Thursday, July 18, 2013

The Game, 8 Years Later

I recently read "The Game," Neil Strauss's famous bible of pickup artistry that thrust the previously underground PUA culture into the mainstream spotlight. 

Though the community has changed since this exposé hit the shelves, a timeless theme of the novel is that men have a drive toward understanding the world around us. Despite their idiosyncratic approaches to seduction, the characters chronicled in the novel built their craft using the scientific process, ruthless efficiency, and a dedication worthy of admiration. We owe these guys a lot for the inroads they made into understanding the female psyche, even if their vernacular and specific routines now seem dated.

That said, the book is no hagiography of Mystery and his fellow "mPUAs." Though the quality and quantity of tail they conquered is proof these guys were passing the Turing test for alpha, Strauss chronicles how internally they were light years from being the naturals they attempted to emulate. One of the most engaging and fascinating themes of the book was how most of the PUAs were deeply troubled and unfulfilled. Obliquely acknowledging this deficiency at one point, Mystery hints at the idea of creating a forum to build and share non-game value:
"I envision this lounge as not being about pickup, but rather about something bigger: life goals. Women are a huge part of that, and we work together to help each other obtain them. However, I’d like to extend our topics to money, social status, and other ambitions. 
I think one of life’s biggest difficulties is not being able to share your problems honestly. So, state your issues here, and you have a hundred intelligent, trustworthy men who can assist you. 
Also, tell us your goals and objectives. If you don’t have any, now is the time to make them. I want to see all of us get our shit together and reach self-fulfillment. Travel, women, money, social status, whatever. Let’s assist each other along the way. Let’s all work on the same projects and synergize our efforts like a corporation."
Unfortunately Mystery couldn't follow through on his own advice. Despite having had a show on VH1 and more ass than most of us could imagine, he is a tragic figure in the novel --- a manic genius with innumerable gifts but the curses of depression, sloth, and fear of success. He is constantly making grand plans about magic shows and fame, none of which come to fruition during the narrative. 

Mystery's self-medication to assuage the internal disconnect between ambition and accomplishment was to approach, approach, and approach some more. Strauss eventually realizes the short-sightedness of this method during one of his own seductions, at a party where he was essentially dynamite fishing due to his fame and status:
She asked, "What do you do for a living?" 
"What?" I replied. I couldn’t believe she would ask that, but she seemed to need that piece of information in order to explain my status at the party and her attraction to me. 
"What do you do?" she asked again. 
And that’s when I had the epiphany: Sarging is for losers. 
Somewhere along the line, sarging became seen as the goal of pickup. But the point of the game is not to get good at sarging. When you sarge, every night is a new one. You’re not building anything but a skillset. What got me laid on my birthday was not sarging but lifestyle. And building a lifestyle is cumulative. Everything you do counts and brings you closer to your goal. 
The current Manosphere is picking up slack where the first generation failed. The Roosh forum is one example of a place where like-minded men can share tips on girls, money, lifestyle, health, travel, and the other things that make a man's life worth living. I can only imagine how the characters in the novel would have been better served with the resources available today.

That the community has evolved markedly in the last decade is not an indictment of the book by any means. Strauss's ability as a writer makes the book informative, entertaining, and fast-paced. I recommend you pick up a copy for both historical and entertainment value. 

Click Here to buy "The Game" by Neil Strauss

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