Guest Post at Just Four Guys: Shakira and “She Wolf”

Yesterday I ran a guest post at Just Four Guys (http://www.justfourguys.com/) entitled “Shakira’s “She Wolf” Speaks Sexual Truths.

Sounds like they liked it, so I’ll probably be making posting appearances there on the regular. Hope you enjoy it.

 

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Paralysis By Analysis, Or, Juicing for Keyboard Jockeys

I have been evangelizing the juicing lifestyle in my office and personal life (hat tip to fit-juice.com for turning me on to it). It’s really paid off for a small handful of people. Most others are skeptically hostile, throwing a wide-eyed nauseous look at the beautiful green and purple colors before they go back to their bag of chips.

Then occasionally I get the Keyboard Jockey of Juicing. The dude who’s never pushed the plunger in his life but insists on telling me how I’m doing it wrong. One dude was actually curious about my juices and gave them a try, then started talking about getting a juicer himself. I was happy for him and offered any help he might want.

He came back a couple days later with a bevy of purchase options and wanted to know which was which – centrifugal, masticating, that one from the infomerical, etc. I told him to get an inexpensive centrifugal juicer (the least expensive design) to try out before he blew a few Benjamins on a much more expensive masticating model. (I myself paid $59 for the Hamilton Beach Big Mouth Juice Extractor and it’s awesome – my only complaint is that the juice catcher is only about 20 oz so I have to stop in the middle of making a quart of juice and empty it into another vessel.)

Well I should have seen it coming, but the dude got the Shoppers’ Disease and started trying to assimilate all the information he’d read on the Internet from God-knows-where. He started feeding it back to me as if he was an expert. This conversation actually happened:

“Dude apparently everyone says for vegetables and leafy greens you need the masticating juicer.”

“Oh really…who is ‘everyone’?”

“Internet people and juicing websites. I’ve been reading up on the Omega [a high-end masticating juicer that pushes over $200 list]. Do you put any fruits in your juice? People say juicing a fruit is bad, cause you only get the sugar, blending a fruit keeps the fiber.” (When someone starts saying that fruit is bad because sugar, you’re dealing with a nutritional ideologue rather than a health-oriented person.)

“Most of my juices are fruit-based. Dude it sounds like you’ve been reading too much on the Internet. If you have $300 burning a whole in your pocket, go ahead and enter at the masticating level. The centrifuge is cheap and easy, gives you a good idea what it’s like and you can always upgrade.”

“People are so defensive about the Omega…”

“Yeah there is a counter-productive holy war out there about juicers.”

“This guy commented that he got a $60 Cuisinart, and they flamed him so bad.”

“Some people have a lot of time on their hands…time they should spend juicing more and talking less.”

This inane discussion goes back to “don’t let perfect be the enemy of better” – you don’t have to jump from non-juicer to semi-professional in one quantum leap. That’s why there are products at various price points, so you can test the lifestyle out. It’s also why you should check yourself if you find you’re reading a lot of theoretical commentary on the Internet without trying things yourself. That goes for juicing, fitness advice, the Krav/BJJ holy war, game, finance, and on and on – on anything that involves your own behavior, you should try something before you get deeply committed to some ideology that for you only exists on paper or on screen.

 

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The Best Writing Tip I Ever Got

Forged by all the years I’ve been putting words to the page, and tempered by a series of excellent and demanding teachers, the process of writing is pretty intuitive to me by now. I was once in correspondence with a number of old-school Manosphere bloggers, and one of us asked the group what motivated us to write and blog. Almost everyone deployed a variation of “the muse wills it” – the drive to express ourselves in prose was by that point hardwired, in the same way that a musician is driven to play his instrument.

Many guidelines, rules and structures have touched my prosaic oeuvre. Most of them went through a practice period and have since been subsumed, becoming deeply ingrained habits. The basics – the five-paragraph paper, topic and concluding sentences, transitions, assembling an assertive-supportive argument pattern, parallel structure, metaphor – went in early and easily, as I was eager both to please my instructors and to wield the pen effectively.

