A writer who can write about what he likes has the comfort of a sanguine conscience. Not for him are the nail-biting sessions of anxiety about what Tom, Dick, or Harry may think about this or that. He can applaud himself for saying what he believes, and giving counsel as he sees fit. “I would rather be flogged,” wrote D.H. Lawrence, “than be liked by most people.”
Holding nothing back is far more often a blessing than a curse: to be true to one’s nature may be one definition of happiness. When someone once asked Stephen King why he wrote stories, his answer began with the sentence, “You are assuming I have a choice in the matter.” What he meant, of course, was that he was driven by an inner compulsion to write. I found the same sentiment expressed in a piece of dialogue written by the Italian humanist Giovanni Pontano, in his work Charon. He puts the following exchange in the mouths of his protagonists:
“Your wisdom shows itself from all sides. But, you pain in the ass, what are you trying to achieve with these things?”
“What I actually did arrive at.”
“That I am a fly, and am so seen by everyone.”
It would be hard to improve on this observation. Nothing has ever needed writing about more than what we write about in the manosphere today. There has been a growing feeling—for many years now—that something is fundamentally wrong with gender relations and society in the Anglosphere countries. A certain worldview has taken hold of our societies, somehow, in the preceding decades, that has had the net result of disenfranchising men and relegating masculinity to remote frozen wastes.
Men have been in an “Age of Turbulence” for many decades now
To meet this existential challenge, men have had to look backwards in time—to the ages before feminism, before political correctness, and before the ideology of nihilism took root in our societies. It has become necessary to restate and codify the ideology of masculinity: to examine its precepts, discover its richness, savor its subtlety, and reflect on its longevity.
We must range over the vast expanse of history, across the deserts and wastes, wade through the muck of moral ambiguity, and navigate the spider-webs of philosophical speculation. We have had to do this for ourselves. We can expect no help, no sympathy, and no support from others. I see my role in the manosphere as part of this effort, in some modest way.
I remember my own conversion. Looking back now, it seems almost inevitable. I somehow came across one of RooshV’s old videos. There was just something about the delivery, the audacity, the deadpan wit, and the message that seized me by the throat. Imagine the audacity of this long-haired, whiskered young man, daring to say the things we all felt! Imagine, finally, someone who was not afraid to tell these commissars of culture what he really thought of them! Some long-smoldering fuse within me spluttered back to life.
I was led to his old website (remember the venerable blue-background?), and there found a trove of in-your-face articles that verbalized things I had long believed, but never fit into a comprehensive framework. “This,” I said to myself, “This is the man I’ve been looking for…now this is something I can do.” I would remain silent no longer. What an exhilarating feeling! From that moment, I resolved to take up the pen as my sword. I stepped forward, and have never looked back.
Last weekend I released my book Thirty Seven: Essays On Life, Wisdom, And Masculinity. It’s a collection of essays on a wide variety of subjects, with the unifying theme being the nature of masculine identity. Most of the essays are expanded and reworked versions of my best work here at Return of Kings. Some of the essays are entirely new, and appear in the book for the first time.
There are word and space limitations on what can be done in a blog article; the book format gave me the freedom to expand on important points, delve into greater detail, and add more colors to the canvas. My goal was to explore the nature of masculine virtue, in all its varied forms throughout history. Some of the articles include: “On Barbarism,” “How A Wise Man Should Reveal His Opinions,” “On Stoicism,” “I Am The Isthmus,” “The Fate of Boethius,” the fiction story “Rubber Ice,” and many more.
I will close here with an excerpt from the book’s Prologue. It gives a flavor of the whole, and it is actually part of a stand-alone story. If I had to give it a title, I’d call it “Rubber Ice.” It’s fiction, but loosely based on an incident that happened to me a long time ago.
