Podcasts/Sacred Tension-STEnjoythings

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STEnjoythings SUMMARY KEYWORDS people, enjoy, life, absolutely, delight, fucking, wrestling, find, play, talk, long, space, world, problem, ironic, twitter, friends, professional wrestling, goth, gamergate SPEAKERS Vivian de Assam, Stephen Bradford Long

Stephen Bradford Long 00:12 This is sacred tension, the podcast about the discipline of asking questions. My name is Steven Bradford long. And as always, I have to thank my patrons. They are my personal Lord and Savior's and I truly could not do this show without them. So for this week, I have to thank Arthur, Robert, Rory, Chad and Kat, thank you so much. And for anyone listening to this, who wants to join their number, go to patreon.com forward slash Steven Bradford long for $1 $3 $5 a month you get extra content every single week, the $1 tier unlocks all extra content. So then you can you know, spread your your money around between different creators you want to support. Alright, with all of that out of the way, Vivian, welcome back to the show. Hello, my very good friend and colleague in the Satanic Temple. I would also say your last name, but I don't know how to pronounce it does your six what what? What he said? Okay, so how are you? How's life? How's it been since our last conversation, by the way, everyone should go listen to our previous conversation. We had a fun conversation about decadence in dandyism, which is like Vivian's area of expertise.

Vivian de Assam 01:32 Oh, you know, it's not great. But I'm trying to, to persevere through it. And that's probably probably a lot about what we're going to talk about today. Not my problems, but how to persevere through it.

Stephen Bradford Long 01:43 Absolutely. Hold on. I'm shoving vegan pizza into my face as we talk. So just a moment, let me tell you,

Vivian de Assam 01:49 how dare ya.

Stephen Bradford Long 01:51 So, you know, you've been talking lately on social media, about the importance of finding pleasure in things, and the importance of enjoying things as a way of surviving life. And as a way of getting through life. And I think, on first blush, people will hear that as really, I don't know, negative and materialistic, but I don't believe it is. And so I wanted to have you on to talk about this about your just enjoy things philosophy, because for a lot of people, life is challenging right now, for a lot of different reasons. Be it financially, be it with work, be it relationally, or, you know, bigger, more scary, existential and political questions and issues going on right now. So shit scary, but you've been, you've been talking about the importance about ways to confront that and get through that. So when you say, just enjoy things, what do you mean by that?

Vivian de Assam 02:52 Well, it doesn't necessarily have to be materialistic coming from a dandy perspective, I can see where people would go, just think that wouldn't be the first thing I would be saying is like, go buy that book, go on that trip. And that's totally part of it. Like you should engage in those things. But what I mean by just enjoy things is that focus on what actually fulfills you, or gives you even a moment's distraction, versus how we tend to, especially in American culture, we are very well, they have something and I hate that they have that, or I dislike what they're doing. They didn't do this the way that I wanted. And I'm like, and that's criticism is valid. And we should always have an ability to to utilize criticism, but I feel we get into a mode, where that is all we have is that all we do is tear down others because we are in and happy or displeased with events in our life or where we're going or what we're doing. And that's a very normal human response. And we should always understand that that is a human response. But we are also creatures that are capable of vast amount of change. And one of those things we should be doing is rather than feeding that negative fire, of constantly dragging other people down, or other things down, we should take solace in the things that we actually enjoy. Rather than saying I hate all of this, this television program that I have watched if it's maybe a variety show of some sort, and you despise two out of six performers. What should you take more out of that the two performers you didn't like, or the others that you really enjoyed? What about those things actually appealed to you?

Stephen Bradford Long 04:30 Yeah, no, you're absolutely right. How we live in this culture, where and obviously this isn't in every corner of our, you know, American life, but we do live in this culture where it's almost fashionable to be derisive towards other people's things, towards other people's hobbies towards other people and just be like, That's so stupid. I don't get that that's or whatever it might be. And you know, I just don't lately I have found a lot of comfort and a lot of refreshment in like various fandoms and hobby worlds because it's just an ironic they just like it, like take, you know, Magic the Gathering there is there's nothing ironic about it. No one is hating on each other for the things they like, well, some, some do that there, there is always that. But in general, there's people who are into dungeons and dragons are just really into it. And there is no point in dismissing that or deriving that. And I do think that we have this kind of broader culture in which a lot of identity and a lot of personal a lot of time is dedicated to just disliking things that other people like Yeah, and

Vivian de Assam 05:47 it's something that I mean, for a lot of my adult life, I was very much caught in that in that system. Like I it was a byproduct of, you know, experiences I grew up with. And then I realized very, not all that long ago that it was a byproduct of classism, in which lower classes and society are pitted against one another because we have to destroy what someone else has to make our things even more valuable. When you're in when you're living in a reality where there's like, the lower class and then a very thin upper crust. Like, why are we tearing each other down? Are there things that give us even a moment's hope, or pleasure in a time where we all need to focus and this is this is. So it all comes back into like practice is the practice of understanding and utilizing your role within society and not segmenting people off just because you can because the more you do that, the harder it is to ever unify around anything. And it's completely possible to dislike something and say to yourself, you know, I'm really not into friends. Or I mean this is me personally, I despise friends and I still want to do the like a deep analysis takeout. Why I don't like French I think that's more productive than just saying fuck you for liking friends. Yeah,

Stephen Bradford Long 07:11 that's me with the Marvel Cinematic Universe, just not into it.

