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On Self-Control

A Stream of Consciousness about Desire, Politics, and Sex

Life is about needs, wants, and the things we conflict between the labels. Many religions make the claim that life is about suffering, and Buddhism specifies that desire is at its core. I’m relatively unreligious, but I have to agree with this claim. Life is about caving into desire, whether it be air, food, sex, or sleep— it’s just a matter of which one.

I like the term “craving” because it seems to encompass all forms of desire, from a mild hunger to a feverish need. We cave into cravings. I think it’s incredibly powerful to realize how one is controlled by these cravings. Jonathan Haidt has written plenty of books on the psychology of the mind, it being split between the elephant and the rider. In this analogy, emotional desire being the elephant and our post hoc justifications being the rider, I think it’s important to see how the elephant could always squash the rider, doing as it pleases, regardless of the actions of the rider. The rider can affect the elephant, feeding it, scolding it, praising it, but in the end, it will always be doing as it pleases. We’re only animals, tied to our primitive desires, in the end, aren’t we?

In The Righteous Mind, Haidt’s argument largely focuses on the addictive nature of being highly partisan, incentivizing many to become deeply tied to their beliefs. The emotional nature of holding onto one’s politics so closely is what makes it addictive— those highs and lows, and that fantastic dopamine rush when, once again, your opponents get PWN’D! You find yourself comfortable in an echo chamber, as it itself pushes you farther and farther on the partisan scale. It’s the only way you could keep up, right? You wouldn’t want to be left behind in the crowd. It feels good to fit in, too— aren’t echo chambers great?

Well, maybe not always. I’m not sure if being in a constant state of conflict with others is particularly productive… but then again, common-enemy politics are really effective at motivating the masses relatively mindlessly. Did you know that cross-party marriages in America have dropped off since the 1960s? I wonder why that is, but I can’t help suggest that maybe second-wave feminism might be partially at fault here.

Regardless, desire is about self-control and patience: I mean, isn’t that what dating’s about? Let’s see how long we can hold off and actually get to know one another, hoping for something compatible and lasting, before we cave and decide to get to know each other one a different, more primitive level. Sometimes holding off isn’t worth it. Not even enough to exchange numbers. That self-control, however, is admirable and reveals a future potential for other forms of self-control, promising that you’ll hold off on other potential pleasures for this other person. Maybe that’s why with the rise of woman’s position in society, cross-party marriages dropped off. Women became politically active and decided that they wouldn’t stay with a man who “denied her fundamental human rights,” or something.

For many leftists, their obsession with politics often stems from the principle that “The personal is political”. Even if you don’t care about politics, politics care about you. Apparently this statement finds its origins in the feminist movements of the 1960s, meant to “rebut the idea that sex, appearance, abortion, childcare, and the division of household labor were merely personal issues without political importance”. On the surface level, the original statement seems kind of reasonable, but this reiteration seems pretty blatantly authoritarian to me. I am perfectly capable telling my boyfriend/husband off and leaving, because people only do what they want and people make sacrifices for what they want. Honestly, I’m convinced that if you build enough walls, the personal becomes purely personal, even if politics were involved at one point or another. Division between the inside and outside is only natural: like Jack Murphy recently said on Tim Pool’s podcast, you need walls and borders… how else would you prevent a virus from killing everybody off?

The ideologies of the American political parties have changed drastically since the 1960s, however, and the #WalkAway movement speaks for itself. I like conservative men because of their typically traditionally masculine attitudes, independence, and self-reliance, (usually, at least; maybe I’m thinking specifically of the libertarian type). Birds of a feather flock together. I like to think of myself as the feminine equivalent, and running parallel with a man like that just sounds… healthy. They take care of themselves first, not ever attempting to appeal to the arbitrary desires of Left-wing media trends. You, yourself, get to grow. Fuck this noise. The existence of a “Silent Majority” has been rumored in relation to the upcoming U.S. election, and it’s been repeatedly emphasized by some alternative journalists that they are Silent because they’re too busy working to go out and protest or write long, rambling essays on conservative subjects. Unless you’re me, of course. I’m an exceptional circumstance: a different breed, according to some. Or maybe I’m a conservative journalist! Haha, maybe in my dreams.

Change your habits, change your addictions. Two of my favorite things are politics and sex. After much reflection, I realize that I merely find a remarkable level of pleasure in the power play involved in both. However, when I’m fed up with politics and I become too jaded with men, it’s a matter of finding other pleasures. We are creatures of habit. Sometimes I paint, write, smoke cigarettes... I recently picked up a healthier habit of playing basketball and lifting weights. There’s something so pleasurable about physically tiring yourself out— lets you sleep easier.