Showing posts with label despair. Show all posts
Showing posts with label despair. Show all posts

Friday, August 9, 2013

The voice of men, the voices of despair

I spent the sunny afternoon at a public pool near my home.  Not surprisingly, given that it was an exceptionally warm day in Seattle, the pool was filled with families.  The density of splashing, shrieking youngsters frustrated my effort to swim laps, but I enjoyed observing the kids nevertheless.  Although I don't have a family and children myself, I sometimes find a kind of vicarious pleasure in watching other families enjoying themselves together.  I was especially moved by several affectionate, attentive fathers interacting with their little ones.  It gives me a kind of hope.  After all, one does not need to be a biological parent in order to feel invested in the youngest generation.

When I got home, I thought about the men of the manosphere, who are so angry and hateful towards women.  Although I frequent manboobz, the site which delights in mocking misogyny, I sometimes feel at odds with the prevailing tone of dominant commenters.  The more I follow the manosphere (Voice for Men, Heartiste, Roosh), the more compassion I feel for the young misogynists.  It's easy to ridicule them, because most of what they say is ridiculous.  It's easy to be outraged by them, because most of what they say is outrageous.  It's easy to be frightened by them, because they are simmering with anger.  And then it's comforting to reassure myself that their ideas are, well, after all, pretty silly.  They pretend they are a movement, but they spend so much of their energy squabbling with one another that it's evident that they couldn't organize themselves out of a paper bag. 

But more and more, what I hear behind their hateful words, their virulent disdain for all women (and most other men), is despair.  Roosh and his ilk (Matt Forney, Paul Elam, "Roissy," et al.) are men who have pretty much given up on the one thing -- other than engaging work -- which makes life meaningful: intimate, committed relationships with others.

A couple of weeks ago, Roosh was positively distraught when Mark Minter abandoned the manosphere ship to marry a gal he'd met online.  His sense of betrayal was palpable.  Even his followers were a bit baffled that he took it so much to heart.

But someone like Roosh has nothing else except his convictions, as delusional and self-destructive as they are.  He has no relationships beyond his tenuous online connection with the men and boys who echo his nihilistic philosophy.  He is so out of sync with the cultural tide that he must seek refuge in ancient texts, to constantly imagine that the way it was is the way it should be now.  

Today he posted, in his typically self-aggrandizing and melodramatic fashion, that "every man dies by his own ideas."  He views himself as a martyr to his own ideals.  But relentless, inchoate rage is not a "cause."  It is a symptom of a personality disorder. 

I reflect on the mothers and fathers I watched frolicking in the pool today.  Whether they are "happy" in their marriages I have no idea.  I have never been convinced that "happiness" should be a person's primary aim.  I'm not sure even what "happiness" means.  I can say that they all looked thoroughly engaged with one another.  I thought, "This is Real Life."  And by merely observing from the sidelines, I felt myself part of it:  the Family of Man.  And I pity the men of the manosphere, who have learned to hate what they have come to believe they cannot have: intimate connection, a sense of purpose, community membership, an investment in the world around them.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Roosh Is Sad

I'm not alone in recognizing the black thread of melancholy that runs through Roosh's writing, that "tugs at [one's] heartstrings."

(One of his followers, Delicious Tacos, is sad too; however, his superior writing skill, sense of irony, and higher degree of self-awareness actually gives his blogging some pretension to literary merit.) 

How can I feel sorry for someone whose views I find so thoroughly repellant and even downright evil?  Well, what can I say?  I cheered the mob on during the Iranian Revolution of '77.  I rejoiced at the downfall of the corrupt Pahlavi Dynasty.  Yet I still wept for the Shahbanou as her husband died in lonely exile of cancer, and she lost two children to suicide. I even find pathos in reading about the last hours of Hitler and Goebbels.

I'm sorry that some people were ever born, yet their suffering and demise bring me no satisfaction: only further sorrow. See, I am sad, too, and in that respect have everything in common with every human on the planet.

In his video posts Roosh wears a plaintive expression and projects a low affect.  He occasionally clutches his head or his hands and looks down before locking his eyes on the camera.  He seems to emit a faint sigh as he launches into the sermon du jour.  The burden of his vocation weighs heavily upon his narrow shoulders.  Posts are often prefaced with mild physical complaints about his surroundings or health (and his travel guides demonstrate an uncommon obsession with the state of his bowels or the cleanliness of local toilets). I don't think I've seen him ever laugh, or even smile, in these posts.  His body language suggests that addressing his minions is rather a trial, more obligation than opportunity.  The backgrounds (often kitchenettes) suggest cold, stark, clean but inexpensive accommodations, empty as the life that inhabits them.  One commenter has observed that Roosh would look utterly at home posing for Unhappy Hipsters.

A lot of readers, including his own fan base, speculate what will happen to Roosh in the next decade.  I don't think anyone foresees a happy ending to this story.  Once he was a young guy who probably seemed, on the face of it, to hold a lot of promise, at least to his parents.  But the chances of picking up his pre-Roosh identity are dim.  Because of his notoriety, no U.S. company can ever hire him.  It is likely he would even have trouble trying to legally change his name.

Will he finally cross the line and be convicted of rape?  Will he be murdered by one of his victims, her friends or family members, or a vigilante group?

Perhaps he will emigrate to another country, but once his true identity is revealed in the process (and because he has relatively few assets), most countries will consider him undesirable.  Even if another country accepts him, he is unlikely to enjoy the lifestyle of a permanent expatriate, for as much as he complains about the "corruption" of American culture, he writes with even more contempt of, and less insight into, others.

In my girlfriend's parlance, He's really screwed the pooch, and I don't see any way out.  In the immediate future, he'll continue to milk his current roles as PUA guru and feminist provocateur even though he is only marginally successful at the former pursuit and widely mocked at the latter.  At any rate, time is running out, which is what most of us begin to understand in our thirties.  While a 33 year old hitting on club girls is pushing the socially-sanctioned limits of adolescence, a 40 year old doing the same thing is a universal object of ridicule.