A few years ago I occasioned upon a brilliant quote by English writer Samuel Johnson:

“I would say to Robertson what an old tutor of a college said to one of his pupils:’Read over your compositions, and where ever you meet with a passage which you think is particularly fine, strike it out.‘”

(Emphasis mine. One of many attributions can be seen here, a site that claims Johnson is the second most-quoted person in the history of the English language after William Shakespeare.)

This advice is brilliant in its simplicity – your writing isn’t as impressive as you think. Writers have a tendency towards vanity and self-amusement (I have laughed out loud many times while writing blog posts), a habit that doesn’t always lend itself to effective writing. If you fall in love with some brilliant line or quip you’ve spun, you might be doing your piece a disservice. Maybe it was a really good line and you had to stuff it in there somewhere without congruence. Maybe it was a clever conjecture that didn’t fit into your overall argument. Maybe you’re just caught up in showing off how smart and crafty you are, a conceit that serves a much smaller rhetorical purpose than one thinks.

To paraphrase a maxim of teaching, it’s not about what you say – it’s about what the audience hears.

Writers like Roosh who are known for their clarity excel at avoiding the baroque ornamentations that form one-man inside jokes at the quizzical or bored expense of the readership. Pascal’s joke “I had not the time to make this letter shorter” resonates deeply with writers, who understand the deep challenge of discipline in detasseling the chaff of one draft after another.

I recall the piece I was originally reading attributed the quip to Benjamin Franklin, whose mastery of ideas and their practical implications made him an iconic American hero to this day. However, when discussing this quote with a friend, I took to the Googles to verify its source and learned the truth of Dr. Johnson’s claim.

In any case, since discovering it, this tip alone has saved me literally scores of compositional and rhetorical faux pas. I tend to write in a nonlinear manner, collecting patchwork paragraphs across a general topic and then weaving them together into a whole as the ideas coalesce into a point. Thus, almost every piece I’ve written for this blog has had large or small portions completely cut out. It’s not unusual to see whole paragraphs written and then eliminated – at times providing the seed for other posts, but often simply vanishing.

Sometimes even the first or second paragraph I write winds up not fitting with the piece that has come to life around it. Out it goes.

It’s no secret that good editing is the secret sauce to consistent quality in a blogging space. If you check out this link, you’ll see that Mike from Danger&Play dedicated himself to a 10-revision minimum before he’d put a post up for public view. The result, since the start of this year, has been some of the best male-interest material you’ll ever read.

I suppose “the best tip ever” is a bit hyperbolic; it might be more appropriate to say the best tip that I still consciously think about. This is fitting, as I see it, because the paradoxical process of suppressing your own ego in the midst of an act of self-expression requires a fundamentally conscious deployment of will. I doubt this skill can ever be habituated, at least not without feeling that tiny twinge of loss when you strike out a particular bright brainchild.

FURTHER READING

For those of you who are seriously interested in studying the rudiments of good writing – and especially for the young guys, I highly recommend you do so – I can’t recommend a single text more than “Perrine’s Literature: Structure, Sound, and Sense” by Arp and Johnson. (Here’s one of a few cheapo links.) A longtime English/Lit textbook, it masterfully combines a practical explanation of the basics (figurative language, literary devices, poetic and rhetorical structures) with a collection of excellent and enjoyable literary pieces that illustrate the academic points without sounding cherry-picked. If you want to be good at anything you need to understand the fundamentals, and this is as good a source as I’ve seen in the fundamentals of written language.

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Harsh Words for “Tryers”

Much mirth was had when Tinderfessions went live on Twitter in March. The site tinderfessions.com collects testimonials from Tinder users and posts them to the Tinderfessions account on Twitter. (Hat tip to Heartiste for pointing it out to me; CH had a reader call it “the global march of absolute sexual anarchy.”)

Browsing the narratives casually, I was struck by one note of complaint:

This is the outgrowth and the logical conclusion of the “just get it” movement – to wit, “women despise a man who needs to be told to be dominant.” Or to be anything, really. Or who gets spotted trying to be anything. The man who shows these kinds of women any concern at all, any desire to see her happy or to deliver her pleasure, gets the scarlet β sewn to his hairshirt before he’s paraded around the Tinderfessions as a lesser being.

