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“I will not serve that in which I no longer believe whether it call itself my home, my fatherland or my church: and I will try to express myself in some mode of life or art as freely as I can and as wholly as I can, using for my defence the only arms I allow myself to use – silence, exile, and cunning.” — Stephen Daedalus (James Joyce, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man 1922)
How do narcissists come to believe themselves to be too clever and insightful to be bound by societal expectations of any kind? The fictional tragic figure of Satan in Milton’s Paradise Lost was an archangel and thus possessed some basis for high self-regard, which led to the defining moment of his non serviam. But the same defiance, the same non serviam issued by a useless weenie like Stephen Daedalus is too pathetic to rise to the level of tragedy.
In Catcher in the Rye, a novel apparently still inflicted on American youth, the useless and tiresome protagonist Holden Caulfield dismisses the rest of the world as “phonies” whereas his self-centered meanderings are supposedly authentic stages in his journey to (a stunted) adulthood. It still enrages me that the education establishment thought the novel spoke to me and my generation.
Try to picture Caulfield or Daedalus as characters in The Iliad, any James Fenimore Cooper novel, or any other setting in which manliness, a sense of purpose, and willingness to sacrifice for something higher are required. It is hard to believe in the survival of any nation in which angry useless weeniehood is prevalent. My recurring nightmare is that those whinging panels of useless weenies on MSNBC may represent the real future of manhood in America.
The women of my mother’s generation tended to place all males into one of three categories. At the top, there are special figures entitled to a fuss being made, such as the pastor coming to dinner or some author coming to a ladies’ book club function. Then there are providers, the men with a touch of gray who dutifully write checks to pay for what needs to be acquired, keep it all in repair, and just take care of things. And the bottom rung is the field hand/chore-doer/useful muscle. Ideally, a young man would begin by being useful moving furniture, hauling, or painting, then achieve success and status so he could write checks when needs require and maybe even eventually become someone deserving a fuss. Any male outside that category system is deemed a bum or worse. The measure was whether the male of any age was of any use to society in general and women in particular and possessed of the requisite virtues, skills, and character to deliver such service.
In bizarre contrast, feminists created a system in which men could be oppressors, competitors, or enemies. A minimally acceptable mate is one who must somehow be a traitor to the patriarchy. And now women complain that there are no suitable husbands. Duh. It is as if they wanted to promote useless weeniehood as the norm (along with small local cadres of lounge lizards to provide a parody of masculinity) to justify a culture of perpetual complaint.
How long must we wait for the pushback, the end of the current celebration of castrati and men in dresses and angry useless weenies making policy?Published in