Vivian de Assam 07:17 And it's totally fine. If this if this thing gives anyone a moment's like respite, like we shouldn't stop them from enjoying it. But they should also be, you know, equipped with the understanding of why their chosen media might be problematic. Like I'm very into professional wrestling, and authority, is that problematic in a lot of ways. It's improving vastly. But there's definitely interesting, there's a problem of problematic stuff.

Stephen Bradford Long 07:44 That's really interesting. Could you talk some about that? Just okay, so and people, he, I think that there's this ongoing conflict in online spaces, in regards to fandoms, and whatnot. And this goes all the way back to GamerGate when Anita Sarkeesian or Anita Sarkeesian, you know, released the the most inoffensive feminist critiques of gaming, just like the most, you know, I don't want to say a run of the mill. I don't mean that dismissively. But you know, just kind of very, very reasonable academic critiques of games. And a lot of the gaming community responded by saying, This must mean you hate games, and you hate us for playing them. And we have a really hard time I think, being able to say something is problematic, and I can still enjoy it, Lord of the Rings is problematic, and I can still love Lord of the Rings. It isn't one or the other. Right?

Vivian de Assam 08:47 Exactly. And GamerGate in particular, was the I guess the The Proving Grounds for the current alt right push we have happening in society. It was the it was the first volley in what if we make this about coming for us as a cultural group? It was gamers not wanting to be told that anything they like or enjoy could possibly have web applications, or applications that they would that aren't good for society, very small avenue for that to happen, but it destroyed or at least tried to destroy lives and was genuinely the, the Kickstart to online fascism.

Stephen Bradford Long 09:28 Yes. And I

Vivian de Assam 09:30 just gonna say that definitively because we absolutely have to say,

Stephen Bradford Long 09:35 no, it absolutely was. And I, you know, I just read the fascinating book, it came from something awful by Dale Barron, I think is the author and he charts that whole process of how, you know, gamers being really upset by a feminist critique by a perfectly, you know, reasonable feminist critique, and seeing that as some kind of assault upon their dignity. And upon their, their identity was the birth of like this horrific online fascist movement.

Vivian de Assam 10:06 Yeah, it was just it was it was just testing the waters to see if it would work because gamers are skew young, they're very volatile, put enough incendiary assholes in that as decoys to stoke those fires, and you've got this entire problem. Yeah, and on the back of that having been a game journalist during

Stephen Bradford Long 10:26 Oh, god, okay, we, we might need to talk about that if you want to, if you're up for

Vivian de Assam 10:31 it. I mean, I was at the tail end of I stopped wanting to be in in game journalism. At that point, I was on the tail end of leaving, anyway, because it was already turning into something, it was unsustainable, if you didn't live in a major city or on the coast. I mean, obviously, there are people who had much better footing that could do it from anywhere. But I was not one of those people. I was a freelance journalist. And so I took that I was like, Oh, shit, I'm gonna not get back involved in that. But that was like the, that was me, starting my consideration of what it means to actually enjoy things. And it took a long a lot. It's a long process to unlearn these behaviors we have toward striking with negativity, and I still do it. I mean, it's not something that you you flip the switch, and it's perfect. And it doesn't mean that you are not defending yourself, or you don't have opinions that could possibly ruffle people's feathers. But it's more of like an engaged approach to how we interact with people, their desires, their interests and our own

Stephen Bradford Long 11:31 interests. Absolutely. You know, so let's circle back to professional wrestling. So you take enormous delight in professional wrestling, you talk about it online quite a bit, you talk about it in the various slack groups that were in quite a bit. And I love that, like, I love that you're into professional wrestling. And one of the things I how do I say this? I love people who are on ironically into things that maybe other people wouldn't get. I love that. I love just sincere love in in things that maybe some people don't quite grasp. Yeah,

Vivian de Assam 12:15 well, and then I am gonna say this occurs myself, but I want to also be a wrestler. I'm trying to work toward that. That'd be amazing. Opening opening floor on that nowhere, nothing. We'll see. But sure. I grew up in, basically theater. My parents were actors and our renaissance fair for a large portion of my life. I was always on stage doing plays or working behind the scenes on production, Halloween events and things like that. So I grew up in a very cornified atmosphere. It took me a while to come circle back around to it. But wrestling brings that same like Spark and joy because it is performance. And people hate it when you talk about it that way, but like kayfabe is dead. We don't think it's we don't think these things are real fights anymore. But there's still beauty and pageantry. And we will highs and lows and it is just theater. And if you if you take it that way. It's good to enjoy it. It's big cheer for the cheer for the heroes blue for the villains. Yeah, enjoy people who do different things.

Stephen Bradford Long 13:28 There's, there's kind of a Mike, I don't know, it's kind of like a microcosm of a lot of these epic stories that we tell about tell ourselves about good and evil, and archetypes. And you know, like, I mean, I don't know anything about wrestling, but when I look at, like the characters in, in professional wrestling, what I see are kind of universal archetypes. And I don't mean that in like the, the way Jung meant it. But just like, these are these are figures that evoke stories that we're familiar with, and themes that we're all familiar with, and that that kind of play out the role of good and evil on a stage and I can see how I mean, I can see how that would be cathartic. In the same way ritual would be cathartic for some people. And that's awesome.