In one frame, this isn’t much different than standard dating advice. It’s easy to observe that most women don’t care to be doted on, and the impression that the guy is not laying out the red carpet for the girl but is rather simply out having a good time and has invited her into his fun is integral to the success of the date.

The old-school PUAs had a lot of invective against “supplication” – begging or transacting for a woman’s approval – and this good lesson has been reiterated across the years. But today’s beta detectors are set to such high sensitivities that any concern for the woman at all is seen as supplication, as an unacceptable abdication of a Real Man’s proper self-concern. This is the “Girls” world that young men are living in; these uptight Bohemians want to be pounded by guys who don’t give a shit and they don’t even pretend to deliver paeons to the beta-nice-guy types that they will come back to their position on the buffet table later.

I’m not an analyst but it’s not hard to see this partially as a twisted self-protection measure. For all their chatter about self-esteem, these women are possessed of a vapid and amorphous insecurity that motivates a complete avoidance of intimacy and emotional contact for the purpose of incubating their own emotional immaturity. The dude can’t care, because if the dude cares, then they might feel obligated to care as well, and they can’t have that.

Don’t get me wrong; the “chicks dig jerks” phenomenon is blasé for me by now. I understand its mechanics and motivations, and I’ve come to understand how simple it can be to accumulate some “badass points” and grab a piece of that particular peach pie. I don’t intend to rehash it.

This Tinderfession, however, is something else entirely; this is a psychosis built of distrust and self-hatred. These gals are like dudes who are into the Hot Wife fantasy – their sexual cognition elements are busted, and sex plays out in a objectified and symbolic melodrama rather than a relation between two people.

SHOW DON’T TELL

One interesting thing to consider is if a dude did the opposite behavior – said on his Tinder profile “I don’t care if you have a good time.” Would he get fluttering excitement in response instead of snarling contempt?

I can’t read minds, but probably not.

History shows that a man’s statements of insouciance are rarely effective in promoting the tingles. Rather, it is the actions that display the lack of concern that arouse his quarry. As Roissy says, the key to that lock is being an “uncaring asshole” rather than a caring one – to leverage one’s indifference rather than one’s indolence.

Consider telling your woman that you have options and that she should consider that before she steps outside the appropriate relationship boundaries. Then consider going out with her and chatting with other women and not hiding the fact that other girls are into you, and if you had to get rid of her (or she got rid of you), you wouldn’t have much trouble lining up a replacement. It doesn’t take a lot of experience to know that the latter behavior will better communicate your position.

Likewise, the thrill of a romp with a dominant man is not in his platitudes that he’s not a “tryer;” the thrill is in her experiencing firsthand him putting his own pleasure first. That he’s relegated hers to an afterthought is not the fulfillment of a contractual guarantee but a byproduct of the dominance and self-centeredness that themselves are attractive and arousing to her.

I don’t like to do a lot of bitching about feminism, but there’s an important context to men saying “I’ll make sure you’ll have a good time.” That context is two generations of intense shaming of men as not caring or sensitive enough; 40 years of being told they shouldn’t act like they’re the only one in the bedroom; that if they try harder to get their women off they’ll be rewarded with more enthusiastic lovers and happier wives. Where does this indoctrination get the rehabilitated man, the guy who recoils in horror at the idea of the selfish penis and commits himself to being different than all those other lazy selfish guys?

It gets him on the back end of a nasty Tinderfession from a bird who wants to be treated as an accessory to the man’s pleasure. It’s a great time to be alive.

 

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It’s Never Too Late

Of late, I’ve posted a series of missives encouraging people to start moving towards their big goals as soon as they’ve started the marginal improvements they need to get there.

The theme is that it’s never too early to start drawing the benefits of your self-improvement projects, indeed that the good feeling of knowing you are getting better can itself give you the gumption and confidence to take a good crack at your goals.

I want to close this series, however, with a counterpart piece of advice: it’s never too late to start living a better life.

I am not the first to say this, but it’s something you can never overemphasize – even to yourself. This is especially germane for guys out of their 20′s where the frame of their life is less mutable than it used to be. That you have burned opportunity cost can make you believe that you’re stuck and you’re never going to get anywhere. There is always an opening for better living.

