Stone Soup

When I was a kid, I read/heard several variations of the folk tale “Stone Soup.” The plot is that of a hungry vagrant who convinces a resident to furnish him a pot and water so he can make “stone soup” (he has provided the stone). As the water boils, he remarks that the soup could use a dash of something. A carrot or celery or a potato is procured and donated to the stock, then another item, and eventually the pot is filled with furnishings (from either his host alone or various townspeople) alongside the stone. Everyone was excitedly awaiting the “stone soup” and so were happy to give their own modest parts to it.

All those involved enjoy the soup, then the vagrant takes his stone out of the pot, puts it in his bag and departs. The whole point of the story is that there was no “stone soup” – they just made a soup with the vagrant exploiting the stone as a catalyst to get things moving.

For most of my life I have regarded this tale with a glint of cynicism, as a warning against a ripoff by a person who feigns to have something to offer but is really just setting you up to do all the giving.

I’m told, however, that it’s generally regarded as a fable of sharing and cooperation. In an optimistic light, the story provides a great example of getting resources in a state of great need by not begging for the charity of others but by putting your ante in first. The guy didn’t really have anything to offer, but he did a lot with what he could – not just providing the stone to seed the soup-brewing operation, but providing the environs, the mood, the enthusiasm around the event, the chance to be part of something. Most of his contribution was non-material, yet he ate well that day.

It recalls the Gospel story of the multiplication of the loaves and the fishes, where the good Lord and his crew sought to feed a large crowd with only a handful of things to eat, yet wound up collecting basketfuls of scrap food after all had eaten their fill.

When I was growing up this had always been very sketchily proffered as a conventional miracle of provision, that God could provide against material want as a sort of cosmic vending machine (which, if you haven’t been reading the papers, we don’t really see Him doing on a daily basis).

But one piece of theology I read had a much more practical interpretation: faced with the task of throngs of hungry people gathered to hear the sermon, those in the crowd who could procured their own foodstuffs and donated them to the crowd at large.

THE STONE-SOUP PROCESS

Another interpretation of the story is the allegory of building something – beginning with a pretext, which superficially motivates everybody to contribute, and coalescing into something where the original pretext isn’t important at all.

Allow me to coin the idea of the stone-soup process: to begin a task with a kernel that is wholly critical, where at the end of the task, the kernel will be wholly irrelevant.

Game, in most of the forms we understand it today, is a stone-soup process. That means both the process of learning game, and the process of building a sexual and romantic connection with a woman.

THE HOOKS REQUIRED TO START BUILDING GAME EVENTUALLY SUBSUME INTO IRRELEVANCE

Game is incessantly criticized for its teaching of small, digestible tasks men can use to improve their social-sexual ability – openers, funny or confident routines, responses to fitness tests, body language tips, dress tips, tactics to touch women effectively, even the appropriate order in which to stroke a woman’s erogenous zones. The critics will tell you that all that stuff is crap that “doesn’t work,” that you should just “be confident and don’t be a pushover,” or that if you try to employ tactical tips you’re already a loser that women will see through.

It’s a bit like Yogurt from Spaceballs, telling Lonestar that he found the Schwarz ring in a Cracker Jack box. (There’s usually also a good helping of “that nonsense would never work on me.”)

I played sports for a long time in my youth, and when I reached adulthood I began coaching sports. One of the key tenets of coaching athletes is that for all practical purposes, new muscle movements cannot be learned at full speed. A large part of coaching is the process of teaching new skills, then repping them (correctly) at progressively advanced speed and increased complexity until they can be executed autonomously in he heat of competition. At that point, the skill is internalized and automatic, and the athletes can concern themselves with the dynamics of the game instead of which foot to put in front of the other.

Those who can be told “go catch this pass I’m going to throw to you” and do it on the first try are natural athletes – their bodies came programmed to accommodate physical tasks demanding in time and space. Another challenge of coaching is teaching athletes who are naturals, or who think they are naturals, that it’s important they learn to do skills the right way and not rely entirely on their natural ability, which is prone to change or might not be useful if the required skills change a bit. (One interesting outcome of this fact is that many natural athletes hit a wall of development – some of them in early high school - and get passed by other athletes precisely because they can’t get out of the “naturals’ mindset.”)

Back to game: the fact is that new mental-muscle movements can’t be learned at full speed either.