Vivian de Assam 14:23 And it's its own like circle of vegetables because like two major companies have routine, pay per view views that people often have like their own like get togethers and parties or it becomes this this entire community but also a consistent thing that you can go and watch or experience and you meet other people who like these things or maybe want to do these things. And in that community they'd be especially what is referred to as the IWC of the internet wrestling community is one of and I'm not going to fire many shots here because I don't want to get fucked but It comes back to all of those things, we were talking about communities that have problems, and it can be hostile towards members within their groups. And so every community has problems. And in wrestling right now, and I think this is a byproduct of the reality TV culture that the WWE sort of injected into the scene, because for the longest time, they were the only real the big televised wrestling is that it plays out like a TMZ drama. And fans react the way that they react to the Kardashians, or they react to the Bachelorette. But it's still people get a little too close. And certain meeting spaces and lives in a way that's really caustic to people's ability to continue to do their to do their jobs. And it's, it's very strange to see it and also know that you could have contributed to that in any way, by not being more careful about the things you say or what people might see you say. And that was also one aspect of like, you know, just enjoy things, I can just support people being good at what they do, or things that I liked about a thing that I watched. And so it all circles back to enjoy the things for what they are and particularly if there's nothing on the line. If it's like predicting someone for doing a performance of something, or entertaining you in some way it's okay to not be entertained. It is not okay to lambaste them, if you're not particularly entertained, but something

Stephen Bradford Long 16:30 what are some of the problematic features in wrestling over the past 100 years or so that you you were referring to?

Vivian de Assam 16:39 Oh, tons of but it runs the gamut from like mafia involvement, organized crime involvement on several continents, never cronyism, outright assaults. There was a wrestler named bruiser Brody who was murdered after a dispute in Puerto Rico in the locker room.

Stephen Bradford Long 17:04 Sounds like the drag world. It sounds a lot like the drag queen community.

Vivian de Assam 17:13 Well, that's because it's all it's all one of these spaces that are people who are not your everyday like nine to five mentality people.

Stephen Bradford Long 17:22 Yeah, they're performers. That's just the way performers.

Vivian de Assam 17:27 But it's a crazy world. And so everything has its problems. And that was just a, a light scraping of things that have happened. There have also been character characters that are uncomfortable, like religious stereotypes, stereotyping, sexuality, gender expressions, and these things are improving over time. Like one of the that's been the coolest thing in the last 20 years of me watching has been just the how open people are to talk about their their journeys, who they are, there are many trans wrestlers now who are openly trans and or are in the middle of their transition while they're working. And like, that's crazy and cool. And that's something that you wouldn't have seen 30 years ago.

Stephen Bradford Long 18:12 Yeah, that's amazing. Loving something does not mean that that thing is above reproach. No, not at all. You know,

Vivian de Assam 18:19 you just have to be more considerate about when, especially when you have such a direct line to somebody, like, with like Twitch people who stream on Twitch, podcast hosts, things like that you have a direct line to people now that you didn't have even 10 years ago, then like, we don't know how to have that disconnect. Because social media grew so fast. We did not initiate cultural norms about how to deal with that. We went from this being a relatively connected and space to becoming a vitriolic ly connected space very quickly. Yeah. Again, just enjoy things.

Stephen Bradford Long 18:58 Along those lines. I think that there is something really important and special about the experience of delight, delighting in something. Yes. And it has only been recently that I realized how rarely I experienced that. I didn't know that. And so I will, you know, do a lot of things that I think I genuinely enjoy, you know, I enjoy running, I enjoy podcasts, I enjoy all of those things. But But I feel like the there's an element of just pure delight that has been absent from all of those things for I think, a really, really long time I continue to do those things. I continue to enjoy those things. But but there there is a lack of transporting delight in those and I and I'm trying I've tried to place why there is that absence of delight because when I experience it, I know it and it is so refreshing. It's so restorative. But what why do I not experience it so much? And I think it is because of the ubiquity of social media for me.

Vivian de Assam 20:13 And I think that's very much the case. And I also think it's that we have expectations for what should drive that high. And I'm gonna put it in those terms. Because it just be up the ante on that we don't slow down enough to really engage with something, it's like, I have to watch the show, I have to make sure I listen to this podcast, I have to make sure that I catch this Twitch stream. And we've commodified so many aspects of our of our time, that we don't turn things off. And social media does play a huge role in that. We were having conversation with with Panama, about this, okay, occasionally. And one of my responses was finally, like, I have curated my feed in a way that I am only engaging with the things that I want to engage with,

Stephen Bradford Long 21:00 I need to figure out how to do that. Because, like, Jesus Christ, I open Twitter and I, the first thing I see is, you know, some right wing lunatic talking, saying horrible things. And, and I've just like, Oh, God, damn, or someone else being trashed online for, you know, an accidental bad take, or whatever the case may be. And I'm like, Jesus Christ, I hate this place.

Vivian de Assam 21:30 mute, mute is your friend, you don't have no one whose feelings will be hurt if you mute them.

Stephen Bradford Long 21:35 Okay, we'll never know true. There's a very,

Vivian de Assam 21:37 and that's really how you do it, you follow somebody because you enjoy them most of the time. And you if you want to catch up with them, you just go to their page, and you look at it, rather than having that constant feed. And I mean, I fully expect people mute me all the time, because I have nothing but like, self deprecating jokes, but my own frailty. And then look at this Powerball?