“It’s never too late” seems obvious – “who wouldn’t want a better life any way they could get it?” – but people talk themselves out of improving their lives all the time. One major factor is that they feel the best opportunities have passed them by and there’s no return on the investment available anymore. They think they’ll look silly chasing something better, that they’ll stand out among their social group.

Don’t get seduced by this brand of fatalism. Even if you can’t get what you might have gotten 2, 5, 10, 20 years ago, you can get better than you’ve got now. And don’t think it’s going to be a slim return. I have a palette of friends in every stage of life from college to post-retirement, at least one guy in every stage tells me “this is the best time of my life.”

START STEPPING IN THE RIGHT DIRECTION

I’m not going to lie and say it’s easy. Some guys are in really bad straits. Consider a spectacularly average and under-romantiqued dude passing into middle age. “Well, I’ve fucked up my life. I wear disfashionable clothing to hide my frumpy body. I have a distasteful, embittered personality, my flirting skills have atrophied, I’m in poor financial shape and I stuff my brain with junk culture. I have no distinguishing job skills, so I’m a replaceable vassal to the whims of management.”

What do you do if you were this guy? Here’s what you do. You make the best choices you can from that day forward to get things better than they’ve been. Swap in better clothes for the shitty ones. Do some approaches. Pay off some debt. Read a book instead of watching TV, and get off the Internet. Smile more and stop blaming others for your situation. Go for some walks around the neighborhood. You’re not going to turn into a raconteur with a body like The Rock. But you’re going to be a much better version of yourself before too long.

Until Mr. Fusion is on the retail market, there’s no going back in time to correct your previous mistakes or offenses or misjudgments. The best move you can do now is to do the best move now.

If you just graduated college, but studied a shitty subject and got no play, now’s the time to start getting social and building practical job skills you can make a career out of.

If your health sucks after 20 years of bad lifestyle, now is the time to make moves to eat healthier and push your body into fitness. You don’t need to be Mr. Olympia, you have to get to a better health place so you can enjoy your later years in some semblance of physical comfort.

If you’ve red-pilled after finding yourself in a mediocre (or worse) marriage, now is the time to run the MAP and either make your marriage better or get out of the relationship with enough value and pizazz to get a better one.

If your wardrobe would make a goth skater punk look down on you, today’s the day to go get a nice pair of shoes and a shirt that fits you and wear that shit around town.

If your career sucks, now’s the time to build some new networks or flip into a new line of work entirely. It may be too late to get rich, but it’s not too late to get paid more or to get paid doing something you’re proud of.

If your finances are in bad shape, the best thing you can do is stop the bleeding by eliminating bad spending, saving a slice of each paycheck, and paying off debts (credit cards first I’m told) so that each subsequent month you are a little less burdened.

If you’ve lost touch with family or old friends, now’s the time to pick up the phone and take the first step towards mending those fences. You can never get back the time you spent apart, but you can be in each other’s futures. (And if they can’t be mended, you at least know you did what you could once you were honest enough with yourself to admit you needed to try.)

BETTER FEELS GOOD

I can’t speak for the readership, but I feel better when I get better – even if the improvement is marginal. And it doesn’t take that many marginal steps before you start to really feel like a better man. If you’re going to tell me “ehh, it ain’t worth it,” you’re lying to both of us and you know it.

Now, I am not insensitive to why people’s minds push them against taking those first steps. I’ve said before that I’m a procrastinator. Part of my problem is distraction, but the part of it I really don’t want to admit is shame. I’m possessed of the resistance that if I start doing the thing I’ve been delaying it will all the more highlight that I’ve been stupid and slovenly in delaying. The procrastination builds on itself because the psychic “cost,” the self-shame I have to face, becomes higher and higher. I greatly fear the idea of crossing the threshold into doing. However, I’ve noticed that when I force myself to do something I’ve delayed, I get a huge sense of relief that it’s finally getting checked off the list. This is actually how I’m starting to get a lot better at getting things done that I don’t want to do – to beat away the anticipation of regret, I remind myself how invariably good I feel once I start doing it. (I wrote about another application of this technique in a post about affirmations.)

