Rulers of Celephais

Leads to: Extrovert Critic: “You Read Too Much”

There was once a story by H.P. Lovecraft that particularly stirred me.

It was about a man who ruled over a fantastic kingdom in his mind yet seemed a half-mad beggar to all those who saw him fumbling about in our reality.
Actually, whether his kingdom of Celephais is the true reality or imaginary is left unclear. It is suggested that with his death, the man finally comes to be wholly immersed in his grander reality.

I couldn’t help but draw some parallels between this story and how introverts tend to be perceived in the larger society.
Introverts are quite typically immersed in a glorious domain of knowledge and serious hobbies. For an introvert, the pursuit of these interests often becomes more stimulating than the mundane every day life that surrounds them. After all, there seems little time for talking with a new acquaintance about the weather when great literature awaits one’s perusal.

The great kingdoms ruled by introverts are invisible to the larger populace. Because their gaze is turned to another land they are misunderstood and dismissed as sad and socially inept. Little does the social majority understand that they have disdained the mighty Rulers of Celephais.

The inner wealth of those who are Subtle is no physical possession that can be capriciously stripped away. Once obtained, it is a constant, lifelong guide, an ever giving asset. As an introvert acquires treasure: the way is opened to attain ever more of it.

Introverts and Travel

Since introverts carry the most important things within, they can thrive almost anywhere under any circumstances. They are consumate wanderers. Only one who is self-defined can move unscathed from land to land.
Introverts love to explore on their own.(probably why I love Morrowind so much) Anonymously wandering through a foreign locale is a mouth watering feast.

Within a few days, an extrovert already is getting homesick. They miss pizza and cheeseburgers, they’re sick and tired of going through the motions of taking pictures of old buildings and paintings they couldn’t care less about. Yet they still go through the motions because they scramble to fulfill expectations from back home even when in a foreign land.

Travel is liberation for an introvert. One set of conventions can be traded away for another that is more suitable to the needs of the moment.
There can be no homesickness:
An introvert does not truly have a home country. Wherever they grew up, they have always been treated as a foreigner.

When an introvert changes location to a foreign land, it is immensely refreshing. There is no longer that constant need to pretend to be a member of society.
Every society has its oppressive conventions but while traveling, an introvert can live in a free zone. People generally expect unorthodox behaviors from foreigners! An introvert thus has a license to be while abroad.

All the things that extroverts can’t stand:
-Different food
-Different culture
-A different history

Are candy for the introvert.
Seeing exactly what is the same and what is different from place to place fosters a truer understanding of what it means to be human.

The greatest glory of being an introvert traveler:

Seeing humanity in a larger context allows a liberation of mind and soul:

One sees how the society that has told them through all of life that they are Incorrect is no great authority but a common tiny despotism just like any other on this planet. There is nothing special about nor does it have any legitimacy. It is ‘might makes right’ and nothing more.

This knowledge absolves the introvert traveler of being a sin and of any lingering loyalties to the oppressive conventions they were raised with.

Collective Checkmate

There is no formal police force of social norms because no such organization is necessary. From mass society arises a self-enforcing slavery.

One might picture a chessboard that sprawls as far as the eye can see with a king on every square. Every king is controlled by a different player.

In a mass society, one must behave a certain way or be punished by one’s neighbors. One’s neighbors must enforce or be punished by their neighbors for not enforcing. Such a system of bondage self-perpetuates:
Each individual king is compelled in turn, everyone coercing everyone else. This is Collective Checkmate.

The Purpose of An Introvert Civilization

Leads to: The Dark State

One who is perpetually immersed in society takes all of its features for granted and tends not to perceive the forest for all the trees.
It takes one who is introverted to remove from the tumult and to perceive society as a means, rather than an end in itself. To stop and ask:
-What is society for?
-Does it promote human happiness?
-How would it better produce human happiness?
-Would humanity be better off without mass society?

An extrovert can scarcely conceive of any other fate than being directly and forever subordinate to surrounding social norms. When all meaning and value in one’s life comes from within society, anything on the outside is an insane, nonsensical Void.
Indeed one who self-defines by an inner life is not so far removed from mental illness by the reckoning of the masses. Thus, much of what is written about introversion is about curing it as if it were a disease.