I’m here to tell you that for most guys, starting with the small stuff is the way to go. It’s way too daunting a task to begin with “you need to really envision yourself as the prize that women are lucky to chase after” or “you gotta let go of the idea that the outcome matters to you” and try to get results with it. It’s not actionable and is nothing more than a hollow affirmation. Only a guy with the psychological plasticity of a woman is going to be able to turn “be more confident” into a product without going through a behavioral-adjustment nexus. (An aside for another post: I’m working on a theory that one reason women are so dismissive of the idea of game as an acquired skill is that women tend to be susceptible rapid changes in psychological state in response to cultural stimuli, whereas men have a long-term, durable psychological arc based on a rational assessment of their own core value. So to women, it sounds perfectly normal to just wake up tomorrow and “be more confident.”)

There are some guys who are messing up in one particular tactical area, and once that is addressed, they hit their stride. Other guys have most of the outer game covered, but just need to believe they can win and develop some “killer instinct” for getting after it in the field. But the bulk of guys who are drawn to game need a lot of work in a lot of areas.

The thing is – and this is where the stone-soup idea comes in – once a guy is on his way to mastering a number of these tactical points, it becomes internalized, and the rest of his issues can rapidly dissipate because the overall mental frame, the feeling of power and confidence, takes over and drives out the rest of the negative traits.

There are limits to this, but it’s an effective strategy to fix some of your glaring problems for their own sake, get a bit of success from it, then once you “get the hang of things,” to move forward in a more holistic manner.

I went through this as did many guys. I never did a lot of highly structured PUA-style game to begin with, but I dabbled in some of its constructs. But today I could barely tell you what I’m doing in a set or where I got it from. The idea of opening, teasing, connecting with, and escalating with girls is something I can feel out – I don’t formulate a mental strategy, I just play out the behaviors and the mindset I subsumed under practice.

The “game” as the stone in my soup is back in my bag, while me and the girls are enjoying the soup.

“FAKING IT” WILL HELP YOU MAKE IT

The joke is really on the haters, because psychology is on our side. Not only does body language reflect our mentality, it goes the other direction too – it’s been demonstrated that changing the way we sit or stand affects how we perceive our own attitude and sense of power, and I can tell personally that changing my workwear changes my approach to my craft (I take my work more seriously in a suit than in grad-student shorts and tshirt).

Our minds have evolved elaborate shortcut mechanisms to infer one’s mental state and psychological fitness from body language, and it seems our minds are impressionable even when it’s ourselves doing the impressing. Thus it’s important for a guy whose game sucks to literally start going through the motions to adopt physical and verbal mechanisms that will imprint the winning attitude onto his mind.

GAMING A WOMAN REQUIRES EXPEDIENT HOOKS

Another way the stone-soup principle works is in the process of attraction and seduction itself. You’ll use spontaneous coincidences, short-term opportunities, deja-vu moments and other things as logistical props to move the process forward, completely for that purpose and with no persistent meaning.

One classic, archetypal example is that almost no woman will ever remember your opener. I’ve asked women if they remember the first thing a guy said to them; crickets. It’s critical to have an opener to get the conversation started, but it almost immediately becomes irrelevant and is more often than not forgotten.

Another is the oft-cited principle of using discretion and plausible deniability to advance the seduction temperature. If your plan is to go to your place, you can drop bait about seeing your vacation photos or shaking her up your custom Martini recipe. If it’s her place, you can always ask to use the bathroom and see how that goes, or suggest watching a movie.

(An aside that’s worth talking about: hard-edged critics paint this soft-sell approach as “coercive.” This line of thinking is frankly silly and tries to paint women as infantile victims of male agency with no accountability for their own decisionmaking.  I don’t view it that way, first of all because she can say no if she’s not interested (and in my experience, they do, because you’re creating an environment where it’s OK to say no) and in fact I’ve found that girls who are interested like the roundabout process of seduction that gives them the feeling of discretion and “it just happened” that they like. There’s nothing romantic or seductive about “why don’t we go upstairs and bone?”

You’re doing your job as a man when you take that kind of pressure off of her so she doesn’t have to go through some mental gyrations about “should I invite him up? Is it too early? Would that be kind of slutty? Do I really want to do this with him? I wonder if he’s as good as Mike was…he smells good enough…we can always watch TV if it’s not hot, then I can kick him out. Is he not asking because he doesn’t like me? Maybe I should have worn another top…shit, I was supposed to wear this one to the work social tomorrow. I better just end it here, I have laundry to do. Oh, why won’t he just kiss me?”)

ROOSH SOUP

The first-class game blogger Roosh had a post with a stone-soup ethos. A young man in a coffee shop asked Roosh to teach him everything he knows about women. Roosh tasks him with progressively more involved personal projects, including approaching 100 girls, reading books, getting fit, and learning a new language. At each juncture Roosh promises to teach him about women after he completes the next task.