It may take some personal forgiveness; you can’t retroactively shame yourself, as if doing it wrong before means you’re not allowed to do it right this time. One particularly pernicious human tendency is to revert back to the social status and frame of our youth under pressure. If for example you were a low-value geeky virgin in high school, but by the time you got to your early 20′s you were a sharp, fit, intelligent, upwardly-mobile kind of guy, you might not believe the change and you may still act like the former when the opportunities and pressures of your present-day existence make themselves apparent. This is especially common when you are around the people of your less-than-stellar youth – family and school reunions are famous for bringing out social atavism with everyone subconsciously re-taking their roles from the past.

GO FORTH

Don’t be so hard on yourself. Don’t think that you’re a fuckup and you’ve made your bed and have to lie in it. Don’t believe that greatness is other people’s destiny. The first day of your better life should be today.

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Don’t Let Perfect Be The Enemy Of Better

I really like browsing the blog fit-juice.com. Formerly called “Juicing for Men,” it was started by a weightlifting enthusiast who took up juicing after watching the documentary “Fat Sick and Nearly Dead.”

He specifically felt that juicing needed a re-branding in order to be evangelized to gruff and masculine but health-conscious men like him, as juicing had been culturally monopolized by feminine and new-age sensibilities. It worked on me: I juice daily now and I feel great.

Regular debates – with both haters and reasonable challengers – broke out about various aspects of the craft, such as juicing versus smoothies (with regard to the retained fiber content), which recipes offer the most health, and how long you can wait to drink a fresh juice before oxidation consumes the nutrients.

His response to these debates, either in word or in frame, has always been “don’t let perfect be the enemy of better.” If you want to use juice to improve your health, the most important move is…to be juicing regularly. That might mean modifying a “standard” juice recipe to be more to your taste, and making it a little less healthy. That might mean making all your juice on Sunday night, taking frozen bottles to work daily instead of getting literally fresh-from-the-blade product. Whatever it is, getting too caught up in the orthodox way you are “supposed” to be doing things more often than not will simply burn you out and prevent you from getting any benefits from the project at all. If you are worried about “oxidation” and don’t juice at all, you are replacing your food and fluid intake with something else that’s almost certainly not as good.

It’s a bit like the idea that the best workout plan is one that you know you can stick to, and purism and orthodoxy can be reasonably sacrificed if the alternative is not doing it period. People complain “I don’t have enough time to work out today,” but those who are good at keeping their fitness up know to do just the push-ups and the sit-ups, or the five minutes with the foam rollers, if that’s all they have time for that day.

PURISM MASKS FEAR

I’ve noticed in my own life and in others’ that appeals to purity and perfectionism can sometimes be a subconsciously intentional self-defeat mechanism, occasionally including a shame or fear-of-failure factor. We humans are very good at straw-manning ourselves out of doing things, and providing a self-deprecating script is a classic way we do it.

It’s like when you talk yourself out of approaching a girl because “she’s probably a bitch, and she’s not that hot anyway, and…” You’re projecting your approach anxiety onto other factors to avoid facing your own lack of courage and action.

Likewise a friend told me she didn’t want to try my lunchtime juice because “I heard that it loses half its nutrients if you don’t drink it within 10 minutes of making it.” Partially-oxidized juice isn’t as good as the fresh stuff, but it still beats juice out of a store-shelf bottle, and certainly beats no juice at all (replaced in the diet with nutrient-free water or negative-nutrition sodas and sugared juice cocktails). This was a sensible, health-conscious woman who Crossfits on the regular, but was going to allow an illogical syllogism stop her from supplementing her health.

I touched on self-sabotage last week with a post on “I’m not allowed to do X until I am better at Y” being a cop-out, an instance of self-improvement as self-limitation (quote abridged):

…you don’t need to reach some arbitrary goal before you can feel good about yourself. Some guys get into a frame of “I can do X once I am finished with Y” and then it’s only a slight shift to start moving the goalposts to avoid taking the next step…you’ve leveraged one self-improvement project to block the execution of another.

Sometimes we fear success more than failure, for the unfamiliar expectations it can bring. Athol Kay had a great post on this called “When You Don’t Think You’re Allowed to Win, You Find a Way to Lose.” He’s noticed a trend of his readers and customers sabotaging themselves right on the brink of major success, such as not taking that last college requirement, or not billing out your invoices so you get paid for self-employed work you’ve already done, or not finishing off a home project. (A long-form read of his blog suggests that he may have suffered this himself at some point; I can say from experience it’s not uncommon for a writer, as we tend to have mild inferiority and compulsivity complexes about endlessly editing our works.)

