In which I reveal far too much about the folly of my youth.
1. Marry someone of your own class and background. Yes, I know that your DNA and his DNA have identified each other as an excellent fit, and consequently have ordered your hormones and his hormones to make beautiful music together. This will not help you five years down the road when you are having twenty trivial, insoluble and increasingly acrimonious arguments a day about things like whether paper towels make acceptable napkins or if the fact that you laughed three times during an episode of Friends is sufficient reason that you should endure an hour of the show every single week. The old joke is right: male and female is opposite enough.
2. When people say that in relationships, the most important thing they look for is “a sense of humor”, what they really mean is not that they want someone who has one, but someone who has the same kind as theirs. Two incompatible senses of humor cannot peacefully coexist under one roof.
3. Do not study occultism. Even if there is anything to it – and I think that there is a little – it is not enough to repay any significant time investment. The only exception is if you intend to make a career of telling other people about your useless but hard-won knowledge. It worked for Crowley and Leek. The market is pretty small, though; LaVey spent his last couple of decades on welfare.
4. Traditional notions of the differences between men and women exist because they are accurate. There are a very few people who are significantly gender atypical. If you are one of them, your atypicality will manifest itself with no effort on your part. If you are not, you will spend decades trying to wipe out your natural inclinations and at the end they will still be there. It wastes your time and annoys the pig. Invest your time in an endeavour more likely to succeed, such as completely eradicating dandelions from your lawn.
5. Without wishing to discourage anyone from cultivating qualities such as honesty, integrity, intelligence, and so on, I regret to inform you that unless you also acquire the skills of making a good first impression and displaying the shibboleths that will convince the people around you that you are of their tribe, very few people will ever discover that you have the former. Sure, beings with large brains “should” be able to dispense with all that. Convince the other six billion people on this planet, not merely to intellectually agree with this premise but also to act upon it, and then we can stop pretending to like the same bands as our buddies. (Note: most people will claim that they are above such petty signals. They are not.)
6. Ayn Rand was one of the great minds of history. She did not, however, have the whole story about anything. It just seems that way because today’s so-called “schools” and “colleges” and the MSM have filled themselves with so much poppycock and so well concealed the existence of most of history’s greatest minds (I did not even hear the name “Edmund Burke” until I was in my thirties) that when we encounter the one who they couldn’t cover up, due to those pesky best-selling novels, she seems to be the only person in history who ever made any sense.
7. Do not try to be an atheist. In recent years there has been a spate of books showing that belief in God comes, essentially, pre-installed on our hard drives. (Oddly, many people take this as proof that the belief is incorrect. Do they consider it impossible that the Creator would create us with the means of sensing Him?) Very few people are really capable of disbelieving; we’re just not wired for it. Most of those who claim not to believe actually spend a lot of time and energy trying to convince themselves that God does not exist. And since this disbelief is unnatural to humans, it tends to do nasty things to one’s temperament. Admit that He’s there and get on with your life.
8. While we’re on that subject, organized religion is, in fact, a good thing. If you want, you can say otherwise between the ages of 15 and 21; it will impress other people who are also between the ages of 15 and 21. After that, oh good grief read a history book. There’s way more to “organized religion” than the Inquisition. A lot of people much smarter than you have spent many centuries building up the organized religions. That these organizations have lasted so long is a pretty good indication that they’re on to something.
9. People who are mean in trivial little ways are probably also going to be mean in big important ways. If they only use their moral code in emergencies, it’s going to be rusty and unreliable.
10. Don’t eat too many carbohydrates. Limit your sugar and caffeine. Don’t try to limit your fat intake. (See Gary Taubes for why.)
11. If someone lies to you, or rewrites the history the two of you share, run. No matter how sincere and reassuring the talk the two of you have is, he (or she) will do it again.
12. Don’t try to rescue people, except from literal physical danger. People who beg you to “save” them are actually just hoping you’ll give them some company in the pits.
13. The fact that you have never fit in does not automatically confer virtue upon others who also have never fit in. They may be perfectly nice but awkward persons like yourself, but it is statistically more likely that they are speed freaks who are on the dole in between paying gigs of marginal respectability. Such people can be extraordinarily charming if you are not superficial enough or sensible enough to flee them on sight. (See #5; those instincts are so deeply ingrained for good reasons.) It is how they survive.
14. Don’t go to a therapist, and especially don’t let them mess with your biochemistry with medications (unless you are hallucinating or genuinely close to killing yourself or someone else). For one thing, psychologists and psychiatrists have spent years having their heads intensively crammed with mountains of the most absurd nonsense. For another, they go into that field in the first place because they are more screwed up than you will ever be and are trying to figure out why.
15. Smart people are not necessarily more ethical than stupid people. There is limited correlation, because higher intelligence goes with a greater future time orientation, so smart people count consequences more, but a lot of the time smart people just figure out sneakier ways to harm others.
16. Never assume that anyone else has the same sense of honor and fair play that you do. Don’t put yourself at the mercy of anyone else’s ethics. Odds are, they don’t have any.
17. Free love is neither.
18. That which does not kill you will not necessarily make you stronger. Just as likely, it’ll soften you up so that whatever comes next will kill you. Bear in mind that the man who originated that fine-sounding quotation ended his days in a lunatic asylum.
19. Do not attempt to tell any of this to people who have not already figured it out for themselves.