In "The Tyrant's Muse", I explore the psychological and emotional biases behind my receptiveness to criticism of neoconservative dominance, the finer reasoning details on why the The Empath ends the way it ends, everything that happened after I started shopping The Empath in CIA-dominated Hollywood, and how I turned the concepts within it into tangible political, scientific, and military outcomes.
First Chapter: The Lesson
“A beginning is a very delicate time.”
The seeds planted within the Marshall Plan had reached full saturation by 1981. American exports had rebuilt the European continent. Port cities all along the eastern seaboard had enjoyed the tremendous economic activity, giving one final boost to union predominance throughout the region. When the Saudis took over the global economy in 1974, globalism was on the menu and the destruction of American exports were to be the sacrificial lamb. Inner city violence, political trench fighting, drug consumption, and infectious nihilism consumed what were once prosperous and thriving cities. Today, we whisper the names of former East Coast gems like Newark, Camden, and Patterson as if they were rotting carcasses nailed to gate of world trade as a warning against betrayal. A brutal cynicism of all things capitalism slowly grew from that decay. Mockery of trickle-down economics were rife, but the cornerstone ultimately held: Giving tax cuts to the American wealthy did create jobs... in China. (The policy architects never said where the jobs would be created.) With opportunity stripped from an entire region, it should be of little shock that the children of that region would mindlessly justify all additional communal negligence. Few children frame their earliest memories within broad strokes of macroeconomic history, but it's a useful bearing to understand how I managed to get stuck with an endless parade of feral adults.
Memory is a Newtonian liquid. As we get older, it simultaneously hemorrhages causality and coagulates around intensity. People today often assume memory operates with machine precision, as if we merely recall exact properties about an experiences. This assumption is incorrect but stubbornly intoxicating due to its harmony to the mythos of self-control. Memory is never recalled in this manner. Instead, memory is reconstructed every time you utilize it. You may accidentally and unintentionally plant new experiences into a memory upon reconstruction. If you'd like a practical demonstration of this hypothesis, ask any trial lawyer about the reliability of memory and how they exploit its shortcomings with juries. Memories flow into one another if left to their own agendas and only requests for context give that liquid behavior a semi-solid structure. My earliest memory is a blend of two distinct moments offering a brief glimpse into an important lesson.
A poorly lit row home in Tacony and a dark coffee table full of divots within the lacquer. A lone ant had gotten lost and was crawling about in a tizzy upon the surface. The simple creature was fascinating in how the body segments interacted to promote random spurts of path-finding. It was isolated from its hive but very determined to take some semblance of control over its stochastic behavior as if it could steer its randomness back to the tribe. It appeared as if the ant had two souls: One that saw clarity and purpose when within the context of the hive and another, more individualistic soul that barely struggled into being for the purpose of returning to that hive when hopelessly lost. The next memory is of my mother throwing glass cups at her boyfriend in a drunken rage until he left “of his own volition”. These two things might not appear so obviously linked, but the brain of a child will force causal correlation of disparate events. My mother could not handle her demons in her twenties. My father had abandoned us when I was born. Philadelphia enjoyed reckless self-destruction and a robust three-murders-a-day average. The human hive which we were anchored to had collapsed and nostalgia of the hive acted as an accelerant for individualistic tribal return. Each of us were ants without a hive, a two-souled being that could barely harness our random trajectory through the chaos and, even if we could, there was no hive to return to. It was the dawn of the Age of Individualism and we were the guinea pigs to figure out who could break the the shackles of tribal instinct and who would be bound to the memory of a dead hive.
There is much more trauma associated with these memories. Physical, emotional, and sexual abuse color most of my history, the latter only revealing itself twelve years after the incident. My brain had learned to compartmentalize trauma, personalities, and context early on in response to these violent incidents. Naturally, a kaleidoscoped mind that refuses to congeal for its own safety will still try to trick itself into unification. Stories helped weave together my mental fragments in a way that didn't trigger alarms and defensive reaction. Tales of human action emerging into complex ecosystems of intention and will always managed to activate most of fragments. Monolithic and simplistic stories, such as way the Christian story of a love-at-all-costs-no-exceptions Jesus is explained to children, were boorish and dull. The idea of an infinitely aware, infinitely present creator, however, was very fascinating. What were the limits? What were the motives? How did non-Gods interact with a God? This fascination of the divine was amplified when I realized that church was the only place where the feral adults of my life expressed fear. I think I'm the only person in modern history to admit an interest in theology for the sole purpose of understanding how this God persona made what I had assumed to be unassailable and invincible monsters recoil and panic. It helped that the priest of my local parish was a kind and understanding soul who had asked me if I ever considered becoming a priest. I was already familiar with much of the high-level concepts of the Bible at that time, having read it exclusively as a collection of story, allegory, and fable. The leap to a sustaining belief was a step too far for me. I just wanted to put a leash on the monsters and this God idea seemed to be the only game in town. Purity of soul, innocence, or eternal life were too abstract to have influence under such circumstances, not when I understood what the power of belief meant. It didn't matter of God was real or not. All that mattered was the idea of God and how it promoted a useful hedging behavior that spawned real-world benefits for my situation. I would later learn that even the most well-thought out hedging behavior creates unforeseen complexities and new problems.
