Before The Lord Of The Rings, before Kull the Conqueror, before Red Sonja, and before Willow, there was Conan the Barbarian.
I grew up watching Conan, god knows how many times, and through literally hundreds of hours spent digesting its contents I have learned seven very valuable life lessons. In fact, I consider these lessons life changing and this is wisdom I can no longer horde greedily alone in my man cave.
I will share these now with you; prepare yourselves for truth…
7. Say Less
The Croatians call it “proljev usta“. In Germany they call it “Durchfall Mund“. In the west we have an acute case of it, which experts refer to as “diarrhea mouth-ness”. Everyone wants to talk about everything, all the time. While healthy communication skills might be considered that which separates us from the bands of marauding, disenfranchised, rape hungry unicorns, silence can be better than the blow job you got in the closet at church in tenth grade. Maybe.
Conan the Barbarian teaches us this many times over.
Three minutes and thirty-seven seconds of man noise. That’s it.
I’m not a rocket surgeon, but that’s pretty special in my book.
So little chin wagging yet what does he manage to do? Everything. He becomes a master thief, a brilliant warrior and avenges the death of his father and super sexy mother. He even shines ole’ Thulsa Doom on by hacking his head off in a similar fashion to how his MILF was done in the beginning of the film.
In addition to all of that, he also gets the girl, Valeria. How? Obviously not with moves he picked up reading The Game. He’s just an alpha male barbarian with massive pecs, arms and a ridiculously big sword. Sorry skinny guys, chicks like muscle and some quiet time.
6. If she seems too good to be true, she is
We’ve all been there, I know I have: You’ve met an amazing girl and things are great. She’s fun to hang out with, she lets you pick where you two are going to eat, she doesn’t bother you when you hang out with your friends and she doesn’t complain about the aromatic complications of you being on a high-protein diet; she’s totally your type.
Then one day it all goes very wrong.
Our Cimmerian friend has experienced it as well and he demonstrates how to deal with this very real life issue succinctly in the movie.
This exchange can be viewed as a microcosm for so many relationships. The initial meeting. The courting. The engaging conversations. The hot sex in front of the fire.
Then, just as our barbarian brother begins to get comfortable, the woman starts babbling incoherent nonsense then turns into a flesh-eating hell cat and tries to rip his face off.
All of this while they’re naked.
Sounds familiar, doesn’t it? It does for me.
Conan shows us clearly how to handle this situation simply by throwing the lunatic slut into the fire. This is the Hyborian age equivalent of blocking her on Facebook and deleting her on IG. Sure, she might flip out like the she-devil in the video and trans-morph into a blue ball of fire, bounce off the walls and knock over some pictures but then she’s out the door and out of your life.
5. 20 minute anything does not exist
Whenever I am online it’s a constant barrage of advertisements for 20 minute take your pick.
20 minute abs.
20 minute arms.
20 minute chest.
That Asian guy is always trying to tell me how fat he used to be and how doctors and personal trainers hate him because he has all the 20 minute secrets. It’s annoying and what’s more, it’s bullshit.
Here’s the thing: There’s no such thing as a “shortcut” to being huge and ripped. It takes a lot of work, years of training and heavy compound movements. Again, Conan of Cimmeria shows us this with his true life story.
Hey kids, ready for summer camp?
The Wheel of Pain is the “device” that Conan is chained to as a kid at about the age of 9 or 10. Ten years later, that’s ten years later, he is a jacked up maniac super man.
Compound movements. Pushing this thing is chest, triceps, lower back, quads and calves so basically total body and it’s heavy. Also we can deduce that the work load was progressively more intensive. As seen in the video, as time goes on fewer and fewer people are assisting with the clearly arduous task of pushing the wheel hence resulting in a gradually increasing workload on Conan himself.
That’s how you build lean mass; heavy loads, gradually increasing over time; week-in and week-out for several years.
This is important for life. Too many people are looking for the short cut and the easy way out. For that which is most worth having in life two things are almost always necessary; Risk and Commitment.
Throw in some forced marches, beatings and a slave trader shooting primabolin in your butt, because it’s hard for you to reach your glutes while chained to the original nautilus machine, and you have a powerful Alpha male physic, the envy of gay lords and “natty” bodybuilders the world over.