This is one instance where you could say these folks have bad “inner game.” They can’t really conceive of themselves as truly successful, so instead of becoming successful in action and thus entering a new personality frame, they mentally “bank” the 90% success as a “better than a good try” and can’t internalize the things they need to get done to cash in on success for real.

The man speaks…

The core of the problem is that you’re experiencing a low energy state and lack feeling entitled to succeed, to win, or to simply have things go right. So you sabotage yourself to align your level of success, love and happiness to the same level of your current energy set. This is why you can’t have nice things.

GET TO BETTER, THEN WORRY ABOUT PERFECT

Back to the point: you don’t want to skimp on quality in your life by going half-assed in something. But if that half-step is better than what you’ve got going right now and gets you moving towards improvement, then go halfsies.

babysteps_book_cover

I invite the readership to list life items they’ve talked themselves out of, and how they’ve convinced themselves to go for “better” instead of “perfect.

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You Don’t Have To Be Perfect To Get On Stage

It’s been a week of synchronicity. Barely hours after my post about believing in your own progress as a man, Obsidian at Just Four Guys posted a tome on Inner and Outer Game and their advocates. I quoted Alexis de Tocqueville in my post; Roissy riffed on a different quote from the same public philosopher, with further commentary from Vox Day at Alpha Game.

One of my points in my last post was that you don’t need to reach some arbitrary goal before you can feel good about yourself or before you give yourself permission to start deploying your game to the women of the world. Some guys get into a frame of “I can do X once I am finished with Y” and then it’s only a slight shift to start moving the goalposts to avoid taking the next step; “well I don’t look as good as I thought, I better bulk up some more before I talk to some girls,” or “I’m going to start approaching once this summer project at work is over and I have a more clear career plan.” It doesn’t have to be approaching per se, it can be developing a better social group, or even going after some personal passions you’ve put off in favor of improving your baseline health and wellness.

This behavioral block plain and simple prevents you from taking further action; you’ve leveraged one self-improvement project to block the execution of another, and you’ve done so intentionally (if subconsciously). One other flaw of this pattern is that you get into a Nice Guy way of thinking, where you believe you “deserve” a “reward” for whatever arbitrary metric you have reached. and then you set yourself up for resentment when you don’t get the reward you think should be coming to you.

Sure enough, yet another blog post published on January 15 dovetailed into the same idea expressed in my post. Peregrine John tells of his friend, a drummer, who lets him in on the secret of gigging as a small-time band:

It was Mariano who explained to me, years ago, that it’s not necessary to have a chart-topping band in order to get regular gigs, it’s only necessary to be good enough musically, and enjoyable to watch. Like a lot of classically-trained musicians, I have this idea that you shouldn’t even think about getting onstage until you’re closely approaching perfection. That includes the arrangement of the music, the skill in delivering it, and the show aspects. As any perfectionist and most musicians will attest, these are good things to aim for but take a good while to bring about. More to the point, waiting for that will both slow your abilities (which do require performance to fully develop) and cause you to pass up perfectly valid opportunities to play.

…If the audience is happy with Good which is striving to be Very Good, or Very Good on the way to Great, there is no reason not to look for paying gigs as soon as reasonably possible. Plus, if you take your music and showmanship seriously, odds are strong that you’ll be on the short list soon enough.

We don’t have to be the second coming of Aerosmith or Van Halen to get gigs. We just have to be the best choice the venue has. That’s definitely good enough. And the bar is sometimes lower than we figured.

As a musician myself, I certainly identify. I always wanted to be spot-on and perfect before taking my skills onstage or even playing in a band. I learned very early, however, that I had to put that insecurity behind me and just start playing with other musicians, compensating with energy and stage presence (and in our case, exceptional songwriting for our age and experience), and then hone my craft further in the context of the rock combo. In point of fact, it made me a much more confident and creative musician, knowing that I didn’t have to be perfect at every note and that I could be a successful performer while still improving and developing my style.

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