Game versus the Good

I’ve been ready to bring to an end the now eight day- long discussion on Game, but how can I, when the debate keeps generating important essays like this one by Kristor? To Steven Warshawsky, who said that the entire discussion has been “stupid” (see his comments here and here), I reply that the discussion has existed and has continued because intelligent people are intensely interested in it.

Kristor writes:

Here’s the thing. One must decide what one’s life is about. If one is all about getting laid, then maybe game is the way to go. But even in that case, one should understand that only depraved women are attracted to men who are nothing more than gamers. I admit of course that all women—and men—are more or less depraved. That is why game is interesting to men, and likewise the Rules to women, whether or not they decide to base their lives upon the techniques thereof. But surely any man, whether he is a reductionist Darwinist or a Christian traditionalist, will if he is rational be interested in mating with less depraved women. Sluts are poor bets, just like rakes. Women who are helplessly attracted to rogue men, and thus vulnerable to the deceptions of gamers, are messed up. It is cruel to take advantage of their disability, but it is also stupid, because doing so is disabling. To take advantage of depravity in others is to deprave oneself. Gamers ruin their reproductive prospects. But if they have decided that getting laid is what their lives are about, then that is no problem for them, so far as they can now tell, and in terms only of their proximate futures (bearing in mind that they are like the young smoker who cannot yet tell that his smoking is killing him). [LA replies: The Gamers would say that Kristor is misstating their position. They’re not saying that going to bed with a woman, any woman, is what their lives are all about. They’re saying that not having any sexual relationship is intolerable.]

One must decide what one’s life is about. If a woman is to go on living, there must remain somewhere in her a bit of moral purity, for depravity and sin are defects of a basic goodness. Destroy that basis altogether, and you destroy altogether the life in which alone depravity and sin can make their dwelling place. Evil parasitically depends upon the good that it destroys. So, a living woman necessarily has in her somewhere a bit of goodness, that yearns for what will support her true flourishing—that will discourage her depravity, and encourage her virtue. So every living woman is attracted at root to men who are good.

Men can therefore win the true prize of sexual love—namely, the sexual love of a good woman, which underneath all their posturing is what the gamers really want—by goodness, by virtue. Now, what is it to be good? It is to yearn for the Good, and to seek to participate therein, more and more. This has been well understood since long before Plato. If one’s life is about the Good, then everything else will fall into place. There is no guarantee that a life in service of the Good will get you any particular goods, including those of sex; but there are never any guarantees in any case. If you want a guarantee, you’ve got the wrong universe. If one loves the Good, then everything else will fall into its proper order, and one will be given the best that one can get, that is also consonant with the Good. If one is oneself consonant with the Good, such goods as may then follow will suffice.

Gamers are not wholly wrong in calling their Traditionalist critics “monastic,” because monks profess an explicit devotion to the service of the Good, and to nothing else whatsoever—or, rather, to every other good (e.g., civilization for Traditionalists, the cloistered garden for monks) in its due and proper subsidiary order. But it is foolish to think that any person, in any station or vocation, can attain true success—i.e., a life that is in fact good—by any other means than the service of the Good. If you are serving anything less, you are ipso facto following a less than optimal path. Is this not as plain as the nose on your face?

Everyone, then, is called first to the service of the Good, whether or not one enters the contemplative life. As anyone who has been married for a long time can tell you, there are profound and quite apparent similarities between the sacrifices of monastic life and those of a whole-hearted marriage to another person. Success at either vocation calls for great selflessness. This is not because marriage is a peculiarly hard service. Indeed, it is normal. Life of any sort, whether or not it is well and virtuously lived, entails, and will sooner or later require from all of us, every sacrifice that we can possibly make. Life in this world entails suffering and death, including the utter privation of all the sexual pleasure in lust of which the gamers spend their lives. Life will empty all of us completely. The only question is whether one will approach the altar of that sacrifice with a clean heart, or with wailing and gnashing of teeth. There are only two possible approaches to life and its death, albeit that in all of us they are ever subject to some admixture: the cynicism, hatred and despair of the nihilist, or the faith, hope and charity of the successful monastic.

One must decide what one’s life is about. One will lose it either way. True men, good men, have reckoned their own death, and pledged their life and its ending to the service of the Good. They do not therefore chafe under the inevitable difficulties and sacrifices of life—including long periods of celibacy, such as soldiers, hunters, and explorers must endure—but rather shoulder them manfully. They do not whine at adversity. They laugh. Thus are heroes made, however humble their predicaments, however meager their ultimate victories, and whether or not anyone recognizes them as such. These are the sort of men to whom the goodness in women, the true womanliness of women, is attracted. Women want heroes; everyone does. We are all tuned to recognize heroism, and follow it, because we are all made to seek and follow the Good. True success with women, then, whether or not it ever bears the fruit of sexual pleasure, lies not in pretending to heroism, but in heroism itself. There is no real good in faking goodness; there is only fake good in faking it.

And gamers cannot but know this in their hearts, and resent it; just as the beneficiaries of affirmative action cannot but recognize their essential failure and dependency, and rage thereat, and proteges of the self-esteem movement know in their hearts that no number of fake trophies will make them really estimable, so that they end skeptical of any achievement. All such pretenders are subject to envy, and hatred. God is not mocked; but neither is anyone else, really. At bottom, we all know perfectly well what is going on, for the only way to feel truly good is to be truly good. Devoted gamers doom themselves and their female enablers to something less.

Posted by Lawrence Auster at August 27, 2009 09:11 AM | Send

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