Being Human in a LARPing World

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  1. I love this Ben.

    In a world where somehow we are reduced to picking between a destructive anti-government/anti-rules libertarianism and equally problematic big-government/fiat politics, I would like to choose a bottom-up system based on our shared humanity. Where rules aren’t the enemy, but are recognized as the useful fictions they are.

    I believe we have reached a good old storage issue. Society has developed into something so complex that we can no longer see the duality between our useful fictions and our actual network of human beings. And like the time-poor Consumers!TM that we have become, we resort to reading only headlines instead of the stories the headlines were intended to symbolise.

    What a mess.

  2. Avatar for Tanya Tanya says:

    Beautiful Ben, this had me tearing up on the subway.

  3. LARPing
    Live Action Role Playing

    Unaware of the water in which we swim.
    Unaware of the narrative in which we live.

    Thank you Ben,
    Jim Handshaw

  4. Why is there no discussion here of what actually happened, and didn’t happen, in Uvalde on a macro level? Seems pretty clear that this whole event was stage managed, much as so many of the major events that have happened since like… the beginning of the twentieth (and I don’t mean 21st) century. Until we confront the demon head on, which means calling it out for what it is instead of hiding behind memes, we cannot even begin to make progress in defeating it – all the pray, eat, love, teach aside. What we are looking at is a Hydra whose sole desire is our complete capitulation, which is to say enslavement. Uvalde, clearly so, is just another operation designed to further their narrative. Can it possibly be seen in any other light? How many MK Ultras, Project Artichokes, et al. need to surface until it is understood what is being done to us? Good grief!

  5. Thank you Ben. I need to regularly hear your voice of sanity and reason, in this insane, unreasonable world. Your efforts are appreciated.

  6. Therapeutic. You have captured the despair so well.

  7. Ben, will you please take a few minutes to define what you mean by “gun culture”? It’s not clear to me what behaviors, actions, and attitudes you consider to be part of the cancer of gun culture versus those that are not. A little clarity may help advance the discussion.

  8. Excellent post!

    I can relate to the anger. I am so frustrated and weary from trying to be human in a LARPing world.
    I needed the reminder that I am not alone.

  9. So this article was what finally out me over the edge to become a member of the pack. Long overdue in retrospect but glad to be here. This is my first post.

    I read an article recently by Jonathan Haidt about the last decade of American Stupidity the other day and I thought he nailed the problem very effectively, but wasn’t very keen on his solution. Highly recommend taking the time to read the article. It’s in the Atlantic.

    Shortly after I read this article from Ben, and BAM! The solution crystal clear. A personal revolution has begun. Make. Teach. Protect. It starts with me.

    I’m excited to join the pack and support all the hard work Ben and Epsilon Theory is doing, and look forward to getting to know this community. I trust that perhaps this is a place that has not become an absolute dumpster fire of dart throwing entrenched ideologues.

    Hope Everyone has a wonderful day today!

  10. A gun is made for target sports or for mechanical injury, killing and threatening to.
    Collecting guns for historical and sentimental reasons sits outside of the scope of this post.
    A gun culture is a society that has cultivated their minds to see guns as part of everyday life not solely for the purposes stated above. The extra supposed utility is stuff like looking cool or feeling macho.
    I think that if you need a gun to feel virile there is probably an amount of compensating going on.
    The prevalence of them in tv shows and computer games, to raise the level of jeopardy for dramatic effect, demonstrates the addictive behaviour that excitement through fear is.
    If over-civilized life is dull perhaps we import needless danger purely for giggles. Mathematic probability dictates the existence of extreme unwanted outcomes.
    In the UK there is a proven case of murder by tampering with a fellow skydiver’s parachute. It was jilted lover’s jealousy.

  11. Avatar for drrms drrms says:

    I read this terrifying and sobering quote in the WSJ yesterday about the young man who was arrested outside of Judge Kavanaugh’s home:

    The man allegedly said he came to kill Justice Kavanaugh “thinking it would give his life purpose.”

    Culture is what determines purpose and we have built for ourselves a culture of LARPing.

    Being human versus LARPing - what a wonderful summary of the choice that lies before us all every moment of every day.

    My prayer - make me more fully human every moment of every day and let me breach the nudging oligarchy.

    Thank you @bhunt.

  12. Tom, I’m a 2A advocate who believes that there’s no logical way around a belief in a constitutional right to bear arms with meaningful destructive power for someone who starts from a natural law belief in the right to self-determination. As a result of that (and the fact that we work together), I’ve probably spent more time talking to @bhunt about this point than anyone. So while I can’t speak to precisely what he means, I can tell you what left me feeling comfortable with this construction.

    You should read “Gun Culture” on these pages as the industry-cultivated fetishization of guns as a mechanism to feel like a badass, to cause fear in fellow citizens and to demand effortless respect.

    For example, we who respect and are familiar with guns can roll our eyes at the media descriptions of the AR-15 platform, usually a more or less middle of the road .223 Remington / 5.56 NATO semi-automatic rifle. What we cannot do is ignore that the marketing of this and similar platforms and LARPy modifications, vests and other “tactical gear” is specifically designed to appeal to those who are caught up by elements of that Gun Culture in the same way that some semi-automatic handguns have been carefully marketed by their manufacturers and distributors to appeal to those who have accelerated gang violence in many US cities.