An introvert reaps benefits from civilization yet is chafed by the countless strictures that must be observed just to avoid Social Censure and Commonality Audits.
Thus improvement of society is contingent upon reduction of drawbacks to the individual while still benefiting from the pooled contributions of many.

Individuals must always make compromises and sacrifices from the moment they become involved with one another. For collaboration to be worthwhile, the benefits gained ought to outweigh the sacrifices as much as possible. Introverts understand very well that there is inevitably friction and restriction of freedom involved in any human interaction. Thus the logical goal is to minimize the friction of association.
An introvert society is not about subjugating or indoctrinating its members so much as it is about individuals combining to give all other individuals the strength to stand apart.

The extrovert philosophy is precisely the opposite:
-That individuals are insignificant in comparison to standards of behavior that arise spontaneously from life in aggregate.
-That the individual is subordinate to society and is intrinsically bound by its rules.

When such a world view prevails as it does now, the nature of society goes unquestioned. The fundamental purpose, that society is a tool to be used for the furtherance of humanity, becomes all but forgotten. When society itself is enthroned as ruler of humanity, everyone lives under the direction of a mindless autocrat.

Friendship for Extroverts and Introverts

From ‘The Albatross’ January 18, 2009
The introvert friendship is seldom, but it is based on a deep loyalties that are not so tied to place and circumstance as a bond quickly and adeptly acquired. More specifically, the introvert friendship exists underneath the tumultuous surface of the mass society. Companionship, fellowship, and maintenance are all one and the same. There are no chores to perform in the introvert friendship. It is self-sustaining and a source of renewal for those involved. It lasts a lifetime, outside of the larger society, outside of time.

Extroverts typically attempt to keep surrounded by people most of the time. The bonds they form in the competitive social group require constant reinforcement to stay alive. The typical extrovert friendship is a fire lit only with kindling. It must constantly, emphatically be renewed or else fade away. Its maintenance is a constant task, a drain of the self for all involved for the sake of the social artifact they wish to create. Even the greatest of ‘pals’ are quickly reduced to sending each other cards at Christmas without regular face to face interaction.

From ‘The Blank Exterior’ January 2, 2009
Uninhibited friendliness is sacred to an introvert and is for those who whom they hold closest. Like trust, and respect, it is earned. All others are approached with caution and respectful reserve.

The unconditional exuberance of extroverts seems superficially sunny by comparison, endearing perhaps like a dog wagging its tail, but not indicative of any deeper feeling than that which moves them at the moment. Since it’s how they act around everyone one must wonder: are they being sincere underneath that happy veneer.

From ‘The Myth of Extrovert Empathy’ December 30, 2008
An introvert measures their social life by the quality of the people they have chosen to count as friends and of those whom they have had the opportunity to know.

An extrovert measures their social life and that of others by how many friends, social contacts, how many social events they are invited to.

(Someone came to my site searching for introverts+friendship, so I have consolidated pre-existing segments on the subject into one post)

Introverts, Extroverts, and Exercise

As one who habitually works out, I am constantly asked.
“Isn’t it boring?”
“Where do you get the willpower from?”
I try to explain that I enjoy it for its own sake. But the response is usually a sort of patronizing amazement, as if I were a specimen of some rare and curious species.

Extroverts working out on their own are easily spotted:
-Their hearts are never in it. When jogging they plod along leaning sloppily forward into their sluggish steps. The person in question might very well be young and athletic, but their mental self-defeat is complete.
-Their face has a sour, bored, “I’d rather be doing anything else” kind of look.
-Their head is plastered with all the latest electronic devices to provide some form of distraction. Without the sound of the human voice at all times, they would simply go insane.
-At least one wire coming from the head flops awkwardly around slowing them down more still and screwing up their form.

How do I explain to such a person:
-How on a long run I get lost in the corresponding rythyms of my breath and heartbeat?
-The sheer joy of being in the outdoors?
-How I become completely absorbed in the rush I get while doing a max clean and press or squat?
-That it’s a socially sanctioned means of spending time alone, even when the sun is still up?

I sometimes say truthfully it’s just a part of my routine I wouldn’t want to do without, that it makes me feel fantastic, that it untangles my thoughts.
“Wo-ow, you’re so dedicated.” an extrovert glibly responds.
In that moment the wide gap in understanding becomes obvious:

-For the extrovert, exercise is merely penance for that cheesecake last night. Working out is just one of many unenjoyable activities required to maintain Surface social appearances.