Stephen Bradford Long 22:01 Right, alright. Well, yeah, I really think that social media, for me has infiltrated and wrecked the experience of pure enjoyment. And then there's also that that element that you mentioned, which is it's almost like we're always in a rush to enjoy things. There's always that rush to that hurry to experience pleasures that we are supposed to experience. And I think that there is a delight in say, tabletop gaming's in tabletop gaming, that is just now becoming accessible to me. And I've been thinking about why is it? Why is it that Magic the Gathering, for example, which I'm a huge fan of, and it's been like one of the best things of my life this year? Why do I gain such delight from that, and one of the reasons I think, is because it forces me to slow down and be in the presence of other people. And it forces me to so if you're in a room playing a game of Commander, which is a 100, card, singleton deck, one card of each, and it can last for an hour, plus, you have to slow down and just enjoy the presence of other people and engage in this mutual act of imagination. And there's something kind of religious and liturgical about it, there's a ritual to it. I think that the same pleasure spots that religion hits are hit, similarly, by gaming, because they both immerse us in imaginative worlds and a shared world or a pericardium, as Joseph Leigh Cook would call it. And so there's all of that. But it forces me to slow down. And I remember the first time I was playing a game of Magic with a friend of mine. And it I was like, there are so few pleasures that I have that aren't digital, there are so few things that I enjoy, that aren't mediated by a computer screen, nothing wrong with computer screens, they're fucking amazing. But there are so few things in my life that I gain that gives me genuine delight that aren't mediated by a screen and this is an magic is one of those things. I think that there's just a dearth of delight in our in our world right now. Yeah,

Vivian de Assam 24:23 and it doesn't have to be anything that you have to spend 1000s of dollars on to be competent at Absolutely. It's another thing about enjoying things is that don't expect to go into something being a master. Just accept that you can play with concepts, places, ideas, and just enjoy the the act of discovery because like going for a walk or just sitting outside drinking a cup of coffee, or trying that new cafe you can't get any of your friends to go to there's no reason you can't just go by yourself. There was no social shame to just doing something for yourself, even if you're by yourself and then That's what just enjoy things as it's like stop putting so much weight on how it's perceived or not having it be like tailored or fashionable enough, this is hilarious coming from a dandy, but because even within dandyism, it's not all about just like a pristine constant similar appearance or way of living or doing it is a cultivation of the self. So all of this comes back into what I was talking about in the previous time we talked about like you curate your life, don't let your life be curated by aggregate by aggregate sources, social media, things that you don't control, and you can use social media as a tool for yourself. But at the end of the day, you just need to take stock of what you enjoy, like I fell out of theater really hard. And I was I was not doing well, several months ago, and I picked up a book of plays, and I started just reading passages from plays out. And so I set off the all of the listening devices in my home. I was a what was it? It was an Oscar Wilde play. And I forget the name of it, but it is about Bolsheviks in rush if it was him talking about like, the lead up to what would become

Stephen Bradford Long 26:20 what, oh, I'm trying to remember which one that is.

Vivian de Assam 26:24 Yeah, I'm not gonna get up and get the book. But anyway, this is basically he died before the Russian Revolution. But he was very in tuned with what socialism was probably going to lead to or should lead do. Yeah. And there was always always pressure to do these things. But I was reading that out loud. And I was like, I can love this. I loved taking on I was going to because I felt myself taking positions in the chair I was sitting in and changing my posture, my body languages I was reading. And I forgot how much I love that.

Stephen Bradford Long 26:56 Absolutely. So for people who might not know what brings them delight, what advice would you give, and I know that this is probably far too broad to be helpful for a lot of people, but we can go ahead and give it a try. How would you advise someone to find delight? Barring, okay, sometimes not finding delight is a matter of like, say clinical depression or some underlying health issue? If that's the issue, then, if possible, medical help is very good. But aside from that, aside from anything that might involve medical intervention, how would you advise someone to find delight or, or to just like things just enjoy things?

Vivian de Assam 27:43 Well, I think it starts with what you're doing. And when you dislike something like, why are you Why do you feel compelled to say this thing? Or why do you feel compelled to take this action? What would you do differently? Or what would you personally like to see, rather than expressing it, think about it, and then find that thing, but a lot of it comes down to really identifying the stressors that are the triggers that you have? Or what invokes this behavior or why you what discolored the world for you. And dig in. Even if you are suffering from depression, and other mental health struggles, it's still possible to like things, it doesn't have to be this grand, like euphoric thing. Just find that little thing that gives you a little bit of comfort, and sometimes prioritize prioritizing that is important. Also, that Oscar Wilde play was called embarrass.

Stephen Bradford Long 28:38 Yeah, I just looked it up. That's actually one that I never read. I think that was his first play.

Vivian de Assam 28:45 It was, yeah, it's not the best play. But it's fun to read out loud.

Stephen Bradford Long 28:50 Absolutely. Everything Oscar Wilde ever wrote is fun to read out loud.

