Monday, November 11, 2013

Game, the Art of Archery, and the Business of Selling

Recently, I’ve been getting into the so-called “manosphere”: Blogs, sites and forums devoted to men’s interpersonal relationships, especially with women.

Game: Apply as required.
Contrary to what critics who have never bothered reading any of these sites would have you believe, the best of them (Roosh, Chateau Heartiste, Solomon II and others) aren’t misogynistic. Quite the contrary, the writers of the better sites clearly love and appreciate women.

Their sin is, they don’t idealize women.

They cast a cool eye on women, and interpret their actions not from any Romantic, quasi-Victorian ideal of “female fragility” (which if you get right down to it is how feminism implicitly regards women, even as they are loath to admit it). Instead, these sites and blogs interpret women’s actions through a combination of evolutionary biology and social Darwinism.

The underlying assumption of these sites is that women, no different from men, seek more: More status, more reproductive success, more possessions, more ease of life, more stuff, more etc.

These sites all explicitly posit that, just as men judge women on characteristics that they value—be it youth, beauty, sexual attractiveness, etc.—women judge men on characteristics that they value—such as objective social status, localized social dominance, professional success, apearance, etc.

Therefore, according to these writers, it behooves men to understand what it is that women are judging in men, in order to improve themselves so as to become more attractive to women.

(Ironically, these “manosphere” blogs tacitly but undeniably grant women as individuals full agency—something which feminism surreptitiously but quite adamantly does not. Feminism, in order to succeed as a theoretical framework, requires that individual women be reduced to the role of passive, paralyzed victims of men and society; each individual woman of necessity must be just one more victim, suffering in the Hegelian/Marxist collective known as “women”. Feminism requires women hold group agency, with feminist leaders of course determining that collective’s direction. If feminism were to grant individual women agency, even partial agency, then the feminist critique would be incoherent, and thus fall apart. Thus why a woman getting oral sex in public is a passive “victim of rape” after the fact: According to feminism, individually, she has no agency, and thus no say in the episode; while as part of the collective “women”, she is automatically the victim of the continuing and endless rape by the oppositional collectives known as “men” and “society”.)

The best of these sites and blogs are trying to get their readers—mostly men—to improve their own lives; “Raise their game”, “Man up”, etc. They do this by introducing and rather rigorously applying an empirically arrived-at framework of concepts, theories, ideas and terminologies that more or less get the job done of formalizing men and women’s social interactions, and getting men to understand what women want (as shown by their actions), while dismissing women’s (and men’s) rationalizations (as shown by their words).

The best of these sites and blogs aren’t so much cynical as hyper-realist. And the best of them are relentlessly empirical and science-friendly (Roissy, who runs Chateau Heartiste, has the habit of referring to science as “♥science♥”), while impatient with highfalutin or obscurantist theory.

I’m not too keen on the word “manosphere”. It sounds stupid to my ear, and on top of that, it’s looking like the mainstream media is about to latch on to the term in order to discredit and disqualify the grab-bag of (rather valuable) ideas that it contains. But that’s neither here nor there.

What intrigues me most about this sub-world of the internet is the concept of Game.

Game, loosely defined, is the set of tactics and strategies (one is almost tempted to call them “algorithms”) you need to use and follow in order to attract and seduce women, and remain in the driver’s seat insofar as any kind of long- (or short-) term ralationship.

One of the big concepts of Game is the idea that you should always be an “alpha”—or at least pretend to be an alpha—and never allow women to perceive you as a “beta”. And if you’re an “omega”, well, better just go ahead and shoot yourself already.

The alpha/beta dichotomy comes of course from the notion of dominance among social groups in the animal kingdom: The alpha male dominates, and presumably gets the females, while the beta male twiddles his thumbs, or any other idle appendage he might have. The alpha is the asshole who doesn’t pay attention to the woman. The beta is the really nice guy who is constantly trying to please the woman. The alpha teases the woman he is seducing, and certainly doesn’t bother taking her seriously. The beta is a serious conversationalist who is riveted by whatever trivia a woman cares to talk about. An alpha is Charlie Sheen’s boozing, womanizing, never-married, rich jingle writer of a scoundrel in Two and a Half Men, living large in his Malibu beach-front mansion. The beta is Charlie Sheen’s dork chiropractor brother who got taken by his ex-wife’s lawyers for all he’s got (and all he’s ever going to make, what with the alimony he’ll be paying ‘til he dies), who is now sleeping (alone, natch) in the fold-out couch and is disrespected by everyone, including his own son.

