Kill Your White Whale

I just finished Moby Dick by Melville. This is a book report. 

 

The great sea monster haunts many dreams and many imaginative stories. Moby Dick is one of largest, darkest, great sea monsters. The cursed white whale brings his size, strength, and aggression against anyone that tries him. He lies in the remotest parts of the deep, mysterious ocean. Everything about the beast inspires fear.

The deep ocean was the source of Captain Ahab’s mission in life. Ahab was a whaler that had his leg bit off by the evil Moby Dick. This attack, and the loss of his leg, introduced chaos to Ahab’s life. He wasn’t complete with the whale out there swimming around. Then, he sought revenge. He needed to kill Moby Dick.

The imagery is powerful. Ahab needs to go to the deepest depths of the mysterious ocean to fight the mighty sea monster to restore his own order. In the Bible and other mythologies this sea monster imagery is used metaphorically. Here, literally.

One example of the whale in popular stories is its use in Pinocchio. Pinocchio becomes detached from his father and in doing so loses the order that was in his life. He must combat the scariest creature (whale!) in the scariest, most unknown deep part of the ocean. Only there is Pinocchio’s father Geppetto found so that order can be restored. Spoiler alert.

For Pinocchio, reward was restoring the wisdom and order maintained by Geppetto. Geppetto kept Pinocchio sheltered from the darkness of the world during Pinocchio’s younger years. Pinocchio wanted that shelter back – that sense of order, more than anything. He faced his fears and conquered and returned Geppetto.

For Ahab, the world is without order until the white whale is dead. It is his mission to go out, fight the winds and oceans and defeat his rival.

The greatest rewards in life are found by facing the greatest fears and uncertainties and defeating them. For Ahab, reward would have been found by ending the monster that was the source of malevolence that interrupted his career and took his leg. He felt his calling to restore order in an ocean that contains his source of chaos so that he could sail uninhibited.

To restore order to Ahab’s world, many other elements had to be in order. The Pequod, the ship, had to be in order. The individual boats that departed the Pequod to deliver the harpoons had be in order. He had to be in order. Only then could the whale be destroyed, or even an attempt made at the great whale.

The other passengers on the Pequod, the ship in pursuit of Moby Dick with Ahab at the helm, can be seen as the different voices in all of us. They are our collective conscious. There’s Starbuck, who is the voice of reason. He is calm and virtuous and speaks in facts. There is Stubbs, who is funny and skilled but reckless. The Farsi represents the evil that is within all of us. Ahab is the passion that is a part of all of us. Not a sensual passion, but one driven by meaning. He isn’t complete until he accomplishes his mission. Or, of course, dies trying.

In a more literal sense, the others on the ship make us question our mission as it relates to our social responsibility and our commitment to do good to others. Do we have a right to pursue a danger that can hurt or kill others?

Ahab asks this question to his crew. The crew consents – they will join Ahab on his death-mission. But, as we’ve seen from the #metoo movement, consent can be a funny subject. When the Pequod is finally in hot pursuit of Moby Dick, the crew changes sides and some crew members express a wish to stop the pursuit. At Ahab’s insistence, they don’t. Now, dissenting seamen could have abandoned the ship and the crew and taken one of the smaller boats, but all chose to stay.

We find meaning in serving our family and other people. Not only is there a camaraderie that was built over years traveling the seas together, but the passengers onboard the Pequod shared a commitment to the mission and to serving one another. Ahab, however reckless, united the ship against this whale that must be killed. The others on the boat had their role their job on the ship (blacksmith, harpooner, mate). All supported the mission and were a necessary piece of the Pequod puzzle. Their honor laid in their commitment to the mission.

Ahab was blinded by his passion. We see him make mistake after mistake after avoiding sensical advice from his mates. In the end, this not only kills him, but kills all his mates as well. Spoiler alert.

I have faced my deepest fears and insecurities and come out on top. For ten years from middle school through college I suffered as a virgin that wanted to have sex and didn’t. I felt weak and insignificant because I wasn’t recognized by the other sex and rewarded with intimacy and sex. I needed to have sex. My lack of it affected my confidence which affected my relationships, my draw to other vices, and my mood. I was angry. Women became my mission.

Getting good with women was the first time I killed a white whale in my life. I had to fight off every insecurity by facing the deepest fears in my psyche and in living form. I had to build the social skills to maneuver nightlife, dating, and seduction. I obsessed, and then I conquered. I had to achieve with women, and I couldn’t move on until I did.

Yes, in life we can change course. When the crew presented evidence that Ahab should change course, the new options should have been weighted. We can always change course. But that must be a fully conscious decision. The new mission, the new passion, must be greater than original.

When faced with a great problem, the best approach is the most direct route. Stand up to the most fearful aspect of the source of pain and defeat it. You don’t kill other sperm whales and take time on a windy path to your goal. This is inefficient at best, and procrastinating damnation at worst.