Vivian de Assam 28:54 But yeah, it's really it's, it's individualized for everyone finding what brings you joy. And it doesn't have to be anything grandiose, you don't have to go out and buy a whole new wardrobe or a new library, or a whole set of Commander decks like you, you can do that if you want to. But it can be as simple as just changing a cycle that that displeases you, or ending a conversation that you didn't want to be in in the first place with yourself or with the world at large. And being able to stop giving yourself space to stop is the most important thing. Because if you don't, if you never stop, you never reflect on what could possibly be making you unhappy or causing rips within your community that you may not understand that you are contributing to. And it's nothing other than it doesn't have to be grandiose, you don't have to be saving anything you're not you're just looking out for yourself and your own well being. And sometimes it could be as simple as like, don't drink anymore. See what happens if you stopped drinking for a while. It's medically safe for you to do that. Like Things like that. And then you can feel like oh shit, I enjoy being outside at night or I enjoy rearranging my books on my shelf to be in various aesthetically pleasing ways. And just little things like that when you start picking up on the the ebbs and flows of life that you've just not allowed yourself to see, because you're too busy or you're too distracted, or you're doing anything else that is distorting your ability to ground yourself in the space that you're

Stephen Bradford Long 30:29 in. Yeah, this is reminding me of a quote by Neil Gaiman. He says the solution to creativity is boredom, and quiet. And so he says, I think it's about I think it's about where ideas come from. And they come from daydreaming from drifting that moment when you're just sitting there. The trouble with these days is that it's really hard to get bored. I have 2.4 million people on Twitter who will entertain me at any moment, it's really hard to get bored. I'm much better at putting my phone away, going for boring walks, actually trying to find the space to get bored. And that's what I've started saying to people who say, I want to be a writer, I say great to get bored. So I think that what he's, he's pointing to is, you know, maybe not. Boredom is the word he uses. I would maybe like the word solitude or stillness or just stopping just making that space for reflection. And then that's where the transformation happens.

Vivian de Assam 31:31 Yeah, and it's gradual. Like when I started talking about this GamerGate happened and like, Wendy, well,

Stephen Bradford Long 31:39 14 Was it I forget, I get that all confused.

Vivian de Assam 31:43 It was it. So I think being on that side of it. I saw the bullshit is doing a little bit earlier. Yeah. But but did 2014 was when everything like really like there was like, it's about ethics and girls and all this shit.

Stephen Bradford Long 31:57 Yeah, that's when I remember it blowing up and I got online, I was like, Jesus Christ, what the fuck is this? Yeah,

Vivian de Assam 32:03 but and now it is 2022. And from that point to now has been various points of fucking it up, getting a little bit better fucking it up getting a little bit better. And I'm still you know, on that, that, that up and down spike of fucking it up and getting a little bit better. But I'm more cognizant of what I want to do, or how I want to change the way I'm interacting with things now that I was. And that happened with all of the eruption around the state of the American society. And how important it is to be able to be useful in whatever may you may need to be, you may be asked to do but also not lose yourself to constant destructive thoughts, or constant destructive conversation or action, there is a time when there is no problem in just disconnecting, and not putting your putting your noise out there when you're feeling when you're not okay. And situations are bad. And that's something that we have to progressively do more of if we want to take any action that could possibly benefit ourselves or people that we know. So let's performative noise. And instead of filling those spaces with performance noise, use those times where you would when you would be doing that, to read up on the things that you're scared about or concerned about. And then also make space for yourself to not deal with that. Even it's for like a couple of hours a day. Don't look at it. Don't think about it. Find the thing that you can do or not do meditate sleep sleeps great. You can you can you can develop a fascination with sleep. And a great way to do that is if you're having trouble sleeping I like I'm very into biohacking but not doing it. I'm just fascinated by people who do it. Yeah, me too. And but I like sleep trackers. Because I've been I've been using my Apple Watch to track my sleep. And I've noticed as I'm losing weight, my oxygen levels at night are going up and down. Or how many times that I'm breathing and all the things that I find so fascinating. So like, I get up in the morning and I check all my stats. And each week I go through and be like, Oh, I can I can see the telltale signs and I'm getting healthier.

Stephen Bradford Long 34:21 It's so funny that you bring all this up actually because sleep so I have the brain. Apparently I've just accepted this about myself. I have the brain of a Victorian housewife who runs around the Moors and a night gown. You know seeing specters like i i have the brain of a long lost wife who's lost in an attic, who's who's who's locked in an attic like I am, I am a I am a character from a Bronte novel when I do not get enough sleep and so I have to viciously protect My sleep otherwise, I find myself hanging from the ceiling and like a bloody wedding gown with an axe. It's not pretty for anyone. So I have to get nine hours of sleep every single night. And if I don't, I will just fucking fall apart.

Vivian de Assam 35:15 And that's okay. Yeah, I just feel okay. But like you, but the okay thing is that you know this about yourself, you prioritize the things that you need. And for me, I between my. So I have mostly Apple products, right. And so the computer I'm talking to you on right now is an iMac and I have an Apple Watch and iPhone, you can make Apple's system shut you out of everything and make it a little bit harder to unlock your phone, or unlock your watch. And my watch unlocks my computer. If I if this protocol is in play, and it's that time of night, and I'm sort of like wandering around, and I'm just like, Fine, you should probably just check, I'll just check Reddit. And I hit the button on my keyboard and my wallet and it says okay, you have to type your password in. And I'm like, I'm gonna go back to bed.

