The story of DICK Management began nearly 50 years ago when I was exposed to the writings of Aristotle, Plato and Aquinas by an extraordinary teacher at the University of Dallas in Texas. Frederick Wilhelmsen was a larger than life character who drank and smoked his way through philosophical discourse with the gusto that one normally reserves for the libertine. He was a man consumed by the power of truth and lived his life as if discourse with metaphysics was dearer than blood. He passed on his love for metaphysics and his passion for the truth to many of his students. Some of these students Dr. Wilhelmsen knew well, others he knew only in passing. I was in this latter group, but unlike many of his students, I slipped into the jet stream of his energy and rode his mind like a man on a comet. DICK Management is the ultimately the story of how, as the Chinese say, a good teacher affects eternity.
A few years later, as a volunteer, I tried to pass on what I learned by teaching the philosophy of Aristotle and Aquinas to inmates at Lorton Federal Penitentiary. Aristotle's philosophy of self-restraint, of virtue defined as "remembering what you really want" or "management of the appetites by right reason" was completely foreign to the inmates. Instead, their lives were managed by raging testosterone storms, with violence, wild sexuality and the inability to make good choices all rolled up together. "I've done a lot of bad things in my life. I just want to know why,” said one inmate. There was a complete absence of a philosophical framework that would help to make sense of life, and more than that, to give them the tools that would lead to a better life.
Not long afterwards, I saw the same philosophical vacuum in the realm of politics. In the 1980's, I worked as a political gadfly with an Israeli activist in Washington D.C. and saw first-hand the confusion engendered by the declining common philosophical heritage of the West. Israelis, Palestinians and Americans seemed to speak an Alice in Wonderland political language that served only special interest groups at the expense of the larger good of the people.
Politics in the Middle East and at home spoke the language of division and sloganeering. There seemed to be little or no consensus as to what political and social truth--if such things even existed--might look like. The corrosive influence of language deconstruction, and the dis-intermediation of cause and effect that largely began with Rousseau and John Locke seemed evident everywhere. In the mid-1980s, I sat myself down to write a book about the influence of metaphysics on the political process. The River of Gold: Politics and the Soul was my first attempt to deal with the decline of common social capital discussed by Francis Fukuyama, and what Walter Lippman aptly described as the need for a "Public Philosophy".
My drafts, however, of The River of Gold: Politics and the Soul were met with stunning silence. With the exception of a few outlier academics, there seemed to be little interest in a public philosophy that might be rooted in ancient Greek metaphysics. The draft lay fallow until I could think of some way to make the message about virtue and ethics it contained palatable and relevant to the general public.
It wasn't until I attended a book and gift show in New York in the mid-1990s that a new idea erupted seemingly out of nowhere. I was standing around bored when I suddenly had a waking vision that sent me into a paroxysm of excitement. I saw a banner hanging from the ceiling of the gift show that said, "How to Manage Your What?" and the main title of the book, How to Manage Your DICK hit me with startling force. This could, I realized in a flash, become the Trojan Horse for my metaphysical view of a common moral philosophy for America. In a kind of philosophical aikido, I could take the public's abiding interest in all things salacious and turn it into a starting point for an exploration of philosophy.
I was so taken with the idea that I felt I had to share it with someone. I stumbled into the booth of Ten-Speed Press and found myself addressing Joann Deck, the Vice President of Marketing. I knew that they specialized in offbeat books and took a chance in sharing my idea with her on the spot. One of Joann's male business associates gazed at me in disbelief, as though he were listening to a madman. But Joann listened with quiet interest and smiled at me as if what I was saying was not unacceptable at all. Nothing more was said, and I went back to my booth and business as usual. Two weeks later, I got a call from Joann telling me that she thought I should write the book I had described to her.
In thinking how to tackle the subject, it increasingly became clear to me that humor ought to be part of the mix. The title was so outrageous that I couldn't just wrap it around a serious analysis of how philosophy could improve our personal lives, our politics, and all aspects of our society.
Over the next few years, all my pent-up thoughts on philosophy poured out, in a kind of automatic writing. I would sit down at my computer and ideas and exhortations would flow from a spiritual place inside myself that seemed to synthesize all that I'd learned in years of wrestling with my own devils, using philosophical tools drawn not only from the western tradition, but also from yoga (which I had practiced for years as a young man) and from my abiding interest in the intersection of metaphysics and modern science. I later came to understand that wisdom can come through you rather than just from you. This higher connection is mankind's common inheritance, a universal consciousness rooted in the Spirit that made us all.
