The Pressure Project Interview Transcript
In the summer of 2016 I was interviewed by Justin “Master Chim” Garcia on his podcast, The Pressure Project. What followed was a fascinating discussion on topics ranging from the value of mythology, the power of symbolism and archetypes, Tribal dynamics, religion, education and a host of other good stuff in between. I have been significantly influenced by the work of Master Chim, and I would earnestly recommend you all to check out his website at http://thewarriorproject.com. You can listen to the full discussion on Youtube at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yKQ96tvh6rc
In the transcript that follows, much of what was spoken in the conversation between Justin Garcia and myself has been tidied up and redacted for the sake of clarity, so any mistakes in the text are my fault. The segments spoken by Justin are preceded by JG, whilst segments spoken by myself are preceded by PB.
JG: So I’m glad we could we could finally make this happen. Tell everybody what you do on your site.
PB: The website that I write for is called unchainingthetitan.com. I read a lot of bullshit that nobody else seems to read like ancient mythology and philosophy and psychology and things like that, and what I try to do is; whenever I read something I try and extract some relevant wisdom from it that I can apply to my own life or the lives of others, and generally that takes the form of me doing mythological analysis and coupling that with psychological concepts that I can use in order to get myself where I want to go. So that's generally what I try to do, I also write about history as well but the core concept of what I do is always on taking ancient wisdom and applying that to my modern 21st century life in ways that will benefit me.
JG: All right, well one of the things that I commented on before recording was that you’re 26, you write like you're 46 and you look like you're 16. So it's funny because it is very impressive how the content on your blog stands on its own when you do factor in that you're fairly young. I mean, I'm 41 so you're fairly young and you do have a talent for doing exactly what you're describing, extracting that insight and really getting the value out of a lot of these types of writings. But let's get into some of the classics that you think people either aren't reading or aren't reading properly.
PB: There's so many to choose from but generally speaking I maintain a Northern European perspective, just because that's where my interest lies. Those stories resonate with me, and so people could do a lot worse than to look into tales like Beowulf, like Norse mythology, Odin and Thor and all of their adventures and the things that they've done. There’s also the Greeks as well, though I’m not crazy on the Greek stuff anymore but there's certainly value to be found in that. And being an Irishman I always look to the myths of Ireland as well, which are up there with the best them. We don't often get exposed to these stories and I think in the education system here in Ireland at least, we're done a disservice in that we’re not really exposed to the stories that our ancestors have told for thousands of years, and then we've got to this point and all of a sudden we've decided that they're not worth telling anymore unless they're in a comic book movie or something. So the mythology has been cheapened to a certain extent in that we're not exposed to it as we should be.
JG: Well, what one will find in following the mythology of different people is that it's a reflection of their journey, a reflection of who they were. There is much adversity to be had in north and you see that reflected greatly in their myths. When I started reading the lore of Heathenry and stories of the Norse pantheon of gods and deities, I noticed this strength that is found in these characters whereby applying these concepts in some sort of sort of virtuous context to one's life just like you had said before. You really could do worse than then to expose yourself to these stories and the power they have. What first led you to do to reading these stories and what has been the use, aside from the allure of a good story or a good book? What do you look to do to apply the power of these stories in your life?
PB: I consider myself a big reader, so when I was exposed to these different kinds of stories from different places, some of them just resonated with me more-so than others and the northern mythology does that most. But it was just a matter of reading a lot until I found something that consistently resonated and spoke to me on a level that maybe I didn't understand at the time. But as I looked into it more I learned to take concepts from the stories and apply them in order to develop my character or develop some sort of virtuous behaviour. I also look for patterns in the stories, road-maps that the heroes of the past have taken and how we can emulate these. And although they're doing things that we’ll never do, we do undergo trials and tribulations in our own lives of a different manner. These heroes in the stories have survived so long because they set out these road maps that we can follow if we choose to, even though we live in a different time with completely different circumstances. These stories have been told for so long because they contain information that's worth preserving and I do my best to extract the wisdom contained in these stories and pass it on as best as I can.
