Recently, I had the pleasure of reading Ivan Thone‘s superb philosophical text, The Nine Laws. It’s a bit of a hard book to describe succinctly- the book serves as a very dense introduction to what Throne calls “The Dark World,” which is the dangerous nature of our harsh reality that is often denied or obscured. In the book, Ivan takes you on a journey, not only through the Laws themselves, but their application and means by which to train and practice with them. Altogether, it’s a fantastic book for one to gain some orientation in regards to the true nature of this world we inhabit.
Fortunately for both you and me, dear reader, Ivan has graciously accepted my request for an interview- the first I’ll be doing for MasterSelf.
Garrett Dailey: One of the things I found most interesting when reading The Nine Laws was the degree of subtlety in the philosophy itself. I have to assume that there’s a decent amount of the more complex meaning that’s lost on some of the readership, simply due to the advanced nature of the material. Have you found this to be the case?
Ivan Throne: Inevitably, yes. The Nine Laws was designed to be approachable from two disparate places: as a cover-to-cover process experience, and as an open-to-random-page resource.
In both cases, it was my deliberate intent to create a work that the reader could return to again and again, finding new layers of nested meaning, and startling new realizations as they do the work.
This provides the reader with not just depth of work, but engaged depth. It does mean that certain subtleties will remain ready for discovery as they absorb and reabsorb the material.
GD: Are there any topics, subjects, or sections in particular within the book that you find are more often overlooked or misinterpreted than others?
IT: It is difficult to assess what might be overlooked by readers. I do find that the concept of “Preposterousness” (the Eighth Law) to be a challenging one for readers to understand.
Preposterousness ties deeply into the infinite improbability of all things, including creation itself. Once the infinite improbability of all things is grasped one understands the flip side, which is the absolute possibility of all things.
When married to the living experience of power in the real world, this understanding frees the warrior philosopher from the constraints of time and space. It is an important part of the ninja concept of shinshin shingan, or “the mind and eyes of God” that is discussed in The Nine Laws.
GD: Your usage of the words narcissism, Machiavellianism, and psychopathy is a bit nonstandard (though more precise). Do you encounter issues when your usage of these terms is misunderstood? (This is more in reference to critics than your readership.)
IT: Yes, this happens from time to time. It is invariably accompanied by a frame of anger and rage at my perspective. Ego investments in negative framing are often brittle, dogmatic, and fearful. Such attachments are field dressings over psychic wounds and simply create friction, rather than traction, where the intellectual and emotional development of the individual is concerned.
It is important to appreciate that there are two crucial gradients that are in play where the dark triad traits of narcissism, Machiavellianism, and psychopathy are concerned. The first gradient is the depth of a trait, the power of that trait in the makeup of an individual. Everyone possesses these traits to one degree or another. In certain individuals the traits manifest with greater intensity.
The second gradient is the competence of modulation and regulation. I use the word “regulation” as used in the context of “well regulated” such as a well regulated wristwatch, or a well regulated fluidic system. Regulation speaks to the ordered and accurate functioning of the system.
Proper appreciation and assessment of the traits requires that both gradients be accounted for. A man with mild narcissism and poor regulation will be a selfish jerk. One who has very high Machiavellianism and extremely well regulated management will make a superb diplomat. A man with medium psychopathy and unremarkable competence will leave a mild strain of damage through his lifetime.
Of course, the current use of “narcissist” as a sociopolitical attack label in our ongoing culture wars is a useless sophistry we frequently see.
GD: On that note, have you found that the critical responses to the book have been fair, or have those who disliked the book blatantly misrepresented your positions?
IT: Critical responses to The Nine Laws have consisted almost entirely of “Ivan is bad, thus his book is bad.”
Amusing, but not terribly useful.
I have yet to encounter a reader who has gone through the material, studied and applied it, and found it deleterious or inaccurate. Interestingly enough, some of the most devoted readers reported that is troubled and upset them as they went through it, and found themselves taking voluminous notes, then arriving at a very different worldview on the other side.
That is part of the joy of my experience as an author: to open doors in the mind, and provide readers the opportunity to explore truth where it leads them in the dark.
GD: Something I found surprising when reading the book is the (apparent) difference in tone between the way the book is portrayed versus the actual contents of the book. To clarify, this is based primarily on my initial impressions of the book as I saw it advertised or mentioned on Twitter. For example, until I saw “The Dying Child” posted in a tweet, I didn’t realize the degree to which the book is a work of serious, applied philosophy, as opposed to the standard fare of the self-improvement genre. Part of this confusion may draw from the difficulty in conveying that a work is deeply philosophical while still making it appear palatable to a broad audience. Is this intentional on your part? Additionally, do you find that this portrayal helps open the potential audience of your book?
