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.

Introverts: Creatures of the Night

“You’re looking tired.”
“You look like you just got up.”
“Why don’t you go to bed earlier.”

These are frequent comments an introvert hears in the morning at work/school/whatever place we must subject ourselves to.

Night time, especially the wee hours is the one time of day that is completely quiet and undisturbed. These hours are the most valuable temporal real estate by far.
They are the one time of day the introvert can live without inhibition, without the fear of unorthodox habits resulting in punishment.
In the darkness, any extroverts still wandering about cannot watch everything everyone else is doing and their copious energies are nearly spent.

Even this brief glorious window of time cannot be enjoyed without price. As if they can smell the dried juice of forbidden fruit on one’s shirt front, those social people are there in the morning asking suspicious questions. It as if if they sense one has dared live for a little while outside their jurisdiction.

Affronted, the introvert shrinks from them and from the daylight in which they bounce about and thrive.

Does this sound paranoid to you, reader? If so, you just don’t get it.
Seeing aggression in probably innocuous behavior is part of life as an introvert:
-They are a part of the social machine that is causing harm to the introvert. This is aggression. It is not deliberate or even individual aggression, but that of an immune system or that of a strangling vine(of which they are but one probing tendril).
-They may know not what they do but this just makes it more annoying.
-It makes it more annoying still that it is impossible to talk with them about their conduct. Every incident is a reminder of one’s Incorrectness and their Correctness.

Bah! I hate the morning long live the night!

Survival In The Void: Listening To the Body

In my last post about Survival in the Void, one of my pieces of advice was to work out regularly and learn to listen to one’s body, to become familiar with its intricacies.

Touch sickness, the yearning sensation one gets after months of tactile neglect can be lessened and even eliminated by knowing one’s body on an intimate level.
On some level, such a practice is more than just physical. It is a life-affirming ritual much like sitting down to have a meal. It is a self-recognition of one’s own humanity and human needs.

One of the hallmarks of low self-esteem and a negative self-concept is a divorce of mind from the body. When one does not like oneself, the mind shies away from one’s body and its needs. There is an inherent separation that allows unmet requirements to fester until they can no longer be ignored.

Regularly using and stimulating the body is essential to breaching that separation from the self.
As a distance runner, I learned to distinguish mental barriers from true exhaustion, how to distinguish tendon and ligament pain that warns of injury from mere muscle soreness and minor aches, how to have an approximate idea of how many miles my feet had covered, how to gauge how much energy and water was left in my body, and how to be constantly aware of my biomechanics.

From this background in running, I added weightlifting and yoga techniques into my routine. I became acquainted with every muscle in my body and how to stimulate it through exercise. I can only vaguely remember what my body felt like and looked like before I started to develop an awareness. When one grows up with negative reinforcement from society, one tends to go into retreat, even from one’s own limbs.

I finally conquered my touch sickness when I learned how to give myself massages. Even a simple scalp rub worked wonders in dispelling feelings of physical loneliness, but growing up, I would never have thought to reach out and acknowledge myself and my needs in such a way. It was almost as though I had been hiding from corporeal self. Indeed, my body had itself been just a final barrier to hide behind.

In time, I learned how to soothe every tiny point of tension in my feet, in my neck and upper back, in my hands. As I experimented, I figured out how to stretch every one of my vertebrae as I lay on an improvised decline.
I am now capable of living almost indefinitely without touch from others if need be. I know the tricks of my physiology. Since I am keenly aware, there is never any chance for a problem to reach the point where it starts to get out of control and threatens mental stability.

Learning how to make the body self-sustaining through awareness results in a whole new level of independence. One is no longer ruled by loneliness and cravings. The ability of society to blackmail through threat of witholding human affection is removed. The way to a life of self-honesty is opened.

The coping tactics one develops just to survive another day eventually become their own reward. In time necessity matures into virtue, barest subsistence grows into a fulfilling lifestyle.

Music Preference in Introverts and Extroverts

For the majority of people in the industrialized West, music is primarily a means of social identity and unity. Millions listen to the same top 25 songs that everyone else is listening to. Of those top twenty-five a few refuse to fade away each year and the eventual result is a handful of ‘oldies’ that provides a sense of commonality between members of a generation. Members of each respective ethnicity listen to the music associated with their community.
“What music do you listen to?” Is one of the most frequently used conversational ice breakers and one of the most dreaded questions for the introvert.
An introvert tends to listen to music for very different reasons than the socialite and any frank answer to this question must lead to misunderstanding.

The typical popular song is a very simple thing: There is a lead singer to whom any other instruments are subordinate. The song repeats indefinitely, constrained to an unchanging beat and tempo through a few verses. One has heard the entire song quite often in less than a minute.
The lyrics are thus the most important element, sending the message the music seeks to convey in a straightforward unmistakeable fashion.
The point is to create a particular social atmosphere, send a message of group allegiance, and to advertise one’s beliefs by a convenient proxy.

Conventionally, music is first and foremost a social tool. A successful song is short, snappy, and simple so it might concisely serve its function.
Asking someone about musical preference is such a popular conversation starter because in an instant it reveals one’s age, ethnicity, allegiances, preferences, and values. Ordinarily, it is a foolproof Commonality Audit. When the introvert is asked this question and gives a non-standard response, it is as though a scanner at the grocery store has just passed over an incomprehensible barcode. The resulting clash of world views can potentially result in social censure for the introvert; it is just another of the mechanisms that forces him or her beneath the Surface.

The introvert tends to listen to music within a private domain. Its purpose is to please the senses, excite the spirit, and invite contemplation.
The mission of the introvert is to find the sound that inspires before all else. Concerns of self-advertisement are secondary if present at all.
The most engaging music is complex, offering something new to listen to every time.
There is not necessarily a lead singer and if so, the human voice is just another instrument performing beside all the others.
The progression of tones is changing and difficult to predict, tones and silences do not always occur where they are expected, volume varies from thunderous heights to barely audible rainfall, the lead instrument(if any) yields to or joins with others, the pace quickens and slows, there are multiple layers each intricate in its own right.

The message of the introvert’s ideal music need not be stated in words: the sound itself contains the message and inspires a nuanced mood.

It is telling that a popular song never truly comes to an end: it usually just fades out, implying to the listener that they have just spent a few minutes in a world where the song loops forever. The invitation is thus open to return and start exactly where one left off.

A song of the social sphere is thus a single simple thought encased in glass.
The music of an introvert is a living thought process wrought in sound and silence, a shifting sculpture of time and vibration.

When the extrovert asks an introvert “What music do you listen to?” he or she ends up confused, perhaps even angry when not given Correct answers.
The introvert becomes cautious, closed, and annoyed. Going through his or her head is:
-How presumptious and rude to ask such an invasive question so soon!
-How arrogant and narrow-minded that by ‘music’ they mean just mean a handful of popular bands!
-How unpleasant and nervewracking that they have clumsily created conflict and subjected me to a Commonality Audit!

In music itself is the fundamental difference:
-For extroverts music is primarily a social force defining the self from without. It is inseparable from the public domain.

-For introverts music is deeply personal, its main purpose is to inspire, cultivate, and reveal what lies within. It is most potent in private where one can experience it beyond the judgments of others.