4. Know People
The standard image of Conan of Cimmeria would be that of a loner. The lone wolf traveling the world in sandaled feet; broad sword always near by. Asking nothing from others and living by his own means.
Is the Barbarian a loner? Yes and No.
Perhaps he likes to think he is. But we also see him continuously adopt other so-called loners as friends throughout his epic journey.
In this clip, we see Conan meet and free the thief and archer known as Subotai.
Not only does Conan free him, but Subotai and he travel together and set up a fairly enterprising little B&E operation and sack the Temple of Set grabbing the “eye of the serpent”. That makes them pretty fast friends if you ask me. Conan released him from his chains for no other reason it seems, than for a bit of company and good thing he did because when Conan is hanging from “The Tree of Woe” , chomping on bird neck, compliments of Thulsa Doom , it’s Subotai that comes prancing over the hills to his rescue.
Pays to have friends. Real ones.
Next, there is “the Wizard”, expertly portrayed by Mako, who not only tells him the way to Thulsa Doom’s “Mountain of Power”, but actually performs a goddamned dangerous magical ritual to bring him back from the dead.
The point is to know people and have friends, genuine friends. If you take stock and come to the conclusion that your life is for whatever reason devoid of these, maybe you should start out by being open to new people in the oddest of circumstances. Also, make sure to balance out your party with a thief and at least one magic user in addition to the Barbarian and the rogue or you’re fucked when you get further into the adventure.
Conversely however, you should remember to…
3. Trust No One
In this life, if you want to get something genuinely amazing done, if you want to accomplish something beyond what is considered reasonable, in short if you want to be outstanding, you will usually have to do this alone.
This is because most people you know are lazy, tired and bitter; in that order.
From a very early age our Cimmerian is taught this by his father, albeit with different words and cloaked in a religious fable.
So, lets ask ourselves, “What is the riddle of steel?”
At this point it doesn’t matter. Nothing matters if you’re totally committed and fully believe in what you are doing; believing in something: a cause, a dream or just yourself. Belief that something can and will happen is what propels us forward. Also, it is necessary for this inspiration to come from within you. For something to be a true calling, it has to be forged by your own hand, it cannot simply be cookie cutter or canned material cynically spit at you from some trumped up authority figure. This is another point within his fathers lecture: Follow only yourself. Do not trust others to help you, enlighten you or support you. It is perfectly possible, despite where you took them, what you gave them or what you did for them that in the end, they will turn their backs on you.
Don’t believe me?
2. STUFF is not important
“Civilization” has two pillars upon which it stands and nurturing this obsessive desire to have more; more money, more possessions or more physical things, is one of them. It’s the proverbial, age-old rat race and denouncing it is the second most profound message found in Conan the Barbarian.
In life, be it here and now, or in the Hyborean age, there are certain things we need to live comfortably. But these things do not need to cost a fortune and they shouldn’t require the surrender of the majority of our lives and dignity to obtain them. Our obsession with junk we do not need is a sickness that has locked us all into a scheme that smothers us and leaves us feeling barren, lost and unfulfilled. Why? Because however much you get, the world you exist in is constantly taking it away and showing you someone who has more than you. It’s an endless cycle and no matter how high you climb, you just get deeper into the hole. King Osric preaches truth below.
Also, if one watches this tale of life closely, in the beginning we see Conan’s village in Cimmeria. It seems to be a peaceful, productive place with various parties engaged in various forms of labor. A little more research reveals to us, based on the Conan books written in the 1930’s by Robert Howard, that in Cimmeria “no man or woman went hungry, yet no one had more than they needed.” In addition to that, based on the way Conan’s super hot mother handles a broad sword and keeps a cool head under the pressure of a bloody massacre, the women of the village had training as well. This all points to a collective commune type existence and before the inhabitants are all but wiped out, it seems a very tolerable place to live.
Conversely, the wealthy and powerful King Osric’s throne room is a dank, dreary old place that nobody would seem to be comfortable in. Surrounded by riches, he is a man drowning in them.
The conclusion this tale draws for us is simple: Eliminate the unnecessary.
The things you own end up owning you.
1. Destroy the System; Define yourself
No other theme is so strongly apparent in the tale of our melancholic Cimmerian than that of Anarchism. From the beginning to the end it is the destruction and abandonment of one system, designed by someone else and imposed, after another.
In the previous point we talked about the two pillars of “civilization” and this is the second one: control of the masses by the elite. The destruction of mechanisms of control becomes a central theme in the film early on.