IT: The Nine Laws is designed to have enormous and permanent impact when fully absorbed and applied. It is often described as a “spellbook” or a “grimoire” by those who go through the full depth of it. That’s by design.
Now, from a marketing standpoint, that’s a difficult thing to proclaim. I knew what I had written and what it had the structure and content to accomplish as a deep philosophical work; my understated approach to publicizing it is in keeping with how doors and curiosity work.
The Dying Child preface to the book is a shaped charge, so to speak, that blows open the first door. And that’s where curiosity engages.
What’s behind the next door?
What is the next shattering experience?
Will I feel intensity like that again?
The Dying Child was a subtle, perhaps Machiavellianism way to take the hand of the reader’s own inner child, and walk it through the first place in the dark.
There is wonder and power in dark places, and a warm and stronger hand is a reassuring guide.
From there, it throws the reader into the dark where lessons of light and fulfillment await once they do the work.
GD: Despite the overarching harshness of the book’s message, by the end of the book, I found myself feeling surprisingly uplifted and empowered. I assume this was intentional- do you find that many of your readers report the same sentiment?
IT: Yes, this is common – and by design.
The Nine Laws is not a dark work, though it brings you through dark places. Thought, word and deed are difficult things to align. Vision, planning and competence are frightening to those unused to them. Narcissism, Machiavellianism, and psychopathy are horrific to those who do not truly understand the power of the human being as an apex predator formed in the image of God.
But that is what we are. And fulfillment of our inherent nature, the full exposition of our divine power, brings with it a peace and fulfillment denied to the fearful and the self-abjuring.
GD: Many people haven’t had terribly difficult lives in this day and age. How would someone seeking to become mentally resilient go about developing the requisite grit artificially?
IT: There isn’t a way.
Authentic power and competence demand authentic experience of lessons and testing. A way around this does not exist. One is wise, of course, to layer lessons and experience rather than attempting to suddenly blossom as a dread lord… our desires for instant gratification notwithstanding.
You have to do the work and pay the dues.
GD: Near the end of the book, you write about banding together with others of like mind. Have you found that the publication of the book has made this easier, and if so, in what ways?
IT: Very much so. The book has made serious impact in the lives of many. This naturally creates the desire in some to meet the author; in addition, I do create opportunities for them to gather and build their own networks at events such as the Feasts of War.
Joe Katzman, author of the foreword to The Nine Laws, famously described it as “education for the cadres that will save us”. I think that is both very prescient, and rather accurate in practice.
GD: What inspired you to write the book?
IT: I had things to say, understanding to share, an impact to make on the trajectory of Men, and this was the best way to begin with absolute and unwavering determination.
GD: Do you have a long history of writing prior, or was this your first significant written project?
I’ve been writing essays and articles since I was very young. I have always loved language and expression, and I view writing as required and demanded training in the same way that I view physical training as a necessity for human power.
Training and experience bring competence and power in every milieu. It is good to perform them, and attain them.
GD: Who are your top three favorite philosophers, and why?
Musashi, the famed 16th century swordsman, understood the rhythm and flow of conflict and the methods of both forestalling and accepting clash. His work is an immortal treatise on victory.
Takuan deeply grasped the concepts of nonattachment and flow, and how they build to a mind and heart that do not stop.
Shinryuken Masamitsu Toda provided superb and concrete principles for the ninja in daily living, and the importance of emotional harmony.
GD: What are your three favorite books, and why?
IT: “The Assyrian” by Nicholas Guild, for its superb storytelling and magnificent capture of the spirit of a reluctant warlord in a time of absolute horror.
“Illusions” by Richard Bach, for the simple and profound lessons on creation of reality through the deliberate focus mind and heart.
My own book “The Nine Laws” for the impact it has had on me through writing, sharing, and bringing the knowledge forward to other men.
GD: What is your favorite word in the English language, and why?
IT: “Numinous”, for the characterization of divine resonance it embodies.
GD: What is your favorite quote, and why?
IT: Winston Churchill once said that “Nothing in life is so exhilarating as to be shot at without result.” It captures the spirit of bold living in the face of threat.
GD: What would be the best single piece of advice you would give to someone who has just discovered the “dark world” and the more shadowy aspects of human nature?
IT: Above all things, do not wallow.
It is common for those who discovers the nature of the dark world to dive too deep, to become enthralled by it, and mistake the power of the dark world for a supreme power. It is not more powerful than the good and bright things in life; it is a counterpart, a complement, and to base yourself in one or the other is a grave mistake.
The Dark Triad Man must understand that the principle of non-attachment holds true with respect to operating methods, modes, and foundations as well.
