Monday, 30 December 2013

What Worked (and Didn't Work) For Me in 2013

Here's what worked...
Alternating swimming and training days (when I don't have a cough and cold)
Increasing the weights on at least one exercise each week
Having a snack around 10:30 (Mr City) and a takeaway burger (Byron Shoreditch) at 1:30
Magnesium spray to ease muscles
Monthly Thai Massage (so why did I stop halfway through the year?)
Weekends away with people (Lisbon, Rome, Amsterdam)
Having a locker at the gym to store a change of clothes
Wearing only blue shirts
Wearing tight tee-shirts to make the shirt fit better
Taking job interviews and finding out I was getting a better quality of a life where I am
"Sticking to the knitting" at work
Putting progressive and underground house on the iPhone

Here's what didn't...
Not having a holiday for the first six months of the year
Not going to the movies for weeks at a time
Putting on weight - about four kilos
Staying in every time the weather was cold, grey and rainy - which was a lot
Not learning any new SAS or R this year
Interviewing for "data scientist" roles for me
Trying to get to bed at 21:30 every night - really cramped my evenings
Reading-all-my-favourite blogs as the default activity - time sink

Monday, 23 December 2013

All Hail The Reverend Lawrence Shannon

So there was an article on Return of Kings about this book, written by the Reverend Lawrence Shannon.  It's sharp, hyperbolic, the distilled essence of everything Rollo Tomassi, MGTOW and others are saying, so much so that I began to wonder if all the Manosphere theorists who weren't PUAs or Married Men were just re-cycling it. It was first published in 1985 and has been re-printed since, but not since 1997.

It's everything I and every other born bachelor believes about women, marriage and dating. I have believed something like it ever since I was about, oh, probably five months old. And you know what?

About half-way through, I realised I didn't give a flying toss whether the Rev Shannon was a raving misogynist, a bitter loser who lives in his sister's basement, or any other of those shaming namings. He was saying what I had always known, and he was saying it out loud and proud.

At that point it hit me: we born bachelors are simply genetically different from you married chumps. Sorry, but with a few exceptions (like maybe Roman Abramovich and Barak Obama) that's how we think about you. What you have done is literally incomprehensible to us. Self-harm, anorexia... and getting married. It's so incomprehensible we assume that you simply don't share the same values, no, it's more fundamental than that, you don't have the same hormone soup and brain structure as us. If we were scrawny green plants with yellow flowers, botanists would deem us different species (there are a lot of species of scrawny green plants with yellow flowers).

Am I kidding when I say it's genetic? Let me see if I can explain this. Not even in the alcohol-soaked depths of the most awful depression and self-pity did I ever think that that marriage would make it better. Not even in my most Gamma moments of guilt-for-being-me did I ever think that I should get married to prove I was a Real Man. Every time I heard people talking or read people writing about how I should be making commitments to women, getting married, having children, how maybe I was gay because I wasn't chasing after a bride (oh yes, but that was back in the Bad Old never-you-minds), how I was shallow and empty because I wasn't sharing my life with a special someone, and yadda yadda yadda... I would wonder why they were lying to me. I never day-dreamed about a house, a wife and mother of my children. I day-dreamed about my future when I was a young boy, of course I did, but it never included a wife and children. Any more than it included a Bengal tiger. There has never been a time in my life when I thought marriage, or even a live-in, would be a life-improving thing to do. No matter what I might have said, thought, felt, or said I thought or felt, I was no more likely to get married than I was to jump out of a fifth-floor window. I could no more do it than a sailor could piss into the wind. It's a reflex, not a policy.

So here's the Rev Shannon on what amounts to MGTOW:
Q. Having been single a long time, I nearly married one of our corporate attorneys last year when I was thirty six. I was rescued solely by the accidental discovery that she was occasionally sleeping with her uncle in New York. But for that windfall, I would have been trapped and put on exhibit in the public square with other married men. I am now happily resigned to remaining off the playing field, watching the fracas from the bleachers and, if a truly remarkable female makes her debut, running down for a quick scrimmage. I would suggest this alternative to anyone who is tired of the daily slamming of heads—the frantic grinding that occurs in the field.