By the 1990s, the Democrats were finally starting to recover from the Reagan/Buckley revival of the American Christian conservative voter bloc. Bill Clinton had won the presidency and New Jersey teachers were eager about using their positions to introducing the magical world of socialism to their students. Some teachers demonstrated tact and grace by maintaining a demeanor of objective rationality as they planted their seeds. Others were overt and hostile in their denunciations of the capitalist way of life. Regardless of these tactics, almost all of them leaned towards atheism. Not a well-reasoned or thoughtful atheism you'd find in earlier Enlightenment movements, but a reactionary loathing of all things Christian. Specifically Christian, in fact. I could not recall a single atheist throughout my entire youth extending their hatred of the divine upon Judaism, Islam, or any one of the thousand of religions practiced by non-Americans. Their atheism was fundamentally political in nature and they descended upon creationism as an easy cultural victory. The dispute was simple: Intelligent design or evolution. It was an attempt to echo the Scopes vs. Monkey trial as a dog whistle to appeal to American socialist nostalgia. The fever dream arguments from both sides made anyone who had spent any time with theological research realize the precarious social situation they were in. Favoring one side or not demonizing another size vigorously enough bred suspicions that would result in social punishment. Having spent much of my younger years being abused, I learned to read people's body language and what they weren't saying as a way to predict and avoid future abuse. I saw my peers and authority figures froth into madness on the topic. Pair that with an auto-piloted inclination to avoid conflict, and I thought I had found the surefire way to avoid the conflict altogether if one side could demonstrate how human intelligence evolved into being. My challenge was very much in the spirit of the debate, but in a different context: Did human intelligence come from an intelligence originating from a hyper-dimensional divine being or from the intelligence found within iterative selection processes? Evolution struck me as plausible since its adherents were happy to rise to the burden-of-proof on many other matters regarding biology and social behavior, so they should have no difficulty in explaining the origin of intelligence. With one simple, rational, and reasonable question, a question designed to end that conflict and restore compassionate relations between people, I planted the seeds to ensure my complete and total alienation with anyone who has ever or will ever identify themselves as rationalist, humanist, compassionate, or reasonable. To understand why this alienation was inevitable, I need to backtrack a bit and provide some parallel context.
I spent many of my early years in urban poverty surrounded by the nihilistic creatures that only legally qualify as human. My grandmother had rescued me from the negligence of my mother and whoever thought she would fulfill her promises. She was able to do so after receiving a $250,000 insurance settlement from a head-on collision from oncoming traffic that left her with two bionic rods in her back and thousands of stitches. I was in the passenger seat of that car and didn't receive a scratch or a bruise. I lived with her for a while, but old age took its toll and the greed of my family became more ravenous. One aunt and uncle decided to offer a family for me and a living situation for her with constant care. She agreed and within years, the situation deteriorated as they siphoned off her money and my uncle's sternness with me occasionally boiled over into outright abuse. My grandmother moved into her own place and I followed shortly after. Unfortunately, her health took a turn for the worse again and another aunt and uncle extended a very similar offer. She took it and we relocated to Ocean City, New Jersey. I fundamentally did not comprehend what I would later learn was bourgeoisie culture. Conspicuous consumption, commodity fetishism, status signaling, or stoic restraint of internal state were not understood concepts at the time. As a result, I had nothing in common with almost everyone I encountered in Ocean City. The middle class white American experience was very jarring in comparison and, to this day, my fondest memories of that time are of lonely strolls on a winter beach with a choppy gray sea and a tumultuous horizon. I preferred urban culture because of my prior experiences. A culture filled with bravado, song, the struggles over poverty, and the deeply interwoven centuries-long liberation theology guiding all of it. It would take guidance for me understand how the liberation theology suggestions were influencing the kaleidoscope.