There was never a plan B with Ahab. Although multiple whales were killed on the way to Moby Dick, they never interrupted his mission. Other sperm whales were killed and drained of their profitable oil which, in the end, was spilled over the ocean. These supplementary whales ultimately did not aid the capture of Moby Dick and, when the ship was destroyed and the crew killed, proved unprofitable financially.

When I sought out to attract women, I faced this decision. I could have built up less direct skills in order to attract women. If I built up my career and focused on making money, maybe one day a woman would love me for the resources I could provide. I could have spent more time in the gym and tried to become more beautiful. I could have learned an instrument or become a club promoter. I chose instead to build a personality that encompassed the wit, creativity, strength, and confidence characteristic of the master of each of those activities. I became sexy – no matter what I was doing.

Ahab had to kill the white whale – the source of his pain and frustration. In the end, he failed, but he failed attacking his pain and frustration head-on, and there is great honor in that.

Question is, should he have done it? Should Ahab have continued with his drive towards this grim reaper, where he faced probable death, or would he have been more miserable at home where he was safe?

While it was a destructive ambition, I argue, that for Ahab, it was a necessary ambition. If Ahab didn’t leave home and confront the whale he never would have been content with the whale swimming around in the ocean.

To die working towards your mission is to die with honor. To die any other way is to die with regret. To die with regret is shameful. Regret means we know there is something we should be doing, and we choose not to. It means we know there’s a whale that’s a source of chaos and unknown and fear, and we know that within the chaos is great reward, and we choose not to venture and capture the reward.

I killed Moby Dick when I became an attractive man capable of receiving intimacy from women.

These days, I’m fighting a new Moby Dick. I want to build a profitable business so that I can quit my day job. That is my new white whale that I must conquer.

This time, I’m better equipped. I killed a white whale once. I’ll do it again. Hunting whales itself is a skill. So is hunting the white whales – the biggest, meanest, most challenging source of fear. It is these monsters that instill so much fear that are the source of all great things.

What is your white whale?

That didn’t explain monogamy

I watched another trash show that cloaks itself as “science” yesterday. This one, a new Netflix show called Explained: Monogamy, set out to explain how we are not meant to be monogamous and that culture instituted monogamy to suppress people’s sexual desires. 

The show goes further. They take this fact and draw the conclusion that because sex with lots of people is natural because it feels good, we should therefore do it.

The documentary is right – it is unnatural to suppress our sexual appetites. And yes, that’s exactly why marriage and monogamy came about. That’s the point of marriage and monogamy.  And that’s not a bad thing. 

Monogamy gives us meaning. It’s good for culture. This isn’t because of arbitrary rules. It’s healthy when men at the bottom have a chance of receiving intimacy. Women don’t have this problem. Dudes at the top will have sex and share intimacy with many women.

Men at the bottom aren’t afforded that luxury. Men at the bottom do things like shoot up schools and commit crimes when they have no value and don’t receive intimacy.

We don’t just have sex because it feels good. If we did we would be much more eager to fuck the new sex robots and we would be content masturbating. There wouldn’t be angry kids shooting up schools because they have an outlet of their hand and a video. But that’s not what we want. We want intimacy.

Monogamy is a recent invention. That was cited as a reason it shouldn’t exist. You know what else is a recent invention?

Democracy. Modern infrastructure. Transportation.

Society civilized when it became monogamous. No longer were people physically fighting each other to maintain a dominance hierarchy and access to the harem.

With monogamy, the average man had a chance to be with women they didn’t previously have access to. This allowed him to focus on actually being productive instead of fighting for access to pussy.

The documentary says monogamy started for property rights and alliances between families. That’s not true at all. We’ve seen kings and queens marry but kings maintain their harems. Marriage and monogamy did not start to help the one percent. It started to help the 90% that did not have access to women and resources.

90%? Yes. It was, and still is that large of gap between the attractive and unattractive. This is evident in the modern dating world. There’s published data from all the dating apps, but it’s also observable in bars – men find more women attractive than women find men attractive. We don’t date people we don’t find attractive.

Without monogamy, women wouldn’t date 90% of men. It’s because of this phenomenon there aren’t a lot of attractive men. “There’s someone for everyone.” No, there’s not. Not in a society where we go for what’s attractive.

It’s not a bad thing to have freedom and choices. It is a bad thing when there are consequences to those freedoms and choices that women aren’t told about. I want women to have freedom. I want them to be aware of the consequences to those freedoms.

When women chase what’s attractive and don’t enter a monogamous relationship when they are at their peak attractive level, they remove the option to be with a very attractive man (because they too have options). When women settle, they get unhappy because they’ve had “more attractive”. When women are unhappy in a relationship, they leave. Cue divorce rates, split families.

“If marriage wasn’t a thing we wouldn’t have divorce rates.” Sure, but it’s not just men who are unhappy following divorce (which are predominantly initiated by women). Women have been getting less happy for decades (by every measurable measure). This is despite all the freedoms women have been given.

Monogamy should be in place to restrict the options of attractive men – more so than restricting women.

