By now it's no secret that masculinity itself is being devalued and eliminated. We now have a generation of males that have never learned how to become men, or even known that they should. And the result is that they've produced nothing of value and probably never will. After all, what do you expect from a generation of wanna-be criminals and overgrown teenagers?
For about two years now, I've been thinking about what it should mean to be a man. I've written about it extensively in my weblog, and was planning to do a long, multi-part essay about the destruction of traditional masculinity and the resulting second-class status of modern males.
But this problem has already been written about extensively. Other writers either want a return to traditional masculinity, or advocate some sort of male version of feminism. The problem is that neither option is healthy; one is self-destructive value of winning at any cost, the other is the self-destructive value of slavery to the social good. So, I've decided to give my own advice. Some of it comes from the things I'm good at, some of it comes from the many mistakes I've made. It's written for men, but women may find some parts useful as well, although I don't really give a shit if they do.
Please note: This is a lifetime's worth of advice boiled down to a few platitudes, so of course it's going to be simplistic. This is meant to be something like those Nietzsche aphorisms, or Confucian sayings - easily remembered rules to act as a guide to life.
Manhood is not an end or a goal; it's a method. Its purpose is to help you become independent and successful.
- The only way to accomplish anything is to create something. That thing may be physical or theoretical, artistic or pragmatic, but it must be yours. The quality of your creations is the yardstick by which you measure your accomplishments.
- Don't be upset if you don't know what you're supposed to accomplish. Try your hand at everything that you find interesting. If you are good at it, keep going; if you're not, then either drop it or do it only as a hobby.
- You may achieve many things, but if you're not proud of what you've achieved, then you've accomplished nothing.
- Strive to be better than yourself, not better than others. Your own improvement is your only true measure of personal success.
- There is no such thing as equality. No matter what you want to accomplish, there will always be people who are better than you, and there will always be people who are worse. Never resent your superiors; learn from them if possible. Never gloat over your inferiors; give advice only when asked, and if they don't ask, let them make their own mistakes.
- The greatest pitfall on your path to success is not being inferior, but confusing mediocrity with superiority. Unless you recognize mediocrity in yourself and others, you will never improve.
- There is nothing wrong with vanity, provided it doesn't get in the way of honesty. Vanity will motivate you to improve yourself; honesty will let you know if you've done it.
- If you have to lower yourself to succeed, then it's probably better to fail.
- You are going to fail much more often than you are going to succeed. You are going to lose, and lose often. The more you try, the more you will fail. You have no choice in the matter; this is the nature of things. The trick is to improve yourself merely through trying, so that you benefit even if you fail.
- You will never, ever get everything that you want. Learn to live without what you can't get. You're still alive, so it probably wasn't all that important anyway.
- The world doesn't care if you live or die - nor should it. It is unjust of you to expect life to be fair; and if you do, you'll only set yourself up for a lifetime of frustration and failure. An uncaring universe is the closest thing to justice we'll ever have.
- You are going to die and be forgotten. Whatever meaning your life has will probably die with you. In the grand scheme of things, your life is utterly pointless. You will truly become a man the moment you realize that it doesn't matter.
- We do not live in a just universe. You will find no moral guidance in the cosmos, in nature, or in humanity. Most people neither act righteous nor value morality; if they are ever virtuous, it is the unthinking virtue of a trained dog. Anyone who expects good people to be rewarded and bad people to be punished is a fool.
- The majority of people don't even begin questioning their own morality, and cannot even conceive of acting differently than they do. Because of this, they have no more insight into good and evil than wasps do. You should neither embrace a wasps' nest, nor attack it; either way you will be stung.
- There is only one yardstick of good and evil: something is good if it makes you a greater person, and evil when it makes you an inferior one. You should never be moral because of obligation or expectation, but because it is healthier than being immoral.
- Any moral system must be universal; an act that you do is righteous only if it's righteous when everyone does it. On the other hand, it is fundamentally immoral to expect other people to live up to your own moral code. Good luck with that.
- It is not your job to forgive others, but neither is it your job to punish them. If other peoples' actions affect you personally, then judge them immediately and without regret. If not, then they're none of your business.
- To become an moral man, you must step outside yourself, and judge yourself as if you were judging a stranger - that is, not by your intentions, but by the results of your actions. When you can look at this stranger with admiration, then you have nothing to hide from the gaze of God or man.
- You have to work in order to accomplish anything. It's boring, repetitive, and sometimes painful, but it's necessary. Don't avoid it, don't fear it, and whatever you do, never be ashamed of it - even if it doesn't produce a result.
