Saturday, March 10, 2012

Heart of Darkness. Epilogue.

Mimi Alford copped a lot of criticism from the mainstream media for her autobiography. The Kennedy administration enjoys an almost divine like status on the left and any criticism of it is akin to sacrilege. Had Alford produced an expose detailing the extramarital affairs of a Republican President, the feminist yenta commentariat would have been thumping the table for his impeachment, but since the perpetrator in this case was a charismatic male Democrat, it was the "victim" who was the object of their scorn.

The media, with their typical celebrity worship and superficiality, were more interested in the lurid details of her presidential liaisons than the effect that it had on the rest of her life. Yet, it was this aspect of her biography which I found the most interesting. It's true that a book about the break up of two, otherwise ordinary people, would not have not garnered any commercial interest, and yet,  the mechanics of their estrangement is probably of more practical interest to students of male/female dynamics than the sexual persona of JFK.

In trying to understand the mechanics of their marital failure it was neccessary to try and form a character assessment of Tony Fahnestock.  Which is not that easy to do,  because with a few exceptions, either deliberately or not, she more alludes to his behaviour than explicitly states it, and when trying to look at the book from a psychological perspective, in an effort to understand him,  I was left trying to fill in the gaps based upon my clinical experience.  What we do know is that he was initially romantic, chivalrous and sexually restrained. We also learn that he was capable of decision and action but tended to avoid conflict. His tastes were simple and he had friends. It's pretty safe then to assume that he was an "ordinary guy."

Now, Love doesn't get much time in the man-o-sphere, and  yet it is what ultimately motivates most good men and gives life its meaning. For most normal men, the sex is not enough, and life devoid of love is empty. Normal men are not content enough to possess a woman's body they also want to posses her soul. That's what's so divine about love; is that the thing that you cherish most loves you back in the same way. It's a state that can exist amongst two people who feel the same way about each other. The well being of the lover is contingent upon the well being of the loved: it's symbiotic.  The problem for  Fahnestock however is that he got he loved Alford symbiotically, but she loved him parasitically; and this was his private hell. Alford's primary concern was not for her partner but for herself.

Alford may deny this, but that's because she suffers from that universal romantic notion which confuses love with affection. I have no doubt that she had affection for Fahnestock, but love is not just a feeling, it's an obligation to another person's happiness. The medieval theologians, who were frequently far more hard-arsed than the moderns, recognised that love and affection were two separate things. To them, love was a disposition of goodness toward another person and it was manifest by doing good toward other, the happy feelings of affection are therefore in a way irrelevant. They would have argued that if a person was acting in a way that could harm another,  there was no way that they could be considered as loving.

Viewed in this light, Alford could never be considered as loving Fahnestock. Sure, she had affection for him, but she acted in a way (with JFK) that was guaranteed to hurt him. And remember,  Alford's infidelity was not episodic, as a in a moment of weakness, rather it was systematic and deceptive. Had she had truly loved Fahnestock she would have acted in his best interest. For example two options which would have shown that she loved him would have been:

1) Not get into a relationship with him, in order to avoid hurting him,  and continue sleeping with Kennedy. Or,
2) Stop sleeping with Kennedy before she got into a relationship with him.

Each one of these options would have resulted in a loss to her, something she was not prepared to take, as she was out for number one.

I imagine when he found out about her infidelity, what knocked him out completely, was the realisation that he'd been taken for a fool as Alford was manipulating the situation to her advantage. But what really put the twist to the knife in his heart was the realisation that she was acting as if he did not matter, whereas he was acting if she did matter...... completely.  He loved her but she enjoyed being in his company.  Her delight in him was for her own pleasure, her love was solipsistic.

Fahnestock was a man who thus could not trust his wife even if he wanted to. He could never be sure of her love to him especially (as it appeared to him) that she denied him her body whilst giving it to another man.  So it escapes me why he married her, especially when Alford description of him is that of a man of resolute action. The only reason, I feel, that adequately explains his actions is love. Reading about their early days together, Fahnestock seemed totally awestruck by Alford and pedestalised her. Even though she betrayed him, he loved her and still wanted to make a go of it. Even though he was angry, his disposition to her was one of goodwill. He wanted her to be happy, to have a good reputation, to have a wedding: he wanted to keep her. In going ahead with the wedding he had forgiven her even though he could not trust her.