Rubber ice. That was what his brother Michael called it, those dark and mottled patches that dotted the sheet ice covering the pond near their house. It was an odd, counterintuitive phrase. He couldn’t quite understand the rubber part about it. Why rubber? Was it flexible? No, said Michael sternly, holding him by the cuffs of his pea-jacket and looking at him disapprovingly. It’s called that because it’s got no strength. It gives way. So don’t ever go on it, you understand me? He had nodded his head, as he always did when Michael gave him a lecture, knowing that his compliance with instruction would be decidedly situation-dependent. It wasn’t exactly that he didn’t believe his brother; it was just that he had to see, feel, and touch things for himself before he could calculate whether an admonition was worth following. It cannot be otherwise, when one is fifteen years old. It was like that when Michael had told him not to swim out past the barnacle-encrusted rock near the shoreline at the beach they went to every summer. What was the word he had used? Undertow, he remembered. That was it. But he had swum out past the rock anyway and never felt any undertow.
In the town’s city hall, there had been an announcement that bags of coal were to be trucked in starting in late December. The deliveries would continue as demand required for the remainder of the winter. These great seventy-five pound bags were a dirty, clumsy load to handle; the job of handling them fell to those unfortunate enough to be unable to delegate the task themselves. So the chore of transporting several bags to his family’s house near Revere Street fell on the capable shoulders of the boy, who relished the importance of his appointment for the job by his father. It was about two and a half miles in total from town hall to his house.
He brought with him a sturdy sled with wide steel runners, with a thin five-foot rope attached to the front. The boy had always been surprised at how much weight could be dragged with the sled, as long as the load was balanced and he had a secure grip on the rope. On this day, he had walked over to Town Hall from his house with the empty sled, loaded the bag of coal, and pondered the matter for a moment. He thought he would take a shortcut across the harbor ice on his way back home. It was not a decision he thought long about. It was late January, and Massachusetts winters then were colder than they are now.
Regular freezings of the harbor ice were not exactly frequent, but they did happen, and the boy had heard from a few of his friends that the ice was safe to walk on. His brother had disagreed. Hey. Rubber ice out there, you know that? This he had said meditatively to the boy, while chewing slowly on a morsel of salt pork during last Wednesday’s supper. His eyes had locked for a moment on those of his younger brother, almost challenging him to contradict the statement. But the boy thought the better of it and had said nothing, remembering how such exchanges usually ended.
The boy pulled the coal-laden sled up to the edge of the shoreline and gazed across the surface of the ice. Dried cattails and mounds of crushed reeds poked here and there from the crusty shoreline. He paused for a moment, enjoying the stillness of this frigid expanse of flatness, watching the gentle swirlings of his chilled breath float away from his pursed lips to dissolve into the winter air. With the assistance of optical trickery and the foolishness of youth, to the boy it just did not seem far across the ice. Although some patches were covered unevenly with snow, from where he stood the ice appeared as sturdy and as permanent as a sheet of quarried marble.
On the horizon, the sunlight reflected off the white and grey outlines of distant houses and the occasional ship’s rigging with incandescent steadiness, pulsing in waves of shimmering insistence. He tested the ice on the shoreline and was relieved to find it to be like walking on iron. His plan was to move quickly across the ice, pulling the sled behind him at a distance of about five feet; and on the ice its steel runners made it seem like no weight at all.
He had moved about five hundred feet from the shoreline when he began to be conscious of air pockets trapped beneath the surface ice; the pockets squeaked, squelched, and crackled as he moved over them, distributing itself with gaseous regularity in proportion to the weight he applied over it. And then he became aware, slowly, of a change in the quality of the harbor ice. It began to take on a darker hue, popping and crackling ominously as he moved himself and his coal sled over it. He paused before one dark patch as the crackling sounds gathered in an alarming crescendo, and he hastily tried to retrace his steps, when suddenly a gulf opened up in front of him and to his right.
It happened so quickly that he had no time for any preventive measure. Before he could unloop the sled’s rope from his clenched mitten, and before he could raise his hands to steady himself or reach out for the ledge of ice in front of him, he dropped heavily into the slushy salt water. The sled crashed into the water behind him, going straight to the bottom and ripping off the mitten in his right hand. The sled’s metal runner somehow glanced his exposed wrist and opened up an incision that the salt water instantly made him aware of. His chin slammed down on a large piece of ice has he plunged into the water, leaving another deep cut running from his jawline to his upper lip.
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