A. You have arrived at the eventual hiding place of most men who have experienced the predatory female, learned something, but still enjoy the game. Most, like yourself, prefer the exhilarating breath of freedom to the sack cloth and ashes that accompany a "commitment." In the end, a predatory female, no matter how beautiful, will always be the succubus: exciting, momentarily thrilling, mesmerizing—but dangerous as a green mamba.
Here's the Rev Shannon on the Good Life:
Condition yourself physically and mentally. Most people look like gunnysacks full of doorknobs. This is partially due to heavy doses of dependency on predatory females. Work out every day and get yourself into good physical shape. Take up a sport and start running. Do what predatory females have done for thousands of years — concentrate completely on yourself. Rid your mind of the garbage dumped into it by the matriarchal society. Occupy it instead with good books, films, and a hobby that benefits you, that you enjoy. If you get horny, don't play the matriarchal society's hackneyed dating game, RENT a woman. For two or three hundred dollars you can rent a sexual partner skilled enough to turn you into a boiled chicken. Spare yourself the tedious sales pitch that accompanies dating. There is no such thing as a free lunch, period.
Damn right - though I don't have the money for prostitutes of that calibre. Reading the Rev Shannon caused me to laugh aloud. Here was someone else saying with zero apology what I have always felt I couldn't say to others. I could quote the whole damn book, I don't think there's one single thing I seriously disagree with. I have been walking around with a lighter heart ever since.

Friday, 20 December 2013

Across London Part 124

Brushfield Street on one side of Spitalfields Market; more Gherkin; the Nido student building in the fog; a plastic reindeer at one end of Exchange Sq; St James' Park one Sunday afternoon; actual reindeer at the top of St Johns Wood High Street for a charity fair; the only tree anywhere near my house that fell over during the last Big Gale; through the ICA cafe windows; the Space Painting by Zhang Enli at the ICA.

Monday, 16 December 2013

Review: Jeune et Jolie

You will know from your attendance at Political Correctness 101 that films about prostitution must portray the men as creeps, abusers and preferably violent with it, while the prostitute must be portrayed as a victim of deception, drugs, economic injustice, male violence or, and this is risky, as a plucky single mother making a living the only way she can (before realising the error of her ways, cleaning up and getting a job as an out-reach worker). Prostitution is about providing men with sex, and that means eeeuuuugh! men! and even more eeeeuuuugh! hetero-sex. The central question the film-maker must address is why the heroine would do anything so icky and degrading as, you know, have sex. With men. Who aren't hot. Because disgusting. And Patriarchy. And Girls Are Victims. Of Everything.

So now let's proceed to the film review. Jeune et Joli is a film about a 17-year old girl, Isabelle, who looks a lot like Marine Vacth, who sets up as a part-time prostitute in her Year 13. She loses her virginity to a fit-looking but shallow German boy during the summer holiday, and then, prompted by a) a slightly creepy guy who approaches her after school and gives her his number, and b) what must by now be the annual TV documentary about undergraduates and prostitution, sets up online as a call-girl. Her clients are variously creepy, old, fat and middle-aged, and okay and middle-aged. She charges 300 euros an hour, which certain websites in this country will confirm is pretty much what a girl who looked like Marine Vacth could charge. This bit puzzled the critics: she puts the money in a zip-case in her wardrobe and doesn't spend a euro. (That is Ozon cutting off cliched explanations.

The old guy dies on her mid-act. She scarpers from the hotel. The Police catch up and break the news to her mother, whose reactions are a study in female solipsism, but not more so than we would expect. Anyone Blaming The Family is pushing it.

There's some attempt towards the end at psychological explanation with the legally-compulsory therapist. I found these unconvincing, and I think we are supposed to: again, it's Ozon cutting us off from cliched explanations.

There's also some attempt to suggest that charging 300 euros an hour improves her sense of worth and social confidence, which is most convincing as she walks through a house party full of teenagers doing drunken teenage-y things, and smiles at it all with the air of someone who Knows Way Better. I could buy that as the reaction of a teenage girl in that situation, and therefore as writerly accuracy, but not as authorial assertion. Otherwise Ozon is offering us prostitution as self-development, and I'm going to guess he doesn't believe that any more than I do.

All the critics mention Belle du Jour Of course they do. Ozon even does a visual quote from Bunuel's film to mis-direct them.