Thus alphas and betas. If you’re curious, the ├╝ber-alpha is of course Steve McQueen.

Naturally, the hottest woman will take the alpha to her bed. And naturally, the beta—who has “respected” the hot woman, become her friend, confidante and shoulder-to-cry-on—will be outraged, confused, frustrated and lonely when the hot woman he’s been “building trust with” finally runs off to the alpha’s bed. The beta will curse the alpha, and the hot woman to boot, having no idea how the alpha succeeded and the beta is left all alone.

Game aims to change that. Or at least give the motivated beta the tools by which to change. The whole notion of Game is to systematize what the alpha is doing. And if, perchance, you are not to the alpha manner born, then Game can be the guide so that a natural-born beta can successfully fake being an alpha—at least insofar as getting girls goes.

(I’ve noticed that Game and “manosphere” sites that are misogynistic tend to attract—and be written by—men who either are keyboard jockeys with endless theories about women but little practical experience; or men who try to use Game but are constitutionally unable to adapt or change or adjust in order to attract and seduce women, and who thus fall for the Sour Grapes trap. Sites, blogs and chat forums that attract keyboard jockeys and inept Game players spend their time venting their frustration and confusion at failing to attract women, all while spinning wildly idiotic and complex theories as to why they, supposedly so brilliant, fail at Game. These sites are precisely the ones that are the most misogynistic.)

(A trivial aside, but one I can’t help wondering: Is there a correlation between how enthralled someone is by theory, and how much hate they have in their heart? Because I’ve noticed that feminists who hate men the most are precisely the ones most in the grip of some theory or other which has at best a tenuous grasp on reality, whereas the “manosphere” blogs run and visited by keyboard jockeys who peddle the most complicated and asinine “theories” are precisely the ones most riddled with woman-haters and alpha-bashers. I’ve noticed the same correlation in my own academic fields, history and philosophy, while noting how empiricists in all fields and from all political persuasions seem to hate the least, if at all. Just wondering.)

Now, I started reading all of this “manosphere” stuff only recently, the last few months or so. But without realizing it, and of course with nowhere near the systematization of Game, I’ve been applying the lessons of Game for over a quarter of a century, ever since I was 19.

Aloof disinterest in the object of desire? Check. Teasing while subtly undercutting the woman’s ego (i.e., “negging”), especially if she is obviously attractive, yet doing so in a way that does not antagonize and in fact charms? Check. Always controlling the direction of the conversation, even while deliberately allowing the woman to speak the most (i.e., “framing”)? Double check. Ignoring women’s challenges (i.e., “shit tests”), or else verbally judo flipping them right back at her? Triple check.

But I’ve been realizing two points that I wanted to touch on here, if only briefly.

Number one, Game can be applied not only to women but to just about any and every social situation—especially business situations. In fact, in business, Game will succeed even more than with women.

And number two, Game is essentially Zen Buddhism applied to seduction.

The second point is the obviously weird one, so let me start with it first.

Like a lot of too-bright, over-read kids, I was terrible with girls throughout high-school. Though I lost my virginity on the day I turned thirteen, that was more a cosmic accident—like being struck by lightning or winning the lottery—than a testament to my prowess, which was non-existent. Any sexual or romantic relationship I happened to fall into between the ages of 13 and 19 happened in spite of—rather than because of—the nerdy, nervous, too-talkative, over-read and over-eager spastic and bespectacled geek that I was.

Yeah, 13 to 19, from 1981 to 1987. Good times. [smirk]

I gapped five years between HS and college, during which time I travelled and taught English as a second language. One of my pupils, an older and very successful businessman, recommended I read Eugene Herrigel’s Zen In The Art of Archery. He said it had been a huge help to him in business and in life.

(Herrigel’s book should not be confused with Robert Pirsig’s faintly pedestrian, faintly ridiculous Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, which came out a full forty years after Art of Archery was written.)

Herrigel was a German philosophy professor who taught in Japan between the Wars. While in Kyoto, he took the time to study Zen Buddhism, and learn one of the arts, in his case archery.

Boiling it down, Herrigel transmits the idea—rather elegantly—that to succeed, you must not want to succeed. Desire is what obstructs and impedes. Wanting to hit the bull’s eye with your arrow will actually make you fail, because wanting something—desire—makes you self-conscious, tense, nervous, and thus prone to failure. Therefore, you must remove desire. You must train yourself to have complete indifference to the outcome of what you are doing, and instead focus your entire attention on the process rather than the outcome.

