The Governator, the value of learning words, and power

Governator coping a feel So, this post is rather important. Though it ended up being longer than I intentioned. Not to pat myself on my back, but there are things I’ve struggled with my whole life.

And I know you have too.

What holds you and I back, so often in life, is fear and laziness.
Learning is a type of discipline
Well “no duh”.

As Paulo Freire in his Pedagogy of the Oppressed points out, only by learning how to speak, and by learning words and the meaning of words, can the oppressed obtain some measure of power.

Once we know how to articulate something, once we know the word for something, then the fullness of its reality dawns upon us. We may all know we are getting the short end of the stick, but if we cannot articulate it then this remains an incoherent and fuzzy realization, you may know you are getting screwed.

But do you really know? Do you know why? Do you know how? I mean, really know?

Most of us can not articulate our oppression. In general. There are exceptions, but in general.

This is a demonstrable fact.

Ever go to a protest? Notice how incoherent and inchoate many protesters thoughts are? This is particularly the case at anti-capitalism, anti-globalism protests. You have a few people who can articulate their opposition to Davos, or G8, or whichever Summit du Jour, but most can not. There is authentic rage, and passion, but inarticulate.

Sure, we the caferati can bitch and moan after work over a cup of our free-trade coffee or a Jack and Coke. But does our bitching and moaning go anywhere?

Is there a reason why ruling elites do not respect the masses. By in large, elitists note that they are able to control and manipulate us to the point that once we figure out a particular scam of theirs we are still partially incapable of articulating it fully.

“I always tell them, get away from the violence. Solve problems with dialogue. That’s the ultimate power — your vocabulary. How you communicate. Study vocabulary. The more words you have, the better you can communicate, and the quicker you can put someone away…” -Arnold Schwarzenegger

There is great power in words.

Some people have criticized similar statements but as in all things there is great truth to it, and you do not have to look deep.

Knowledge is power. Full stop. Applied knowledge trumps theoretical knowledge, however. What stops so many of us from effectively leveraging our knowledge is an impotence, often instilled in us when young.

We grow older and a bit more clever, but deep down inside, often, is still impressed on our souls a realization of limitations that are often only self-imposed, and partial. That our limitations less total than we have been raised to think. This affects all of us in society, excepting a narrow few who are raised, and groomed, with an awareness of their potentiality. Most of us are raised in Plato’s cave.

The original quote in full context:

“I want kids to understand the difference: one is make-believe, like we do in movies. But in reality, I’m for gun control. I’m a peace-loving guy. I hate violence amongst the young kids.

I always tell them, get away from the violence. Solve problems with dialogue. That’s the ultimate power — your vocabulary. How you communicate. Study vocabulary. The more words you have, the better you can communicate, and the quicker you can put someone away. Because if you hit someone in the face, that maybe hurts then and there. But to put someone away with dialogue — it’s painful for a long time. People think about it at night, when they go home, and they say, “Oh, my god, what this guy said….”

It sound’s a bit different, now doesn’t it, in context? There is still the sense of a will to power, but frankly. Let’s be honest. Is this a bad thing? There is a subtext that, of course, selective quoting highlights.

That Arnold has a deep fascist bone in him is well documented.
But it is important to understand the context in which things are said and not just react to them emotionally.

Power is a reality. Control is a reality. And we live in a world in which if we do not assert some measure of self-mastery, and self-autonomy, by default we are mastered by others who are autonomous over us. Arnold is telling his audience this. Those who react most negatively to these kinds of quotes often need to consider them the most deeply.

Believing there is an easy exit from social control is a type of Pollyanna thinking.

It is comforting and fuzzy until life punches you in the face, and you discover that you don’t know how to roll with the punch. The “Law of Attraction” is not quite as easy as Oprah guests make it out to be, if it were, so many of us who passionately yearn to change our lives would have done so.

This is something that everyone must learn for herself. And sadly some people never learn it.
You can only “make your own reality” by mastering it, and yourself, by degrees. This requires discipline.

This requires your claiming agency, blaming our situation on racism, sexism and patriarchy, women, feminism, our parents, our genetic heritage, rapacious alpha males, our low IQ, our hard-gainer bodies, near-sightedness, the Jews, the Muslims, the Freemasons, the Catholics, the Amish (and why pick on the Amish?) and suchlike, all of this misses the cart for the ox.

You and I are.
We exist in a situation.

Within that situation people with far greater handicaps have achieved great things. Our mediocrity is not a birthright. But it is a destiny unless we change it.

Part of changing it is learning the power of words, as the “Governator” so kindly points out. Because we can only imagine something with clarity if we can articulate it.

There exists conditioning on our beings, we have physical and mental limitations. Genetic, biological, and physical differences. Try not to overcome nature, rather use her. Nature can be your friend if you accept what is, and work with it to maximum efficiency. Trying to master nature, turn her on her head, and sculpt an illusion out of our life, is a mistake.

Within us, as we are, here and now, within our natural limits, are vast vistas of potential that are so immense that we reject them because we fear our own power, we fear responsibility and not having something to fall back on, we fear freedom.

So perhaps Schwarzenegger was right when he said:

” …look down on people who are waiting, who are helpless. I like people who think there is more to life than eating or going to the toilet.

Ever since I was a child, I would say to myself, “There must be more to life than this,” and I found that I didn’t want to be like everybody else. I wanted to be different. I wanted to be part of the small percentage of people who were leaders, not the large mass of followers. I think it was because I saw that leaders use 100 percent of their potential. I was always fascinated by people in control of other people.

Strength does not come from winning. Your struggles develop your strengths. When you go through hardships and decide not to surrender, that is strength. You must want to be the greatest…”

Egoistic? Absolutely. Not politically correct. Indeed.