- The most effective way to work is by forming habits. The less you think about getting to work, the less likely you will be to shirk or procrastinate. Habits aren't formed overnight, so keep trying. Do the work even if it isn't productive.
- Work is NOT the same thing as employment. You work to accomplish something; you're employed to earn money. "Employment" is what you do so you have enough money to do your work. Never confuse the two, and never mix the two. You might think it will help you enjoy your employment, but it will only make you hate your work.
- The workplace is not real life. Don't try to turn it into yours.
- Money is a means, not an end. Gaining money is neither a vice nor a virtue; it is a toolbox. There is absolutely nothing wrong with having lots of money, just like there is nothing wrong with having lots of tools - provided you use them.
- A rich man has no more insight into life than a poor man - and vice versa.
- Never forget that pleasure is necessary. Everyone needs to waste time every once in a while. Find a balance between work and leisure, or else you'll end up destroying yourself.
- Having fun takes work, just like everything else. The more work you put in, the more fun you'll get out of it.
- Be cautious in your pleasures, as in all things. Ask yourself: What is the price of fun? More importantly: Who benefits?
- Beware of people who feel that they need to have fun all the time. They are not really having fun; they're trying to avoid their reflections in the mirror. The desperate need for a good time is a symbol that your life is on the wrong track. Leisure time should compliment your work, not be an escape from it.
- It is more fulfilling to be entertaining than it is to be entertained.
- Never confuse fame with success. Recognition is nice, but it's not the point. What matters is the quality of your work, not what other people think of it.
- Admiring people is fine, but hero worship is not. Nobody's perfect, and if you model yourself after your hero, you'll imitate their failures as well as their successes.
- No famous person will ever help you be a man. Famous people are no more respectable than anyone else. Do not ever let them be your moral guides. If you think their lives are better than yours, then you should make your own life better - not live vicariously through theirs.
- There will always be people who are famous even though they are inferior. It's a waste of energy to resent them - they're probably harmless. Never be jealous of their fame; you might try to imitate them and become inferior yourself.
- You will become popular if you do the things that others would like to do, but can't. It doesn't matter if these things are vices or virtues.
- You will become even more popular if you give people reasons to enjoy their vices without guilt.
- All people are innately attracted to the trivial, colloquial, and petty. Whether smart or stupid, rich or poor, cultured or lowbrow, all conversations inevitably sound like amatuer hour at the critics' convention. People need to acquire the illusion of authority at any price, and in a bankrupt society, even pennies will do. This kind of popularity is fairly easily purchased - but remember, you get what you pay for.
- It is much better to be unpopular than it is to debase yourself for fame.
- Intelligence is not a dirty word. Without it, you won't know how to accomplish anything. And without it, you'll never know when you're being lied to.
- Always be learning. Try to learn about important things, but even learning about mundane things is better than learning nothing.
- An intelligent person is not always right; a stupid person is not always wrong. This is especially true in matters of taste and morals.
- Always be suspicious of the people that you agree with. Question them more than you question your intellectual enemies. Otherwise, you can be led into error without even knowing about it. In the case of public figures, they are usually espousing what you believe so that they can take advantage of you.
- Don't pretend to be more intelligent than you are - especially to yourself. A false sense of intelligence is even more dangerous than stupidity.
- Never confuse knowledge with information. Knowlege requires insight and reflection; information requires memorization. Most people who believe they're intelligent are merely stupid people with a store of useless information.
- There is nothing wrong with taking joy in trivial information. But never believe that it makes you smarter. See it for what it is - an enjoyable waste of time.
- Don't go to college until you know what you want to study and why you want to study it. Otherwise, you'll be saddled with years of debt for nothing. There is no shame in taking a few years off to find out.
- At some point in life, you will realize that you've lost some of your love of knowledge. It's inevitable - nobody's perfect. Try to gain it back, even if you have to backtrack to get it.
- A healthy body is the shortest path to strength, beauty, and pride. It requires work to be healthy, just like any other accomplishment.
- You are born with a weak body. When you excercise, you transform your body into something better by the power of your will. In this way, excercise is a good metaphor for a successful life.
- The reason to play sports is not to win, it's to improve your body. If you enjoy playing, so much the better.
- Do NOT participate in organized team sports if you can help it. Team sports will destroy your body and identity for the sake of the team. Your own health should be your only goal.
- It is possible to exercise without becoming a jock; it is possible to be helathy without turning into a health nut. Do not let your distaste for jocks or nuts poison your appreciation of exercise and health.
- Playing sports is healthy, but watching sports is not. It may be an enjoyable waste of time, but it will never make you a man.
