Thursday, 28 November 2013

MGTOW Ramblings (Part Two) With No Clear Destination (Yet)

What am I doing spending so long around the Manosphere? Getting a proper attitude to women and their role in a man's life. Which is something only the guys in the Manosphere are thinking about. And this is what I'm trying to answer for myself, now, at an age greater than Methuselah's.

No. I am not looking for a partner to share my life with. Unless she's under thirty. And hot. Since that's not going to happen...

There's an ego thing about spending time in the company of attractive women. I'm vain, and shallow. I'll cop to that.

There's pleasure in good conversation with someone who doesn't read their life into my words. I don't do it, and I'm a freaking man with a STEM background and job. People who fancy themselves as therapists, sponsors or as generally insightful are the worst: why would anyone assume I mean what they would mean? But then, I studied philosophy and speak Girl, so I know the first thing you have to so when someone says something is find out what the heck they meant by it. "What's meant Mrs Smith" in the words of Iz in Random Acts of Senseless Violence.

Then there's what I feel when She Who Tugs At My Co-Dependent Heartstrings and I talk. The other day she told met that a horoscope had told her that she would think about someone she knew in a different light. It was all I could do not to say "Yes. For instance me." The reason I know I'm alive is because of the summersaults my insides turn on occasions like that.

Of course I should steer clear of anyone who does that to My Co-Dependent Heartstrings. Especially if we work at the same company, with many of the same people. Getting involved with such people is how I lose control of my life. Being around someone who makes me feel alive is dangerous: it's not a feeling I'm used to.

And that's what a lot of it is about. If I'm a Man Going My Own Way, I need to own that way. I have spent much of my life on the Great Moving Walkway of White Collar Life - not to mention a fair time in the unattractive state of Poor Me, Pour Me another drink - and that may be the first thing I get straight. I'm not going to re-invent my life, though I may make a few changes around the edges. It's more about owning it, not apologising for it, polishing it up and taking it out for a drive.

My Way has been to lead an aesthetic life, to continue to exercise my mind with fairly seriously high levels of mathematics and philosophy, and to exercise my tastes by seeing and hearing as much of contemporary art and music as I can. (I have 8Tracks streaming via my netbook right now and it's playing a track from Homesick by A Day To Remember, which isn't half bad.) It has had its low spots, but most of them were because I thought I should be living a Proper Life, with Purpose, and Ambition, and a Partner with whom I Shared My Life. When I was not being true to my vain, shallow, egotistical, trivial self.

I might not be deep, but I can be delightfully witty, flattering, insincere and very good company for a night. That's what I got, and sometimes, it's what you need.

Now all I need to do is find you.

Monday, 25 November 2013

MGTOW Ramblings (Part One) With No Clear Destination (Yet)

Why the heck is a man my age spending time in the Manosphere? Aside from, it's better than watching television? Well, it's an attempt to make sense of my life. Not the outward life I've lived: there's so little of that it's barely worth thinking about. I mean the chaos and confusion in my head and heart. I've done alcoholic recovery through AA and the 12 Steps, and DA has helped me with my attitudes to money, salaries and quality of life. I've done the SAA questionnaire and that isn't me - and I've heard a few people who do fit it. But the whole girls / sex thing I still don't understand, and the mainstream therapy and psychology industries are so thoroughly corrupted either by the feminist viewpoint (academic psychology) or by the trade imperative to pander to their clients (therapeutic psychology) that there's no help to be found there. The Manosphere is a place where men rant and rave and bang on about the same old stuff and in doing so share experience - enough of it for someone who keeps showing up to have something to work on.

