Popular culture has generally been a good “leading indicator” of where a people’s consciousness is headed. In the panicky 1950s, the film The Invasion of the Body Snatchers functioned as an allegory for anti-communist panic. The anti-establishment 1960s and 1970s are filled with films and television shows drumming the message into our heads that the establishment is rotten and corrupt, and not to be trusted. And so on.
Most Western men–if you get them in a moment of candor–would agree that something is deeply wrong with the culture today. The evidence is all around us, if we care to look. I hardly need to re-hash what has already been said a thousand times before, so I won’t. Maybe one or two examples will make my point: I just noticed today on Twitter that there is a book out there called Pussification: The Effeminization of the American Male. The title alone just about sums it up.
But the malaise seems to go even deeper, perhaps to the very biology of the modern human, living in his glass-domed cities, with its dangerously aseptic existence. We’re beginning to lose our very constitutional energy. Something needs to change, and change fast. I was watching the 2013 Spanish film The Last Days (Los Ultimos Dias) the other day. The premise of the movie is fascinating: populations around the world suddenly are gripped by a agoraphobic “disease” called “the panic.” They lose all desire to leave their buildings or rooms. They refuse to go outside. They just curl up into balls and waste away.
No explicit diagnosis is given for this strange behavior. One character in the film tries: “Perhaps our world was just too aseptic.” In other words, people lost the ability to live, fight, love, and carry one. In other words, the wussification of the entire human species.
Men have responded to the modern challenge in different ways. Everyone is trying to make sense of the world, and each man brings his own experience and upbringing to the table.
It is against this cultural milieu that we must view works such as Ivan Throne’s book The Nine Laws. I’ve always believed that one of the first lessons of philosophy is perspective; that is, everyone sees the world through the lens of their own experiences and background. Throne is the proprietor of the website darktriadman.com, and his book is a distillation of the lessons he’s learned from a lifetime of practice in the martial arts and the finance world. As he describes his background:
Ivan Throne is a business manager, author and seasoned veteran of the financial industry with over thirty years of study in the classical Japanese military fighting arts. His vivid lessons and ruthless mentoring for the hard and often cruel demands of our pitiless high performance world have helped millions of people across social media deeply connect with radical, authentic success to the joys of partners, lovers, colleagues and clients.
Throne is at his best when he lays bare his own personal experiences, as when he relates the childhood physical traumas he overcame through his own work ethic and consistent determination. That alone should cause us to sit up and take notice: nothing is as difficult to overcome as our own limitations, and Throne has made it clear that he’s mastered his. As I was going through The Nine Laws, I couldn’t help noticing that the book is strongly influenced by the martial arts classics of old Japan and China.
As for the specifics, Throne lists the “nine laws” as the following: survival, concealment, purpose, endurance, posture, freedom, power, preposterousness, and “no laws.” Once Throne describes what he means by these things, he then spends the remainder of the book providing more explanation and amplification.
The best way to think of The Nine Laws is to see it as a source of mental motivation. This is what makes the book worth reading. When life kicks us hard, we need every tool we can use to regain our balance to keep moving forward. And while Throne’s tonic may not be to everyone’s taste, he makes us aware that it is our responsibility–and ours alone–to try to find what works for us.
But this is the thing: when it comes to motivational literature, what matters is the experience of reading something that gets you up off the couch and putting one foot in front of the other. So it doesn’t really matter what someone else thinks; what matters is what you think. And if something works for you, then we shouldn’t quibble about form or content.
Throne makes no apologies for his message, and this is refreshing. Here, at least, is one man’s vision of the world laid bare, along with his opinion on how best to navigate its waters. I suspect that Throne already knows that some of what he says is open to misinterpretation and abuse by those who don’t “get it.” When he tells us to embrace the qualities of a “psychopath” and the “dark world,” he doesn’t mean this literally: what he is telling us is to blaze our trail in our own way, without being distracted by the tsunami of nonsense that threatens to overwhelm even the hardiest of souls.
And this is the whole point. Throne’s persona is done for a specific purpose, and that purpose goes with his message. It’s not Throne’s problem if those who don’t “get it” choose to twist his meaning; he’s already anticipated this, and frankly, he couldn’t care less. It’s not his job to post “adults only” labels on his books; and if you’re too immature to see past the artistic license, then that’s your problem.
My guess is that Throne has a very large reservoir of knowledge about the martial arts, and I’m hoping that his next book will explore that world in some detail. I’d be very curious to know how he started training, what types of arts he practices, and what he’s learned from his years in the game. Until then, we can be satisfied to content ourselves with his Nine Laws.