“Tell me your relation to pain, and I will tell you who you are,” observed Ernst Jünger. My relation to pain? Pain is essential for growth and development—without pain we do not move to the next level: no pain, no gain. However, it is not that pain is an intrinsic good—rather, it is simply a necessary means to disturb the equilibrium and stimulate development. The goal is not to cause or inflict pain—rather, we accept pain is necessary to develop. People who advocate utilitarianism or hedonism advocate equilibrium—ultimately, they advocate decay.
Ordinary everyday life constitutes a negative feedback loop; the goal is to maintain homeostasis—adaptive reliability, especially is the office or the workplace. To be a reliable and dependable part. The process can be described in the following stages, adapted from David Foster:
1. Soporific comfort
2. Need (pain)
3. Satisfaction of need (anti-pain)
4. Soporific comfort
This is homeostasis; we seek to return to comfort or normality when we face an external challenge—we do not grow, we return to the stable point. As Foster notes, this is the real “law of the jungle”—soporific stasis; the fetid rot and decay, everything turns putrid under the hot sun—we turn in for another siesta.
Development, movement to the next level, requires positive feedback; an exponential development towards zero, or towards an explosion—an explosion that will carry us to the next level. Positive and negative feedback are not good or bad in themselves—cancer growth is exponential—yet real growth requires positive feedback. We do not want to return to satiation; we want to seek out more pain, more growth. If an increase in strength requires us to inflict pain—on ourselves or others—we welcome the disturbance to the equilibrium. Women are homeostatic; they are circular nature—pleasure-lovers who seek to return to soporific comfort. Men are exponential; they are the spiral ascent—they seek positive feedback that draws the system up to the next level.