“Offer me solutions, offer me alternatives, and I decline.”
I had this incredible moment of content while kissing Sarah in the backseat of my car. “Heroin” was playing on the radio. She had asked me if I thought her breasts were as big as I was expecting- that perhaps her nudes were deceptively angled, the old MySpace trick. She was so nervous I wouldn’t like her that she needed to hold her wine glass with both hands, to prevent spillage. This worsened when I told her to cut the shit with the sterile, first date, getting to know you chit-chat- maybe the last bold move I’d ever make. She had to put the glass down entirely.
Once in my car, she sat up straight, arched her back, and asked again- somewhere between seductive and genuinely worried. I told her that I’d need a closer look and took the straps of her dress off her shoulders. And I had this moment, in the back seat of my car, of true connection. I liked her- dark hair and large breasts. Insecure and she didn’t bother to hide it. A kindred spirit left behind by the dating market, looking for something real. This felt different. This felt special.
The day after Christmas, 2016, and you wondered if what you were experiencing was the beginning of the end.
Even then, we were late in the game. Any semblance of success had passed for the well-intentioned, common man. Meeting Sarah was like catching a shooting star on your camcorder- standing in the right place at the right time and having the prescience to hit record on gut-instinct alone. It could have been anyone, but it was you on the evening news, with a goofy smile, proudly showing your footage.
Success is hollow in a world without sex. You become the kid selling candy bars for a 13″ color TV out of the prize catalog. If you take the idea of having nice kitchen appliances purchased to impress women out of the equation, it turns out, you don’t need very much. A notebook and a pen. A freezer full of meat and heavy things to push around. A car with enough gas in the tank to drive yourself to death when the time comes.
Dark thoughts. A text from Amazon cuts the tension. Your package is nine stops away- a blu-ray copy of Ghostbusters 2 (1989). How could you have lived with this hole in your collection?
You get through another day.
The trick is to recalibrate- redefine success. Make money less relevant. Work for sustenance. Bitcoin was a psy-op to keep your type in line, you’re sure. False hope for those ready to unplug and get off the grid. A hundred acres in Montana with your Bitcoin wife, starting a Bitcoin family, watching your net-worth skyrocket effortlessly. “I think they call it passive income,” you tell your no-coin friends who wouldn’t listen. Entire notebooks of writing to be found when you’re gone- to be cherished or burned, you’ll never know.
It wasn’t meant to work out. There’s a power structure in-place so deeply invested in the prevention of a new world order that any deviation would be the equivalent of breaking a law of nature- as much a fantasy as comic book superheros. Believing in anything but an inevitable status-quo path to destruction is like standing in an arcade pumping quarters into Donkey Kong (1981)– no way to win the game, but stand there long enough and you’ll make it to the kill screen.
So you redefine success. You work within the system. You rearrange things quietly, when the warden isn’t looking. Removing women as the end-goal presents such a radical freedom that it’s shamed by the mainstream culture- men aren’t meant to be free. You don’t understand this because everything you’ve ever done was in the interest of getting women. True freedom is to excise this tumor and see what’s left. Committing to this fully is the only way you’ll ever get laid again, so it’s win-win.
Letting go is the foundation, expression is the goal.
Artists shouldn’t be successful and success is antithetical to art- is what you tell yourself. As you grind away, producing your best work to a “modest audience of dedicated readers,” sacrificing sleep and sex. I’d pass on getting laid to write an essay on Elizabeth Warren: a string of words no one has put together before in human history. Madness by any other measure, but an artist must be obsessed with the creation of art. Success only muddies the waters, becoming a barrier between the artist and his work.
Success is toxic and must be avoided, says the unsuccessful.
Metallica was never the same after selling a billion copies of the black album. They were burdened by expectation- to replicate what worked and magnify those elements times infinity. The self-conscious artist is doomed to fail, betraying the instincts that led to their success. After the follow-up was met with a fraction of the sales, the band flailed wildly- chasing approval like desperate drunkards- culminating in a documentary where they all cry.
