When he was a youth he had lived his life in a state of the liveliest expectations, thinking to himself: what a fine thing it will be to become a man and to know what to do—like an Apache youth who at the right time goes out into the plains alone, dreams dreams, sees visions, and returns and knows he is a man. But no such time had come and he still didn’t know how to live. ~Walker Percy The Last Gentleman
Yes. I have slacked off in my already infrequent and hesitant blog output. However, I have started to train in boxing. Competition-minded? Hardly. Given that my mid-thirties are arrogantly encroaching upon me, I will pre-emptively save myself from the embarrassment and, instead, focus upon technique and conditioning. Correction: I will save myself from greater embarrassment by not deluding myself to think that I can compete. Simply by training, embarrassment becomes an inevitability. (If you have any doubts, try for yourself eight three-minute rounds with a heavy bag and then get back to me.)
Being the new non-kid on the block, I realize that I must prove myself, and this is exactly what I need. Though acceptable public discourse has changed, men have not: we still need–crave–initiation rites. We still desire the challenge of earning the prize, whether that prize is a woman’s affection, a job promotion, academic achievement, greater ability in an artistic pursuit, etc. is immaterial. What men hunger for is the essential challenge of a quest, to test their mettle. Even if the prize remains elusive, still men can rejoice in the dangers undertaken and the boldness displayed. Take away the challenge–no, take away (read: hamper through the surgically neutering process of political correctness) the spirit of conquest that underlies and infuses a man’s natural boisterousness, and an anemic anomie inescapably ensues. Thus…Women, are you secretly or not-so secretly disgusted with your kowtowing, unadventurous men? Well, excuse me a moment while I reach for your mirror. (Oops, did not mean to slap your tush. Okay–you got me, I did…) A post-industrial, knowledge-based economic society that no longer needs men and no longer treasures that which they can offer simply on account of their unique biological, psychological, and spiritual nature will soon realize that it no longer has the men that it cannot help but desire. Take away men’s initiation rites (or, perhaps even worse, co-opt them into the service of institutions that ultimately feed upon men), and you take away any real impetus for boys to even consider the tests of manhood.
What does this means for the West? Hell, if I know, but I have a suspicion it will include adding even more Cultural Studies programs to largely moribund camps of indoctrination (translation: colleges and universities). However. However, if ever a time was in which men could truly rage against the dying of the masculine light and the impingement of the feminine darkness, now goes forth the muffled yet living–and thus hopeful–clarion call to show our grit.