    For the more visual among us, you can find the confluence of what we mean by Gun Culture and Police Culture in the case of Philip Mitchell Brailsford, an Arizona police officer who shot a harmless, sobbing man with “you’re fucked” engraved on the ejection port dust cover of his rifle. If you like this, you can find all sorts of other ones on hundreds of websites like this one.

    To Ben’s point throughout, our resistance to arbitrary forms of infringement shouldn’t make us resistant to criticism of gun fetishists. Quite to the contrary, I think it means we have more of a responsibility than anyone to loudly call out the LARPers, to facilitate a culture change toward guns as an indispensable element of our self-determination and citizen sovereignty rather than a feature of some “badass dude” persona we wish to wear.

  13. Avatar for bhunt bhunt says:

    100x this. Thank you, @rguinn!

  14. To the question “What can one person do in these crazy times?”, someone wise told me to create an island of sanity and love. Just that.
    Your post speaks to what such an “island” can be about. Thank you for offering and sharing your own island.

  15. I liked the Gordian knot story. Just riffing with thoughts/questions that came to mind since reading the note. I’m thinking about the goal of a transformation of today’s widening gyre political polarization axis that you discussed via the analogy with the Gordian knot. Imagine a future world where what you are attempting with Make Protect Teach has accomplished a significant transformation of those axes. How would we define the new axes? One way based on this note would be MPT vs LARPers but I am not sure this is enough. People know, in theory, whether they are left/right on today’s axis…do LARPers know they are LARPers? Are people who think they are MPT actually MPT? To drive the transformation, are ‘wedge issues’ a prerequisite and if so what are they? Thinking here of the political horseshoe concept…what are issues/policies that could drive a transformation along a new axis where current ‘moderates’ become relatively extreme on the new axis and leave those caught up in the widening gyre alone to define the other end of that new axis?

  16. Thanks, Rusty. I believe that’s an important term to define to avoid misunderstandings.

  17. Avatar for drrms drrms says:

    Where do we find “Gun Culture” in order to read it?

  18. Great piece @bhunt .

    I think that a ground up approach using M/P/T or something similar is the way to go.
    It really needs to go hand in hand with creating strong families, communities and ultimately nations. I suppose the two are intertwined.

    Otherwise as beneficial as it will be to those directly engaged in M/P/T, its going to be one hell of a job reaching out to the masses, trying to convince them to engage in behaviour that promotes M/P/T and that doesn’t reward them with some reletively instant gratification.

    Do we have the patience for such a slow burn? I’m not sure.

  19. Avatar for drrms drrms says:

    I’ve searched the articles and the forum and I can’t find any article or forum topic named “Gun Culture.” @rguinn?

  20. Avatar for drrms drrms says:

    Ah - never mind, I think I get it now. “Gun culture” isn’t a piece to be read but rather it is two words to be understood as meaning industry-cultivated fetishization of guns as a mechanism to feel like a badass, to cause fear in fellow citizens and to demand effortless respect.

    Sorry, I’m a little slow sometimes!

  21. Avatar for Pat_W Pat_W says:

    “If over-civilized life is dull perhaps we import needless danger purely for giggles. Mathematic probability dictates the existence of extreme unwanted outcomes.”

    This is a very useful thought.

    @drrms I have long thought that the idea of respect in this country has been turned on it’s head and dropped. “you disrespected me” became an opportunistic thought that allowed first young people, then everyone, to act out anger and violence, and to get high on the hormones that calls up. It may be that Ben’s reference to LARPing is appropriate here as well.

    I had my evening ruined the other night when I clicked on a local news explanation of the incident in Florida where a 10 year old shot and killed a woman who was physically fighting with her mother. The 2 adults had a history of duking it out over things as petty as a post on social media. They run into each other at a neighborhood BBQ and started up again. The mom handed her purse to her daughter to hold for her. In that purse both mother and daughter knew she kept a loaded, unsecured gun. Then the daughter pulled out the gun and said something like, “you can’t mess with my mom!” while firing a bullet into the woman’s head.

    No adults in this story- the authorities later announced the child would be looked after and given help in “anger management”. At 10 it’s a bit late for that.

    Probably most of us here were taught that respect must be earned. I certainly was.

  22. Brilliant. The fetishization of guns and the yuuuge amounts of gun violence we are fed in the media, LARPing it up, feeds on itself. As a Jew who knows, after many centuries of things going well for us…until they don’t (I was also crystallized and radicalized by the book People Love Dead Jews), I carry and own several, and ammo. I will not go down quietly and feel a special responsibility when carrying. If you have a gun, for self defense only consider using it if it’s a me or an xx/xy or more than one is going to die or be attacked. Otherwise I avoid Standing My Ground! as we can here in FL. Now the morons in the legislature are pushing for what is euphemistically called “Constitutional Carry.” No permit, no registration, nothing. I’m all for allowing people to carry a Brown Bess or Charleville Musket, as was carried in the times of our nation’s founding. The Founding Fathers never conceived of what is marketed today, and the liars on the Supreme Court who are supposedly interpreting the US Constitution as intended by the drafters would have never allowed the possession and use of such weapons. Just my wandering $.02

  23. Maybe personalized nuclear weapons (PNW) is The Answer and not ‘42’ ;() (Just kidding), but what happens when PNW are bearable?