Conan’s evolution is almost a metaphor for the path of every man. He is born in a sort of anarcho-primitivist-commune; in Cimmeria all people rule together, labor is equally distributed even among men and women, few go hungry unless all go hungry and it seems logical to assume the concepts of “policing” or “taxation” would be laughably absurd. He is born pure.
This primitive existence is stripped away when Thulsa Doom and his troop of pranksters show up and murder everyone, having Conan’s father mauled to death by dogs and his mother stylishly beheaded. He is then taken south and chained to the wheel of pain. He is now a slave, the bottom rung on “civilizations” ladder.
Ten years later Conan is purchased by a man with amazing red hair and is thrown into the pits as a gladiator. Again he exists on the fringes of society killing other slaves for the crowds amusement and the financial gain of his owner. Decadent? Yes, but Conan embraces it with a nihilistic approach explaining that to him it meant nothing.
It makes perfect sense that after losing everything and enduring the numbing ordeal of ten years forced labor that Conan would become a nihilist.
But this is not where he stays. Although anarchism and nihilism might go to the same parties this doesn’t mean they are room mates.
Conan is soon released from bondage by the man with amazing red hair and after some escaping from wolves and finding of old swords he becomes a thief, ostensibly under the tutelage of Subotai. During their travels Conan consistently remarks about his negative impressions of developed areas and “civilization”. And although they embark on a stealing frenzy, while stealing the “Eye of the Serpent” we learn that in fact, Conan still longs to find those that destroyed his village. Instead of mere revenge, it seems more likely that what he is seeking is some sort of understanding. This is not nihilism.
Finally, after a failed attempt at infiltrating Thulsa Doom’s organization, the pivotal point in the story arrives. Thulsa Doom and Conan discuss the “Riddle of Steel” and the nature of power.
This is, for all intents and purposes the answer to the “Riddle of Steel”. After this, his crucifixion and subsequent resurrection Conan himself embraces this philosophy and turns his back on all but himself and his belief in one man’s ability to be extraordinary without structures but simply through his actions.
While he and his gang of fun-loving rogues infiltrate Doom’s temple, we see the full decadence and decay propagated by the system and its leaders in the form of a massive cannibal soup orgy at which, ole’ Thulsa Doom morphs into a big goddamned snake: Man’s enemy since the expulsion from Eden.
From the pure and innocent beginnings of a primitive snow-covered forest village to the debauched apex of civilization, what comes next almost seems a foregone conclusion.
Having all his questions answered Conan now turns to simple actions (revenge) and finally the most symbolic act of system deconstruction, the beheading of Doom in front of his followers at the mountain of power.
Not only does he kill Doom, but he resists, he fights against and wins the battle for mental control that his mother, and clearly hundreds of thousands of Doom’s followers have lost, and then decapitates the shit out of him. Conan then holds the head high for all to see, re-enforcing his disregard for the authority figures (priests, clerics, teachers, presidents, police, meter-maids, celebrity figures etc) the system imposes on us before throwing it down the stairs of the temple, then, chucking a lantern into the place and burning it to the ground.
A total and complete analogy for the abandonment if not the complete destruction of systems of power that intend to force laws, codes, rules or even thoughts upon us.
A more clear message would be hard to find and even harder to convey.
Be like Conan friends.
Crush your enemies, see them driven before you and read more by GAIJINASS:
|Interview with a Dominatrix||Groper Train||7 English loan words that are totally dirty||White woman, Japan sex||Japan’s Nuclear Weapons|
I too grew up watching Conan (movies and more). I read some of the comics, watched some of the cartoon, and later on the television series. I also got into the Robert E. Howard novels.
Which if you get them unmolested by L. Sprague DeCamp, then Conan is a barbarian. Not a hero, a frikin promise not to burn the village down in return for some mating time with the best the village has to offer, then loot and burn it anyway afterward. Good stuff. If L.S.DeCamp (wow just realized how close that Jackass is to being LSD) got his weasely fingers on the version you are reading then Conan is a hero and thus a barbarian only in name. The subtle word changes and such are like the difference between the Conan movie and the cartoon.
