He was a man, take him for all in all, I shall not see his like again.
Many writer types, I think it can fairly be said, feel an unconscious resentment toward the fitter and well-adjusted, and have an intuitive sense that they are above these sorts of base activities. When I didn’t lift, it was in part because I still lived in the shadow of my predecessors, who articulated a strict dichotomy between the life of the mind and that of the body, and who adhered to a certain aesthetic vision of what it meant to be a writer—depressed, misanthropic, even sickly, crushed by the weight of seeing things as they really are. The physical body was merely the vessel for Brilliant Thoughts; and the only actually important thing was language.
Thus lifting, which is commonly thought of as the activity of the egotistical and vain, is in reality the opposite—it is a corrective for those things.
Humility, as the shape of the head seemed to suggest, is the first thing one learns in the gym, where one either humbles himself or gets humbled. It is not enough for one simply to imagine that he is strong, or delude himself into believing he is fit. Knowledge comes up against experience, and one has to adjust to make progress. One either learns how to lift properly—using light weights initially and asking others for help—or gets injured. In both cases, humility is the mechanism by which the lifter grows. This is why lifters level epithets like “ego lifter” at one another: humility, not pride, is the arch-virtue of the lifter.
It’s no wonder that people today are seeking a more embodied experience—and trying to learn the language of the body. When not kept in check, thought and language tend toward idiosyncratic, self-centered dreams. There is more to life than language; there is life beyond the text.
The simple truth is that I started lifting because it felt good, and I continued lifting because it continued to feel good. For my entire life, people had extolled the virtues of exercise, but I found them annoying. I didn’t want them to be right. My problems felt special, complex, philosophical. What would it mean if moving heavy weights like an ogre played a substantial role in solving so many of my problems that felt so complex, so personal?
Moving to book ownership, about 85 percent of us own at least one physical book, while just 49 percent own at least one electronic book. Men were more likely to own e-books than women (53 percent to 45 percent), and Democrats were more likely to own them than Republicans. Folks under age 45 are much more likely to own e-books, though the older folks who do have e-books tend to have larger libraries than their younger friends.
Almost a quarter of us own at least 100 physical books, with 7 percent of us owning more than 500 and 3 percent owning more than 1,000, according to a separate October survey in which Montgomery asked over 29,000 Americans about their book collections.
All right, fellows, I’m going to need you to start pulling your weight here. I can only do so much on my own.
At the same time a social revolution was being inaugurated under the direction of Jan Matthys. His first step was to confiscate the property of the emigrants. All IOUs, account books and contracts found in the houses were destroyed. All clothing, bedding, furniture, hardware, weapons and stocks of food were removed and placed in central depots. After praying for three days Matthys announced the names of seven ‘deacons’ who had been chosen by God to administer these stores. The poor were encouraged to apply to them and received commodities according to their needs.
However popular these measures may have been with the beneficiaries, the fact that they were carried out at the bidding of a foreigner, a newcomer to the town, aroused resentment, and a blacksmith spoke out against Matthys. The propheta at once had him arrested and taken to the marketplace. The whole population was also summoned there, and Matthys, surrounded by a bodyguard, made a speech in which he declared that the Lord was outraged at the slandering of his prophet and would take vengeance on the whole community unless this godless smith was cut off from the body of the Chosen People. The few eminent citizens who protested against the illegality of the proceedings were themselves thrown into prison and Matthys first stabbed and then shot the smith. The crowd was warned to profit from this example and dutifully sang a hymn before it dispersed.
The terror had begun and it was in an atmosphere of terror that Matthys proceeded to carry into effect the communism which had already hovered for so many months, a splendid millennial vision, in the imagination of the Anabaptists. A propaganda campaign was launched by Matthys, Rothmann, and the other preachers. It was announced that true Christians should possess no money of their own but should hold all money in common, from which it followed that all money, and also all gold and silver ornaments, must be handed over. At first this order met with opposition; some Anabaptists buried their money. Matthys responded by intensifying the terror.
“The more things change, the more they stay the same.” “Wherever you go, there you are.” “Everything that needs to be said has already been said. But since no one was listening, everything must be said again.” You read history out of a sense of wonder about times and places different from your own, and you end up wondering if anything has ever changed at all.
Yet people are not merely passive recipients of ideas; indeed, one aspect of human psychology clearly visible on social media is the willingness of people to meme themselves into belief. Being around a community who express the same beliefs, repeating mantras and declarations of faith, regarding non-believers as an actual physical threat in order to solidify group cohesion – yes, you can fake it until you make it.
All this might provide some thought for Church leaders as they contemplate still-falling numbers in a country in which a minority now identify as Christian: can Christianity meme itself back into relevance? Can people not blessed with faith – which, after all, is highly dependent on childhood instruction and probably has a genetic component – talk themselves into it? I think, almost certainly, yes.
Religion comes in degrees, often differentiated by identification, practise and belief. Many who identify as ‘Christian’ don’t practise and many who practise don’t believe (including some clergymen). But putting your foot on the first step hugely increases the probability of reaching the second. It is the same with all beliefs.
Perhaps the most obvious example of memed belief is transgenderism, the very recent idea that people are born in the wrong body and can somehow change sex. Many men have memed themselves into believing they are women, simply because when once it would have been regarded as a fetish it is now seen as a sacred identity (and enforced by the law).
— Ed West, “The Rise of the New Theists”
‘You are a slow learner, Winston,’ said O’Brien gently.
‘How can I help it?’ he blubbered. ‘How can I help seeing what is in front of my eyes? Two and two are four.’
‘Sometimes, Winston. Sometimes they are five. Sometimes they are three. Sometimes they are all of them at once. You must try harder. It is not easy to become sane.’
— Orwell, 1984
A thinker is now that being in whom the impulse for truth and those life-preserving errors clash for their first fight, after the impulse for truth has proved to be also a life-preserving power. Compared to the significance of this fight, everything else is a matter of indifference: the ultimate question about the conditions of life has been posed here, and we confront the first attempt to answer this question by experiment. To what extent can truth endure incorporation? That is the question, that is the experiment.
— Nietzsche, “Origin of Knowledge,” The Gay Science
Politico: Why do you think you can be so open about your strategy and still have it work? Why don’t you feel like you need to be covert about it?
Rufo: First, and most simply, because I’m telling the truth—and the truth has an inherent and innate power. I believe that if it’s propagated correctly, it has the power to defeat lies.
The reason that I announced my strategy in advance is both to demoralize my opponents—and it certainly does a good job at that—but also to teach my potential friends and allies how the game works. Machiavelli wrote The Prince not to teach people who already knew the principles of how power works, but to teach people who need to know—and in reality, the people who need to know about how politics works are American conservatives. So I tried to publicly narrate what I’m doing in order to teach my friends how to do it themselves. I think that this is a big service—with the added benefit that it demoralizes and deranges my enemies.
I’ve been telling people for a while now that Christopher Rufo is more effective and worth paying attention to than anyone else in politics. Politicians will come and go, but his activism will be more consequential than any of them. I read his book last year and was impressed — most of the story itself was familiar to me, but he did an excellent job of telling it. I especially love how forthright he is — he tells them what he’s going to do, he does it, and then he tells them what he did, before announcing what he plans to do next. All they can do so far is wail and gnash their teeth. Godspeed, sir.