Radical Honesty promises a better life for everybody by learning to tell the bald faced truth. To everyone, no exceptions.
It’s an impossible ideal and a movement I hold dear, and is highly touted by psych survivors, artists, seekers and bohemians, human potential mental health types and countercultural old farts. It is however a fringe movement, and anytime Radical Honesty turns up in the press it will be mangled, ridiculed and presented as the path of choice for self-justifying obnoxious assholes with untreatable personality disorders.
RH leads to compassion, intimacy, and the shedding of unfounded fears about living openly, but journalists can’t get passed the fact that its founder Brad Blanton is a cussing white trash hedonist who burps and farts his way through interviews.
Right, so Esquire ran a piece on Radical Honesty, I Think You’re Fat, which focused not on the aesthetic depths of this high-minded relational theory, but asks the standard questions required to hold the attention span of the target audience who reads Esquire and therefore, naturally thinks with its dick.
I e-mail Blanton to ask if I can come down to Virginia and get some pointers before embarking on my Radical Honesty experiment. He writes back: “I appreciate you for apparently having a real interest and hope you’re not just doing a cutesy little superficial dipshit job like most journalists.”
I’m already nervous. I better start off with a clean slate. I confess I lied to him in my first e-mail — that I haven’t ordered all his books on Amazon yet. I was just trying to impress upon him that I was serious about his work. He writes back: “Thanks for your honesty in attempting to guess what your manipulative and self-protective motive must have been.”
The entire interview consists of just such willful vapidity as the horny little boy riffles through the truthteller’s underwear drawer for all the dirty little secrets, because a sexual history must be where all the bodies are buried.
Brad’s had sex with 500 women and a dozen men, do tell! He let his dog lick his dick, ZOMG are you kidding this is making me so hawt!!1!!
It appears Dr. Blanton knows what he’s dealing with, and he runs with the narrative in-the-moment because that’s how you live the experiential life. But fuck it, Radical Honesty deserved more pushback from its founder, and the pissant who did the interview might have included a page from Blanton’s actual argument. Here is one of those pages, from the site, Radical Honesty:
The heart of the message of Radical Honesty is that we can come to recognize each other as beings in common. We do this by being honest and by demanding honesty from others. This is the fundamental faith of both Radical Honesty and its corollary religion, Futilitarianism…Futilitarianism is about the futility of any belief whatsoever…
…beings who relate as beings, one to another, can work out the problems that come from having minds and personalities and cultural and religious and traditional differences, since those differences are all bullshit anyway! We can change how we live together by acknowledging the being we are, (nothing mysterious or mystical—just the sensate being in the body), as the universal context in which the mind occurs. We recognize each other as alike. One pathetic, mind-controlled, culturally conditioned pitiful sonofabitch, anywhere in the world, looks just about like another. Underneath all that confusing and alienating bullshit we are beings in common.
Who I am, is a present-tense, noticing being, and the idea of me—my case history and culture and values and beliefs—is secondary to my fundamental identity as a noticing, present-tense being. I can see, at the same time, that this is true for everyone else. I relate to everyone else as equals in this way. I relate to these fellow beings by being true to my own experience. This being-to-being relatedness is what allows me to make compassionate, collective decisions with my fellow cripples—I mean human beings.
…Usually, our minds are distractions from the truth of experience. But once grounded in the truth of experience in the moment, our minds become useful as toys to play with. What we play with is the future. We imagine a future together and how we might make it happen. We are the same in that way, even though we may be different in every other way. As noticing beings, we are all pretty much the same, so there is nothing left to do but be and do.
…That always includes doing something for, as well as with, your fellow beings. That is so dumb and simple that if you think about it you miss it altogether! That’s why we say that what we teach in our Radical Honesty workshops is how to get dumb. We all need to get dumber, not smarter. We need to focus on noticing like a village idiot.
…We Futilitarians still have many conventional thoughts about what is right and wrong, good and bad, beautiful and ugly, but we can value these with a little detachment because they are not our identity.
These thoughts are just the bullshit we navigate with because it was the best thing our poor dumb-assed ancestors had to offer us. And when these thoughts have served their purpose, like paper plates or napkins or toilet paper, we throw them away! We hold these truths to be secondary! They are possibly useful now and then but not really important enough to save forever. They reside within the primary context of the self (not the self image, not the traditional “self”) but the being, the witness to, the world and the mind.
…This change of identity from case history to the context of being is called transformation. The transformation is from victim to creator. Larger social transformation is possible because of individuals who have undergone transformations from victim to creator joining up with each other and becoming co-creators.
Futilitarianism is transformative! We have already given up! We know it’s all futile and think those who don’t think that are hilarious! We believe all the victim stories! And we do what we can to elaborate on them! We say, “You bet you’re a victim! And not only in the ways you say! It’s even worse! Did you ever consider this?” We offer upgrades from depression to despair! One pathetic seeker (There’s a seeker born every minute!) helps another by truly listening and commiserating and elaborating on the story!