Many of my teachers during this period were Democrats or Democrat-adjacent and I had somehow been nominated by my sixth grade English teacher to be part of a small gifted student program called PACE. Robert Holden of the PACE program was one of my favorite teachers. He walked the reasonable line between promoting libertarian individualism and advocating socialist fairness regarding conflict. Mr. Holden taught our class about his historical focus: the origins and the effects of the German extermination of Polish Jews. He explained that the Germans were radicalized to atrocity, not by Hitler alone, but by the pressures of reparations, hyperinflation, and dehumanizing entertainment culture. I did not understand these things at first, but they interested me mostly because Mr. Holden was another rare soul willing to demonstrate kindness in my life. His compassionate patience helped me understand of how other people perceive “fairness”, a very exotic idea to me. After all, I was not born in fair conditions to fair adults. When my suddenly lower upper-class grandmother rescued me, it wasn't fair that my two brothers got left behind with a father who was addicted to drugs and would be in and out of jail for the remainder of his life. It wasn't fair that my grandmother's children were using me to manipulate her out of her money. It wasn't fair that I took on a torrential amount of abuse no matter what set of adults decided to act as my temporary parents. Explaining ideas of justice and expectations of fairness to me is like explaining quantum mechanics to a snail. Fortunately, I've never needed to personalize the incomprehensible to utilize its effects. Just as I saw how the idea of God can affect people, I did not need to believe or experience fairness to understand how the idea of fairness affected people. And just as the idea of God fascinated me because it put the feral monsters in check, the idea of economics and geopolitical equilibrium fascinated me as a way to explain how the feral monsters were created to begin with.
It wasn't long until the newly-found fascination with economics and geopolitics revealed Marxian critique of industrial capitalism. All of the snippets pointed to the same implied and intoxicating promise: If economic and geopolitical equilibrium could be made self-enforcing, disparities of power would be nullified and the very worst of the human condition could be autonomously mitigated. The Marxian promise, writ large, was to direct our materialist compulsions towards the perpetual stifling of our human failings. (Specifically, tribal instincts) Marx established a framework which described how to leverage imbalances in gold valuation to exert influence over state, markets, politics, trade, and all manner of human action to establish a species-wide policy of Benthamism. Once established, the mechanics of that Benthamism would then be deployed to smother those who failed to harmoniously adapt to the intentional destruction of the gold equilibrium. What I have just described is not the common assessment of Marxism, especially in America where Marxism is held up as the cherished entry-level rebellion boot camp for teenagers who loathe their fathers. The definition of Marxism I have given comes from an in-depth analysis of the international gold and currency interplay described on page 326 of Marx's “A Critique of Political Economy, Volume III”. (The sloganeering grab-bag that is the Communist Manifesto was of little use in the search for what created feral monsters.) My trajectory made fairness an incomprehensible concept that could only be approximated as a Pavlovian behavior. I do recognize that the promises stated in the Communist Manifesto give wayward children of some intellect their first taste of the reality tunnel where they can convince themselves they've defeated a hated authority figure with minimal effort. I'll even go so far as to acknowledge such an experience is a very rough approximation of my observation of theological constructs terrifying actual feral monsters. Watching monsters cower in fear from simplistic logic, while entertaining and fascinating, may be enough for those seeking fairness, but it wasn't enough for me. I wanted to understand how those monsters were created, not just point and laugh at them when the mask slipped. If their origins could be discovered, then the mechanisms that created them could be adjusted. Marx's insights on the relationship between international gold and currency fell in line with what Mr. Holden mentioned about the conditions that created Nazi Germany. Marx and his followers did little to convince me of the need to abolish religion. In Marx's time, religion was an internationalist force that could meddle with his proposals for proletariat-driven state management. The framing of the post-Clinton atheist insurgency had nothing to do with this and was inherently local to the American political experience, not a legitimate theological gripe or an excision of a meddling force. No Clintonian has ever specifically expressed concern over the damaging influence of Roman geopolitical ambitions upon American providence. (America actually has a robust history of Roman plot skepticism) All concerns of fundamentalist Christian cultures circulated an icky feeling of contemporary inconvience. (Guided with the smooth pill of proletarian “grand struggle” theatrics, of course)
Keep in mind that the conclusions I've provided above were not immediately known at the time and it took about five or so years of due diligence to see even the shadows of these conclusions form. Those yeas of exploration were akin to hunting scattered fragments, loosely connected by a thin thread of contextual clues spun by sympathetic mass media. With the explosion of the Internet, Marx's works were some of the earliest digitized texts, rapidly consumed by those who were subjected to trauma-driven decompartmentalization. One of the major reasons I did not fall entirely for the Marxian trap was due to Frank Herbert's Dune planting the kernels of comprehension regarding the complex subtly of human affairs.