This flies in the face of everything that the Western mindset focusses on. After all, the end result is precisely what matters most in the West: The outcome, the report card, the corporate bottom-line, the SAT score, the year-end earnings report, the zeros on you bank account, etc., etc.

In trying to alleviate human suffering, which it identifies as a failure to achieve your desires, Zen Buddhism teaches you not to have desire—or more precisely, teaches you to sublimate your desire. This is not the same as not caring about something, or not wanting something. Rather, it is a trick of the mind whereby the desire for the thing you are pursuing is ignored during the period of its pursuit. You actively and deliberately ignore your desire, so that that desire does not impede triumph.

I read the book several times, and took Prof. Herrigel’s message to heart, applying it to the one conundrum that then dominated my 19 year-old mind: Girls.

After that, success. By applying Zen Buddhism’s teachings that Prof. Herrigel had distilled—by not caring whether I succeeded or failed to seduce women, and just concentrated on the process and pleasure of seduction itself—that is, ignoring the outcome and concentrating on the process—I succeeded almost every time. And continued to succeed, until I finally got married last year.

When I read about Game, I realized that it had turned into a practical system the abstract ideas I’d picked up in Zen In The Art of Archery, namely, to sublimate desire and focus on process rather than outcome. The whole notion of Game depends on being indifferent to whether or not you succeed with women. One of Game’s key precepts is that there is always another woman just around the corner. So getting worked up by this one woman in front of you now (the famed “Oneitis”) is a waste of energy which will only bring failure. Which is a very Zen notion.

Thus by following the precept of Game that says you should be indifferent to the woman you want—refusing to acknowledge or be overwhelmed by her beauty, refusing to be drawn into her frame while deliberately forcing her to stay in yours—you are actually being forced by Game to be Zen about seducing women. Game forces you to start paying attention to the process of seduction, as opposed to its outcome.

Why does this matter? This overlap between Game and Zen Buddhism? Actually, I don’t know. But like a pig in a forest, I can smell that there’s a truffle here somewhere. Perhaps it’s that my one critique of many Gamers is that they follow it too robotically, and don’t realize that the situation and the flow of the moment—something which Zen values and respects—ought to weigh more heavily when running Game than mechanically adhering to strict algos. That is, don’t be a bulldozer, mindlessly and destructively forging ahead—be a sailing yacht, bending with the wind even as it is always clear as to its ultimate direction.

Now, the other point I wanted to make: How Game can apply to business.

It’s pretty obvious that in Game, women are the buyers and men are the sellers—

—and right there, my point is clear: All business relationships, by definition, are about a buyer and a seller.

If you are a buyer, then life without Game is easy: Your sellers come to you, and offer you their wares like a pack of desperate beta shlubs.

If you are a seller, then life without Game is hard: You are chasing your buyer, one among many beta shlubs, gussying up your wares in the hopes that the buyer will magically pick you, instead of the other guy.

However, with Game, if you are a seller, you can invert the process. No different than if they were women, you can Game business associates whom you want to sell to, using the exact same strategies and tactics of Game, making the buyer ultimately chase you, the seller.

Thus my point: The “manosphere” ought to be concentrating on figuring out how to apply Game not just to seduction, which I think we can all agree is ground that has been trod to death. The next frontier of Game thus ought to be business.

Now why am I bringing this up? Well, as a I said before, I got married. (For the cognoscenti: Yes, her x-axis number is at the exact peak SMV as per the famed graph, rating a solid 8, soft 9. Her y-axis number? Zero, verified. My self-respect would not allow otherwise.) As I settled into married life, concentrated on our first child, and did a radical about-face insofar as the dating world is concerned, I realized that all this accumulated skill at what I came to learn to call Game was going to waste.

Which doesn’t seem reasonable or rational. The skills are too valuable to be forgotten once you marry, or restricted just to seducing women if you’re still playing. It’s like learning to play guitar like Eddie Van Halen, then packing in the Frankenstrat on your wedding day, or playing no other style except pop-metal. Foolish.

Game in business is where I think the conversation ought to be heading. It’s just my 2¢, but it’s what I’m planning on writing about.