We Used to Play Like This When We Were Children
…We human beings can create intimate families among ourselves through radical honesty. By identifying with being, and loving the being of others as well as ourselves (which we naturally do), we start a different kind of conversation. We end up developing deep democracy and co-intelligent strategies for success in caring for each other, using our minds, because it is more fun and natural to do out of our relatedness.
…In the radical honesty community…Our work is recreation and co-creation… Our work is to live the good life of consciously creating with a bunch of friends who love each other and continue to tell each other the truth in order to continually overthrow the antiquated structures of the mind and institutions of society, to build new ones, and to bring about a world that works for everyone today. It will probably be fucked up again tomorrow, but for the time being it works a hell of a lot better than mere tradition, which is mostly just bullshit some other minds came up with a long time ago. It may or may not have worked before, but if it doesn’t work now, forget it. There is nothing holy about tradition.
…We Futilitarians know that it is futile to try to make that story of who we once were be who we are now, particularly since it was bullshit in the first place. We have become aware of ourselves as noticers, and so we don’t give a shit anymore about maintaining the story. We can admit that our psychological history is just that—it’s history. And even though we still try occasionally to make our new life match the old days, we can admit that it is futile.
…We say to each other: “I am a being who notices. I have a particular psychological history, but it doesn’t have to dictate the rest of my life. I can choose how I live, rather than just react from my past the rest of my life.”
…Then we choose, instead of living a life of reaction, to live from a vision in the future. Whenever we want, we can make a new picture of how we would like our lives to be. We can create it with some friends. We don’t have to kill or maim or hurt other folks like us who might have other visions that are different than ours. We no longer have to defend our ideas as ourselves! We no longer have to defend what we used to call ourselves! And we no longer need a defense budget that totally pisses away all the resources of all the people in the world to defend our fictional country!!!
…Visions about the future are fictional. Visions are just pictures created in the now about the future. Most of us don’t live into a vision. Instead we live according to rather vague but mildly anxiety-provoking memories of what must be avoided or recreated from the past. We try to keep from feeling bad and try to make ourselves feel good by making ourselves behave the way we know we should. Both the course of avoidance and the course of visioning are, of course, completely futile. Neither course ever turns out exactly like we imagined. So visions are mostly bullshit, too, but they are less limiting than past memories and a hell of a lot more fun to work on together. And they are more easily revised or dispensed with. And even though they never work out exactly as planned, some interesting approximations do occasionally occur and make us happy in the delusion that we have done something on purpose and it worked! That gives us brief breaks from the tedium of true believership in futility!
…We have developed skill in commitment with detachment. We are utterly committed and completely nonchalant at the same time.
We have undergone the transformation from victim to creator through training each other in noticing and sharing. We have been telling each other the truth about our experience of being here. We have been radically honest about what we have done, what we think and what we feel. We have learned to pay attention first to who and what is present. We have changed our fundamental identities. We are less miserable than we used to be. We are Futilitarians much of the time. We have gone from being people trapped in the jail of our own reactive minds to beings who possess minds to be employed by paying attention and by envisioning a future that is kinder to people, rather than defensive and hostile and controlling. We have concluded that growing up doesn’t just happen once and then you are through with it, but has to recur over and over again on a daily basis and that there is no end to growing until death. And we know it is futile to try to do anything about that.
We know that our minds categorize and recategorize our experience and therefore repeatedly recapture the space of freedom that comes from identifying ourselves as noticers. The mind likes to narrow its options and close itself to new information. Because the mind is always attending to categories from the past, we know it must be repeatedly transcended, through honest contact and deep conversation with each other, if we are to maintain freedom from our own minds and from the jail of dead tradition. We will, of course, fail in this task, because doing it well is completely impossible and it is futile to even try. We enjoy futility.
We have found out that most of us really want the same things. And what most of us want is peace and harmony and love and caring for each other and a chance to be creatively playing with our friends. We now employ our minds to search out the means to support others and ourselves in pursuing the paths that pique our interest and get us what we want. It’s a hell of a lot nicer than fighting all the time. We think it would be heavenly to live in a society organized around the principle of constantly paying attention to children and to the fundamental childlike being of adults.
To keep living this way, we are committed to continually interrupt each other’s minds whenever we get lost in mistaking categories for experience as a substitute for experience itself. We were taught that having the right beliefs was the most important thing in the world. We no longer believe that. We think paying attention is more important than believing.
We are committed to each other and to a common vision of a world where living this way is possible for every human creature on earth. We are bringing this vision into being presently, in how we live and work together, and we are committed to having this transformation for the whole world.
Well, this is what we have come to. In the light of all this revoltin’ development is how I have revised the original best selling book Radical Honesty: How to Transform Your Life by Telling the Truth. The steps into honesty outlined here are the same, but they have been elaborated on—particularly with regard to how to do it in community. I hope you love it even more than you loved the first edition. If so, let me know. If not, let me know.