GD: If a reader wanted to learn more on the subjects discussed in The Nine Laws, are there any books you would direct them to?
Musashi, Takuan, and Bach are good places to start. It is important to keep in mind that these topics and teachings require real-world experience in order to be effective.
A quote variously attributed to Yogi Berra and Jan L. A. van de Snepscheut is applicable here: “In theory, there is no difference between theory and practice. But, in practice, there is.”
Many forget that, or do not realize and appreciate it, and fall to harm.
GD: It seems fairly evident that we’re entering an age of upheaval, something you noted towards the end of the book. Do you see a means by which the culture will make it through this time without extreme collapse or violence, and if so, how?
Collapse and violence are part of the civilization cycle. One can interrupt it, or hold it off for a time, but such cycles are inevitable and everpresent.
The wise man understands this, and does not utilize hope as a strategy.
GD: Part of my purpose in running this website is the attempt to improve the state of the world by dispersing good, practical philosophy- based on your work, I imagine that you share this drive. However, it seems that the slow approach of influencing minds over time may be insufficient. What other means are you taking (or would you suggest that one take) to reach larger audiences in a more effective manner?
IT: This becomes a question of marketing.
Understand where the cycles of civilization and culture are. Learn to spot the point of the cycle which is most strongly present, and you will understand where it is going next. You are then able to position your market offering in such a way, and with such structure, that culture and civilization naturally raise and spread it.
GD: I’ve had a bit of an odd theory for a while that I’d like to get your take on. Essentially, my thought is that psychopathy is actually a (necessary) progressive stage in human evolution- that we’re moving from a place of mental operation governed largely by emotions to a mode of being that’s based more in calm rationality. What do you think?
IT: This is quite accurate.
I have had several discussions with preeminent researchers in the field of dark triad research, and this is a view they share. Psychopathy has always been present in the human condition, of course. As we move faster into a digitally based world, and further away from the nuanced connection of real world relationships, psychopathy is more acutely rewarded by our culture and civilization.
Detached competence becomes a value-add.
GD: Do you have any particular means of detecting psychopaths in your midst?
IT: Eye contact and the resonance of meeting eyes.
It is very difficult to conceal the cold assessment of a psychopath when you know what you are looking for, possess it yourself, and are familiar with the back-and-forth bounce of recognition and regard.
When it is there, you see it.
When it is not there, you notice the absence.
GD: What are your core values, and how do they affect your interactions with others?
IT: Detachment, competence, compassion, momentum and trajectory are the values that I work to adhere to each day.
Detachment prevents adherence to illusion, to what is false, and understanding that the desire for things “to be how they are not” is the root of human suffering brings peace.
Competence is necessary for achievement in the real world, and must be cultivated with assiduous discipline.
Compassion is warranted in life. Compassion is not pity; pity has contempt and arrogance at the root of it, and robs the target of agency and power. Compassion is not empathy either, but awareness and recognition of suffering and taking steps to blend justice into encounters and engagements in the living world.
Momentum is a key aspect of success, power, love, and live. We live in a time-space continuum, and momentum is a key aspect of how mass, inertia, and manifestation operate. Cultivation of momentum is what makes a man unstoppable.
Trajectory is a very subtle thing, and a very delicate aspect of life. Your relationships, outcomes, profit, success, and consequences are all built into your existence on a visible line of trajectory. If you take the time to continuously observe, assess, and redirect yourself, your trajectory comes increasingly under your control.
GD: What role do you think values play in the life of the individual? Are they something that can be discarded, or are values something that are essential to action?
IT: Values are absolutely essential. They determine your position, your decisions, and your outcomes. A lack of values is, in itself, a shape of values that drive your progress or lack of it.
GD: What do you consider the most important lesson you ever learned in your life? What was the hardest lesson to truly comprehend?
IT: The preposterous nature of all things was the most challenging, and the most freeing, lesson that I have absorbed. Once the infinite possibility of all things is truly grasped, limitations disappear for the man.
GD: What are your thoughts on regret?
IT: It is going to happen.
Learn to absorb, accept, and work forward past it.
Regret is a normal part of life, and an immovable spirit that is not stuck or attached in place will find it a much calmer thing to deal with.
GD: Do you have any other books (or other works) planned, and if so, is there anything you can tell us about them?
IT: I am currently working on the sequel to The Nine Laws.
It is titled “The Three Gates” and deals with the themes of Manhood, War, and Salvation as experienced by the Dark Triad Man.
When finished, it will be published by Castalia House.
GD: Finally, where can our readers find you on the internet?
IT: The easiest place is on Twitter. My account is @IvanThrone.
For education and events, DarkTriadMan.com.
For training and coaching, IvanThrone.com.
And for my very special cigars, Empalador.VIP.