Friday, July 9, 2010

Love, Stendhal, and PUAs

It's hard to find non-stupid commentary on the PUA movement, but this essay is actually quite good:

But even if one accepts all of the PUA rebuttals, even if one is allured again and again by the very real possibility of all the perfume, slender waists and blowjobs one can shake a stick at—even then there is the creeping feeling that something isn’t quite right here, that something must be wrong, that something is missing. And what is missing is: love. Despite the PUA coarseness in this matter—their recasting of love as mere one-itis—love has a chance in this battle because it can appeal to the pickup artists’ own interests....

But what does this celebrated romantic bliss really look like? It is, sadly, a little disappointing. In Strauss’s hands, love becomes merely the opposite of whatever the pickup artists are doing: so, for example, he spends every day with Lisa instead of making her wait to hear from him, as a true pickup artist would in his LTR (long-term relationship) management. In fact, despite the admittedly genuine affinity between the two of them, Lisa’s primary value for Strauss seems to lie in her impermeability to the wiles of pickup technique. But, details aside, it really doesn’t matter what amount of abandon Strauss can muster to tell his love story; that story will always look tepid beside the novelty, incisiveness and sleekness of the pickup-artist narrative. It’s just too overwhelming. Other responses to the pickup artists on behalf of love are not much help either, amounting at most to an unreflective gesture of pity for the pickup artists’ wasted lives. The trouble with all of this is that the failure to provide a thorough defense of “our” values—not just an explication of them, but a rhetorically effective affirmation of them—leaves the way clear for the pickup artists to triumph. We need to make sure that love can stand a chance against the bounty promised by PUA technology; that love can genuinely quell our anxieties about manliness.

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