JG: I remember early on, I think was the Three Metamorphoses of Nietzsche you were writing on, something that I noticed right off the bat was that it very atypical. There are not a lot of writers out there looking to do the things that you’re doing in a very selfless presentation of content. But one of the things I noticed about your writing was that it was so exhaustive and it was so sincere and so in depth, and you really have a conversation with the reader. But for me going through the stories themselves, you see not only the patterns and blueprints that you’re speaking about but also things like Jungian archetypes, which explain the notion that we're all following the same game but from different times, eras, and in different settings but that tend to play by the same rules. And there's a game to be learned and practiced and manipulated and controlled. So where do you see the role of these archetypes, and not just the Jungian ones, but where do you see these playing out in in the man's life and in a man's development?
PB: That's a great question. So for those that don't know, the four Jungian archetypes are King, Warrior, Magician, and Lover or Artist. Archetypes in general are patterns of behaviour and characteristics that work together in certain ways to achieve certain goals. You had Paul Waggener on the Podcast in the past, and he's described his relationship to the gods as being; whenever he experiences energy or a psychological condition that makes him feel a certain way, and he spoke about when he feels powerful or sees red, that he experiences that as Thor. And I would say that he is embodying the archetype of Thor. For example, when you go in to dominate a session in the gym and you want to get a deadlift PR or something, you've got to work yourself up psychologically so you're in the zone and you're ready for it. It's not just about going in and lifting the weights, you've got to get your mind right and when you can embody these powerful archetypes you can unlock doors that would be locked if you were just going through the motions. People in general are the worse off for not having an understanding of how they can relate to these different archetypes, and you can choose whichever one is applied to you best. You don't have to go with the four Jungian ones, Paul Waggener goes with the Norse mythology and to a certain extent I do as well. I know that's also where your interest lies, so for example when you're tirelessly seeking out new information or wisdom or you're trying to learn as much as you can about a subject, well that would be you embodying the Odin archetype. Odin is the one who goes out into the worlds and sacrifices himself for the sake of wisdom that he can use and bring home to benefit his tribe. So it doesn't matter what myths or what archetypes you choose to embody, so long as you pick ones that can put you on the path towards your goal, toward your strength. One should always be trying to evolve and these archetypes are merely tools and different types of energy that you can embody in your psychology to help you get what you want.
JG: Do you identify as religious or as being a member of a religious identity?
PB: We're actually quite similar in that regard. I consider myself to be an atheist and for years I was the anti-theist. I would have an argument about religion at the drop of a fucking hat just to see the look of disgust on people’s faces. So I don't believe that there is a spiritual plane or a higher power, but I do participate in a number of rituals that you could describe as Pagan or Heathen. And as I said, my interest lies predominantly in the northern myth and that's because it speaks to me on the level that other myths don't. When I read about Thor and his travels into Jotunheim and Odin's journeys to seek wisdom, these things speak to me in a way that I can't really explain. In the rituals that I take part in I try to emulate these archetypes, this energy that these stories embody, but I don't maintain a literal interpretation of these myths. I think they are metaphors that are used to, as Paul Waggener very eloquently said, move from the self with a lowercase s to the Self with a capital S. The Higher Self.
JG: That’s something that I very much understand and agree with to a great extent. My current conversations regarding this topic with individuals are oftentimes reduced to “well is this a metaphor that you're following or do you literally believe that there are these gods?” and I think they missed the entire point.
PB: Oftentimes it's a matter of indoctrination as well. They're just going through the motions. They're repeating the same bullshit that they've been told since they were children and they’ve never really thought about it.
JG: Right, and I just posted on Twitter the other day something related to this. I was talking about trying to teach children, saying that when you teach children beyond their level of ability to understand a certain idea, what you'll get is memorization and eventually regurgitation. You'll never get understanding. My wife and I home-school our kids and one of the things we've done over the years with math is that we use manipulatives. So if I'm saying 4 plus 3, we get out the four little blocks and the three little blocks and we put them together. We make it real to them and that real world level of understanding of these concepts is not only so important to deal with these topics, but I found it's completely necessary. So when dealing with myths the need for the modern individual to be literal comes down to them not acknowledging that there are some things that they're not going to have a literal understanding of.