Again, without realizing it, I have already applied Game to business. On a few occasions, I’ve worked with investment banks to sell a business to prospective buyers. The businesses, truth be told, were not so unique that I was the only one on earth who could do them. I negated this weakness with alpha’tude: I ignored it. And so my potential buyers ignored it as well, for the most part. When a buyer did point out that I wasn’t really necessary for the business I was selling, I did the alpha hyper-confidence move: I leaned back, gave an amused smirk, and said, “If you’re so clever, go ahead and do it without me—just hope that you have people who can do this, this, that there and the other as well as—as brilliantly as—I can.”

Pure bluff on my part—but it worked. Every time. No different from judo-flipping a shit-test from a cutie at the bar.

Game in business and Game in sex are practically identical—except for one crucial difference: With Game in sex, you are selling yourself. You yourself—your person—is the ware you are trying to get women to buy. But with Game in business, your wares are separate from your person (unless you are running Game on your employer or other prospective employers, where you are the commodity in play). Thus if you’re not careful, it is very easy for your buyer to “buy” you—while giving a pass on your wares.

So when applying Game in business, you have to blur the distinction between you and what you’re selling in the mind of your buyer. You and your wares must become one and the same thing.

From that starting point (which is a trip in and of itself), you can apply Game to your business. In fact you should apply Game to your business. After all, isn’t business more important than a casual weekend seduction?

Well, I’ll end here. I hadn’t actually planned on writing at such length about this stuff. But it’s really fascinating. And there seems to me an enormous potential.

I welcome and look forward to all comments.

If you like what I’ve written, then please subscribe to my mailing list.

I’ll only contact you with things that are worth your while.

Thank you.

—GL

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11 comments:

  1. Yeah, yeah, but where's gold going?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Barring any crisis, gold will go sideways for the foreseeable future, 12-18 months, in a range of $1,220 to $1,380. Great for hop-on-hop-off trades, but crap for long-term investing.

      Pay attention to commodities, especially industrial commodities. That's where the trading opportunities are at.

      GL

      Delete
  2. Great analysis. I find that the thing that is great about game is that it's all about conquering your fears, illusions and insecurities about the opposite sex, which is basically the same skill as conquering your fears, illusions and insecurities in general. That's why "game" is so fascinating and so applicable to everyday life.

    I wrote a blog post on why the PUA/Game scene is good for men, you might find it interesting: http://www.tenmagnet.com/10-ways-that-the-pua-scene-is-good-for-men/

    ReplyDelete
  3. Firtstly, it's nice to see you back. As for this article l like it whenyou stick to economics and politics!!

    ReplyDelete
  4. Thankyou for an interesting post....however I would have to say that although I do often visit "manosphere" sites I find a lot more intersting subjects than just women to discuss and share. There's a lot more important issues, and more men are waking up to that. Men are realising the value of brotherhood, supporting one another in the same way feminists do. The concept is way overdue,but is finally gaining momentum.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Gonzalo, congratulations on your marriage. Even though you don't state it, female hypergamy (how could you write about Game without using the word?) doesn't cease after tying the knot! The selling never stops. And there are many Game blogs that focus on Game in marriage. Eg Athol Kay's Married Man Sex Life, Dalrock, and others.

    You are correct that Game is really more far-reaching than about bedding babes. It just so happens that what women want (ie find attractive and desirable) in men also happen to be characteristics that make for better men.

    An interesting and unexpected post from you.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Shimshon, very kind of you.

      And yes, you’re right: Game Never Ends.

      GL

      Delete
  6. Gonzalo, I am more interested in your expertise on hyperinflation. Could you look at my Hyperinflation FAQ?

    http://howfiatdies.blogspot.com/2012/10/faq-for-hyperinflation-skeptics.html

    ReplyDelete
  7. I've not come across this infamous graph you mention. Can you link it to me please?
    Great article by the way. As someone just about to go into studying business, you've given me a great perspective.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Thank you so much for this objective and reasonable view of the manosphere. In an era of haters, where the main discourse of any western society is dominated by feminist thought, your post shines like a beacon.

    ReplyDelete
  9. I rarely make an insurance sale when I act needy and desperate (i.e. calling a thousand times when a prospect expresses interest). "Giving away my power", so to speak.

    Consistent (and fulfilling) success comes when I focus on the process of selling, and not acting like my life depends on making the sale.

    Peeing on myself like a beta waiting in anticipation of you next piece.

    ReplyDelete

Whether you agree with me or not, thank you for your comment.

If you liked what I wrote—or if it at least made you think—don’t be shy about making a payment. The PayPal button is there for your convenience.

If you have a question or a private comment, do feel free to e-mail me at my address expat229@gmail.com.

GL