Week 7 – Accountability, Correspondences, and Fearful Symmetry
Words have power. It’s true. Ask any wizard. Or any regulator. Speaking the true name of an object or an idea gives the learned man power over the object or the idea. It forges an instant and powerful connection. And all magic is based on connections. Some other connections are tied to blood or cast-offs from the body like hair and fingernails. That’s why I wash my hands exactly 36 times a day and scrub my body with a stiff brush till it turns red. Some connections are made in the before times. Trick the Gods once, and you’ll be feasting on meat while they are stuck with burned offerings.
This power can be leveraged to work your will on the physical universe as well as the spiritual. But power always comes at a cost. Always. Value can not be created, only traded. To gain this power, you must simultaneously make yourself weak. To gain control of your body, you must turn it over to someone you are already tied to. To become more powerful, you must make yourself weak.
Look, I started reading occult texts the same semester that I that I took Statics and OO Design. The parallels between these things were a serious mind-fuck, but they exposed me to some simple truths. There are connections everywhere, and the symmetry is truly fearful.
Improving health requires making changes. Making changes is hard. To do hard things, you have to make yourself stronger. One way to make yourself stronger is to give up strength.
When I decided to get serious about making life changes for my health, I knew it was going to be hard and that I wasn’t up to the task. So to make myself stronger, I leveraged the most destructive force in my life: Catholic Guilt.
I told my brother about my plan. This is not normal. The relationships in family are mostly a tangle of emotional abuse from my parents and grandparents generation. The story of my generation is each of us breaking out of that web before our parents and aunts and uncles crawl over to drain us. But the link between my brother and me is strong and healthy. The link between my other two siblings is strong and healthy, too.
But even then, I rarely bared my soul to my brother. It’s not.. That’s not how my family operates. But I needed to be stronger, so I made myself weaker in front of my brother. I told him about my fear of dying early, before my kids are out of college or maybe even before they start. I told him about my fear of going under for bariatric surgery and never coming back.
But, of course, that was all part of the bargain. I gave him what was in my soul in exchange for power. After I laid this all out, I said I can’t do this without your help. I need you to stay on my case and take away my freedom to stop dieting. I will email you every weekend with an update on my health, and your job is to hound my ass to the gates of Hell if you don’t get it by Sunday evening. And if he doesn’t, then his kids grow up without an uncle.
See. Simple. I send some of the Catholic Guilt along the correspondence to him, and he sends it back to me when I need it. And I use that power to impose my will on reality.
And it works. The only food I’ve eaten in the last eight months that hasn’t been logged is whatever I ate after the I’m-too-drunk-to-use-a-cell-phone-or-remember-this-burrito part of my brother’s wedding earlier this year. And I have to do this logging, because I am incapable of lying to my brother–on account of the guilt I feel over using Catholic Guilt on him. And I need to be able to honestly tell him every weekend that this week I did everything by the book.
I can’t tell you how to work this magic yourself. True power is always about self exploration. But I can tell you there is a path, if you are willing to give up enough to follow it. It is the Logos, the word you speak to immanentise your own eschaton. Find someone who loves you enough to tell you that you are a fuck up when you are a fuck up. Aim them at the weakest part of you, and tell them that if you fall off the wagon, it is their job to put a pillowcase over your head and drag you back to the straight and narrow path.
Bonus 1 week challenge
Take an inventory of the challenges that are preventing you from reaching one of your health goals. Take an inventory of the people that love you. Tell one of them about your challenges, and ask them for help. Shit, I guess I can tell you how to work this magic yourself.