Of course, Roosh is teaching him to be a higher-value man, a complete package that is attractive to a wide spread of women. Eventually the hook of teaching what he knows about women becomes superfluous.

Three months later he came back to the coffee shop. Behind him was a pretty girl.

“Hey Roosh this is Rebecca. I met her in the grocery store and we’ve been going out for two months.” When she stepped out to make a phone call, he said, “Roosh you’ve been very helpful to me. I’ve grown a lot in the past couple years and can barely recognize myself in the mirror, but I’m finally ready for you to teach me everything you know about…”

Suddenly he stopped and stared at me. A smile formed on his face. He gave me a strong handshake and then left with his girl. I never saw him again.

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21 Comments

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21 responses to “Stone Soup

  1. Love it. I think the hater’s get lost in their fear of ‘poor women that won’t have the ability to say no’ or men that ‘obviously aren’t men as they can’t get a girl, so they must hate women and be misogynists’.

    Neither group sees game as something men learn because they’re unhappy. It teaches men to be quality and be confident in their quality. The original goal of women….. well, as Roosh says….

    “You’ve been very helpful to me. I’ve grown a lot in the past couple years and can barely recognize myself in the mirror”

    Not a couple years for me, as of yet, but so far Badger… I know I mostly lurk a lot here, but its damn good stuff. I’m able to find a inner game a lot through myself and other articles, but its posts like your beer shield, wine, moving/talking slowly, and taking up space that have given me that first stepping stone towards making those changes to reflect the inner game changes.

    Don’t think I ever thanked you for that before. Anyways, now you know.

  2. P Ray

    The ending to the stone soup tale that I have, has the old lady hurling the stone at the traveller, who left it behind as he’d gotten what he wanted (food) without appearing needy.

  3. M3

    I was thinking of Roosh’s parable while i was reading your post. And the coaching analogy was dead on.

    I’m still surprised so many women have such a visceral negative reaction to game, or at least in acknowledging it’s use and implementation. They want the finished product and end result, full well knowing that no guy comes fresh out of the gate being ‘alpha’. Even the naturals hone their craft, albeit probably at an earlier age than most, and by virtue of success, had confidence to spare in upping the game. Not to mention back before feminism, there was no social engineering to help boys get in touch with their feminine sides either…

    Women’s tendency to hate game is reminiscent of people who demand a prime cut of steak on their plate, only the finest will do.. so long as they aren’t given a tour of the killing floor of the slaughterhouse to see what the meat endured on it’s journey to plate.

    Excellent post!

  4. Leap of a Beta,

    Thank you, it warms my heart to hear that people are benefitting in a tangible way from my writing.

    “hater’s get lost in their fear of ‘poor women that won’t have the ability to say no’”

    People who think game is some kind of mind control are just being stupid. And that’s funny because no serious game instructor has ever taught that with good game, you can get any woman of your choosing. In fact a key tenet of game is figuring out when to walk away.

    Another stupid argument is that “game causes men to objectify women” or as it was put on one blog, “game makes men treat women as non-player characters,” as push-button automatons. I have found the exact opposite. Before I had a real functional understanding of women that wasn’t a bunch of pretty blue-pill lies, women were confusion and capricious; they seemed like bizarre, unstable and unpredictable beings. As my knowledge of game got better, I could actually appreciate women more as people and interact with them on a much more pure level, because I wasn’t consumed with trying to figure out why their behavior didn’t match the bogus models I had been taught.

    M3,

    “Women’s tendency to hate game is reminiscent of people who demand a prime cut of steak on their plate, only the finest will do.. so long as they aren’t given a tour of the killing floor of the slaughterhouse to see what the meat endured on it’s journey to plate.”

    You are spot on to observe this – women tend to not want to acknowledge the various personal growth projects that make a man. they want to believe it (repeat after me) “just happens.”

    It’s weird to us men, because the way of being a man is to grow through trial and error in all things (this is part of why fathers are so important to boys: male alpha figures who know when to hold us back and when to let us try for more, knowing we’ll get burned here and there). I’ve even heard women acknowledge this but reject it: “why should I wait around for him to get his act together? I just want to date him when he’s become successful.”

    There’s something atavistic about this paradigm – in caveman terms, women become women by menstruating, and their biological value is largely determined by their genes and expressed in physiological phenotypes (hips, boobs, hair, teeth, etc). Men on the other hand have to accomplish something to be deemed men (almost every society has this), and their biological value has a much larger social component (dominance, magnanimity).

