Saturday, 30 October 2010
The Art of Masculinity
The modern man is a complex being. However, the modern man exists in a milieu of gross objectification. He has been cannon fodder for centuries. In fact, going right back to primitive times, matriarchal times, men have been the tools of a society, and not much more. The testosterone energy was at best exploited, and at worst feared.
Now, however, the cultural atmosphere will not stand for this simplification of the male energy. Men have to be warriors, fathers, poets, and handymen. We are not so much discarding the old categories of masculinity as combining them to transcend them.
You reject one aspect of your masculinity at your own peril. For sure, some of us are more talented with our minds, than our bodies. But masculinity, contrary to what society has taught you, is not a specialism. Your happiness, your humanity, is constituted by your multifaceted nature.
It is total bollocks that men cannot be multi-taskers. This is a convenient prejudice for the modern world, but it is plainly false. And, lo and behold, I actually have an argument for this.
It comes from sports. All GREAT sportsMEN, are multi-taskers. Diego Maradona didn’t just score goals. His goals were the product of gamesmanship, tactical skill, dribbling, divine passing abilities, and a general ability to read the dynamics of football.
Muhammad Ali was the greatest, not because he was unbeatable, but because he combined a lethal, scorpion-like jab, with deftness of movement and strategic intelligence. He moved in Shakespearean feats, and when he slowed in the latter half of his career, he compensated with tactics and his staying power. His prowess was holistic, not specialised.
The Poet is as much part of your masculinity as The Scholar and The Athlete. All of these archetypes overlap. You can be a poet of the stage and pitch, as much as the page. Great poets use language in athletic ways, not just ornately. Prowess, greatness – in fact masculinity, is about stretching the limits of your identity, conquering new personal territory. In that sense, you truly are a Warrior.
If masculinity is to have a renaissance, then we must combine all the various aspects of masculine objectification and create a new liberally talented man. That is, a man who is not only skilled, and naturally gifted, but one who is adaptive, willing to learn, and who embraces his limitation in order to grow outwards as a well-rounded human being.
Testosterone must not be limited to one form of expression. This, again, is part of a social dysfunction, and is the main way society represses and oppresses men. We have to be like ancient Chinese warriors – calligraphers, painters, poets, swordsmen, engineers, mathematicians and dancers. We have to be willing to try it all, even if our talents are not immediately obvious.
In the modern world we cannot afford to be specialised. This is constrictive. As constrictive as saying that a woman must stay at home and look after the kids. It is equally destructive to the fabric of society, as well.
Hell, in order to be fully men, we must embrace our inner mothers. The Buddhists say, treat all beings like you were their mother. This is the true code of the warrior.
As men we must be willing to scorch our names on the canvas of history. We are not meant to live in ivory towers, or to deaden our minds with sheer physical achievement. We have to be prepared to open up to the expressiveness of life itself. We must make an art of our masculinity.