Until yesterday, this was one of those essays that looked to be permanently placed in draft-limbo. This is a fate shared by quite a few essays that I have ideas for, but cannot quite figure out how to finish or what angle to take. Despite the fact that I found the subject-matter in this essay very interesting, there simply was no angle that encapsulated what I wanted to communicate. That is, until I heard of the death by suicide of Anthony Bourdain.
I’ve shared a little bit about my youthful culinary interests on twitter, what I didn’t share is that they were largely inspired by Mr. Bourdain’s book “Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly“, to this day one of my favorite books within the genre. The book describes the journey of a young man from chucking clams in Rhode Island to the Rainbow room in Manhattan, drug use, alcohol abuse, and high gastronomy, but more than anything it was about passion. As the years passed by, my interests shifted a little, but I tried to keep up with Anthony’s work whether on the travel channel, the food network or other places. For someone who still has a passion for food, and all that surrounds it, he was the culinary Christopher Hitchens, an irreverent, ghost-pepper in an increasingly bland world of cuisine. However, as his career progressed, it was difficult not to notice the gradual softening of his, the cursing became more rare, as did the drinking, he quit smoking and he had children.
I stopped watching TV some time ago, so it was a few years until he popped up on my radar again, this time coming across my twitter feed in a retweet after my return to the manosphere. Out of curiosity I looked him up, found that he’d gotten divorced sometime earlier and was dating an MMA star. I clicked the tweet and I noticed the unmistakable Beta tells in the pictures, the fact that his girlfriend’s instagram was filled with pictures of her with other men that were 30 years his junior, and I thought to myself “That’s going to blow up in his face, maybe we’ll get the old hard drinking, angry, Anthony Bourdain back. The man who banned Billy Joel from every restaurant kitchen he ever ran“.
Alas, yesterday I saw the news coming across my twitter feed, he was found dead in his hotel, having ended his life in a case that appears related to “girl problems”. I was going to let this go, but then the inevitably “toxic masculinity” arguments came flowing out into the media “oh if only men were more like women, they wouldn’t kill themselves” and I figured, ah that is a perfect frame for that essay in my draft folder.
The big, often glossed over thing about suicide is that women attempt to kill themselves just as much or even more than men, they are just less successful at it . They attempt to kill themselves so that someone will come to them and be like “Oh honey, are you OK, want to talk about it?“. Men are much better and more successful at killing themselves, because they do it because they are done talking. For women a suicide attempt is a comma in the sentence of their life, for men it’s the exclamation point at the end of it. If men were less “masculine” and more like women, we would simply see a drop in successful suicides, with an increase in suicide attempts.
Of Idealism, Meaning and Hope
Meaning has in many ways been the persuasion of the manosphere over the past year or so, however in many ways I view it as a digression rather than an explanatory variable. Some common red pill axioms is that men love idealistically, women love opportunistically, often framed as “men are the true romantics” along with the observation that a woman can never love a man the way he wants to be loved. These axioms are the antithesis to the thesis of the blue pill, that women love idealistically and are the true romantics, and once you find “the one” she will love you the way you want to be loved. This is the carrot of the blue pill illusion, that instills in a young man the hope, that once he finds his one, he will find meaning in all the suffering that preceded finding her.
This gives rise to tautologies such as “she wasn’t the one” and “the right one is out there for you“, That serve the purpose of kindling the flicker of hope within a man who has just taken a blow to his religion. Much like comet cult leaders who have just had their predictions of the end of the world objectively proven wrong, one has to re-frame the situation in order to maintain the shared delusion of the cult, “Oh the aliens just did one bang-up job of cleaning away all the advanced tech they used to build the pyramids“, “Oh the aliens that were coming to get us got delayed by a DUI checkpoint just outside the solar system and will be here in a couple of weeks when Zanu’s brother-in-law can come get the ship“, “Oh, she only fucked all your friends because she wasn’t the one“.
In many ways there are two cults within the world, the one of hyper-agency and the one of hypo-agency. In the former you are the omnipotent Zeus merely playing with the morals, in the latter you are merely the mortal being played with by the omnipotent Zeus. The reductio ad absurdum of the former is that everything your woman does, ultimately is a reaction to your action, to put it briefly “You were not alpha enough”. The same analysis of the latter, would be “There is no such thing as alpha enough”.
Therefore one could construct the following positions.
A) When you find the one, she will always view you as the ultimate alpha. Any change in her perception of you is caused by you utilizing your agency poorly.
B) There is no one, a woman’s view of you as alpha is always conditional. Any change in her perception of you is caused by a change you have no control over.
C) There are many someones, a woman’s view of you is always dynamic. Any change in her perception of you can be caused a change in you, a change in her, a change in context or in all of the above.
Number three is the position whereby one accepts one’s own agency, yet has a sensible view of it, one is neither omnipotent or impotent. Number two is the one where one refuses to accept one’s own hand in the demise, in effect viewing oneself as impotent. Number one is the position of hyper-agency, where one views oneself as omnipotent.
If you internalize the message many men are raised with, that you are always responsible not only for yourself, but for your tribe, and over things which you do not control, then everything is always your fault. Accepting that “everything is your fault” can be a good thing if you are the type of person who has an external locus of control, and always blame outside forces for your own misfortune. If you’re 50 years old and still blame your parents for things, you have to come to grips with the fact that they raised you for 18 years, you’ve had 32 years where you didn’t do shit.