- When you become a man, violence against you becomes socially acceptable. It will usually be viewed as unfortunate, sometimes as necessary, and when it's particularly painful or unusual, as funny. On the other hand, violence against people who aren't men is always viewed as loathsome. It's not fair, and you shouldn't like it, but becoming a man requires dealing with it.
- Get into fights that you know you'll lose. Don't win a fight until you're no longer afraid of losing.
- It is not your job to protect anyone except yourself. It is nobody else's job to protect you, either.
- Always be suspicious of anyone who asks you to fight for others. They are probably trying to take advantage of you. Be especially suspicious of people who ask you to fight for an idea: to them, you are nothing but hamburger.
- Joining the armed forces will teach you how to be strong and disciplined. But it will also destroy your identity and instill blind, unthinking obedience to authority. Whatever else anyone may tell you, always remember: the primary function of a soldier is to die.
- Your feelings are your inner voice; listen to them. They are private, not public. Other people cannot help you with them; usually they cannot even listen to their own. When they ask you to express your feelings, they usually want to change them to suit their needs. If you feel affection for the people asking, tell them politely to stop; if you don't, then just tell them what they want to hear.
- Some of your feelings will be good, but most of them will be bad. There is nothing wrong with this. Listen to your bad feelings as well as your good ones. If other people call your bad feelings "sick," or "evil," or "unhealthy," don't believe them.
- There is only one feeling you should ever be ashamed of: the feeling of guilt.
- The first step in becoming a man is to see your family as just another herd. Whatever you thought growing up, you must realize that your family is no better or worse than any other group of people.
- Separate yourself from your family as soon as possible. Until you do, you will never become your own man. It may require sacrifices, but trust me - it's worth it.
- The worst thing a man can do is repeat the mistakes of his parents.
- Never, ever become a father. Most men become fathers because they lack their own accomplishments, and hope their children will succeed where they failed; others feel weak, and need to create someone weaker than themselves to feel strong. The desire to be a father is an indication of inadequacy or inferiority; if you feel that urge, then you are off your life's path.
- The general difference between genders is that men are individualists, and women are social creatures. Men are guided by objective standards, women by the opinions of others; men are obsessed with internal substance, women with outward appearance; and so on. Whether male or female, every human being carries the masculine and the feminine inside themselves. To be a complete human, you must accept and embrace both your masculine and your feminine qualities; but to be a healthy man, the masculine must rule.
- Women may be many things, but a passage to manhood isn't one of them. No woman will ever make you a man, not as confidant nor conquest.
- Never let women define your identity. Every woman has their own agenda, and will try to measure you according to their own yardstick. If you every try to measure yourself against it, you will always come up short.
- Women might like you, might be attracted to you, might depend upon you, and sometimes might even respect you. But they cannot understand you, and they cannot help you understand yourself. It would be unfair of you to expect them to do so.
- Never act a certain way, like something, believe an idea, or buy anything just to become attractive to women. You'll be wasting your time and money, and in the worst case you will turn yourself into a swine.
- Most women confuse male self-intrest with the subjugation of females. They often believe that standing up for yourself is the same as attacking them. It's doubtful that you'll be able to change their minds on this point, and you shouldn't try. Do not, however, make the same mistake yourself.
- Your mother is just another woman.
- Men and women are both attracted to the same qualities: beauty, strength, and enjoyment - in and out of the bedroom. They are simply expressed in different ways by men and women.
- Having sex with lots of women may be fun, but it's hardly an accomplishment.
- Women enjoy sex as much as men do. You do not "owe" women for sex.
- It is OK to say no to sex, even from someone who is attractive. But you should only say no if you really don't want to, not out of fear or moral obligation.
- Lose your virginity early. You should probably like her, but you shouldn't love her. The less romantic it is the better.
- Never confuse sexual attraction with respect. They are not related in any way. If you believe you respect someone you're attracted to, ask yourself this: If a man did the same thing, would you respect him? If the answer is no, then it's not respect that you feel.
- It is OK to feel affection for a woman that you don't respect.
- Do not be afraid of being lonely. It is not a "problem" to be "fixed." One of the greatest tragedies to befall mankind is a fear of solitude.
- If you feel your life is incomplete without other people, ask what need they would fill, then try to fill it yourself. You will be much happier in the long run.
- There is nothing wrong with enjoying the company of others. You may learn from each other, or it may just be an enjoyable way to pass the time. But nobody else can help you gain insight into yourself.
- Being different is a virtue, not a shortcoming. If people think you're abnormal, ignore them. Be prepared to fight to protect your individuality - better to lose a fight than lose your identity.
- All of life's great questions can only be answered in solitude.