24 Comments
Jun 5, 2022Liked by Rob Henderson

What a fantastic post. Well done.

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Jun 5, 2022Liked by Rob Henderson

Journaling without the use of the word "am." Unbelievably helpful. Surprisingly difficult.

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I sat thinking for a while about how to even do that lol. Not the brightest bulb, that's going to be an interesting challenge.

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Haha I agree. My first draft of my comment was “I am having a hard time writing without using the word ‘am’”. It took me a moment to realize what I had done

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Jun 5, 2022Liked by Rob Henderson

Not enough people will read this post. Confronting your own envy can be uncomfortable at best and terrifying at worst. In any case, I think it’s great. Thank you for digging into this and offering your perspective.

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Hot takes:

1) I'm glad I read this so I don't have to read the book. I genuinely feel you distilled anything of value I might have gotten from it without feeling robbed of time.

2) I have so much professional, anecdotal, and epidemiological experience about men with porn that I find the assertion that porn has nothing to do with addiction offensively stupid, and I'm very reluctant to just call things "stupid" without qualification. I have seen otherwise pretty reasonable, decent men's lives absolutely annihilated by porn addiction, and it doesn't take long to see that most of them are the kind of people prone to getting addicted to lots of stuff.

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Jun 5, 2022Liked by Rob Henderson

I can see why the book was so interesting to you, and this was a very well written review and I think you've hit the nail on the head with the type of narcissist Teach is. What I find worrisome is that, as you said at the beginning, so many people you know, and I'm guessing they are elites, find this man really impressive. I'm thinking that the elite group who are your peers might be much closer, on the normal end of the spectrum, of viewing everything as a transaction, though hopefully happy and not jumping through quasi intellectual hoops to justify taking joy in others misfortune.

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Jun 5, 2022Liked by Rob Henderson

Awesome book review, made me think hard about a lot of things, felt like I was being described a few times. Lengthy read but I appreciate that when it's something good.

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Jun 5, 2022Liked by Rob Henderson

I've been interested in your work for a while. This was the post I thought might be worth paying the subscription fee for. You didn't disappoint.

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This review gives me the exact same impression of the book that Scott Alexander’s did so I’ll assume you both described it accurately. The guy sounds like a mentally ill person who can’t imagine relatively mentally healthy people even exist. It sounds like the ravings of a bitter angry failure not like anything remotely insightful.

Your review is an excellent one in that it reinforces me in thinking I never want to read this book or anything this guy ever says.

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Jun 7, 2022Liked by Rob Henderson

Loved this. Any further posts on TLP (or recommendations for posts of his to read) are welcome.

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author

My review of "Watch What You Hear: Penelope's Dream of Twenty Geese" will be posted in the next couple weeks.

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Jun 6, 2022Liked by Rob Henderson

Reading this was like taking a cold shower, I can only imagine (and find out) what the actual book is like

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Jan 22Liked by Rob Henderson

Like the above commenter mentioned, thank you for reading and digesting this book so we don’t have to. I thought this post to be incredibly interesting, sad, and distressing, but a worthwhile one.

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Rob, thanks for writing this. You are acting like the king’s food taster who checked for poisons by biting into the dinner. Sounds like this book took some chewing and digestion. Maybe a few tums too!

I often assume that others think the same way I do despite mountains of evidence to the contrary. Sounds like Teach has the same issue. If you are a certain type of narcissist, the book applies to you, but maybe not most people. What portion of the population is narcissistic?

That said, if your prime motivation in getting into a relationship is to make yourself feel good in the moment, maybe this kind of messed up back stabbing is your fate.

However, if your prime motivation is to bring about good for your beloved (who is not a narcissist) good feeling will follow- including the knowledge that you have actually improved the world a tiny bit.

Most likely, porn use will do nothing but hurt the process of trying to do good for your beloved. See guttermouth’s post, for example.

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Tangent: Interesting comment pointing out that one might be the toxic person from whom others should distance. What if we do not assign blame to either person but rather frame it as, The relationship between us is toxic so we should step away? Sometimes two regular people bring out the best in each other, and sometimes two regular people bring out the worst in each other.

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Some interesting ideas. But I'd say "envy is the desire to deprive" is the most incorrect. Seems to be projection on the author's part. Things are much simpler than that.

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Read Helmut Schoeck’s book, Envy

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founding

This is one of the darkest things I've ever read. Maybe the darkest. And this is the kind of stuff I live for because it matters more than almost all other kinds of knowledge.

As I was reading the first third of this essay, I was thinking what you and Scott Alexander were thinking: "ok, this is finally starting to make some sense... but only narcissists would actually see deprivation as a reward, an end, in and of itself." For the rest of us, this might be a tool for good sex or self worth, but absolutely is not the end of everything we do. We still have other ends after deprivation, actual rewards we get from relationships and parenthood.

I think Teach, like most philosphers, used philosophy as a convenient tool for rationalizing and explaining his own beliefs, darkness, blind spots, and weaknesses. Philosophy in general is the output, not the input, of people's inner content. Which, funny enough, you alluded to in this essay.

People are strikingly different when you drill down all the way to the level of the subconscious: some people ultimately want power in the darkest possible way, some ultimately want validation in their dark ways, some true intimacy, some status. There is no universal rule for this, it depends on the person. More specifically, it depends on what inside the person is broken.

We are all broken, we all have incredible darkness inside us. I'd love to see more essays like this from different people in touch with different darkness.

I not only commend you, but thank you for reading this book and going through the most certainly excruciating process of writing this essay for me. For us. Absolutely fascinating.

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It seems like Teach was using a small population to describe “all people”. And it is scary to perceive people through such lens and be nice to them even if many of it is true.

I enjoyed reading this and am tempted to say I won’t read the book after this review but it’s probably more reason to.

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““I realize that ‘the system’ is a nebulous…so I’m going to try and define it. I want an ipad, but I can’t afford the $10000 it would cost to make it in America AND generate to Apple the same nominal profit of $300/ipad, so then the ipad has to be made in China with cheaper labor. So while one can say, ‘the consumer wants an ipad,’ and ‘Apple wants $300 in profit per ipad’ the sum of those wants is ‘the system’: ‘The system wants cheap Chinese labor.’ The system doesn’t want it because it’s awesome, it wants it because it added up the wants. To be clear, the fact that ipad consumers don’t ‘want’ cheap Chinese labor is irrelevant. All of their choices want cheap Chinese labor. You can say the same about renewable energies, something that everyone says they ‘want,’ yet all of their choices sum up to the system’s want: the system wants to protect the oil industry. The CEO of ExxonMobil isn’t to blame, you are.” Interesting that you read this as a critique of capitalism and consumerism. To me, this seems more a highlighting of the hypocrisy of many of us. We CLAIM to care about buying goods made in salubrious working conditions in the First World, but when push comes to shove, we show where our priorities lie by how we spend our money. Clearly, having a “cheap” new iPad every two years, even if it’s made in China, is more important than restricting ourselves one expensive American-made tablet every decade. And then, we feel guilty, and so turn around and blame “overpaid American CEOs” who dare to use tax loopholes to legally minimize their income tax, and scream about the rich not paying their share, and go to bed feeling virtuous. We are a society of hypocrites, choosing to blame CEOs, the rich, oil companies, capitalism instead of admitting that each day, how we choose to spend our $ is the greatest indicator of where our values actually lie, and who is truly to blame.

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ouch...

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