I like the players and PUAs. Damn I wish we'd had Roosh, Krauser and Heartiste when I was a teenager. I think the MGTOWs have the right idea, but I wouldn't withdraw totally from the economy or from the company of women. The Married Men give me another reason to stay single: whatever the heck the benefits of marriage may be, and those are never, ever explained, I'm in severe doubt that they are worth the cost in effort, attention and the Eternal Vigilance of the Alpha Husband. Some of the commentators tell horror stories of being married to women with DSM-V-grade dysfunctions, or who change utterly and for the worse at the menopause, and others just wound up married to shrews. All these are cautionary tales. As ever, of course, happy people are silent: they have no need to share, and a good thing too, because happiness, like success, is a lousy teacher. The evo-psycho stuff is a bunch of post-hoc Just-So stories which have the effect, even if their tellers don't have the intention, of letting women off the moral hook ("it's okay gals, you can be hypergamous bitches, it's in your genes"). I'm with Marx on the primacy of economics and with every legal system in the world on the unavoidability of moral agency in legal adults.

Women who make rude remarks about men and try to shame our desires don't have complicated political, economic or social reasons. It's a nasty act by aggressive and spiteful people who do it for the same reasons anyone does anything aggressive and spiteful: to dominate, control, hurt or humiliate, and above all, to enjoy the feeling of doing so. And that's exactly all it is. Shit tests and infidelity have no evolutionary justification. (Most) chicks dig jerks for the same reason (most) guys dig bad girls: it's a fling with a built-in acceptable escape clause.

One thing I have picked up is that some, perhaps many, men experience the whole sex-women-family-children thing very differently from the way I don't. I can't even guess how a regular guy sees and thinks about the world, but it is very, very different from the way I do. (I would never appoint a married man to any significant management position, because he's demonstrated he does not have the nous to recognise, and the common sense to avoid, one-sided contracts with high exit costs.) Which is why, I guess, I'm a MGTOW (not that you would see much of a Way in my biography).

Other than don't get married, there's no official MGTOW line on women. Danny from 504 is one and lord knows he seems to get laid enough. I find myself wondering what, exactly, my motivation for approaching girls is or indeed ever was. Mark Manson, in Models, says I need to be clear about that or I will come across conflicted and unconvincing. First time around, I kinda nodded, because I thought my motivation was, you know, girls. Now I get what he means.

When I was younger, my motivation was hormones and not wanting to feel lonely. I don't mean get-a-dog lonely, I mean Robert-de-Niro-in-Taxi-Driver lonely.

I thought girls were a way of curing that - except that I never prostrated myself into an LTR or a marriage, so maybe I didn't believe that. Actually, I don't think I had a clue why I did girls. It was something that people did, like going to university (except I knew why I wanted to do that), or getting jobs (that's paying the bills and taxes, right?), and going on holiday (I have no idea - maybe to get away from the shitty weather?), or going out with the lads Saturday night (because that's what you do when you're living the life, right?), or getting your own place (now that makes sense). I thought that if I was getting laid, I must be living a life, and girls were how I got laid and so proved (to myself) that I was living a life. I was not looking for a wife (a what?!?), let alone a mother of my children (I NEVER wanted children). I did girls because from time to time they made themselves available, and they were usually some kind of messed up, because the focussed marrying materialistic kind spotted me for a directionless non-marrying wastrel from way across the room. Which was a drag because I really wanted to fuck some of them. I get they were advancing their life-objectives in avoiding me and choosing guys who worked for oil companies, but I resented the heck out of it for a long time.

I have never thought "Oh, this is what the fuss is about" about sex. I've thought that about food. And movies. And books. And sunsets and dawns. And paintings. (I'd rather have sex than a cup of tea, but then it wasn't until I had fresh BOPF in a small factory in Sri Lanka that I understood what the fuss about tea was.) When I remember sexual episodes, it is as much if not more for the entire experience as for the actual humping. I'm pretty sure I got a one-night stand on Boxing Day one year and there was snow on the ground the next day. I can remember the view from her attic bedroom, but not the actual sex. What I miss is the whole experience, not simply the fucking. And part of that "whole experience" is the sense that I'm living some kind of life, that I'm out of my rut.