PB: I think it stems from a sort of immaturity of intellect. People just like to regurgitate what they've been told because it's as though the more they say it and the more people regurgitate it to them, the more true it becomes. It's like they just want this thing to be true because that's what they believed since day one, but they've never really thought about it because if they think about it they might disregard it completely. Like you said about using real-world examples to teach your children something, I think that is the only way that you can really learn anything because unless you have an experience of something then it's not yours. It’s not your thought, it's somebody else's thought that they've put in your head. You need to be able to make everything you believe practical and manifested in your own life. So for example, I worked as a mechanic in the Irish Army and I'm a pretty technical guy in general. I work with my hands every day so I understand some scientific concepts that go over the heads of other people because I can reduce them down to a simple level in terms of machinery, because every day I take things apart and look at their individual components and I put them back together. I think if you take the myths or your spirituality or your religion and apply that mechanical process to it; break them down, examine each individual piece, see what it's worth, and put it back together to make it work for you, then that's the only way you can really learn and have any understanding that's worthwhile, because if somebody just tells you something and you believe it that's not worth anything.
JG: Over the years I've become a tremendous fan of Joseph Campbell and his work with comparative mythology and the Monomyth, and he's somebody that seems to understand the value of the power of these things. What is your take on Campbell's work?
PB: When I read Joseph Campbell's “Hero with a Thousand Faces” it was like somebody hit a switch in my mind. It was almost like hearing something that I already knew but had never heard put into words, and it gave me the kick up the ass to go on and seek out more information about the Hero's Journey. So his work is the genesis of my approach to mythology and it was what switched me over from reading myths as stories for entertainment to reading myths as guidelines and ways to pursue strength and growth.
JG: The first solid connection to what has become a Heathen identity in my life was the understanding that early on in my life I had a worldview that was not very congruent with the with the reality in which I lived. To use a very lame analogy, to use a piece of electronic equipment in another country you need an adapter to make it work. Well I didn't have the philosophy at the time to serve as that adapter that allowed me to be productive in my surroundings, but everything clicked when I started reading the lore of the Northlands and reading the stories of Odin and Thor and the different sagas that spoke of the hero's journey in the archetypes playing themselves out amongst the stories. So what would you say to somebody who looks and hears of these things and needs that gap bridged somehow in terms of being literal. People really want to measure and scientifically prove everything. What do you say to the person who is so sceptical of the things we talk about?
PB: Well the first thing that you need to realize before you have those conversations with people is that you're never going to convince anyone of anything, all you can do is maybe shine a light on things that they might already suspect. But some people will never abandon the literal world-view. They'll never be able to accept the fact that maybe we don't know everything or maybe we can't prove everything just yet, maybe there's some stuff going on in the background that we don't even understand yet. So it doesn't really matter if we can verify these things as being true or being mystical or coincidence, all that really matters is what we take out of our situation and what we can learn from it and how we combine our past our present in order to build the future that we want.
JG: Right, and one of the things that always lured me to the stories was the idea of there being magic in the universe, and I describe magic as conditions of the universe that we don't yet understand, that are usually right on the cusp of understanding. It's sort of lure or bait on a hook that we find ourselves pursuing but it's just beyond our level of understanding.
PB: Well as the saying goes “a man's reach should always exceed his grasp”. If the situation ever arises where we understand everything and there's nothing else to learn, then what's the point being alive anymore? There should always be something out there beyond the horizon that we’re trying to pursue, and what matters is not the target, what matters is the journey. As Nietzsche said “Man is a bridge stretched over an abyss. Man is a bridge between the animal and the Superman.” What matters is not the goal. What matters is the journey between your present situation and the goal, and magic is whatever it is in you that kicks you into motion and helps you to actualize your willpower. So whatever you might have to do or say to yourself, or whatever rituals you might need to do to empower you to get up off your ass and move towards your goal, that's magic. Whether or not it's a spiritual thing or a psychological thing doesn't fucking matter as long as it works to get you moving.