This was his first fatal mistake. It's one thing to forgive, but another to forget, and infidelity is one of those things that is very, very,  hard to forget. Fahnestock could never be sure if Alford is being true to him and was always insecure in his relationship with her.  Therefore by his insecurity he radiated beta. But on a more fundamental level he was choosing to marry a woman who was incapable of the gift of the Magi. They individually, approached the marriage from different psychological perspectives.

What Fahnestock should have done is dumped her. Any love he had for her could have been expressed in trying to break of the engagement discretely, and in a manner that could have preserved Alford's reputation. Some Christian types may argue that it was his duty to forgive her. But it needs to be reminded to these types that it is possible to forgive a person but not marry them.  A man must choose his mate not just on infatuation but on a hard-arsed assessment of her long term potential. Fahnestock ignored the warning signs.  But then again he was in his early twenties, a nice guy, and he loved her.

His second fatal mistake was his approach in dealing with their problems. He ignored them. Whilst this may keep the peace in the house, it is a defacto abdication of the natural order. The husband is the head of the household and must give it direction,  and in the absence of any direction,  the wife will assume it with a corresponding contempt towards her partner. Once again, a beta behaviour.

So it's no surprise to students of game that after twenty-six years of marriage, it was Alford who initially was so desperate for marriage that initiated the divorce. 

I recommend Alford's book to the students of Game. Not only because it so superbly illustrates the automatic female willingness to submit to an alpha male, but because it also illustrates  the consequences of infidelity and the fate of the beta male. At the end of her book, she credits JFK, the man who treated her as a concubine, with more veneration than her "good provider husband" of twenty-six years. She still thinks being his mistress was the special formative event in her life.  Such is the power of alpha.

I can't but feel an overwhelming sadness for Tony Fahnestock. Here was a man trying to do good and suffered for doing so.  Even Alford seemed to express a certain pity towards him:
He was right in a way.  I didn't know exactly what I had wanted, but I knew I had to take a step toward change. I knew that Tony wasn't solely to blame for my unhappiness or the ruin of our marriage. It was my fault as much as his. I had not made his life happy. But I also knew that I had reached an endpoint to the misery we created for each other.
..............................................................................................................................................................

Mimi Alford dated for the next sixteen years and was married again in 2005. In her book,  she describes the marriage as happy.

Meditating on events, I cant help but be melancholic when it comes to the life to Tony Fahnestock. He seems to be a good representation of a type of man that has done particularly badly in love since the sixties. In the clamor that arose after Alford's revelations, no one seems to have taken notice that he was an unwitting victim of the affair. The female commentariat seem more interested on what it was like to be part of JFK's harem or have devoted themselves to protecting JFK's memory. Alford was particularly savaged for desecrating the Camelot memory by Barbara Walters; herself, an adulteress.

Alford doesn't write much about what happened to Tony Fahnestock afterwards. However a little bit of searching on the internet revealed that he had married again, this time to a New York socialite, Andrea Henderson. She has kept his dignity and refused to comment on the affair.

Tony Fahnestock, who was divorced in 1989,  died in 1993 from cancer.  Alford was not allowed to attend the funeral.

I hope he found both love and peace.

21 comments:

Carnivore said...

Excellent epilogue! Some items worthy of extra highlight.....

Some Christian types may argue that it was his duty to forgive her. But it needs to be reminded to these types that it is possible to forgive a person but not marry them. A man must choose his mate not just on infatuation but on a hard-arsed assessment of her long term potential.

All I can say, is yes!!

His second fatal mistake was his approach in dealing with their problems. He ignored them. Whilst this may keep the peace in the house, it is a defacto abdication of the natural order. The husband is the head of the household and must give it direction, and in the absence of any direction, the wife will assume it with a corresponding contempt towards her partner. Once again, a beta behaviour.

True, but let's be clear. The onus and duty are on both husband and wife to move a marriage back to the natural order; it's not just the husband's job. That is, at the extremes, with a shrewish, domineering wife, a husband must still attempt to lead and move her to her place; with a wimpy, uber-beta husband, a wife must still submit and defer decisions to him. A woman is not an automaton. She has a duty to fill her role and encourage her husband to do the same; same-ways for the husband.

Now, Love doesn't get much time in the man-o-sphere, and yet it is what ultimately motivates most good men and gives life its meaning. For most normal men, the sex is not enough, and life devoid of love is empty. Normal men are not content enough to possess a woman's body they also want to posses her soul. That's what's so divine about love; is that the thing that you cherish most loves you back in the same way. It's a state that can exist amongst two people who feel the same way about each other. The well being of the lover is contingent upon the well being of the loved: it's symbiotic.

