Advice. To a boy: get dirty. To a girl: stay clean.
Art. The artist is a passive conduit to a higher truth, which he transmits through the filter of his personality, and then shapes its representation into material form. The more receptive to the transcendent, the more original in his filtering of it, and the more skilled with his medium, the greater the artist. The artist’s peril: his receptive, judgment-suspending disposition makes him vulnerable to liars with jangling coins who flatter his womanish vanity — that’s the career of the talented band U2 in a nutshell, with their channeling the Celt’s earnest spirit while squirting Moloch-globalist soundbites into each of their great songs.
Capitalism. Pax Americana has always been fundamentally unsustainable because it runs on the principle of strip-mining human capital for short-term gain.
Charm. Interact with women in ways that men would find annoying or even insulting: tease them, put them into defensive crouches, don’t give them straight answers (unless the answer is “no”). Conversely, talk with a man in a way that would bore a woman: respectfully, straightforwardly, focused on the subject.
Communism. Eastern European communism has produced its share of vile men. But whatever you say about that communism, it did not spawn the ridiculous men the way modern American communism does. The first time as tragedy, the second time as farce.
Dignity. I’m downtown with two friends, approaching one of our favorite brew pubs and seeing that it is uncharacteristically packed. One of my friends says “let’s go in, we can still stand in the bar area.” I said “No. I’m too old to drink standing.”
Depression. Driving home from work on a muggy, overcast June evening, dispirited in the wake of the Supreme Court’s rulings on gay marriage and Obamacare. Not so much gloomy about the political event itself as by the unexpected jubilation from certain quarters in my social circle, which felt like a personal betrayal. Then I remembered that my gym bag is in the trunk of the car. I was too listless to go, yet I turned the car in gym’s direction. “This will be a short, balls-to-the-wall workout,” I decided. Chest and nothing else. I went to a seated chest press machine (the barbell and dumbbell benches were all taken) and did two 20x medium/high weight sets. Then I added plates for two heavy five-rep sets. Barely finished the first set. On the second set, I completed three and a half reps, then muscle failure. The slow, silent cadence everyone began to feel was a welling of testosterone. On that same desperate day in America, one Donald J. Trump stepped forward as the future President of the United States.
Generations. Baby Boomers have always lived for pleasure and status. They had the Beach Boys and Rolling Stones. Our — GenX’s — anthem is Pearl Jam’s “Black,” the anguished howl of a dispossessed generation.
Happiness. Seeing your child laugh with joy.
Hate. Love and hate are two halves of the same passion. To love something is to value it above all other things, even your own life. Hate is what you feel for those who’d harm that which you love.
Marriage. If you want to have children, get married. Start a family and you’ll never look back — you have my word on it. But if children are not in the picture for you because of age or other reasons, consider these three things: (1) love, (2) sex, and (3) freedom. Pick two. As a single man, you can have sex and freedom, but love will be elusive. As a successfully married man, you can have love and sex, but your freedom is curtailed. And if the marriage goes bad, you end up with neither love, nor sex, nor freedom.
Oneitis. All women are interchangeable, there is nothing magical about any one girl… except — if she loves you. The love she gives you makes her “special.” If she stops loving you, she is no longer special and if she never did, she never was.
Pride. One potentially explosive situation you should avoid getting into is helping a pushover boyfriend when you see his girlfriend treat him disrespectfully. For example, you may be tempted to discreetly tell him “you can do better that take crap from a woman.” As he cowers before her, so will he find his nuts and get up in your grill.
Purity. The one-drop rule keeps a clean pool.
Regrets. The sole regret from my youth: not going for the kiss.
Time-Travel. Next time you’re on a subway platform in rush hour, pretend you’re visiting from 1985 and wondering why everyone is standing like a row of cranes with snapped necks.
Truth. Seek it, speak it, cherish it, live it, defend it.
(See Shots of Wisdom, Part 2 here)