Stephen Bradford Long 36:03 Yeah, I do the I have done that exact same thing. I have blocked Twitter, and Facebook and all of the things all day long from my phone. So if I want to get on Twitter and get in a fight with someone, which I do far too often, if you know if I, if I really like jonesing for a Twitter fistfight, then I have to sit down at my fucking laptop and open it and login, put in my password. And then by the time I do all that, I'm just like, Well, fuck it, I would just go rather do something else. So that puts like a definite something that's really helpful is to just make it harder to access certain things, like

Vivian de Assam 36:47 sequester yourself as if you can only be reached by carrier pigeon. It's great.

Stephen Bradford Long 36:50 It is fantastic. Yeah, just put in a bit more friction. There's there's such a problem. I think, with a with frictionless media, when, when and by media, I mean, the whole landscape of like digital interactions and whatnot, if we were to just have a bit more friction, if you just had to press one or two more buttons or enter one or two more things in order to get there, then that would probably greatly reduce the amount of anxiety, the amount of dysfunction because all of that all of that friction helps us to find that pause that Neil Gaiman was talking about, in that quote, I love by the way, the way Cal Newport says it, where he says for, at least for a certain period of time each week spend time without input from any other minds. So spend time without any input from any podcasts, any books, any audio books, any social media, any reading anything at all, just no input from another mind. And there's this kind of weight that lifts off. When when we do that.

Vivian de Assam 38:01 And obviously there there are people who cannot be alone with their thoughts for very long. And that's totally understandable. Absolutely. What's a good what's comfortable for you do what works. And that's why there's why it will be both said now that there's no hard and fast rule for doing any of this because it's within every person to find the thing that helps them be less disruptive to themselves. It's just getting there is a different journey for everyone. And that's what's why you should just lifestyle.

Stephen Bradford Long 38:31 Absolutely. So I did a conversation recently with a guy named Levi Walbert where he pointed out things in Satanism that a lot of outsiders might see as a just a matter of fashion or aesthetic or edginess, or what have you, but explores them, and but he explores them and demonstrates that they are actually vehicles for transcendence. So take for example, the darkest Stetic Well, the darkest thetic and Satanism that actually is imbued with a lot of rich meaning for a lot of different Satanists, it is not merely being edgy, it isn't merely an as you know, it isn't merely because it looks cool, although it does, it's it's because that it's a vehicle for religious transcendence that it has very real meaning for a lot of us. And, you know, so from the outside a lot of things that look like they're just banal, or edgy, or needlessly dark or what have you are actually very important vehicles of practice and transcendence for Satanists. And I think that there's something similar about, just enjoy things. It sounds so fucking simple. If it sounds so simple to the point of being banal, but within There's real richness and it can be a real vehicle for transcendence and well being.

Vivian de Assam 40:05 Yeah, absolutely. And within my own interpretation of using that phrase, I can apply it to the seven tenants of this tenant tempo very quickly, being like it's taking agency and having compassion for both myself and other people. My autonomy, just my ability to reconcile harm and identify when that's happening. These things, it's all there, you just enjoy things. It's very simple to say, but it also for aesthetics. It's okay if your aesthetic changes, even if you are drawn to a dark aesthetic. And over time you find that like, I apologize, there was utility work being done outside of my window. But you hear

Stephen Bradford Long 40:44 just thought, I don't hear I don't hear anything.

Vivian de Assam 40:48 But it's okay to be like, oh, yeah, I'm super into, you know, death metal. And I'm never going to change and I'm gonna always gonna live this life and you wake up and be like, I am going to wear a cozy sweater today.

Stephen Bradford Long 41:04 We're going to drink sweater.

Vivian de Assam 41:07 Yeah, I have just I like a pumpkin spice latte. Sounds pretty good right now. Like, it's okay for that to also be you can see, you're still that person who liked those things. You can just be multifaceted and embrace the multi faceted things in your life. Because I was by me and I'm guilty of this and I am not I am always going to call. As I say, I will always own my bullshit. I was very against sort of in a response to how I was as a teenager. I was like, No, I only like glam rock and I only like new post punk and new way of immorality. Hadrian might also really like hardcore.

Stephen Bradford Long 41:45 No, I was the exact same way. I was like, Oh, I really I'm just a metal kid. I just like metal and then. And then it's like, oh, well, actually also really like Lady Gaga and Beyonce. I'm sorry. Yes,

Vivian de Assam 41:59 Nicki Minaj. Fucking rocks. Yeah, she does. It's what it is. And like, part of my just enjoying things, too, was also just allowing myself to come back to things that I dramatically turned my cape on. And realize, if you know, you're able to dramatically turn your cape on it, because yeah, it had meaning to you at one point, like, Well, shit, and you can get yourself in a real thought conundrum on that one. Would you be like, Oh, at least I did like these things. Is it wrong that I liked these things? Sometimes. Maybe it is, depending on the theme that you liked. What you know, rhetorics you might have been following. But if it's also just an aesthetic thing that hurts no one for you to enjoy. You can just be like, oh shit, yeah, no, it's fine. I like that. Um, that you're not going to. I still have very hard stances on Emo. But

Stephen Bradford Long 42:48 Oh, tell me tell me about that. Oh, I don't I cannot. Okay. Okay, we Okay, apparently that's a

Vivian de Assam 42:56 that is a hard stance. I just cannot with email

Stephen Bradford Long 42:59 that that is okay. We won't tread that ground on the podcast then.