Dude, what are you a poet or something? That's beautiful. Well said.

spandrell said...

"Tony Fahnestock, who was divorced in 1989, died in 1993 from cancer. Alford was not allowed to attend the funeral."

That says it all, doesn't it.

Good writing. I've enjoyed this series. Ditto for your description of what love means to a man. Very well written.

I still won't buy the book, I know enough about female psychology already. I made my soon-to-be wife read this series. She wasn't amused nor surprised. "She's a bitch but he's stupid." Oh well.

Anonymous said...

A very moving analysis. I guess I would just add this simple coda, that it is important to encourage all couples who are about to marry that they find some third party (e.g. a priest or a minister) who can honestly help them confront potential landmines before they marry. The problem, of course, is that in this highly secular society it is difficult to find such third parties (the lack of community which exists also makes it difficult).

CMC said...

Powerful series.

In terms of comparisons to fictional characters, I think the early parts of Tolstoy's 'Father Sergius' might be on point.

The Social Pathologist said...

Thanks for the comments.

That is, at the extremes, with a shrewish, domineering wife, a husband must still attempt to lead and move her to her place; with a wimpy, uber-beta husband, a wife must still submit and defer decisions to him

Hmmmm. In my opinion, in the second instance, the wife sins less grievously by not obeying her beta husband than her husband does by being beta. One of the strange paradoxes of our age is that the women have more "balls" than the men.

One of the big blind spots of the manosphere is in failing to recognise masculine culpability in being beta. There seems to be an underlying theme running through the manosphere that the wife should obey her husband, no matter what a piss poor excuse of a man he is.

I want to labour this point a bit. Firstly, a wife should submit to her husband but a husband should not be making it hard for his wife to submit. Secondly, submitting to an alpha male comes naturally to most women. With a beta male however, she is fighting her biological instincts in submitting to him.

Dalrock has just put up a post on women who want to leave their "nice guy" husbands. Most of the commentariat are critical of these women, as am I, but no one is asking why these women want to leave. Perhaps, there is a biological and not moral repulsion towards their husbands. Anyone who wants to strengthen the institution of marriage needs to work with biological realities and not ignore them.

The Social Pathologist said...

@Spandrell

I made my soon-to-be wife read this series. She wasn't amused nor surprised. "She's a bitch but he's stupid." Oh well.

Interesting comment. In my experience, women are capable of great caring but very little empathy.

I personally don't think he was stupid. He was in love. Though grievously hurt, I think he wanted to make it work and I think he fully knew what type of woman he was ending up with. He didn't ask for a divorce, no matter how repulsive she became. If there is any stupidity in Tony Fahnestock it would appear in believing that his wife loved him in the same way as he did her.

Anon @10:08

The problem is that Priests and the Ministers are part of the problem. They still spout out the same advice which "betafies" men. Roissy would probably help more marriages than any mainstream source.

@CMC

I wiki'ed Father Sergius, yes, I can see the similarities.

spandrell said...

In my experience, women feel very strongly about their choice of morals. And they hate all other kind of women, they want them shamed and ostracized.

So if there's a well behaved woman, she will hate bitches such as Alford, and hate the man who knowing about her lack of morals, still didn't punish her, and even gave her status by marrying her. Fahnestock is stupid because he failed to enforce good behaviour in his woman. And that's what men are supposed to do. Love is not an excuse. No non-Alfordish women will empathize with him.

Mine surely didn't.

The Social Pathologist said...

And they hate all other kind of women, they want them shamed and ostracized.

True. Women are herd animals. To punish one, you exclude her from the group.

Fahnestock is stupid because he failed to enforce good behaviour in his woman

Fahnestock was bought up in a totally different culture than ours. I imagine he was more chivalrous, and was bought up in society that strongly enforced the way of beta. I'd cut him a lot of slack due to his circumstances.

mdavid said...

What an excellent series. I've re-read it many times and agree with everything, which is rare for me.

In my experience, women are capable of great caring but very little empathy

So true.

Kathy Farrelly said...

"In my experience, women are capable of great caring but very little empathy"

I don't agree with that. I think that it depends on the person and not on the sex.

I had MUCH empathy for Tony . Spandrell's woman on the other hand thought he was stupid???

