex for complexity’s sake).

I think this is a good encapsulation of neoreactionary ideology. If you are new to neoreaction, I’d suggest reading Moldbug first, this is not something that will convince you. On the other hand, if you are an outsider want an academic look at neoreaction, this is probably a better analysis than Moldbug’s work, which tends more towards argument for than analysis of.

If you are already a reactionary, this is worth the read. It’s priced affordably and solid value for money.

Recommendation

If you’re a neoreactionary or knowledgeable of neoreaction and looking to explore it more academically, I’d drop the $3 and get What is Neoreaction? If you’re new to neoreaction, read Moldbug first.

If you’re an academic outsider researching this new neoreactionary ideology, this essay would be an excellent place to start.

If you don’t care about neoreaction, this would quite obviously be a waste of time and if you hate academic-style writing, you may find the essay annoying to get into at first.

Reading and Understanding

In the comments to my Omega’s Guide – Mind post, Ballista posted on the difference between reading and understanding and electricangel said it should get its own post, and I agree.

Actually, something I’ve found with my experiences (as illustrated on my blog in several different ways) is that simple reading doesn’t do this. What you are speaking of is the idea of training your mind. One can simply read something, never engage their mind, and just move on and are never better for it. For example, this is what is happens with the average Churchian since most of them do actually read copious amounts of Scripture.

The problem is that their minds are untrained. They do not engage their minds in what they read, nor they never desire to do so. You might say that they would have to when it comes to sitting in on the Bible studies, but believe it or not, this is the time when it reveals itself to those who know what to look for when interacting. Typically, this comes in the lack of depth of discussion. Sure, they’ve read the material, and even know what it says it on a shallow and passive level, but they don’t understand the deeper concepts it relates. Even Scripture itself points to how it should be handled:

This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success. (Joshua 1:8)

Note it says meditate, not read. This requires mental engagement with a focused goal, which requires training of your mind. This mental engagement can occur at any time, which is why it says “day and night” (or some Jewish commentaries will say “all day and all night”).

This isn’t limited to just Scripture, but any work of writing (yes even popular fiction, though you’ll find your enjoyment of a work you engage with as opposed to simply read is proportional to the strength of the mind of the author and their degree of mental engagement in writing the text. Perhaps this is one reason why GBFM’s famous list isn’t revered that much anymore. No one engages their minds with the text and consequently find it boring.

I’m thinking on how to handle a post on what “training your mind” looks like (in the vein of “how to study Scripture”), but it can be hard to describe mental processes in a way that others can relate to and understand.

The point Ballista makes here is worth knowing; I’m not going to repeat what he wrote, because he wrote it well; this post is to bring this distinction to the attention of others.

Anybody looking to better themselves intellectually needs to know the difference between just surface reading and understanding what is read. That is why I recommended How to Read a Book for those who weren’t sure of how to get the most form reading non-fiction.

That being said my goal’s for the Omega’s Guide project are limited. I’m not trying to create scholars with it. The develop the mind portion is a minor side part of the project; the mind portion could become a whole series in itself (and almost is, if you’ve been following along on my Reading List project).

What I am trying to do is distill many years worth of effort and experience on my part of going from a complete and total loser to a socially functioning man into a guide so that others can do it a bit easier and a bit faster than I did. There is not much advice out there in the manosphere for the abject loser, the omega, so I’m trying to fill that hole.

So, it is necessary to gloss over some of the things that are only tangential to the project. I assumed that those reading would understand I didn’t mean to just read, but to try to comprehend what they read. I was hoping that by simply having those following my plan read, they would begin to look into deeper understandings on their own.

lolz also had a few good things to say on the topic as well:

You can read n chapters a day, but without engagement and understanding it is useless.

The Bible was written in a high-context ANE culture, so you can’t just read it like a newspaper – far better to read less, but with deep engagement and understanding – with commentaries, Catechisms, solid theological texts, etc.

We see this same pattern in how Evangelicals copiously quote lone, disconnected Bible verses, out of immediate textual context, as well as cultural context, and come up with their ridiculous Churchian teachings as a result. We also see the Pharasaic legalism involved here, e.g. (“I read 3 chapters from the Scriptures a day” [another person says] “well I read 4 so I’m holier than you” and yet another says “I laugh at you heathens – you must read an entire book daily, or you are not a proper servant leader of our church!”, etc…

Note too that chapter and verse are artificial indices imposed on Scripture after it’s creation, for our convenience, and have no Spiritual significance of application. So the guidelines should be to pursue learning more about the Kingdom each day, with Scripture at the core, and various other assistant texts and teachers (like a non-Churchian Priest/Pastor/Bible Study leader/good theological stuff like Chesterton) as is Spiritually profitable. It’s not some issue of reading a certain amount of raw text/day – an issue of quality, not quantity.

Not much to add on my part.

These two have written wisdom, I though it fitting to share said wisdom.