    Your slaughterhouse analogy is apt, because I’ve advised men to “don’t let her inside the sausage factory” – don’t let her see you practicing your guitar, experimenting in the kitchen, and shirley don’t tell her the game techniques you are learning. It’s clear that for all the talk abput women wanting to see our “vulnerable” side, most of them can’t handle it and will punish us for it.

    Those who do so don’t deserve any better than Ladder 2 (flings with no serious long-term investment potential) – if a woman can’t support me in my own self-investment, she doesn’t deserve me investing in her future.

  5. M3

    Reblogged this on M3 and commented:
    Thoughts from the Badger that every guy should know. To everyone who hasn’t read him yet… you’re welcome!

  6. “Those who do so don’t deserve any better than Ladder 2 (flings with no serious long-term investment potential) – if a woman can’t support me in my own self-investment, she doesn’t deserve me investing in her future.”

    Fully agree. Those that hear “I lost weight by changing my diet, exercising more, taking supplements all men should take, and generally being happier/more confident” and write you off…. Not worth it. They want their McFling ordered up and ready to go, and I’ve seen both positive and negative reactions from women on these. Most of the time its whether they knew me 30 lbs ago or not.

    But the reaction they give does a good job of dividing out women with no interest, women that are only worth a night, or worth giving her a chance for more.

  7. Rollo would say that collectively those women (who hate the idea of guys learning Game) are terrified of men knowing they have options. Alphas know they have options, that’s just the cost of life. However, when Betas know they too have options, life has just got 10 times harder for our poor dears.

    At the individual level, I’d say they fear their own projection. Women know they present a photoshopped image of themselves to men, a 5 selling as a 7 if you will. They fear they may attract another 5 presenting as a 7.

    “It’s clear that for all the talk abput women wanting to see our “vulnerable” side, most of them can’t handle it and will punish us for it.”

    Whatever you say can and shall be used against you. Choose what you reveal wisely. Fluffy stuff like crying when watching Up is ok, but save the serious stuff for your therapist or priest.

    Regarding the stone soup tale, I’ve heard an Asian version of it, where the guy (in this tale, he’s a scholar in the imperial court) used the same trick to please the Emperor who is no longer satisfied with his meals because he’s eaten every fine and exotic food under the sun, and has been punishing people to deal with his frustrations. The stone soup gets the Emperor excited as he’s never heard of it, and the long wait plus contributing to the cooking (for the first time in his life) makes the soup – which is just plain old soup – taste like heaven to him.

    Roosh’s tale is a great way to teach a guy. I use similar techniques when I train or coach people.

    You can use a similar strategy when dealing with women. It is how you make a woman the accomplice in her own seduction. Get her to invest (time, effort and resources) in her being with you. The more she invests in you and time around you, the more she will want a return on her investment. Start with the simple stuff, like giving her a task to do, or bring something to contribute to whatever you’re doing with her. Basically, she needs to do more than just showing up looking pretty, and you will tell her what to do. You’re going on an adventure together, you’re the man with the plan (the captain), and she has a part in it – how big a part will depend on how good she is, because you’re experienced and therefore healthily skeptical and not easy to impress. However, just like in Roosh’s story, do not explain the plan to her. Just tell her to do stuff (be charming & convincing, but you’re telling not asking), leave the explanation for much much later like a good story teller should.

  8. Höllenhund

    It’s weird to us men, because the way of being a man is to grow through trial and error in all things (this is part of why fathers are so important to boys: male alpha figures who know when to hold us back and when to let us try for more, knowing we’ll get burned here and there). I’ve even heard women acknowledge this but reject it: “why should I wait around for him to get his act together? I just want to date him when he’s become successful.”

    It seems like a classic example of people wanting optimal solutions in life. It’s somewhat understandable, although not terribly realistic. One of the first things we usually learn about women is that they prefer experienced men, men who know how to handle women, pass shit tests etc. Well, how are they supposed to gain that experience when no woman wants to do the crappy job of helping them do just that?

    Another typical case of the Catch-22 is the job market. You can’t get a good job without previous experience, but you cannot get that experience without a good job.

  9. Infantry

    Good post again Badger.

    As my knowledge of game got better, I could actually appreciate women more as people and interact with them on a much more pure level, because I wasn’t consumed with trying to figure out why their behavior didn’t match the bogus models I had been taught.

    This has been my experience too. Having an understanding of women’s feelings and thought processes has made it much easier to sympathise with them. I don’t get upset when they do illogical things that would make other men pull their hair out.

    It’s clear that for all the talk abput women wanting to see our “vulnerable” side, most of them can’t handle it and will punish us for it.