The fundamental breakthrough came in trying to find a bridge between the metaphysics of Aristotle, Plato and Aquinas, and the extraordinary insights of New Age and other spiritual philosophies. It began with a reflection on the inadequacy of modern epistemology and psychology in dealing with the problem of evil and bad choices. How can you know what is a good choice or a bad choice unless there is a mechanism whereby human beings can know truth? What is virtue, what is vice and what are the energy dynamics involved in both moral evolution and the devolution associated with evil? The beginning of an answer came from an unusual quarter. Sigmund Freud's concept of cathection describes how instinctual energy gets invested in objects of desire but understanding how this can possibly be is much akin to religious faith describing the actions of grace. Freudian psychology takes it on faith that cathection of instinctual energy is possible and has many ways of demonstrating cathection but much like religion describing the actions of grace, it cannot prove that cathection actually exists. Who has ever seen instinctual energy? But the concept of cathection gave me a clue. How does cathection really work? What is the mechanism of the instinctual energy conversion that is at the root of Freud's insight into human psychology and the sublimation of instinctual energy? If it could be demonstrated, as the Aristotelians and Scholastics claim, that you intentionally become the thing known, then the metaphysics of cathection could take Freud into places he never would have dreamed of. Cathection hinted of energy transferences at a level not described by traditional psychology. Theology was largely useless in describing the actions of cathection. There seemed to be no clearly articulated theology of the soul's kinetic activities on behalf of the body. To state as does Aristotle that the soul has five powers: the vegetative (growth) locomotive (movement), the sensitive (sensory organs), the appetitive (the will) and the intellectual tells us absolutely nothing about what those powers are doing on a daily basis--other than that they exist. Cyber Kinetics attempts to account for the powers of the soul using metaphysical analogs taken from quantum physics and superstring theory.
Quantum physics postulates that particles can exist simultaneously as particles and waves (a conundrum for most of us taken on faith) but it was not until the advent of superstring theory that quantum theory itself could be better understood. Superstring Theory makes the claim that subatomic particles, and the quantum theory of energy exchanges between those particles is regulated by a deeper process that involves rapidly vibrating strings (superstrings) of energy whose vibrations manifest themselves as particles in ten or more dimensions of which only four are evident. From this perspective, it became quite clear to me that the emotions and faith-based phenomena such as grace, cathection, hope and even love were only the tip of the iceberg of human consciousness. Once you add multi-dimensional theory to metaphysics and psychology, suddenly many intractable problems show promising signs of resolution. Indeed, once the soul is understood as the multi-dimensional template of the human body, the possibility of psychology, philosophy, theology and physics merging into a truly useful discipline for the study of human problems becomes more than just a pipe dream; it becomes a living reality in Dick Management..
So, there you have it: How to Manage Your DICK: Redirect Sexual Energy and Discover Your More Enlightened, Evolved Self. It is a guide for the soul and admittedly a work of outrageous humor that reflects the startling new confluence of science and metaphysics and their applicability to the basic principles of living a good life. For the first time, male sexuality, and the inner dynamics of religion are linked to the multi-dimensional dynamics of the latest discoveries of physics and psychology. No icon is too sacred to escape the intellectual purview of How to Manage Your DICK. But beneath the humorous facade, the subject is deadly serious: nothing less than making sense of each of our lives, our society, and our universe.
A little more personal background: I am an editor at Travelers' Tales (www.travelerstales.com), a company started by two of my brothers, James and Tim O'Reilly, and James' long-time friend and business partner, Larry Habegger. Tim O'Reilly is also the owner of OReilly and Associates, (www.oreilly.com) a computer book publishing company with over 300 employees in Northern California. Tim O'Reilly has become a major force within the computer industry by mining what he calls, "information holes". Morality is just such an information hole and How to Manage Your DICK will, hopefully, fill a need for information about morals, philosophy and social thinking.
Travelers' Tales publishes collections of travel stories as a kind of "inner guidebook" to a place, since stories can teach far more about a foreign country than any dry recitation of facts. In addition to guides to specific places, we have also published a series of books specifically on the transforming power of travel, and others that focus on the leavening power of humor. Books such as The Road Within; The Ultimate Journey: Inspiring Stories of Living and Dying; A Woman's Path; Pilgrimage; Testosterone Planet; and The Spiritual Gifts of Travel have dealt with that curious exchange that exists between travel and the unfolding of a new and higher sense of identity. Travel expands consciousness as they say, and this refreshment provided by new horizons is itself a metaphor for the spiritual journey attested to by both Travelers' Tales spiritual guides and How to Manage Your DICK.
It is no accident that our travel humor books such as There is No Toilet Paper on the Road Less Traveled, by Doug Lansky, Not So Funny When it Happened by Tim Cahill, and The Last Trout in Venice by Doug Lansky mine a similar vein, for laughter is the universal teacher, and humor the ultimate guide when the going gets too serious.