Which makes it sound as if, for me, girls and sex are a kind of participation art. Well, there are apparently two hundred and thirty reasons for having sex and I don't see that making art shouldn't be reason number 231. I'm not looking to make a life with whoever it is: I'm looking to make some pleasant moments. (Pauses for sneers about Peter Pan syndrome, heckling from wanna-be PUAs, shaming disguised as "psychology", and suggestions I try therapy. Now do you see why I don't bother talking to anyone about this stuff?)

So why am I not out there? I mean, aside from all the obvious reasons? And the sheer optionality of it all? And the low odds of finding someone who is willing to go with my flow? And this kinda brings me back to all that stuff about low-odds campaigns.

Thursday, 21 November 2013

Music For Being Lost In The City

Another collection of songs with a theme, in this case, London: Soho gets referenced in Pinball, Baker Street by Gerry Rafferty, Belsize Park by Marillion, while Kit Hain never says which city, but since she was London-based, let's assume the Great Wen was her model, and She's Gone is for me forever associated with the sight and smell of roasted chestnuts in winter by Tottenham Court Road underground station. And let's not forget that immortal verse: "Think I'll spend eternity in the city / Let the carbon and monoxide wash my / Thoughts away / And pretty bodies help dissolve the memories / But they can never be / What she was to me". (Today, that's called ONEitis and is a certified psychiatric disorder, but back then it was the natural state of any young man having a hard time with love.)

All of the songs have a mid-tempo beat, three have a saxophone solo, and again for all I know they all feature D minor suspended 6th. All of them are about being in but not of the city, suspended in an emotional state that isn't love or sorrow or despair or anger, but something between all those. These are songs about lost people. Kayleigh, which is a guilty pleasure, is mid-80's, while the others are from the early 1970's.

Monday, 18 November 2013

I Just Heard This Awesome Track - Smallpools, Dreaming

You know how it goes. Someone's mix on 8Tracks is halfway through, and you look up and say "What's this track? These guys are good." These guys are frikkin' awesome... give it a listen.

Thursday, 14 November 2013

Being Mature, Shame Traps and Being A Mensch

Over at The Rawness, they asked over several parts "What is maturity?" And all of them walked straight into the trap. They accepted that the concept had moral freight that could be shame-dumped on transgressors. I say, faced with any concept that gets used to shame people? Screw it. Stop using it and replace it with solid descriptives instead. Who cares what someone else trying to con you into behaving in such-a-way call "mature"? 

You have respect for your body, and so exercise and eat well; you have respect for your mind, and so read challenging non-fiction, and avoids junk culture; you have respect for your soul and emotions, and so choose your friends and acquaintances well - avoiding users, vampires, dis-respectors and other vexatious and turing people; you pay your fair and due taxes, and you pay your due bills; you work in the private sector or in law enforcement, fire-fighting, the military or medicine; you are considerate to the similarly well-behaved, and co-operate with those who bear you no ill-will. Mostly you don't do stuff for free, though you do "give" if you can. You have strong boundaries, and above all, you do not enter into any contract with high exit costs (cf marriage and almost all large outsourcing contracts). 

You do all that, and you will not care if anybody calls you "immature". 

I would add, but this is optional, that you don't identify yourself with the values, traditions and social and religious practices of your family, friends, employer, society or economy. Sure, go along with it to get done what you need to get done, but belief? I don't hide behind religion, culture or any other of Mommy's conceptual skirts to defend what I do or how I feel.

Do all this and you will come across as polite, considerate and co-operative - to those whose behaviour and attitude qualify them. You won't let others spill your feelings all over you, and you won't trouble others with yours either. You are going to come across as pretty darn self-contained and distant, though among friends you will be just the opposite. You will be the guy who, well, when someone falls sick in front of you, you will call for an ambulance and stay with them until it gets there, and then get on with your day.

If you're that guy, do you care what someone else out to shame you counts as "mature"? Thought so.

Monday, 11 November 2013

Song of The Wind

I have had yet another cold / cough / fever over the last few days - I've tried to take a long weekend twice since the start of October and this happens and it is not restful.