Anyway this was a damn good article. Damn good. Full of some good lessons. So, I might as well list of how I have managed to see such lessons in this great work and totally get them wrong…
7.) I used to be fairly quiet and not open my mouth unless I really needed to. It worked out great for me. It wasn’t broke, but I chose to fix it. At some point I said F*** it all and just started babeling. I was in my early twenties and just started saying whatever popped into my head. Haven’t shut up since. I had some good reasoning for this, but haven’t been sleeping to well. This all means that right now my reasoning escapes me and the best I can think of is maybe some part of me wants knocked the F*** out. I hope to someday recapture the ability to keep my damn fool mouth shut.
6.) Well… this one is a bit of an apocolyptical event in my life… Trying to adjust and get it all fixed. Easiet way to put it is all of us men should pay our respects to the goddess Khali now and then. No one can turn a man into a complete wreck and ruin like a woman. Unless you are homosexually inclined, there is at least a handful of women out there who could easily crush you no matter how great a man you are. I will stop #6 here before I incur the wrath of Khali (take that $#!+ seriously).
5.) I was losing weight. Then a few weeks ago I discovered mountain dew and dorittos flavored cupcakes. I have managed to stretch my stomach to a very bulbous state in a short amount of time and layered on some fat. That aside I wasn’t exactly muscular before the cupcakes, The grass allergy I developed around 12 or 13 that got to crippling proportions around 18 shot the best damn workout routine I could ask for. It shot that horse dead. See when I can be outdoors I don’t hold still. Camping, canoeing, hiking, backpacking, on and on etc. etc. Muscle aches go unoticed till I colapse just as the sun is coming up only to wake a few hours later lacking sleep. Back then sleep got in the way of enjoying nature (other than spiders F*** spiders). I need to get my own place and set up a treadmill and stairmaster (both with cupholders for liqour) and a nice T.V. & Suround sound system and put on some sort of nature dvd and I could walk for days without stopping. The best (damn workout without nature) is to set whichever machine (stairs or tread) you get on for the most erratic workout going from baby crawl to run its a cloud of Suzumebachi! and all over the damn place in between at random. Stay on that machine at that setting for about 15 min then hit the other and do the same. Next comes the fun part. Hop off and try to run as fast as you can on flat ground in a straight line. Your equilibrium is all messed up and you slam right down onto your side. Its hillarious. I used to use the highschool gym (back in highschool obviously) for this workout and would do it over and over just for kicks.
4.) This one was going great till about 5 years ago. My life just got too messed up and don’t want to be a downer, so I avoid even people I find interesting. I plan on fixing this at some point. The never shutting up had gotten me a ton of friends. I guess if you talk enough some of its bound to be interesting. Although when I get this back on the right track I would prefer a small circle of friends and I don’t plan on talking near as much as I do now.
3.) Well I suck at this one. I am gullable as all hell. I kind of counter it at times with my natural paranoia of just about everything. Still they don’t really balance out as neither seems to kick in at the correct time.
2.) This one I fail at bigtime. When you grow up being bought stuff cause your parents kicked the crap out of you and went a bit overboard…(not so much hush money but more like hush toys and later hush items when grown out of toys) you tend to get attached to stuff. They would also buy things to keep me occupied and from talking to them on days/nights they couldn’t find a babysitter (some of those baby sitters where a bit harsh… being locked in a small closet in the dark only taken out to be force fed peas [I still hate peas] and bathe by having water poured over you really fast with no attention paid to the words “warn me when your gonna do that you got shampoo in my eyes…stop with the pouring a bucket of water on me like that I am choking…at least let me get some air between buckets of water” (I also had rather severe asthma at the time). So, I tend to attach getting things with … I don’t really know what I just am greedy as heck and am always battling that to become less greedy and attached to stuff. Making progress.
1.) Well I do kind of find myself destroying groups from within, whenever I am in a large group. I even do it with friends. I had even defined myself. Did a bit of crazy live how I want and worry about it later. Somewhere I fell off of that train and got left in the dust. I am not even really sure who I am anymore.
Oh and the telemarketing picture…people try to kill you with words on the phones and the management tries to use negative reinforcement to guilt you into sales by convincing you that you are the worst human being in history and top it all off with worker rights violations like being written up for using the rest room and told to work off clock or you’re fired. Threaten to do anything about it and they just replace you. Sue and they just pay some small amount that your lawyer eats up. Yeah telemarketing… add spiders and you have hell on earth.