Modern men have no war to fight so modernity has taken arms against us. The herd must be thinned. There are deep, esoteric reasons for why even fat women won’t reply to your messages now on Plenty of Fish. Men have become weak and nature hit the emergency brakes. Now only the most genetically fit will get easy sex- for everyone else, the long-game has gotten so long that it’s no longer worth playing. To think that clever banter could have gotten you laid five years ago is astounding- to think that ambitious nerds had girlfriends in high school twenty years ago is the stuff of legend.
In 1992, schlock-rock metal band GWAR put out their relative masterpiece, America Must Be Destroyed, but they were right for the wrong reasons. They argued that the country was naturally heading toward a wonderful, degenerate utopia but getting stifled by a gate-keeping Christian majority- a laughable take in hindsight.
Now when Tom likes Mindy at the office, he doesn’t sidle up to her at the water cooler angling for Friday night drinks, but instead navigates to her premium Snapchat- his only hesitation in potential budgetary constraint. Maybe then, through private message- her response enticed by gifts purchased from her Amazon wishlist- can he offer drinks? No, he decides this sounds too pedestrian. She already has rogue millionaires- those who got into Bitcoin when you were too lazy to scan your driver’s license into an exchange- offering her weekends in Vegas. He needs to go big budget, if only he could after all the high-end kitchen appliances he purchased to impress her.
Impossible to talk to her at work, he concedes, as he settles for gawking at her tits for $25/month under the pseudonym SneakyTim– a necessary complication is his long-con courting game-plan. There must be a slow reveal, the bandages must be removed with patience- any haste in the reveal that Tom is, in fact, a loyal subscriber with a commendable accumulation of gifts purchased anonymously would result in a swift #MeToo accusation, and the loss of all present and future employment. Moves must be made with gentle and conscientious precision, thinks SneakyTim, as he sends Mindy the requisite $50 for her long-form masturbation video- for fans only, of course.
The problem isn’t a prudish morality, but I can’t blame GWAR for being wrong. They acknowledged the problem- that the modern world is diseased beyond salvation. All valid modern art must stem from this foundation. The cocaine addled brat pack of young, hip authors couldn’t get past the nihilism of 1980’s party culture. The excess of sex and drugs. The tail end of the KISS concert, with its fireworks and confetti, was the pay-off for what was built by the Boomers; its spectacular finale. They were overfed hamsters, rolling around in their own filth.
The modern writer was sold the promise of decadence and pays the debt of decay.
The silence felt awkward. I knew my mistake the moment I had made it- it sat cold and moist on the upper part of my thigh. We were getting to know each other now as if what we had was in the past tense, like a post-game show on ESPN. She spoke without the constraint of keeping in-character, telling me how she had dated a rock star as a teenager and about her abusive ex-boyfriend.
Women don’t respect condom use. Even if you’re still fucking her, it’s the shareware version of the full-product. Limited functionality. They’ll always hesitate before conceding- you must anticipate this and remain strong in your resolve. I had a good run before Sarah, but like an aging fighter, I got caught with a roundhouse in a moment of weakness.
“Sorry I’m such a slut,” read her text message the next day. Her way of tying things up. You’re left wondering what the best case scenario would have been or if this was it.
So you redefine success. You realize the value in dwelling at the epicenter. You retch at the idea of becoming complacent, spouting naivete like you’re handing out recipe-cards to the secret sauce. You’re resigned to staring at the sun. You create art with a high degree of authenticity. You put integrity before all else. You never write with consideration for the reader, and you find that even the promotion of your own work has minor hints of insincerity, just like the minor hints of dark chocolate and citrus in your favorite cold-brew coffee blend- not pronounced but palpable.
People will find this approach refreshing. Your work will effortlessly find an audience. You’ve created a beautiful middleground between honesty and success- degrees of integrity you didn’t think were possible. Those in the mainstream take notice and resent your defiant take on modern life. Your popularity continues to grow. You appear on podcasts; people analyze your material. Your follower count on Twitter makes panties wet. Hundreds of retweets for a few scant words. You title an essay “The Modern Rock Star,” referring to yourself, but are never quite brazen enough to publish. You feel bulletproof.
And then, one day, your tweets are blown-up on a poster board in front of Congress. The Huffington Post publishes your most unflattering pictures. “Ashamed” is the key-word most repeated in your mother’s interview with The New Yorker.