However, if you are a “Good Boy“, conscientious, dutiful, dedicated, loyal, high in agreeableness, and who takes on responsibility for everything this leads down a dangerous path. If you internalize execution but externalize direction, then you blame yourself for not being able to follow a map of Canada to Las Vegas. This is the core problem of the blue pill illusion, it provides men with maps, 487 bullet point lists, logos for why the map is correct, pathos to ingrain the map in his emotional function and ethos by having it communicated to him when he is young by figures of authority. However, it places the responsibility for following the map on each individual man.
Like men do, they all attempt to follow the map to Shangri-la by whatever means they had, in many ways one cannot fault them for effort, the trouble is that the outcome didn’t follow from the input. They did everything right, and everything turned out wrong. However, this fault lies not with the individual man, but with the map they were provided.
This is where I come back to the Karl Marx quote that I’ve share previously on this blog:
“The foundation of irreligious criticism is: Man makes religion, religion does not make man. Religion is, indeed, the self-consciousness and self-esteem of man who has either not yet won through to himself, or has already lost himself again. But man is no abstract being squatting outside the world. Man is the world of man – state, society. This state and this society produce religion, which is an inverted consciousness of the world, because they are an inverted world. Religion is the general theory of this world, its encyclopaedic compendium, its logic in popular form, its spiritual point d’honneur, its enthusiasm, its moral sanction, its solemn complement, and its universal basis of consolation and justification. It is the fantastic realization of the human essence since the human essence has not acquired any true reality. The struggle against religion is, therefore, indirectly the struggle against that world whose spiritual aroma is religion.
Religious suffering is, at one and the same time, the expression of real suffering and a protest against real suffering. Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, and the soul of soulless conditions. It is the opium of the people.
The abolition of religion as the illusory happiness of the people is the demand for their real happiness. To call on them to give up their illusions about their condition is to call on them to give up a condition that requires illusions. The criticism of religion is, therefore, in embryo, the criticism of that vale of tears of which religion is the halo.” Karl Marx
What I like about this quote, is that despite my criticisms of Marx’s economic theory as being “a great system if human nature did not exist“, I think Marx had a fundamentally sound understanding of human beings. If one is living in abject misery, and religion provides a justification for the misery, and imbues it with purpose, then that helps blunt the pain of the present situation through the belief in a better future. After all, what is 65 years of misery when compared to an eternity in paradise?
Meaning is the antithesis of existential nihilism, but hope is the antithesis of despair.
Summary and Conclusions
One of my regular arguments in the many discussions we’ve had on The Red Man Group when it comes to mass shooters, is that the mass shooter phenomena and the male suicide phenomena are merely two sides of the same coin, acting out vs. acting in, those who turn the gun on others, and those who turn the gun on themselves. We can discuss the “why” until we are all bored to tears, but truthfully I don’t think it has to do with meaning. In many ways I think meaning is a red herring, and the true problem is hope. These men all seemed to have an idea of what would give their life meaning, purpose and value, namely being able to fulfill the blue pill illusion. The very same illusion they had been told from childhood would give their life meaning, and to which they had been provided a map.
The men, whether they elect to act out or act in, are doing so after staring into the abyss so long that they have become trapped within it, perhaps a flicker of light may be present that can guide them out of the darkness. This flicker of light is hope and idealism. Just as Marx said, religion gives man a reason to continue despite present misery, based on the hope of a better future. In our long history of inflicting brutality, gruesomeness, torture and evil on our fellow man, one can often see one major difference between those who persevere and those who perish. Those who perish are either stuck in the past and incapable of adapting to their present environment or stuck in the present unable to utilize the future as a motivating factor to keep walking through hell to reach the other side. Those who persevere are adaptable enough to function within their present, but not so mired in it that they cannot see that guiding light of future promise. Once that light dies, the journey comes to its conclusion.
The common denominator in both acting out and acting in, is that these men lost hope for a better future, they projected their present state forward, for the remainder of their life, and made a decision that such a future was not worth living. They had attempted to find the meaning that they so sought following the exact map they had been provided. They often struggled for decades, slogging along on a path beset on all sides by evildoers, a path covered in thorns, vines and vicious vermin, yet they persevered, and every time they thought they had reached the promised paradise, it was shown to be nothing but a mirage.
The major distinction between the Red Pill and The Blue Pill Illusion begins with the first principle. The blue pill states there is a one, build yourself into a man of value for her. The red pill states, there is no one, build yourself into a man of value. Those of you who have read my essays for some time now, will perhaps have identified my cardinal principle from “Of Means and Ends”. In the blue pill frame, building yourself into a man of value is a means to an end, it is something you do for someone else. The definition of value in this context is whatever the 487 bullet point list says that it is. In the red pill frame, building yourself into a man of value is an end in itself, it means as the Heartiste maxim states “III. You shall make your mission, not your woman, your priority” 
This is why introspection matters, it is very easy to take direction from others, and just execute what they told you. However, in doing so you give up the directive power over your own life to someone else. You make yourself into an employee in your own life, never asking what you think is best, but relying on others to tell you. When you then come to realize that their orders, plans and ideas were wrong, you find yourself having potentially spent your whole life, running from mirage to mirage, hoping to find water, but finding only sand. If a man has found sand countless times, he may become convinced that water does not exist, if water is his reason for existing, and he is convinced that water does not exist, what reason does he have to exist?
This is why one cannot make one’s raison d’être something that can be taken away, the external trappings that come with progress in one’s mission are nice, but they can be taken away or lost, the character traits and personality you build cannot.