JG: You know, as I'm reading about the heathen concept of Wyrd, this story that's written and established and we're connected to, there's so much to be had there terms of wisdom how to navigate our lives. And this isn't about feeling better when you meditate or being able to you know become a spirit animal, it’s about how to live productively and maximize the leverage of your power in control of circumstances.
PB: It's important to have real practical applications of all these concepts because otherwise it's just nice ideas that you have and you can bring them up in a conversation with your buddies while you're not really doing much else, but unless you can take this stuff that you've learned and apply it in a productive manner to get further along the path towards your goals, then what's the point of being a genius or a spiritual shaman or whatever if you never actually get off your ass and do anything. Everything I read is always read with the intent of gaining practical insights that I can use in my own life, things that I can use to progress on my own path. And I would be the first to admit that I am still not very far along the path, but I certainly am on the path. I use a whole different slew of archetypes and mantras and rituals that are effective for me but that may not be effective for you. As long as somebody has their own rituals, their own source of power that empowers them, that’s what counts. So tell yourself whatever bullshit you need to get your ass up and moving. It doesn't have to be cool, it could be embarrassing, you don't have to tell anybody about it, but as long as you have something that you can use to get you up and get you moving is what counts. I always say if you've got that then you're way ahead of most people, because most people just sit on their ass and do nothing except wait for fucking death watching TV all evening.
JG: So I know you've been listening to a podcast for a while, and one of the things that I deal with very frequently on there is idea of Tribe and the synergy that Tribe provides. What is your take on what role Tribe plays in this process of understanding the myths that people in the past have used, because usually the backdrop and the setting and these heroes and these gods in myth are shared and given value in the context of a Tribe. Where do you see Tribalism playing itself out in terms of these stories and in terms of value in general for a man?
PB: I think Tribe building is like breathing for men. If you put a group of men in a room and give them enough time they will start to band together into groups with similar interests and similar backgrounds, so this modern idea that Tribe is part of the past and doesn't deserve to be preserved anymore, you know the “We're All One” bullshit, is a modern myth. If you put enough men in a room, and I've seen this first-hand when I joined the military, they'll band together and start competing. But the reason that they compete is not because they want to dominate each other, it’s often because it’s only through competition that we can improve and transcend our personal limitations. Competition is what bonds men together in these tribes, and when you have a tribe bonded together well enough, they'll start to invent their own stories. They'll have inside jokes that nobody else would get and it's just a natural extension of the human psyche. This is what we do, it's what we've always done, we tell each other stories and the stories will always be relevant to us. They might not be relevant to anybody else but as long as they’re relevant to us and the people in our tribe then that's all that matters. The fact that Tribe is so missing from society today and men are so isolated these days is very much to our detriment and I think part of the problems that we have with men these days, you know we have a lot of young males killing themselves off, is because they feel alone because they have no Tribe, and when they go to seek out a group it's hard to find one because nobody wants to be in a Tribe anymore because it's not socially acceptable. So I think we need a lot more of that, and I don't see much of it over here in Ireland unfortunately, which is unusual because this island has always been a tribal society going back to the Celts and beyond. So that’s something that is missing; Tribalism, Tribal Identity, and pride in being part of a group.
JG: I often talk about the need to have an identity, a mission, a flag that exists virtuously on its own, because when you do have this compass of a mission and identity you are not subjected to nor ever afflicted by the manipulations of the individuals in today’s society. You spoke about the need to read these stories and understand the commonalities that arose and the powerful people and the standards they have always had, and what I see is the need for men to understand the things that really matter and the best ways to leverage what it is that they're doing along their individual journeys, because nowadays not only are our young people no longer pursuing a virtuous life or looking to bring up their own level of personal power, but they're also very much distracted by what virtue is and they're being manipulated to the point where they want to hold virtuous the strategies and the missions of people who would see them fall.