But look at his situation, and look at ours. What is it that keeps us in our place, and keeps elites in theirs? Our morals and ethics? Hardly. Though we may like to think so. Some grab fortune by the neck, and others wait for it.

If our world is run by rapacious profiteering elites who care about the interests of their families clans and corporate shareholders more than they care about us, it bears noting that they do not come from special golden wombs, no matter how much eugenic in-breeding goes into (poorly) preparing the world’s top families.

They simply believe different things from most of us. When most of us want to sleep 9 hours a day, some people sleep 5. When we want rest, some work 16 hour days, when we see them as insane, they retire early and live lives of leisure while we still punch in their time clocks. While they believe in their potency and power and right to lead, we are simply resentful. We do not cultivate a feeling of our own potential, except in the most delusional ways. And mostly we just think about the mess our lives have become.

But it doesn’t have to be this way.

And it all starts with reading a book or two. And learning a few words, and then finding the self will and discipline to will change.

You are smart enough, you simply haven’t realized it yet. Some are prettier, smarter, faster, and stronger than you, but there are trump cards you hold in your hand that you haven’t even realized.

Time is a form of wealth that the young have in abundance, and mostly waste. It is a choice.

Choose well.

5 Comment

  1. Now, which book to read has become an issue for me.

    They simply believe different things from most of us. When most of us want to sleep 9 hours a day, some people sleep 5.

    Are you advocating less sleep, more curiosity and…?

  2. A little less sleep, a little more curiosity, and a lot more focus on what is actually important in life, instead of drifting through it.

    There is a time for drifting, in fact I am doing this right now, on my sofa, you need to recharge yourself now and then.

    But my complaint is that our culture encourages a sort of indulgence in trivial matters, it makes us miss what is really important in life.

    and what we can achieve with these short lives of ours, what art we can make our lives into.

  3. So one time, you talked about ignorance re: Islamic intellectual tradition.

    I remember some recommendations you made. So I’ve been browsing around your site to see any more, but no luck.

    Any suggestions on how might one begin to remedy their ignorance?

  4. Sure.

    Recently, Western writers – mainly English converts and Americans, have been turning out more in depth explorations of Islam’s Intellectual tradition in English. Only a few Arab writers have bothered with quality English language contributions, and most come from a rigidly Salafi line of thought. The Salafis (ahm.. Wahabis) do think they are right, but their perspective historically is only one of many, and a rather small one as well.

    Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi has some useful works, but most Arab writers seem unfamiliar, or unconcerned, with the unique mentality of Westerners.

    As a Western Muslim (caught between two worlds eh?) I’ve found these books insightful.

    S.H. Nasr’s “The Garden of Truth”

    It explores Islam’s intellectual, and social, tradition.
    S.H. Nasr’s “A Young Muslim’s Guide to the Modern World” deceptively titled, it’s actually a good tour of Islam’s intellectual history for Muslim University students.

    In fact anything by Seyyed Hossein Nasr, the man writes with an elegant English and has a mastery knowledge of Islam’s scientific tradition, and philosophical tradition. He’s partial to Persian philosophers (he’s Iranian) – in particular the little known Sadran school – but he does a fair job of exploring both Arab and Persian contributions to Islam’s intellectual history.

    A good work of his is “Science and Civilization in Islam” if you can find it.

    Al-Ghazali’s “Deliverance from Error” in Arabic, or English translation by R.J. McCarthy (al-Ghazali’s Path to Sufism)

    Sachito Murata’s “The Tao of Islam” is the best book in the English language about the spiritual, philosophical, and intellectual foundations of Sexuality and Gender Relations in Islam.

    Murata’s a Japanese scholar married to William Chittick. William Chittick has a few good ones too, but they are dense. Both Murata and Chittick are concerned with the deeper intellectual side of the Islamic tradition.

    Principles of Islamic Jurisprudence, by M. Hashim Kamali is a real explanation of how the Sharia really works, not an milquetoast apologetic work, nor a polemic against “7th century barbarity”, nor a simplistic dry bit of Wahabi ignorance, Kamali explores the intellectual foundations of the Sharia and its principles. Showing its real complexity, dynamism, and lucidity.

    William Chittick’s “The Self-Disclosure of God” and his “Sufi Path of Knowledge” explores one of the most profound, and confusing, thinkers in Islamic history – Ibn Arabi.

    Martin Ling’s “A return to the Spirit” is heart warming, and comes from the soul of a man who was an authentic Westerner of the highest quality, a well bred and educated member of England’s Gentry, and an authentic Muslim of great piety. I would consider Lings to have been a Wali

    al-Qaradawi’s “The Sunnah: A source of civilization”

    Little is published about Africa’s pre-colonial Intellectual history. There is some interesting stuff there, however. One good book is
    “One Woman’s Jihad: Nana Asma’u, Scholar and Scribe”

    Two VERY controversial books are
    “The Sign of the Sword” by Shaykh Abdalqadir al-Murabit
    and
    “The Return of the Khilafate” by Shaykh Abdalqadir al-Murabit

    A couple of interesting works by Abdalqadir al-Murabit can be found under his birth name “Ian Dallas”

    “Letters of a Sufi Master”
    and
    “Fez City of Islam”
    both by Titus Burckhardt

    Idries Shah’s “Seeker after Truth

    Just a few, I may think of a few others. This list exposes my biases, but someone could read these books and get a GOOD idea of the sheer depth and complexity, and relevance still today, of Islam’s intellectual history. As well as some gleanings of how it influenced the intellectual development of the West.

  5. Brilliant!! Think I’m set for at least a year by returning to this list. Your guidance here is beyond expression, very important to me.

    Two worlds? The least of it! Thus all this need for secret, alternative identities myself.

    While I can read in Arabic, it’s not with the same speed and understanding as with English, so obtaining good sources that way… yes!!

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