Anyway when I started this reply there were no comments yet. Lets post this and see if I pull off first comment. That is my way of saying “Yes I realize I have typed well beyond the point of no return and this probably stopped being interesting midway through the first sentence. If you are reading this then I have kept you hostage long enough.
I read all your comments. In fact, I am planning to collect them all and publish an E-book. “Potzo the Master of Comments”.
Master of comments? G** Damn it that is a lot of pressure.
You will NOT fold under it. I have faith.
Appreciate this writeup. The Conan film made me feel really powerful when I saw it, it seemed like it was teaching me something, but this really breaks it down and explains it perfectly.
Really agree with the “diarrhea of the mouth” part. My dad is great and taught me not to talk too much, and to think before you talk. As I get older, I’m getting better at speaking efficiently, but at the same time, everyone demands that I say more.
But as I typed this, after reading your post and thinking about Conan, I realized that Conan could speak so little because he did so much. Ah ha. So I should be doing more.
Action is paramount. A theme fairly regular here on GJS. Thanks for the comment.
I Loved Clint’s Spaghetti westerns cuz I didn’t know his name and he shot folks…almost everyone. Insult his mule? eat a bullet with 5 of your friends.
I really really want him to do an expendables film just to see him shoot someone for insulting his chair. Republicans really fucked themselves…dude has always been a right leaning Libertarian why in the fuck would he NOT bork everything? When he asked for the chair they shoulda known…something bad is gonna happen…it’s Clint motherfucking Eastwood bitches! He made a go fuck yourself joke while Romney’s wife had a fucking heart attack.
Bill Maher who is as left as they come seemed to get the joke well which few others did. He doesn’t like Goverment…Liber fuckingleavemealone…tarian.
We welcome rants…we welcome rants.
…and enjoy them. Let loose your inner beast.
I think Conan would have liked that Potzo.
Eric…..I can not start talking about this movie….you know this. I have way too much shit to do. But I will give everyone this. Conan’s sword….the inscription says “Suffer no guilt, ye who wield this in the name of Crom.”
Perfectly selected actors for each part in that movie. I think we used to watch it at least once a week man. I have probably seen that movie 700 or 800 times.
Well said. Amazing movie. After writing this I want to watch it again.
Man that is one beefy piece of writing.
Cheers for that.
Bout time my lazy-ass read some gaijinass!
“We don’t rise to the level of our expectations, we fall to the level of our training.” Though not a barbarian, Archilochus and Conan could have gotten along, at least until their 2nd beer.
Netflix has Gaijinass to thank for the recent spike in films featuring the former Gov. Well done Gaijinass, well done.
ah good old heartland the place where really scrawny awkward english teachers suddenly feel macho by being surrounded by small japanese females and alcohol, its a spectacle to witness especially when they try to get big on a my friend and I during leave, and we both are military dudes whose job is to lift lots of heavy shit for a living and whose usual aggressors are other angry and mostly larger GI’s…. it was more entertaining than irritating.
Heartland is a fucking joke. I started cut my teeth good in Okinawa in 2000 with three Airforce Senior enlisted that didn’t like what me and mine were singing at Karaoke. It all ended with my SGT screaming “Dragem outside, Dragem outside!” and folding chair to the head X 3. The ole days.
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Excellent post. Funny and great references. Conan films definitely inspired me in the 80s, much like Steve Reeves did with the previous generation, to hit the gym and get big, hard, and tough. It’s probably hard to see films like these now out of context and appreciate the note they struck. There just wasn’t anything like Arnold as Conan before in film.
There really hasn’t been anything since, either. This movie is great because it takes itself completely seriously. This could be down back then. Today, this theme, this story and this extreme expression of masculinity must be served up with multiple doses of cyniscim and a generally jaded snark. We are just too cool now, apparently (think NOAH).
LOL! I must watch this. I love watching Arnold S. ex California governor a lot! I can’t wait.
Oh and trust no one. Do not under any circumstances speak your true mind to anyone you don’t trust.
But the problem is, even though the above are the codes I live by, by the collaboration of those lazy, tired, and bitter people and mechanism of game theory, those who are trying to live by that code are destined to lose. It’s sad, but it’s true.
So the emphasis should be on “trust no one”, and you should stay vigilant. And trust your gut instinct – if something seems shady, feels shady, and the people involved in it are all shady people, it probably is shady.