So here's a blast from the past. Song of the Wind from Santana's Caravanserai album. I shared a room in my first year at university with a Santana fan who loved this track. It's been many years since I last heard it and how is it exactly than so many memories can be buried in the sound of an organ chord, or the exact way a note gets bent on the guitar?

Listening to it now, I get the feeling it was a jam. The band sets a groove, and Carlos just starts playing. That was how music got made then, and the musicians really were that good - they didn't do anything else but record and tour and play - and they had grown up with the example of the great jazz extemporisers.

Thursday, 7 November 2013

Low-Odds Campaigns (3): An In-Conclusion

(Apologies: this is rambling on much longer than it should, but I didn't have the time to write a shorter post on it.)

I've been arguing that participation in low-odds campaigns breeds an Outsider attitude, where one either has to distance oneself from the process (e.g. job-seeking) or adopt personal goals that are not what the spectators think they are (e.g athletics).

To maintain a low-odds campaign, I need a strong motive and the willingness to alienate myself from the common experience of my friends, acquaintances, and family. This applies to sobriety, exercise, job-seeking, or skill-, knowledge- or culture-acquisition. Even getting girls, when done right, is about detaching my ego (so I can take the rejections) from the pursuit of the goal. It's not about self-discipline, "getting down to it", "getting on with it" or any of those cliches that the Normals use. It's mostly about removing the distractions, which, since "other people" are the main source of distractions, is why it's isolating.

That's why achievers tend to be messed-up, withdrawn and otherwise not one of the guys having the craich Saturday night. Getting good takes time and energy. Survivors are similarly messed-up, withdrawn and otherwise not one of the guys having the craich Saturday night, because what they've been through separates them from all the regular people and their safe, lucky lives. 

Most people don't want to be alienated from their mates and family. They want to hang out with their mates and discuss the exact uselessness of the striker who failed to score; they want to couch-surf Saturday Night TV and discuss the precise merits of the meretricious competitors; they want to feel part-of, even if it's only by feeling the bass from the sound system in the club. If they don't fall into work within about three months, if they don't get a girl after a few tries, they get dispirited. To avoid that, they settle for jobs and girls. They can settle because they don't have highly specific skills or experience, and they don't have high standards for employers or women. Sounds harsh, but the Normals know it's true. Find me one play, film or novel that shows someone becoming good at something or fighting the odds that doesn't lament the "cost" in terms of estranged friends and lost love.

Do we sustain low-odds campaigns because we're Outsiders, or do we become Outsiders because we sustain a low-odds campaign? Outsiders with self-discipline can and will sustain low-odds campaigns. I suggest that being forced into a low-odds campaign often makes Outsiders out of Normals.

What I wanted to do at this point was issue a warning about how turning entry into the basic rites of social and economic participation - employment, marriage, independent living - into low-odds campaigns will lead to social collapse. Of course it does nothing of the sort. What happens is a polarisation. Employers offering high-quality (okay: highly-paid) jobs will maintain, if not raise the standards they are looking for, knowing that they will have plenty of candidates to choose from. The rest will lower their non-essential standards, knowing that people will simply not be willing to make commitments when the expected rewards (probability x salary) are not high enough. These employers don't offer much by way of training, but then they don't ask much by way of qualifications: they are usually looking for the "right fit". If that right fit happens to have a small tattoo on her shoulder which is only visible when she wears a sleeveless summer frock, the employer will wave objections to tattoos - especially if she's doing a back-office job. And if times are bad enough, a special breed of a-hole employers will arise, offering low wages to exactly the kind of sucker they need - as for instance the companies that employ all those kids to process PPI refund applications. No decent person with a choice would do the work, but someone desperate for a job could just convince themselves they have left some key part of their identity somewhere it can't be damaged, and take it. 

The giant corporations still run, but because they aren't the high-paying employers they run with slightly less effectiveness and higher friction than before. The talent-based boutique houses still attract talent, it's just that they also need customer-facing people because the talent can make its own rules - which is why the few customer-friendly creatives and consultants kill in business. I will pass over the public sector - it's a strange land about which I know little and suspect much.

