How many people can one fuck before it becomes "too many?" Is there such a thing?
Every man I know who's slept with a lot of women is irreparably detached from others. Every man I know with a triple digit notch count is, at bottom, not a normal human being. There is something deeply dysfunctional there (or, if you'd prefer that I use non-normative terminology, phenotypically atypical). What is the process that underlies this degradation? Maybe I'm conflating attachment with monogamy. Maybe they're not the same thing. Perhaps only people who are broken to begin with end up pursuing a high number of partners. Maybe it's not the promiscuity itself that changes you.
My friend has a theory that every casual encounter acts to poison the well, to cheapen the value of intimacy with another person. Maybe the religious conservatives have a point, that there is some kind of spiritual cost to promiscuity. I don't know. Perhaps there is some threshold, some rubicon, that once crossed, permanently severs your ability to have a loving, functional monogamous relationship with another human being.
What I do know is that the intensity of emotions I'm feeling for the women I meet in my personal life is declining. Indifference isn't the right word. Detachment would be a better word. I do care about them. I do have a fondness for them, a genuine interest in their well-being. But were they to leave my life, I probably wouldn't lose a step. It's unclear to me if this is a contradiction. It doesn't feel like one. I hesitate to attach a moral value to this, since I do not seem to know what I actually want. Life is full of surprises. My friend, who I thought was an incorrigible womanizer, fell in love in a matter of weeks. He has a girlfriend now, a medical student. She's a good person. Hope springs eternal. Sometimes the sun surprises you. I'm happy for him, I think. Maybe I'm too picky. Or more likely, just getting old. All men must die.
Sometimes, for brief moments in time, I experience a mild sensation of derealization, the feeling that my experience is not real. This isn't always linked to intense, peak experiences (deaths, travels to exotic locations, etc.), but often happens during banal moments in my life - walking the streets at night, taking in the neon lights and the signage of the urban setting.
I think this is attributable to two things: one, a mild decrease in the acuity of my sense as I age (particularly my vision), and two, the increasing amount of time that I spend in front of a screen. Since most of my work and passions involve screen-time, the screen has become the primary conduit through which I interface with reality.
In philosophy, a quale is a unit of perception: the colour red, the taste of salt on your tongue, etcetera. I wonder if "realness," as it is experienced by humans, is some summation of these individual quales, that, together, makes us feel "real" and present. Increasingly, I feel a thin film of unreality placed over some of my experiences in the world, even though I practice mindfulness and try to always "be" where I am.
Maybe Nick Bostrom is right. Maybe this all just a simulation...
Guy thinks he's God's gift to women. But then again, so do women. Guy is a successful talent agent who dates models, pop stars and women he meets on the beach. He's a narcissistic, judgmental snob who rates women's looks from one to ten; a racist, homophobic megalomaniac who makes fun of people's weight; a cheating, lying, manipulative jerk who sees his older girlfriend as nothing more than an adornment. His only real friend, besides his dog, is a loser who belongs to a pickup artist group. Guy is completely oblivious to his own lack of empathy, and his greatest talent is hiding it all?until he meets someone who challenges him in a way he's never been challenged before. Darkly funny and utterly offensive, Guy is a brilliant and insightful character study that exposes the twisted thoughts of the misogynist bro next door.
So reads the Amazon description for Guy, a novel by Canadian writer Jowita Bydlowska.
Looks like an interesting take on some of the themes in Beta Male, looking forward to reading it (but I'll wait until after I'm done my final draft of my own novel, since I don't want to unconsciously pilfer from another novel that at first glance appears to be similar to my own).
My good friend asked me today whether I'm happy. I'm not sure that I am, at the least, I'm not unhappy, but I think a focus on happiness can be toxic. A focus on happiness in an inherently inward-facing frame, one that prioritizes your own hedonic experience above all.
Happiness, then, becomes just one more metric that we track in our lives, and in the very act of constantly assessing it, we pull ourselves out of the present, comparing the current moment to a litany of past and future ones, perpetually asking ourselves - is this good enough?
Instead, I think gratitude is a much better frame. Instead of pursuing happiness, pursue gratitude, giving thanks for all the things that you do have - whatever those things may be. I'm grateful for the people in my life who love me, and for those I have loved, for my health, for living in a country like Canada, for the opportunity to make art, for the gift of having found something (writing) that animates me, that breathes vitality and purpose into my life.
The final draft of Beta Male, after about five years of work, is finally congealing, crystallizing into its final form. I'm cutting the fat, eliminating the dialogue where characters talk like mouthpieces (this isn't something people do in real life), paring things down to their essentials. It's work that I'm truly proud of, something I can point to with pride and say - I made that. The ironic thing about my novel is that even though it's about a broken, hateful person, it was made with love.
No matter what happens in my life, no matter what ups and downs go on, I take solace in art, in the act of making good art, of making something that can move another human being. To see the craft of something, to appreciate the way it rings clean and true: this is a privilege, the privilege of work.
people I admire
Bret Easton Ellis