(Intentionally misleading visual quote)

But of course they shouldn't. What they should mention is Bonjour Tristesse another novel / film about an amoral young woman. Written in the 1950's it couldn't make its heroine a hooker, so she simply causes a middle-aged lover of her father to commit suicide by bad driving so she and Daddy can go back to being empty hedonists. Real cute kid huh? Oh, and nobody asked why she did that because they were all grown up enough to know why.

Ozon is assuming that we are all grown-up enough to know why Isabelle did it. Teenage girl, hot, and because for Isabelle there's no oxytocin to create spurious bonding and confusing emotions. She did it because she could: the motive of the powerful at all times and everywhere. And that's what breaks every rule you learned in PC 101.

The final bit has Charlotte Rampling as Dead Guy's wife meeting Isabelle to exorcise demons by visiting the room he died in. I wondered about that scene for a while. I kept expecting Rampling to put a knife through Vacth. But no. Instead, she's the only person who actually seems to understand anything about Isabelle. And certainly the only one who shows her any kindness. But then, Rampling's character is a grown-up woman who only exists in movies. She's the real fantasy figure, not Isabelle.

Flip the PC police the bird. Go see it

Thursday, 12 December 2013

Shadows in the City Fog

It's been foggy everywhere, and Wednesday it lasted in the City until lunchtime. At a certain spot in Spitalfields Market, everyone was looking in the Gherkin / Heron Tower direction at this...

... easily the most beautiful sight I've seen since moving to Bishopsgate. That's the Heron Tower on the right, and on the left is the shadow of the Gherkin cast in the fog. The Gherkin is in front of its shadow and about half the size. Everyone had their phones out to snap it. Click to enlarge it's worth it.

Monday, 9 December 2013

Don't Be Scared Of Growing Old Alone

(This kinda follows on from the previous post)

I've read younger Manosphere commentators make remarks along the lines of "you don't want to wind up old and lonely with no one to look after you". When I was their age, I felt the same way. It's a middle-aged man's fear. It's not an older man's fear - it's not mine. Hell, when I die, no-one will know until the neighbours complain about the smell, and that won't be my problem. I'll be dead. That does not scare me in the slightest.

I'll tell you what scares me. Growing so old I wind up in hospital and then some fucking old person's council home, while some social worker tries to set aside my will and sell the house to a builder who gives them a kickback. And that shit happens whether you have children or partners or not. With luck, something will get me first. I have no desire to live past an age I can't earn money anymore.

I'll tell you what I'm grateful for. Not spending my last years with an old woman whose company I do not enjoy and who is dragging me down. Who is cranky, insecure, full of regrets and bitter. Which is not going to happen to you because your married life is going to be a success. And because you are married to an ex-ballet dancer who is now teaching Pilates? Wait. You're not? Shame. Because they are almost the only ones who stay in shape. When you think in terms of having "someone to grow old with", you are making a huge, huge, assumption that you are going to enjoy their company. The odds are not good. Forty per cent of you are going to be divorced (one or more times) and so single in your old age anyway, and where did you get the idea that the other sixty per cent were happy with each other? Not from observation of the real world.

Don't worry about growing old and being single. You will be physically fit and mentally agile. You will be working out, reading great books for men, learning new stuff for work, maybe travelling. You may or may not have friends and a network. You will be working anyway because you won't have a pension, and so you will be surrounded by people five days a week. You won't be able to party like you used to, you won't be as driven to chase girls, you will wake up in the middle of the night to take a piss, and morning wood will be a rarity, but that's about all the differences you will notice from when you were forty.

Don't worry about being old and single. Worry about being old and married.

Thursday, 5 December 2013

I Guess I've Always Wanted...

aka (MGTOW Ramblings With A Conclusion, Even)

And I keep forgetting: I don't do oxytocin, vasopressin, endorphins and all that other feel-good bonding stuff. If you spent a month in my hormonal soup you would come out asking "For the sake of God and all his Angels, is there ever one moment of your life when you ever feel just plain good? Or even frikkin' okay?" That would be a big NO. Sex is just never going to be fireworks and mystical union.