PB: It's almost like cutting off a tree's roots when you ignore the myths of the past and the tales that your ancestors have been telling for thousands of years, and all of a sudden we’ve collectively decided to ignore them, thus disregarding everybody that has existed before you but whose actions have put you here. One way to describe the myths is as the voices of your ancestors speaking to you and telling you what's important, and if we choose to ignore that it’s only a matter of time before we fall as a culture. As a civilization we're going to fall if we just disregard and ignore the past, because you need to always keep one eye on the past or you've got no sense of direction towards where you're going to go. So within tribes, big and small, there must be a certain narrative that your culture preserves and that is culturally agreed upon as being worth remembering, and it needs to be uniquely yours because if you import myths and legends and histories and different heroes from other lands that have no connection to your people or your land, it's like cutting off your roots and you're going to wither and die.
JG: Very well said, one of the things that I've noticed when I moved with my family from the city to some property in the mountains is that it's so much easier to convey these ideas to my inquisitive sons when placed in the backdrop and context of the mountains. Ideas that I would struggle to convey to them using my best grasp of metaphor and language before, now amounts to “let's take a trip outside and let me show you why this is true. Let me show you why this is the way the world works”. When you have that natural living in which you are connected to the world and the land around you, the examples abound. So when we look at what mythology is and we say “this is our ancestor speaking to us and setting the backdrop for how to best survive and thrive”, I think when we remove the natural living or remove the source of how they came to this understanding we leave a lot of their communication on the table. But we don't truly understand what our ancestors are telling us if we've disconnected completely from the type of experiences they've had looking at the world around them. I know that to be true now more than ever having moved to the mountains and running around on the property with the boys, I've really seen them come to life in a way that I know would not have occurred had I stayed disconnected from the world living in the city.
PB: Yeah city living is such an unnatural state for anyone to live in, especially a child. I live in Dublin City, which is small, and I like living here for now but if I had the choice I would live up the mountains in a forest on a plot of land where I could run around, grow my own food, and put a house on. Because that’s the natural state of mankind.
JG: It is and talking about the natural state, we're pretty much the latest model of the human machine that has been building itself to become more effective in navigating this planet for hundreds of thousands of millions of years.
PB: We’re a very young model as well.
JG: Right, a very young model and very much connected to the land, connected to the world, so when you say it's an unnatural living people really need to understand the gravity of that. We are like fish living in a tree right now. The lack of that naturalness is what I think we're suffering from the most here and I think that's what people need to wrap their heads around: we don't have to watch the right TV show, read the right book, make the right friend, or are have the right bit of information in order to find this congruence and natural understanding of who we are and what we aim to be. It's important that we go out and connect with other individuals, but also important that we go out and connect with the world in which we evolved as a machine to function upon.
PB: The disregard for nature and the worthiness of nature is a very modern invention. I'm 26 years old so most of my buddies like to go out on the weekend and get fucked up on drink, and indeed I like to go out too every now and then, but not every weekend. If you gave me the choice of going out to a nightclub or bringing a bottle of whiskey and a guitar up to the mountains and camping out there with a few guys it's a pretty simple choice for me; I'm up there on the mountain. You don't need to be bought in to this system of people telling you that you need to watch these TV shows and you need to be into these sports and you need to go to these nightclubs and these restaurants. You don't need that bullshit to be happy, you can find happiness very simply if you go for a walk in the fucking woods and just be alone for a while, or take your buddies out there with a few musical instruments and have a good time. “Nature provides” as the saying goes, and you'd be surprised at just how simple it is to find happiness when you're out in nature.
JG: So what I want to do now in the second segment of the interview is discuss the world stage as it stands now, and also talk a little bit about what's going on in Europe. So check out the next part of our talk at the website www.thepressureprojectmembers.com. Thanks for talking so far.
PB: Thanks for having me Justin, it’s been an honour.