Monday, January 14, 2013

Traditional Dating Advice: Theory and Practice.

The other day, Dalrock linked to a commentator at Zippy's blog who was taking the manosphere to task:
…the problem is that the roissysphere stands on the shoulders of giants and claims to feel the soil beneath it’s feet. These nonsense, sloppy terms like solipsism, feminine imperative, team woman, “game” are ideas with no rigor, as imprecise as the dull minds that conjure them up.
Yet all across the roissysphere no single red pill person ever recommends learning the precise terms of the great works of the ages, instead offering a bag of bullsh&t and telling you to read the rantings of a keyboard warrior from DC.
What a hollow existence it is to work oneself into a fey mood inventing tools (which they call game) to climb a mountain only to find the mountain was already home to greater men then they, and could have used tools of higher quality if they had bothered to look.
Comments like these give me a fair of hope since they indicate the beginnings of a shift in some of the traditionalist positions on Game.  As some wag once said, when a theory is first proposed, it is denied initially, accepted gradually and finally accepted as a self-evident truth. Now it appears that some of the traditionalists, whilst still shouting at the manosphere, are claiming that the knew about hypergamy all along. Implied in this position is that if only men read the "classics" they wouldn't have to go to places like Roissy's and the reason why men are in there current predicament is because they have forgotten their heritage.  To which I reply--- bullshit.

Literature is not my strong point and I have to defer to others on the subject, particularly commentator Thursday, who over at Roissy's, in replies to two posts,  gave a good explanation of why the classics are deficient in practical advice with regard to "woman management". (Some of the comments I've taken out of chronological order but not out of context.)
Thursday comments:
I’ve posted before on my own former blog about how game insights were few and far between in classic literature.
I think a lot of it came down to a couple facts:
1. Being a provider used to matter a lot.
2. Objective social status (king, nobleman, knight, yeoman, peasant) mattered a lot.
3. Basically everything was social circle game. You would know everybody in your local community (or in you social strata if you were a higher up).
Not that game didn’t matter, but more on the margins. Who needs game when you’re a nobleman and you want to bang one of your serfs? Who needs game when you are a middle class farmer and your only chance with a girl is to convince her father you’d be a good husband? So, the game insights remained fragmentary.
and responding to GBFM:
Keep on digging, little man. Game is more than just confidence, it’s a highly specific skill set. Saying, “Act like a Homeric hero” ain’t gonna cut it.
From personal experience, given the choice between The Mystery Method and the entire Western Canon, a man who wants a pretty wife or a girlfriend had best go for The Mystery Method. Even Robert Greene who found inspirtation for his power book in Machiavelli, and for his strategy book in Sun Tzu, said that he basically had to start from scratch with his seduction book.
A lot of the canon is actually counterproductive. Dante is the king of oneitis and he has had many, many followers.
Having read most of the Canon, the most helpful works would be Madame Bovary and Casanova’s Memoirs. A sprinkle of Byron doesn’t hurt. Even Ovid advocates a kind of provider game (lots of presents):
But that’s what worked in those days. It used to be the most efficient way to get a pretty woman was to get rich or go into a prestigious profession, so that’s what people focussed on. Duh.
In reply to Hugh G Reaction:
I’d say the attitudes that allow you to succeed with women often will allow you to succeed in other pursuits as well.
Yes and no, we’ve all known successful men who underperform with or get taken to the cleaners by women. Doing well with women is, to a certain extent, a highly specific skill set.[Ed]
Finally, to quote Thursday again:
“Just read the classics” is the traditionalist version of “Just be yourself.”
A Superior Type, taking offence at Thursday's comments pushed back:
Philistine. You are a monkey with just enough knowledge to know which books in the library to smear feces over for maximum vandalism. Yes, there are manuals for every practical need, from dating in this modern age to fixing the leak in your toilet. But the prissy assumption that proles beneath you can only absorb bullet lists and abbreviated tips is a commentary on your inferior station. The human mind responds to challenge, especially men, when they are sufficiently motivated and properly educated.