Vivian de Assam 43:04 This is me trying to be maybe when I'm saying

Stephen Bradford Long 43:08 Can I ask you off air? Oh, totally. Okay, I'll ask you off air but we will not talk about

Vivian de Assam 43:13 actually no, I will just go ahead and tell you because you

Stephen Bradford Long 43:15 don't need to. I don't need to get you into any fine.

Vivian de Assam 43:19 I. So I grew up in a punk and trend goth home. Okay. And that was the aesthetic that I had. And growing up in the early 2000s. What might have also been happening that could have possibly lump someone into your your you're a punk and goth person. And then there are these kids in these checkered belts in hair. And you they everyone assumes you're one of them.

Stephen Bradford Long 43:44 Yes. No, I had to. So I was a goth as well. In high school and college, and I was not emo. No, people did not understand the difference. And there's a there's a difference. There's a big difference. And then you sound like that obnoxious guy on Twitter who's like, well, actually, there's a big fucking difference between emo and goth. And here's why. So just even like, trying to press the point, it just makes you feel like even more of a dweeb even though even though there are real differences

Vivian de Assam 44:17 and then then to add spice to that the difference between certain sex certain avenues of hardcore and screamo Yes, exactly like shit. This is gets even harder. And then you were like well, I only liked the guy that had the x's on their hands well shit that's also gets harder because then they're also shit.

Stephen Bradford Long 44:37 And you just keep like digging your own grave the more you try to explain that no, these things actually really fucking matter.

Vivian de Assam 44:45 And then you then you grow up and you're like, oh, it's totally fine. And then you then you listen to an email saying go Yeah, that's fine, especially like early email was fine. Yeah, it was mostly just like I boiled it down to I really don't like Panic at

Stephen Bradford Long 44:59 the Disco. I Don't like Panic at the Disco either.

Vivian de Assam 45:01 And it's okay. I can then say I don't like Panic at the Disco. I don't just unilaterally hate this entire expression that people had. So,

Stephen Bradford Long 45:10 yep, yep, exactly. Yeah, you know, one of the how do I say this? This ties into my Satanism really deeply because I think that a lot of I wrote a whole article about this, I wrote an article called reactions to Satanism, a field guide, in which I like rundown all of the most common reactions I get to the news that I'm a Satanist. And one of the reactions is, you know, it is just cringe adolescent bullshit, and that it is either ironic, or cringe or, or what have you. And I'm just like, I think everyone is cringe. I think everything is cringe in some way. And the sooner we all accept that, the better. And I just don't care if other people find the thing that I love, cringe or not it that's okay. People don't need to like it, people don't. And one of the things that I find so refreshing about a lot of weird little internet subcultures, is that they're just really on ironically into the thing they love. And it doesn't fucking matter if other people think it's cringe. There's nothing ironic about my Satanism and I don't actually I don't think I really understand irony. I don't think I I, there's some ways I do like, No, I don't even think I know, I don't get ironically doing anything.

Vivian de Assam 46:37 Because you know, one ironically, does anything if you do a thing more than twice. Yes,

Stephen Bradford Long 46:41 then it's no longer ironic. So I'm doing that thing. You're doing the thing? No, I don't. And I feel like this was especially a big discourse in the mid 2000s. And late to, or mid 2000 10s and late 2000 10s. Like the, you know, ironic Nazis to ironic furries to hipsters to, you know, just an entire generation dripping an irony. I did not understand any of it. I'm like, either I do and love a thing, or I don't. There's, there's no in between.

Vivian de Assam 47:15 Yeah, and it comes back to the thing I said about social status because the things that people but apart from the Nazis, that was just I really, Wouldn't it be funny if I just hate people. Like, I think you kind of just hate if I just pretended I hated people. No, you don't really. I'm just pretending though. I wasn't giving any money to people who Oh, I have been punched. And

Stephen Bradford Long 47:38 so there's no such thing as pretending to hate someone. There's no such thing as pretending to be a Nazi. Yeah,

Vivian de Assam 47:44 but but but the other stuff comes back to I'm better than them because I don't like this thing, the way that I like them. Or to put it in wrestling terms, which was very, very real. In my my childhood. I'm from we live in the south. And I was told from people in my family and people around me that like only dirty poor people like wrestling. And that's when fundamentally not true to was not that removed from dirty poor people. Because we were we literally had a farm. I was spent many summers, you know, herding cattle. I feel I know something about being filthy at some point, because I have fallen off a horse into a cow pie. But so why am i How am I better if I find something if I enjoy something? So like, don't take the piss out of somebody because enjoy something that you don't see the value in. Just identify that you don't see the value on it? And fuck off. Like it's, or maybe hang around if you're if your promotion is turned into a little trickle in, in the back of your brain that goes, What if I really do like this? And then you obsess you bathe yourself in this film? No, no, it's being exposed to new things and not immediately understanding them or understanding why someone likes them isn't is a normal response. Absolutely. There were some things that you should definitely have immediate reaction to it's like, oh, that person's advocating for genocide. That is not a cool thing. That person is advocating that I treat people better. What did treating people better mean? Does it treating people better on their own terms? Or are they just suggesting that perhaps you take a breath and not tear people down? What are these things is better?