That thought never entered my head.

I do believe that he did indeed love Alford very much(as SP said)and he did the right thing (back in the sixties) and married her. I fail to see how that was being stupid.. Really.

spandrell said...

He did the right thing? He had a lousy marriage. He never forgave her, and by marrying her anyway did her and himself miserable. That's not the right thing.

He succumbed to societal pressure and married her to keep appearances when she could not really love her after what he knew.
Marriage is not about feelings. Love can be wrong sometimes.

Kathy Farrelly said...

"He succumbed to societal pressure and married her to keep appearances when she could not really love her after what he knew.
Marriage is not about feelings. Love can be wrong sometimes."

See, SP, no understanding whatsoever of Tony's feelings in that statement. Feelings just can't be turned off like a tap!

Having read through your posts once again,SP I am most certain that Tony was head over heels in love with Alford. She didn't deserve such love and obvious devotion.. He was waiting for marriage before he had sex with her, as well. How crushed he was when he found out the truth. Well, I really felt for the guy.

That he went ahead with the marriage makes him stupid?

No, it makes him human. He was a man who fell in love.

It's easy to sit on the sidelines and throw stones.

Your decided lack of empathy kind of proves my point that empathy is not confined one sex or the other.

The Social Pathologist said...

@mdavid

Thank you.

@spandrell

He did the right thing?

No, he did the loving thing.

Marriage is not about feelings. Love can be wrong sometimes.

True, and yet it is. I thought Fahnestock took an unwise calculated risk. He didn't want to lose her and hoped that things could be fixed. Fahnestock shouldn't be seen as stupid, rather a gambler who lost

I've thought about this for a bit. You see, Alford could have probably improved the marriage considerably ,if, perhaps sometime long after her infidelity, when the rawness of it was less acute, she apologised to him for her treatment of him but it would only have to be with the proviso that she genuinely regretted what she did. That appears something that she could not do.

@Kathy

I don't agree with that. I think that it depends on the person and not on the sex.

When discussing populations, there is usually an exception to every rule. Yes some women are quite empathic but most are heartless, even amongst themselves.

Years ago, I remember telling off a friend for moving in on a woman another friend was in love with (he was too timid to approach her yet loved her dearly). I can remember all the women that day laying the boot into me for having sympathies with my timid friend. Their whole attitude was he should have had the balls to ask her out. Not one iota of sympathy, yet he was utterly crushed. I have too many other stories like this one.

spandrell said...

>Kathy
"That he went ahead with the marriage makes him stupid?

No, it makes him human. He was a man who fell in love."

Stupid and human don't contradict each other. On the contrary, they all too often go together.
I'm sorry for Fahnestock. I do think he was in love. He didn't know better.

But not knowing better is the definition of stupid.


"perhaps sometime long after her infidelity, when the rawness of it was less acute, she apologised to him for her treatment of him but it would only have to be with the proviso that she genuinely regretted what she did."

That just doesn't happen. Women aren't like that. They don't have that sense of justice and penitence.

Kathy Farrelly said...

"When discussing populations, there is usually an exception to every rule. Yes some women are quite empathic but most are heartless, even amongst themselves."

Studies don't appear to bear that out, SP.

There are different kinds of situations that may predispose one sex to be more empathetic than the other.

For instance a little boy falls over and scrapes his knee. Mum scoops him up and is very sympathetic and feels the child's pain.. Dad on the other hand will say "come on son get up it's only a scratch," and tell him to forget about it. (NATURE OR NURTURE?)

I think too that men empathize more with other men, whilst women will often empathize more with other women, simply because they have undergone similar experiences.

I know many studies do seem to indicate that women are more empathetic, but I have never really believed that.

In my own experience , (I was an admin/personal manager for a large company before I married and I was involved in conflict resolution and counselling) I did not notice a great deal of difference in empathy between the sexes.

I think this piece sums it up well.

"Other studies have suggested that rational thought trumps empathy in men’s brains more than in women’s brains. For instance, a 2003 article in the journal Neuroreport found that when women were asked to identify other people’s emotions, their brain activity indicated they were truly feeling the emotions they saw. Men, by contrast, showed activity in brain regions associated with rational analysis, indicating they were just identifying the emotions and considering whether they’d seen them before—a more objective position.