    I think there is a way to show vulnerability in a masculine way. I have a hard time putting this into words as I’m only just exploring this now as I potentially get into a LTR. I think the word ‘fearless’ would be appropriate.

    @ Candide

    However, when Betas know they too have options, life has just got 10 times harder for our poor dears.

    If the price of filet mignon is very expensive, people are willing to accept it. If the price of bread is very expensive, people will fear starvation.

    Betas with options means that girls don’t have a ‘worst case’ backup plan. You’re taking away their insurance policy and you know how girls usually deal with a lack of security. Badly.

    Whatever you say can and shall be used against you. Choose what you reveal wisely. Fluffy stuff like crying when watching Up is ok, but save the serious stuff for your therapist or priest.

    Yes. Despite what I say above, there are some things that masculine men will instinctively shy away from sharing. Trust your gut.

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  11. Not all women hate The Game. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with a man learning how to pick up women, in fact, I don’t understand why every man doesn’t want to learn these techniques.

    I think women don’t like seduction techniques because they have this fantasy that love should just “happen” between two people. Using a method them them seems pre-meditated. They don’t realize that a man without game is a man without any women.

  12. Carolina,

    Thanks for stopping by, you have some funny stuff on your blog.

    As to the “it just has to happen” meme…

    First, there’s a “meta” aspect to attraction for women that I’ve found boils down to two factors:

    -”Authenticity”
    -”Spontaneity”

    I’ve put them in quotes, because although they are important, they can be easily faked. Authenticity is what drives the disdain of a “learned” enterprise – there’s a fallacious belief that “yourself” is the dude who came out of his mom on Day 0 and any training beyond that is “artificial” (lots of beta males have this mindset too). Spontaneity is what drives the disdain of canned material and planned seduction, even if it’s original. As I said, men of good game fake both factors all the time.

    Second, I find women who think it “just happens” are rather oblivious to all the hard work behind the scenes that the man is doing to make it “just happen.” Like an athlete who works at his game for years to make it look graceful and effortless, a man with good game gives an image that this budding romance is all wild coincidence when in fact he’s carefully directing the operation in a seductive manner. I’m starting to conclude that women, as a whole, are really strongly unaware of the processes that shape men from boyhood on – that unlike women’s passive aggressive and conciliatory natures, boys/men are constantly tested in direct manners (fights, social challenges, bullying) that influence who they become.

    One critical application of this is to understand why men prize pleasantness in a mate and how unattractive it is when women try to one-up men. When I hear this bleating about a “strong woman,” I think “Jesus, I’ve taken shit from about 3,000 different men in my life, the last thing I need is to take more crap from a woman I’m trying to have a relationship with.”

  13. “One of the first things we usually learn about women is that they prefer experienced men, men who know how to handle women, pass shit tests etc. Well, how are they supposed to gain that experience when no woman wants to do the crappy job of helping them do just that?”

    When there used to be a dating culture in America, people had the chance to go through the motions under very limited circumstances, to learn the ins and outs and just get rid of the butterflies. Teenagers got the rudiments of locating targets, setting up dates, and begging off if they didn’t want to continue.

    Nowadays even a 25-year old trying to ask a woman out on an honest to God date is going to get some funny looks. We’ve broken the training system, now it’s all about making ‘em tingle from the word go, so guys who can’t bring the tingle fall further and further behind. It’s like sending a team into a football game without any practices beforehand and telling them if they can’t handle the hitting and physical exertion they aren’t man enough to play.

  14. abcdef

    Women also “rationally assess” their own value-then they change their presentation to inflate it with makeup, shoes, learning to cook, etc.

    If you can’t see their rational assessment-that’s kind of the point.

  15. FFY

    When I first started out I used to have this word document of things I needed to work on such as escalating, and reminders of things to do and how to play situations when there was more than one girl interested in me at the bar and stuff like that.

    I stopped using it, forgot the encryption password, and then found it again. It was just like “Geeze I can’t believe I used to have to go out needing these reminders and tips every night”. It’s all happening unconsciously now.

    So keep at it, newbs, your time will come

  16. FFY

    Damn, totally did not notice how old this post was until now

  17. FFY is right. Many of us were very structured and systematic in the beginning, then hit a breakthrough where the process became automatic and intrinsic. Don’t feel bad about using systems, routines, etc, but your goal should be to find some of that stuff that works and integrate it into your vibe so you lose track of the fact you learned it in the first place.

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  19. once you get it, you start to “not care” about the outcome, about rejection, about acceptence. it’s almost like patting yourself on the back for being able to breathe.

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