Marriage for love is an even more recent idea. It’s only a few hundred years ago. There were critics. The documentary says there shouldn’t have been – that love is noble. There should have been critics.

Love is largely defined today as the feelings of attraction, which is aimed at those top 10% of men. That leaves scraps for the bottom of men, and started this long journey toward nonmonogamy. Love is to blame for today’s rampant divorce.

Darwin says man surpassed women in cognitive ability because of sex. The documentary says this is sexist. It is. There are differences between men and women and they exist because of sex. Men need to develop our socioeconomic status, intelligence, and social skill in order to receive intimacy. Women don’t. It is sexist. It’s not misogynist.

Are people jealous? Yes. It’s a natural emotion that surfaces when we want something we can’t have but feel entitled to. How about when a woman is monogamous with you (manifests entitlement) and cheats on you? Cue jealousy.

Commitment to monogamy and not the person is a good thing, contrary to the movie. Before love people were committed to monogamy for monogamy’s sake. You could call in and out of love, but you honored he relationship. This goes counter to the modern “do what feels good” mantra.

Relationships based on love don’t hurt the 10% that are attractive. Even relationships with multiple people can work well for these people at the top. These are the people that were interviewed for the film – people with active sex lives, including those with multiple partners.

But this doesn’t apply for the bottom 90% of men – none of whom were interviewed in the making of this documentary. It would have been an entirely different movie, with a different meaning, if it were lonely unattractive outcasts that were interviewed for the film.

Pleasure is natural. We evolved to feel it, and to want to give into it.

Honor is a virtue.

Virtue doesn’t become less attractive, addictive, and with diminishing returns. Pleasure does.

Enter relationships built in something that will last forever.

Buddhism and Christianity

Buddhism and Christianity are closely linked. Deep Eastern philosophy and classic Western philosophy agree on the same core values.

So, too, do many great books. Those of Homer and Virgil and Shakespeare. Apparently. I haven’t read them yet.

The primary thing they agree on – do not give in to pleasure. Pleasure is the root of all evil. All suffering.

From pleasure we see the deadly sins emerge. Lust of the pleasure of women. Gluttony of the pleasure of food and drink. And five other sins.

Pleasure is at the root of the commandments. Thou shalt not seek pleasure in thy neighbor’s wife. Thou shalt not seek pleasure in killing someone, even if your life would be more enjoyable. More pleasurable.

In fact the devil, the tempter, represents the temptation to simple pleasure. The forbidden fruit, the mana in the desert.

In Buddhism, we learn pleasure is the root of all suffering, and that this suffering is inherent in all humans. In psychology, Buddhism is validated.

All disciplines are connected. Even different philosophies.

In psychology, we learn that the brain evolved to seek pleasure in order to fulfill two animalistic functions: survival and replication.

The modern world feeds on this evolution. It takes advantage of the evolution of the brain. It takes advantage of natural selection. Of our base nature.

We are sold candy which appeals for the same reason fruit of a tree appealed – its sweetness was once a sign of nutrition. Today that sweetness is replicated with processed sugars to give us pleasure.

Sex is awesome and has more obvious survival and replication implications. You either had sex or your genes didn’t replicate and your bloodline thinned and your tribe became smaller and weaker and more threatened by other tribes.

Sex, even the natural act that precedes replication, can be abused.

It is in the search of these pleasures that we find ourselves removed from the moment and we, according to the Buddha, suffer. We are living in the future. Being hopeful of things to change.

Buddhism says to eliminate the need to want pleasure. Buddhism teaches us that this can be reached by meditating. When we meditate, we learn to focus. We focus our thoughts and eliminate being subject to feelings, thoughts, and behaviors we don’t want.

The Bible also teaches us to not seek pleasure. Not just in the commandments, but in the imitation of Jesus. Jesus was repeatedly tempted with pleasure by the devil, which he rejected.

Eve ate the apple god forbid because it was the most attractive. She gave in to pleasure and lived her life in shame.

Now, one doesn’t have to live in shame because they chose pleasure once in their life. But it is shameful to always be needing a high – whether drugs, alcohol, food, or sex.

This chase of pleasure is shameful because it’s enslaving. Needing pleasure is voluntarily submitting to that pleasure and the need of that pleasure.

To be free, one must reject pleasure.

Pleasure is a powerful force with powerful bounds. Those bounds become stronger when pleasure is given into.

Psychology tells us the brain rewards pleasure. We are likely to repeat what is pleasurable, since it feels better than not pleasure.

If a caveman ate a fruit and didn’t die of poison, he was likely to return and eat that fruit. He was rewarded with nutrients which reinforce that he should be eating the fruit.

So, too, the pleasures today encourage us to return. Only now there are billboards and TV commercials and lingerie stores that throw pleasure at you.

If one follows the Buddha and Jesus’ example, he will see that the billboards and TV commercials and lingerie stores are only offering to tighten your own shackles.

At least, according to the Bible, Buddha, psychology, and me.