Your Vo-Tech utilitarian approach dispenses with the idea of freedom itself, positive no one can handle it because you can’t handle it. An introduction to the deep concepts of human nature liberates men from the need for the step-by-step manuals to life that you are hawking. Those who look at The Divine Comedy and see more than “oneitis” are simply freer than you. They need less specific instruction and more general wisdom, because, as I said above, it’s not rocket science to translate that knowledge, once truly gained, into working tactics applicable to any social milieu. That’s the easiest part.
I want to make a couple of comments with regard to the highlighted bits in this last comment. Firstly, it's front loaded with the liberal idea that there really is no difference in intelligence and ability between men; all that you need to do is provide enough teaching and resources and even the most stupid man will divine what to do in an appropriate circumstance given a thorough and basic theoretical knowledge about women. It's the standard liberal cure for all ills. It is refuted by science and common sense. Secondly, this is a refutation of the Ancient Greek idea of praxis--experience matters, and there is a world of difference between booksmarts and streetsmarts. Thirdly, a lot of guys do have a problem translating booksmarts into streetsmarts and they need things like bullet lists, mentorship and experience to gain mastery of the Techne of love. From the Wiki entry on Techne:
Aristotle defines techne in the following manner:
[S]ince (e.g.) building is an art [techne] and is essentially a reasoned productive state, and since there is no art that is not a state of this kind, and no state of this kind that is not an art, it follows that art is the same as a productive state that is truly reasoned. Every art is concerned with bringing something into being, and the practice of an art is the study of how to bring into being something that is capable either of being or of not being ... For it is not with things that are or come to be of necessity that art is concerned [this is the domain of episteme] nor with natural objects (because these have their origin in themselves) ... Art ... operate[s] in the sphere of the variable.[3]
As an activity, techne is concrete, variable, and context-dependent. As one observer has argued, techne "was not concerned with the necessity and eternal a priori truths of the cosmos, nor with the a posteriori contingencies and exigencies of ethics and politics. [...] Moreover, this was a kind of knowledge associated with people who were bound to necessity. That is, techne was chiefly operative in the domestic sphere, in farming and slavery, and not in the free realm of the Greek polis."
It appears that our Superior Type also needs to re-read his Aristotle. I also think it was Aquinas, in arguing the case for revelation, who stated explicit demonstration of divine truths (and for that matter other truths) was necessary since most men had neither the time nor intellectual capacity to discern these things for themselves. The idea that everyman can work these things out for himself is false. Game is not concerned with the theoretical knowledge of women but of practical aspects of dealing with them.

Thursday makes a strong case against this "traditional wisdom" type of approach.
I said it before in the other thread that while the classics have plenty to say about about how perfidious female nature can be, they have precious little insight into how to get and keep the girl. Dante famously didn’t get the girl and pined after her for 40 years. (He was also, like Plato, a fabulously inept politician.) He was also famously Milton’s first wife left him while his second was a holy terror. He also managed to thoroughly alienate his daughters. All of his vivid warnings about female malice and treachery were not enough to give him any insight as to how they should be handled in real life. So, two of the greatest writers in the Western tradition, writers steeped in the Shakespeare, the Bible and the classics were total betas in their love life.
A good analogy is politics. No doubt there is much wisdom in political writers from Plato to Aristotle to Hobbes and Burke and beyond. But all that doesn’t mean that reading those guys will make you into a good statesman. You fucking need practical knowledge on the ground on how to deal with people.[Ed] And in fact you might be a better statesman if you have some good instincts and read Steven Covey, Dale Carnegie, Robert Greene and Robert Cialdini.
Besides if reading the classics were enough, we’d see Classics majors and Shakespeare and Biblical scholars should be getting the hot chicks. I laugh at that to scorn.
Here are a few more thoughts:
1. In general, it is unwise to assume the ancients were fools and that we are so much better than them, but it is also untrue that we can never learn anything new about human nature.
2. The best game ideas come from relatively minor writers like Ovid (though he’s a bit beta), Castiglione, Casanova. The best of them are probably Byron and Flaubert.
3. I have a theory that patriarchal social structures were set up, at least in part, so that men wouldn’t have to learn game.
I don't agree with Thursday's last point but he's on the ball when it comes to understanding the problem with the Western Canon and intersexual relations. The ideas and insights from the great books were distilled in a time where a woman's ability to freely to chose a mate was severely restricted. As I have argued before on this blog, women were so disenfranchised in the past that all a man had to do was show up--and show that he was available--to have a very good chance at getting a mate. The whole culture was an affirimative action program for non-alpha males.

Thursday recognises the change that female emancipation has made, and of the increasing irrelevance the classics have with regard to practical advice on how to attract a mate.
The modern era is a kind of natural experiment to see how women behave when they don’t have to consider what kind of father/provider a man is when choosing who to mate with. It ain’t your father’s world. Sexual attraction is now the sole criteria. That is a radical change.
Here are some lyrics from Gracie Fields’ song Walter Walter to put this in perspective:[Ed: With regard to women's choices in the past]
Walter, Walter, lead me to the altar
I don’t cost much to keep in food
Walter-er, Walter, mother says you oughta
So take me while she’s in the mood
Walter, Walter, lead me to the altar
And make all me nightmares come true
Walter, Walter, lead me to the altar
It’s either the workhouse or you.
Personally, I think women evaluate there mate choices more holistically. I'd actually rephrase this by saying that the modern era is a time when "feelings" justify all actions and what we are seeing now is the raw expression of female sexuality, essentially unhindered by any type of social restraint.  What's changed now is that men have to work to be attractive because, unlike in the past, women today are free to pass over men whom they don't. It's a problem men haven't had to face before and one the Classics don't seem to give much practical advice on.