-For the introvert exercise is an enjoyable activity of recharge and renewal on a spiritual level. Working out is a celebration of the individual’s mastery over the bodily domain. It is about getting away from social expectations.

When extroverts exercise seriously, it is for the sake of competition and social status. There are some very fit extroverts in high school and college, but their physical activity comes abruptly to an end when it loses its usefulness as a social tool in adult life.

The introvert often lives their young life in hiding and only emerges to discover their own physical potential well into their twenties or even later. Exercise is internally motivated, a personal exploration, a spiritual self realization.
Because motivation comes from within, introverts who exercise tend to exercise through all of life, decades after the extrovert has given it up with the exception of an occasional painful weekend jog or a short-lived new years resolution gym membership.

The Role of Reading for Introverts and Extroverts

To extroverts an activity such as sitting alone for extended periods reading books seems like torture.
Certainly, plenty of extroverts read books, but it’s mainly filler for odd moments when there’s no one to talk to and usually titles from the bestseller list with potential as conversation material. Someone who likes to continuously talk reads the books that are being talked about.

An introvert generally pursues reading far more aggressively than the extrovert, sitting down for hours at a time, and will do so for the sheer pleasure of it. Certainly enjoyment is drawn from purely entertaining works of fiction, but what extroverts have difficulty understanding is the preponderance of less-accessible literature and non-ficition.
For one who is Subtle, gaining something from each book is the primary concern. The acquisition of knowledge IS entertainment.
Non-fiction is a pure stream of information that can be absorbed without distraction.
In fiction, an introvert is looking for a distinct style, compelling characters, powerful underlying theme or philosophical message. Whether the author is famous is of little concern. Indeed, if a work is famous highly entertaining fluff, it is of little interest.

Extroverts see an introvert staying at home on a Friday night with a book and they feel bewilderment and pity at such a lifestyle of self-deprivation.
What they fail to understand is that the introvert through books taps directly into the collective human experience. A shelf of books is its own social scene, full of stories and information from the most creative and knowledgable people. The introvert lives in any place or time(imagined or real) and discovers any skill or discipline that has ever been put into writing.
All of the awkward initial chatter is eliminated: One can do away with learning the most basic personal information, probing for common interests, and avoidance of stepping on toes involved in first meeting someone.

In a typical social scene, one is limited to the individuals who are there at that moment.
Meanwhile, an introvert has access to people in places across the world and throughout all of history.

In addition to ‘breaking the ice’ the socialite has to figure who in his tiny pool of potential associates has the most to contribute before any progress can be made towards knowledge.
An introvert can just read about whatever topic they want. It is far easier to open books than it is to open people.

In short, written information in books or on the internet is the end product of all the conversations. It is the concentrate distilled from the minds and tongues of countless experts.
An introvert gets the information at the end of the process in its purest form.
An extrovert who must always talk stays perpetually at the beginning of the process yielding more hot air than substance.

An introvert by habitually partaking of a concentrated form of knowledge cannot be bothered to engage in interaction that isn’t immediately relevant to a subject of interest.
In writing, one eliminates components that do nothing for the overall purpose. Continuing to act by this same principle an introvert separates the superfluous from the relevant.
An introvert does not require nearly as much face to face interaction as an extrovert because much of what one gains from conversation, they gain through the written word.

Not only does reading satisfy some of the needs of social interaction, it has the potential to go far beyond what can be imparted in person.
This is best illustrated by the lesson one learns by going to a book signing by a favorite author:
One thinks “I can’t wait to meet this person” but authors are usually quite ordinary in appearance and sometimes quite shy or even awkward in public.
Then there is a dilemma: one has already read many pages in which this person bared their soul or shared a lifetime of knowledge. They’re now standing in front of you. Now what? One suddenly realizes that all the important things have already said beyond the constraints of time and space.
One goes up to this person with whom they shared a journey and says “My name is ______ and I loved your book.”
In this instant one becomes aware that social interaction has some serious shortcomings. The improvisational nature of speaking in person limits us. One can’t stop and think about the most memorable way to express oneself with every sentence, nor can one excise sentences that distract or fail to contribute to what is most important. In that instant, one fully appreciates the eloquence and depth can be expressed through the written word. One understands that the author has already shared their innermost self in a way that conversation does not allow, that one would have to know them in person for years to get to the point that has already been reached as a complete stranger.