What I've been dancing round is the possibility that I may never have an intimate relationship again, and that because I would prefer to be single than be accompanied by a woman who makes me look old. Vanity, sure. It's also a hard-headed recognition that whatever the frak "intimacy" means to you, it means nothing of the sort, and indeed nothing of any sort, to me because it requires hormones I don't make or respond to. And those I do make are associated with frakked-up co-dependent feelings I need to avoid the same way I need to avoid booze and drugs.

That's a bunch of decisions there. That's a bunch of consequences as well, some of them a little hard to take. How much easier it would be to quote a line like "that sound you hear at fifty-five is the door slamming shut on your sex life" or to bemoan my lack of fame, power and wealth. Or to say something pious about "a man who reaches my age should / shouldn't (insert whatever here)". Lamenting my logistical situation is really just excusify-ing.

I never did feel desire. The attraction I did feel was for all the wrong reasons. I managed to have sex on a cocktail of testosterone, booze and neurotic emotion. All those have more or less passed, and thank god, in most cases (I could take back the testosterone though).

I'm never going to stop looking at women and I'm never going to stop flirting with the bangable ones either. And I suppose if I ever met one who wants what I got - delightfully witty, flattering, insincere and very good company for a night - then I would be quite happy to spend that time. But put a lot of effort into it? I don't think so. Maybe put a little more effort into it than I do? Okay. I could do that.

On the other hand, these songs have always been special to me...

and of course

You know why those guitar solos are so right for that song? Because although the singer is saying that though they will give up on love, because "time and time again the chance for love has passed me by / and all I know of love is how to live without it... I'l say goodbye to love", they will not give up on life and living. That's what those two defiant, soaring solos are there to prove, that there is a way of living a life of passion and emotion even if it doesn't involve conventional "love".

Monday, 2 December 2013

October / November 2013 Review

I missed a month. I had a cold. Actually I had two colds. One on the first long weekend I took off, and one on the second. Since the second, in November, I have been taking Zinc, Vitamin D, 2xDay Nurse first thing to help keep the coughing down and until the last week, Night Nurse to sleep.

I've seen Zizek's The Pervert's Guide To Ideology and the documentary Cutie and The Boxer at the ICA; Hannah Arednt, Fifth Estate, Blue Jasmine, Muscle Shoals, Seduced and Abandoned and the Curzons; and Thanks For Sharing, Machete Kills, Captain Phillips, and The Counsellor at the local Cineworld. Also Wayne McGregor's Atoms and Hofesh Schecter's latest at Sadler's Wells. I read several volumes of the amazing Transmetropolitan, The Theory That Would Not Die, Antifragile, The Signal And The Noise, Tokyo Vice, Information Is Beautiful and Gustave Caillebotte: An Impressionist and Photography. I also took another lap round Kendig's A Guide to Plane Algebraic Curves and the fun bits around Hirzbruch-Riemman-Roch in Gathmann's lecture notes on Algebraic Geometry.

My training has been erratic, so I've switched to doing two sets and more but shorter sessions. Plus each week I have to increase the weight on something I'm doing, or add in a new exercise. So over the two months I've reached 132lbs on dead-lift, comfortably, just hit 165 lbs bench-press without a spot, and have reduced the support I use for pull-ups to... no, that's embarrassing. And added Turkish get-ups. As ever, call me when you're my age and doing those weights.


Sis and I dined at Picture in November - if I had money I would seriously book a seat at the bar twice a week at least - and had our annual visit to Rules in October, where we dined on Bambi - Roe Deer, and very nice it was too. I went to a farewell supper at Floridita for Renata, who's now left the Third Space to go travelling for a while.

Plus work gave us a team-building trip up and down from the London Eye pier to Canary Wharf and back on one of those whizzy boats, followed by some time up the Shard, though the visibility was not so good: that was the annual jolly.

All I can really remember is coughing, clearing my nose, and not wanting to leave the house for the last two or three weekends. I didn't even go training the on the last couple of Sundays. Hence the increased weekly schedule. One reason to do these things is to remind myself that it wasn't all a loss. I'm making good progress with the Riemann-Roch essay, though it's hard getting consistent time to work on it, as Saturdays really are just turning into serious days of rest. Until I do the ironing in the evening. Also I do appreciate how much more rested I feel the next morning after returning straight home from work and watching some Burn Notice.

And now it's sodding December. Xmas. The gym is closing for a week for refurbishment before the holiday. I have already arranged massages and osteopathy.