  24. This is obviously sci-fi now, but sci-fi often runs deep on ET. The question is a typical generalization (in this case to the limit) of a mathematical consideration. Do I think PNW will eventually be real? Yes! Do I think acquisition of PNW needs to be regulated? Yes! And so therefore, I think it is totally reasonable that less destructive bearable arms could be regulated as well.

  25. Great Ben --I have heard these truths from you before , but some things we NEED to keep hearing!
    Make, Protect, Teach are among them!

  26. I am reading Mahatma Gandhi’s autobiography now and one phrase he wrote seems consequential to me in helping “we the pack” to cut the Gordian Knot.

    “Hate the Sin, not the Sinner” Gandhi said he practiced.

    In our case, separate views of people from views on issues

    I think the “game” that we are being pushed to play is presented as if we differ on an issue, it is the people that are saying it are evil. It’s simple and of course divisive.
    Perhaps if we simply separated the people from the issue itself we can calm things down. Maybe come to some sort of compromise and solve problems.

    Anyway, I thought at the very least it is a different way of looking at the world and helps me navigate this unruly world

  27. Avatar for Tanya Tanya says:

    Finally distilling down my feelings on this, my initial reaction is something like what @rechraum said.

    I have two thoughts beyond just appreciating the beauty of Ben’s writing, which are quite possibly opposed to each other.
    The first is, if this is to be a bottom-up movement, “How do we bring this to the masses?”

    The other is, “If this movement is brought to the masses, how do we ensure that it is not co-opted for another, ‘conflicting’, cause?”.

    Or, is the point that people need to find this on their own? (Not implying that one should not suggest the Pack to those that are receptive.)

    Finally, since I believe comedy will somehow save the world, I love @Victor_K’s PNW comment, thank you for the literal LOL! (Even if it may have not been completely faceitious.)

  28. Tanya,

    I do agree that humor can unite us. It gets us to the same spot that abject humiliation also reaches but in a kinder, gentler and happier way.

    And to your comment on bottom up movement:
    “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed, citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”
    -Margret Mead

    Jim, taking a morning break from LARPing.

  29. @bhunt Really enjoyed this note. I’m always impressed how you can read between the lines and grasp a concept or unseen observation that isn’t on the radar of most. Thanks for sharing your thoughts with us.

  30. Instead of either-or maybe it’s both-and. I get encouragement and community from the Pack and I teach/mentor as an individual.

  31. Thank you Tanya! I’m so glad ET has many people like you who can see a ‘joke’! Of course I’m semi-serious (facetious), just as you surmised, but as may also be true, comedy often reveals some truths, usually hidden in the laughter.

  32. @Victor_K reminded me of an old Mad Magazine cartoon. A man with an artillery piece in his yard with the caption: “Be the only one on your block with a 155MM howitzer, then be the only one on your block!”

  33. I think this is spot on , I will add one more layer —not only are the people on the other side of the issue wrong and evil , they are a threat to democracy. They are a direct threat to the Republic itself. The volume of our political discourse is 10 ALL THE TIME , ON EVERY ISSUE.

    Rusty wrote about it here in a not so referenced note: (I miss Rusty’s notes) ALOT!

    The Elton/Hootie Line - Epsilon Theory

    It amazes me how often this is thrown around in the media , no wonder people are taking up arms.

  34. Avatar for bhunt bhunt says:

    I don’t know if that’s point, per se, Tanya, but I do think it’s the most effective way to make all this stick. We’ve been word of mouth from the very beginning, nine years ago. I can’t wait to see what the next nine years bring!

  35. 376 officers. Three hundred seventy six. That’s essentially two companies of soldiers. If that had been three guys they would have stormed in and ended it because otherwise nobody else would. But with what amounted to 80% of a battalion standing around it was a lot easier to think “well someone else here will do it”. Unconscionable.

  36. I feel like this entire thread has all the attention focused on guns, and rightly so because of the obvious tie-in to Uvalde. But I’d challenge all of you critical thinkers to go back and read this article and replace any mentions of police LARPers and their tools (guns), and change them to finance professionals and the tools of their trade. There are -plenty- of LARPers in Wall St. Many of whom are committing egregious acts of fraud and gross negligence while LARPing as fiduciaries.

    Well all know that. We all see that. It’s much less polarized than the gun and police example. There are no real libtards or magats controlled narrative in that space. Just an ishtload of fiduciaries that are getting privately rich creating the next big financial crisis and planning to socialize their losses when they bring it about.

    I think re-reading the article in that light might help dissolve the red/blue scales from our eyes like they once did for a dude in Damascus.

  37. Avatar for rguinn rguinn says:

    Yep! I think you could say that the core idea of the Long Now is that conditions are designed to make all of us LARPers just about all of the time in just about every facet of our engagement with our culture.

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