All that said, research has shown that men and women do not differ consistently in their ability to detect their own or other people’s emotions. Since accurate detection of emotions is a first step toward feeling empathy, this finding suggests men and women at least start out biologically equal. Supporting this idea is a 1993 study from the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, which found that infant boys rated just as highly as infant girls in their sensitivity and attention to other people.

So while some research suggests women are more empathic than men, perhaps this is the only definitive conclusion we can draw: Almost all humans, regardless of sex, have the basic ability to cultivate empathy."

http://greatergood.berkeley.edu/article/item/women_more_empathic_than_men/

spandrell said...

Studies... *sigh*

Two words: response bias.

That women know how to empathize doesn't mean they do so.

The Social Pathologist said...

@Kathy

Perhaps I should be more precise. As I see it, empathy is not about feeling anothers's pain as it is about being able to put oneself in another's position.

Women tend to share emotions whilst men tend to give support, frequently without sharing the emotion.

You see, my empathy with Fahnestock is not based on a sharing of his emotional state, rather, it's based upon a cognition that it would be horrible to be in a type relationship state.

Years ago, I was treating a couple. He loved her dearly, in fact he would often profess his love for her to me during a consultation. She on the other hand had an std she caught from sleeping around and needed treatment. He was totally unaware of his predicament. I couldn't say anything due to medical confidentiality and I used to come away from the consultations feeling horrible knowing the predicament he was in even though he was blissfully unaware.

They eventually divorced.

The thing is my sadness was not contingent on his, rather it was placing of myself in his situation that made me sad. So yes, a man's empathy is more "cognitive" or "abstractive" whilst a woman's is more "concrete".

I mean a practical example is where women talk about sex. A lot of women are totally dismissive of their partner's sexual needs. Even though their partner is sad and miserable they have no interest in putting out for their partners sake. For some strange reason, these women can't feel their partner's pain at all. Most men have no problem with this at all. I think for a woman to emphasise, she must personally engage with the subject, otherwise she is callous.

Kathy Farrelly said...

"A lot of women are totally dismissive of their partner's sexual needs. Even though their partner is sad and miserable they have no interest in putting out for their partners sake. For some strange reason, these women can't feel their partner's pain at all. Most men have no problem with this at all."


This is because these women don't understand how damn good , sex can be. Very sad..

I (and I am sure many other women do too) understand just how enjoyable sex is, and how much it means in a relationship.

It's for this reason that I have never ever refused my husband sex. In fact I have welcomed it and often initiated it.

Even when he has woken me in the middle of the night I have happily and sleepily obliged.

He has done the same thing when I have woken him in the middle of the night as well. (and it has been an oft occurrence as I am a light sleeper- sex is a good sedative ;) )

I can empathize because I understand.

I would not want my husband to reject my advances, and so, I have never rejected his.

Kathy Farrelly said...

"That just doesn't happen. Women aren't like that. They don't have that sense of justice and penitence"

I call BS on that one.
On what do you base such an assumption?.... shakes head.

Sheesh.. I am forever in the confessional.

One thing is for sure, you are not a Catholic! ;)

The Social Pathologist said...

This is because these women don't understand how damn good , sex can be. Very sad.

I'm sorry I used the sex example since what I was trying to get at is how women empathise. For example, if a woman is asexual, it never occurs to her that other people may be, her empathy is contingent upon her personal experience. Another example of what I'm talking about is with regard to women who can't breast feed. There's lots of women out there who lay the boot into these women because "they're not trying enough" or they're "lazy and selfish". A lot of women are bitches not just to men but to each other. They're just as harsh to women they camn't "relate" to. This is consistent with the neuropsychological data you mentioned previously.

For instance, a 2003 article in the journal Neuroreport found that when women were asked to identify other people’s emotions, their brain activity indicated they were truly feeling the emotions they saw. Men, by contrast, showed activity in brain regions associated with rational analysis, indicating they were just identifying the emotions and considering whether they’d seen them before—a more objective position.

The fact that the "empathic" loci are different in the sexes does not mean that it's a matter of the same process occuring in different places. Rather, it's more likely that the observed "empathy" is a product of two different processes. The trick is always in the subtle detail.

Men, as a rule, (yes I know there are exceptions) are far better at "abstractly" putting themselves into another position than women, who need a more "concrete link". If she hasn't shared the experience then she finds it very hard to empathise. Alford never "got" Fahnestock because she never loved him like he did. Totally different experience.

GK Chesterton said...

An amazingly good series that in a just world would appear in a newspaper of note.