I think savagery is underrated. We talk so much about personal development and refinement that what gets lost is that other part of ourselves, the darker, animalistic part. “Inspiration” is so much cleaner and less objectionable that it’s all we want to focus on. I’ve never been one for convention, so I’ll say what needs to be said here. Being savage is a good thing.
Let me be clear, what I’m not talking about are the kind of evil people who inflict harm on others. Or rely on physical intimidation for their success. There is little excuse for that in today’s world. What I’m talking about is a kind of self-directed savagery in a contained setting. When William Hazlitt was talking about the “wild beast resuming its sway within us” he was condemning the mob/tribe mentality, but I think it can also be a positive motivational factor.
I think about savagery when I go out and run–after hours of work, weeks of it in a row–every single day in the Louisiana heat. I enjoy sweating so hard it stings my eyes. I smile if I catch myself teetering a little bit towards the end. I’m not running for exercise, I’m running because there is a part of me that is a little bit savage. And I give it free reign and I benefit from it. There is savagery in juijitsu, which I do 4-5 days a week when I’m not traveling. There’s something savage about getting destroyed round after round and the fact that I keep coming back for more. I suppose I could get better faster by reading and studying but I think it’s better to do it this way. I go to get my ass kicked for a reason, and it doesn’t bother me that I do. I relish it a little bit. And mostly I learn from it.
In 19th century dog fighting, bull dogs weren’t the strongest or most aggressive dogs, but the fat and extra skin around their neck made it harder for other dogs to tear their throat out. Dogs could clamp down on it, but they couldn’t kill. That’s fucking savage. There’s a lesson there.
You don’t have to be the best, you just have to be harder to destroy. You have to be relentless. Indefatigable. Sometimes, to get in the right position, you have to be able to absorb a lot of blows. You’ve got to know you’re taking hits for a reason, and have the tolerance and endurance to bear it. If you can actually enjoy and seek out that process? Well, then you’re a fucking savage. And you’re going to be very successful.