People still try to buy houses and flats even if the prices are stupid high. They still think they have "careers" even if the organisational pyramid is about ten layers from receptionist to CEO. They still chase after marriage even when the divorce rate is forty per cent over twenty years. Boys still chase after girls even when the girls are over-weight and under-charming. Partly because there's no other game in town, and partly because it's the game they grew up with, so it seems normal. Oddly, in some people, this can increase their commitment to the whole crazy system: since they had to work so hard at it, it must be worthwhile. But most people just know they are living in a fake world, which as long as that world feeds them and entertains them and gives them shiny new toys and upholds the myth that they, as individuals, can always make their lives better… as long as that illusion gets maintained, everything works. Until the day it doesn't. 

Outsiders withdraw, participating in the economy but not the society. Normals carry on participating in both. Until the day there are none left, because even the most bloke-y bloke in the sales force has had one too many struggles with what shouldn't be that hard. Then we're all Outsiders. Capital carries on - it always will - though it will look different.

How badly can Capital and State treat their employees and taxpayers until those same customers and voters turn round and stop? I don't know. There are times I think the Normals have an infinite capacity for self-deception and abuse, and the point with Outsiders is that we don't revolt, because we don't care. We're the soldiers who don't shoot at the crowd. 

Monday, 4 November 2013

Low-Odds Campaigns (2): Training Not Winning

There's another way of being an Outsider, and that's to get really good at something. The mindset you need to do it well, and not in an obsessed-tortured-genius manner, is pretty much guaranteed to remove you from Normal.

To the regular spectator, track and field athletics is about who can run fastest, throw furthest, jump highest and generally beat the other guys on the day. It's about winning and it's about records. More than that, it's way better when someone they identify with actually wins. There's a reason athletes get sponsored, and only some of it is because they are at the top of their event. This applies especially to the supporters of the underdogs: it was just the sheer amazingness of being there at all, in the Big Stadium, sharing the track with the legends. For most of history, that's what it was about for the athletes as well. 

Then it all got serious. Coaches and psychologists noticed that most athletes who were motivated by exhortations about beating the other guys, or the glory of taking part in a great event, only went so far. they got discouraged if they didn't make the podium now and again. They wouldn't train or try past the level required to stay on the national team, and after that, what was the point? The top ten are usually better enough and consistent enough to beat everyone but the others in the top ten every time. (this is why someone invented the saying: "it's not the winning that counts, it's the taking part." With the longer careers and increasing demands of the  training and competition schedules - no setting up the hurdles with champagne glasses now -

some other form of motivation was needed. What the psychologists discovered was kaizan  - continuous improvement. An athlete may never be good enough to win, but they can take pride in the fact that their personal best keeps on getting better. Not only that, but sports psychologists suggest that their athletes don't think about the occasion, the crowd or the contest. The athlete is focussed on personal improvement, on the minutiae of technique and maintaining a steady, balanced state of mind that isn't demotivated for months by a loss or sent into a panic by a Big Event, party because there's always another Big Event soon.

Now if that sounds sensible? Now look at the state of mind of the athlete. Their validation comes from their engagement with their own process, not with any of the institutions around athletics. Win or lose on the day, it's about doing as well as they can, and the medals and public applause are not the point. The ultimate athlete wins and wanders back to the changing room, oblivious to the event and the award ceremony. The spectators aren't really watching a competition, but a group training session in which competing and winning is just a by-product.

But isn't winning the point? Most people want a win, they want a payoff: a medal, a round of applause, a stack of cash, a new pair of long legs in the bed Sunday morning, a pay rise or promotion. They want to get high and down and boogie, they want treats and rewards and fungible payoffs. And they want to brag on it with the guys over a pint. 

That illusion that it's really a competition is carefully maintained and hyped for the general public. Athletes are couched by professional PR's to be upbeat, say good things about their rivals and coaches, and make it sound like they care where they finished. But competition is not the point. Training is the point. And that's definitely not how the regular folk see it. They want to focus on the moment of competition, not the weeks of preparation.