Beyond Opposition

If you tell me I have to do something, I want to do the opposite. 

If you tell me I can’t do something, it’s going to be the first thing I want to do. 

I’ve always been that kind of guy. 

I have an oppositional nature. 

I’m sure if I were a kid today, they’d try to prescribe me some medication for it — something to induce passive compliance, probably something with more sides than effects. 

This oppositional nature is glaringly apparent from my resume, such as it is. 

I understand reflexive and reactionary opposition. 

However, I believe that positive growth requires the overcoming of mere reaction and opposition for its own sake. 

“Fuck you, I won’t do what you tell me!” is a song lyric, not an ethos. 

America is founded on opposition to inherited and unjust authority. Opposition can be warranted and righteous, but in order for it to be so, it cannot merely be reactionary or automatic. 

There is nothing necessarily noble or righteous about opposition for its own sake. 

It occurred to me recently that one of my current aims is to help men move past reactionary opposition in philosophy and aesthetics, and move toward a more reasoned and considered opposition — when that opposition is necessary and in the service of a positive ideal and initiating positive change. 

Solar growth and maturity require a transformation of the mind from a reactive state to a proactive state — from a quick, snapping snarl of thumos to a thumos that is reigned and guided by logos and, ultimately, hierós

Logos represents logic and reason, and hierós refers to that which is sacred or holy or connected to the gods or the supernatural. In more secular terms, the eternal. A choice has to be made and a flip has to be switched so that the power that drives opposition comes from a sacred, inviolable ideal, and is channeled through a regulator that best serves that ideal. 

At a certain point, to bring about productive change, “fuck you, I won’t do what you tell me” has to become “fuck you, I’m going to do something better because I believe that it is right and just and good.” 

I challenge you to examine your motivations for opposition and apply this to all aspects of your thinking and behavior and the choices you make aesthetically. 

Do you do or say or “like” a thing because it is a middle finger to someone else — merely because it offends some “other” — or because you truly believe it is the best way or the best solution or because it is beautiful or true? 

I see in so many men around me what I recognize as gravitation toward “satanism” with a lowercase “s.” By this, I don’t mean a theological sympathy for the capital “D” Devil, but an attraction toward ideas and imagery that are intended to be oppositional, offensive, or shocking. 

A broad and base example is the intentionally offensive “message” t-shirt or bumper sticker. I used to wear and use these, but I stopped wearing them and using them and I hesitate to sell them because my purposes are not served by upsetting strangers in traffic or at the grocery store. Likewise, do you like the kind of music you like because it is good and uplifts your spirits, or because it communicates your oppositional identity and offends other people? 

In the decades following World War II, bikers wore SS bolts to provoke The Greatest Generation and the status quo — not because the majority of them actually yearned to be controlled by an authoritarian regime. Today, I see so many young men adopting half-understood symbols associated with the Third Reich, like “black suns” and so forth. For the most part, this is not because they are aspiring Nazis — most of them would have been shot or sent to camps for running their mouths — but because Hitler has become the modern equivalent of Satan. These symbols and even many of the ideas associated with them are not employed sincerely but as new forms of the inverted cross. The attraction to these kinds of symbols is, in most cases, an attraction to opposition, to inversion, to the forbidden. They are symbolic curse words in a society that embraces profanity.

A great deal of 20th Century art, often reviled as “modern art,” was meant to provoke or offend people, and in that sense, a lot of it hasn’t aged very well. Today, people are provoked and offended by different things. If Marcel Duchamp were to scribble “R. Mutt” on a urinal tomorrow and put it in a gallery, who would care? If anything, a similar piece would be applauded by an art establishment enamored with this kind of tiresome transgression. At some point — perhaps in part as a response to the threat of photography — provocation and transgression and inversion became the entire point of art for many artists and critics and collectors. Whatever was naughty, whatever “sacred the straights,” became “good.” 

It is tempting to continue this pattern by merely inverting that which has already been inverted, bringing aesthetics and values through a full 360 degrees. But this, too, is reaction — not creation. 

What is sorely needed is a re-evaluation of what is good and beautiful and right and true. Most traditions have been broken or perverted, and conservatives have nothing pure left to conserve. 

Now is a time for soul-searching.  

With all of the new information we can see from our high seats, what new names and forms and shapes will we use to gesture toward perfection?

Recently, I sat in Arches National Park at dawn and played the oldest song in the world on a Greek lyre. I was looking up this giant, ancient rock formation that someone named the “Courthouse Towers,” and I thought to myself, “what quaint and comical names we give these things that have been here longer than we have…” 

But this is what men do. We give names and make values. We identify and choose and order our world, imposing our own meaning on everything around us.

What meaning do you want? 

Make sure it isn’t simply the opposite of what someone else wants. 

Oσον ζῇς φαίνου

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PH2T3R Creator and Primary Editor.
Author of The Way of Men, Becoming a Barbarian, A More Complete Beast, and Fire in the Dark.