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‘Against Fortune’
Some Thoughts on Invalidation and Fate: Part 3 of 3


“In my years, I have seen that people must be their own gods and make their own good fortune.”

-Wild Seed, Octavia E. Butler

Years ago I had a brief conversation with a very dynamic man who told me that he was well-employed and furthering his career aspirations through college study. After a brief discussion we parted and, knowing that luck is a real and ever present thing, that you never know when you might run into some asshole who decides, for no good reason, to ruin the portion of your life he touches, and that the good fortune or mere chance to run into someone of good will and knowledge and who is positioned to assist or advise you in your current endeavor can lift your game, whatever it is, to a higher level, I said, “Good luck with your studies.”

He seemed to take this as an insult, a denial of his agency, and spurned my well-wish, declaring, “Luck’s got nothing to do with it. I work hard.”

He might have said, “I am God and to bless me is blasphemy.”

The Mongol fleet of over a thousand ships had worked its ass off and launched. If they thought that Luck or Fortune or Fate played no part in war then they were surely disabused of their childish superstition when The Divine Wind sundered their ships and cast them up on the beaches of Kyushu to be butchered by the Japanese.

I was not testing this young man, but simply wishing him well, voicing a hope that nothing shitty would randomly happen to him like getting electrocuted because of someone else’s mistake, being run over by a bus because the operator fell asleep at the wheel, and more specifically, since I have talked to dozens of college graduates whose careers were ruined or enhanced or made more difficult due to being assigned a professor that was either good or poor or bad-intentioned, I was simply voicing the hope that what he earned or could earn would not be taken or nullified by chance, as happened to my cousin when he graduated with a degree that was now suddenly unwanted in the job market due to technological change. But now, I think I will not coach a new fighter if I say good luck and he takes it as an insult, for this man is denying that he is mortal. Why even the gods of legend had bad luck!

This is not the only time, or even among the few times I have encountered this. However, all of my encounters with this type of invalidation have come from men, with all of them placed on the extremes of the social scale. These were either men with lower class origins and criminal backgrounds who had to work their ass off and have a limited perspective of reality as consisting of a mob of greedy fiends, or they are men of upper class background who had everything easy. This seems to be one of those situations where middle of the road lives teach more. I’ve known some really honest, hard workers who got totally fucked out of their incomes and even their freedom, through no fault of their own, but only the evil intent of unscrupulous women or employers and/or crooked police.

This complex of invalidation is shared by religious and non-religious, criminal and civilian, military and police, with military boot camp training largely consisting of systematic invalidation and identity reduction, to be replaced by an inculcated state of validation of the soldier and invalidation of all outside and below his station. Any force, that moves a simple man who has been the target of much evil in his life, to deny that there is no earthly or cosmic force that can affect the course of his life other than his will, is a powerful agent of delusion not to be dismissed. Keep in mind, that the subject of this article was an experienced criminal and that such people tend to have a practical appreciation of human affairs, burdened as they are by few moral scruples.

I suspect that cultural invalidation has increased at such a high rate as of late—evidenced by the inability of people of opposing views to do anything other than deride their opposites—due partially to atheism becoming the preeminent religion of civilization, as the keystone of such thinking is, as Octavia Butler wrote above, that there is no power greater than Man, with the logical conclusion that from that supposition, that Man may will himself into God. But invalidation takes denial of reality even further. Suppose that there is no power greater than the human mind, that we together are all-knowing, and that our collective economic efforts are in essence that which is all-powerful. Why are so many of us convinced that nothing can exist that confounds our understanding?

I do not know. But I suspect that this serves our masters, that the denial of reality in favor of such faith-based fairy tales as man-made climate change keeps the sheeple bleating in their pens.

Add Comment
KoanicJune 24, 2019 4:06 AM UTC

However, the phrase "good luck" can also be a passive aggressive insinuation that all are equal, their only distinguishing characteristic being variance in luck, that nothing is earned, and that it is therefore foolish to strive, and the wisher's ego is thus protected from the threat of encountering a superior human, and in fact elevated above him, by superior wisdom.

Good luck wishing people good luck!
responds:June 24, 2019 11:00 AM UTC

This is particularly so with fighters and nowhere is luck more important than in combat.
WellRead EdJune 23, 2019 12:32 PM UTC

"The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary." - H. L. Mencken

Mencken had it pegged.