Stephen Bradford Long 49:29 You know, especially what you were talking about just a minute ago, with in regards to class and irony, and you know, only, quote unquote, lower class people are into, you know, the people who aren't classy or into wrestling. So I had this really interesting experience last year, where there's a family in my local area that I'm very close to and one of their kids was he's like this Italian brawler, like they're an Italian family. And he, this this guy just fucking loved fist fighting. He just lived for it. He just lived for boxing, he absolutely loved it. And his mom messaged me at one point and was like, thank you so much for supporting my son and his fighting. And you know, he would be like, would you want to come to a competition that I'm in? I was like, yeah, absolutely. I would love to go, you know, like, and he would show me fights on YouTube. And I'd be like, Yeah, that's awesome. That's super cool. And his mom messaged me and just said, Thank you so much. Most people like you don't don't grasp it most. He was like, I don't expect people like you. You know, people who have a higher education people who are generally more more liberal and lefty she said, woke, you know, woke people like you, I don't expect woke people like you to to appreciate what my son is doing. But you do. And thank you so much for supporting him. And on the one hand, that was, you know, I'm glad that I could do it. But it also just made me super sad. Like it made me so sad.

Vivian de Assam 51:14 And that's the then that's genuinely you did something that was life changing, even though it felt so simple for you. Yeah, you let him have a space where he could be positive about the thing that he was interested in. Yeah, include you in that conversation. Even it was from a distance. And like, that's really important. You don't have to, like, you don't have to start, you know, training for UFC because you met this kid and you supported him. But like, this is his way out of the situation he's in or it's something that he just really likes to do what he feels that like, this is where his skill set is so important, do it, you'll love it. It doesn't matter. And like that's what we can see we're in that situation. Everyone around is like, well, you're not cut out for that, or you're not rich enough to do that. Or, again, that's, that comes the weird like, battleground of like, oh, the best fighters are only wealthy people and come from wealthy families can train all the time. Or the only the only poor people like fighting. And like, that's all nonsense. Do you see where this comes from? It just becomes like this, like, attacking someone else that's not you or from you're not from your social status, but like you're either putting on airs, or you're working beneath yourself, when you're just doing you and like that's what you so you have to think about the you don't have to think about it, but I do whenever someone just gets really vitriolic about something that someone else enjoys. I think about what social implication it would have to be associated with that thing for them.

Stephen Bradford Long 52:42 Oh, interesting. Yeah, absolutely. Like, like, what identity is under would be under threat or what? What socio economic thing would be at play there? Yeah, no, that's really fascinating.

Vivian de Assam 52:55 Because in almost every case, there is a there is an implication, either it is one that is directly cultural, like they are from, like, I don't know, the Hamptons, and they can't be seen, you know, do good, like consorting with the common folk, or they have come out of something that they are ashamed of or feel like they had been made to feel ashamed of, and don't want to be associated with the trappings of the underclass, so fast. Sometimes people are just shitty about stuff. Like that's always class based.

Stephen Bradford Long 53:27 Yeah, yeah, that too. Well, I think we're at the end. Is there any? Is there anything else to talk about? I think that's it.

Vivian de Assam 53:34 No, I think I hope I answered your question about this.

Stephen Bradford Long 53:37 Absolutely. No, this was great. This was fabulous. And, you know, we always the there's been a string of like, super heavy, intense shows on sacred tension. lately. It's, it's been a bit heavy lately. So I just wanted to have you on and chill and chat some. So this is great. I enjoy

Vivian de Assam 53:55 it. And I hope people understand anywhere where I'm coming from this, but there's nothing new but it's nothing that I'm going to take ownership of. It's just something that's helping me live in a time in which perhaps people in my situation might not

Stephen Bradford Long 54:10 for sure. Well, moral of the story, just like things. Yeah.

Vivian de Assam 54:15 And in this in this, this includes all the petty things we fight about. For meme, whatever it is, I don't even know how to what properties you would associate with memes cloud. Eat pineapple on pizza and stuff. Like that kind of stuff.

Stephen Bradford Long 54:31 Stop it. Yes. Stop it. Enjoy some fucking Nickelback

Vivian de Assam 54:37 if that's your thing might get an eyebrow raised from me. But if that's your thing, exactly. Live your life with abandon. Gulch. That's the decadence coming out like it is it is supremely decadent to just be engaged in deeply loving the thing that you like there's not a standard that you have to live by. And the more we reject arbitrary standards for things, the better everyone gets, because we realize how stupid rules are. And we need, you know, some basic ones like, you know, don't do murderers, but don't steal from people. And we should, you know, fully explain how not to do that. But that the arbitrary things we have about, like what matters in society and salience and social status is all bullshit. And it only leads to hurting other people. Even if you're not immediately doing it, it will cause a ripple effect in some way. Or you perpetuate some sort of aggression or violence or someone that you have chastised prevent perpetuates that, that violence, it's breaking that that that line of it's okay for me to just like this thing. It's okay for me to just do this thing. You can be that, that that break, be like no, I really, really, really, really like, you know, Carebears and I'm about to be

Stephen Bradford Long 55:59 beautiful. All right. Well, thank you so much for joining me again. This has been great. No, I'm

Vivian de Assam 56:04 happy. Always happy to be here. And it's nice to not talk about very heavy things.

Stephen Bradford Long 56:08 All right. Well, that is it for this show. The theme song is wild by eleventy seven. You can find it on Apple Music, Spotify, or wherever you listen to music. This show is written, produced and edited by me Steven Bradford long and it is supported by my patrons@patreon.com forward slash Steven Bradford long as always Hail Satan. And thanks for listening