Michel Houellebecq is rightly considered by many to be the godfather of the manosphere. His novels Whatever (1994), Atomised (1998), Platform (2001), and The Possibility of an Island (2005) all deal, to a greater or lesser extent, with the impossibility of love in a world where sex has become commoditised. Initially a controversial figure who scandalised French literary society with his nihilistic writings and his habit of drunkenly hitting on female interviewers, he has been accused of racism, misogyny, and Islamophobia while his books have been dismissed as pornography and poorly-written polemic.
More recently, though, his reputation has fared better with his last novel The Map and The Territory, winning the prestigious Prix Goncourt in 2010. He is now the subject of a new film called The Kidnapping of Michel Houellebecq (2014). Here he is on the inequalities of the sexual marketplace:
In societies like ours sex truly represents a second system of differentiation, completely independent of money; and as a system it functions just as mercilessly . . . Just like unrestrained economic liberalism. . . sexual liberalism produces phenomena of absolute pauperism. Some men make love every day; others make love five or six times in their life, or never. It’s what’s known as “the law of the market”. In a totally liberal sexual system certain people have a varied and exciting erotic life; others are reduced to masturbation and solitude…
I have read and loved all of Houellebecq’s novels (as well as his pictorial novella Lanzarote (2000)), but it wasn’t until fairly recently that I picked up a book called Public Enemies which he published in 2008 with French intellectual and author Bernard-Henri Levi. A series of letters between the two men where they discuss everything from literature to sex to politics, family and fame, it is a fascinating insight into Houellebecq’s philosophical views.
But I was particularly struck by a section written by Levi. Houellebecq had at the time been suffering a lot of negative press and public attention. The backlash against his international popularity was at its height, and worse, his estranged mother had just published a book publically denigrating him as an “evil, stupid little bastard . . . who alas came from my womb . . . a liar, an imposter and . . . a petite arriviste ready to do absolutely anything for money and fame.” The knives were out for Houellebecq, who confessed to Levi that he was feeling embattled and cornered. Levi’s advice on pack mentality and how to deal with it has, I believe, wider application, particularly for those who are vilified for holding views that run counter to the mainstream. Here are his four insights.
1. The Pack is Afraid
Levi writes that it is “easy to forget when you see [the pack] advance with such fury and ferocity, so hungry and driven” but that “it is much more afraid than we are.” They have an “all-encompassing fear of life, death . . . their inescapable mediocrity and their ruined ambitions.” Knowing this, “you yourself are less afraid and better armed to resist and fight.”
He recommends going on the offensive. Somewhat incredibly, he relates a personal story about threatening a journalist who was planning to write a negative story about him with violent repercussions. The journalist grumbles but backs down and doesn’t include the contentious details in his article.
Always stand up to bullies—they are scared and they will retreat in the face of resistance.
2. The Pack is Weak
Levi argues that the pack is weak not only because it is afraid, but also because:
It’s driven . . . by fear, mockery, resentment, hatred, bitterness, spite, anger, cruelty, derision, scorn, all of which Spinoza called the negative emotions [which] . . . make you weak, not strong, are a sign of impotence, not power, which diminish the ego and reduce its capacity to act, indeed profoundly debilitate it, making it unworthy and unintelligently aggressive.
Spinoza, he says, notes that “with negative emotions you may succeed in the short term, but, by definition, in the long term you’ll lose.”
It is better to be busy and single-minded in the pursuit of worthwhile projects:
Those who, not so much out of virtue as through their make-up, self-discipline or just because they have something better to do (e.g. a new book to write), manage to escape this merry-go-round of poisonous emotions . . . Joy makes [a person] intelligent and strong, whereas spite is a poison and sooner or later poison kills.
This mirrors a key tenet of manosphere thinking: that each man should have a mission he is passionate about.
3. The Pack is Stupid
The pack is “like a great lump of an animal that can’t see beyond the end of its nose.” You outsmart it by
Moving, just moving. When the pack attacks, the tendency is to curl up, bury yourself in a hole, to freeze. But you need to do the opposite. You need to spread yourself out . . . move as much as you can. Put the greatest possible distance between yourself and the pack. Increase your sidestepping, springing forward, strategic withdrawals, surprise attacks, pincer manoeuvres, counter-attacks or simply diversions and avoidance.
Levi notes that Baudelaire “proposed two new entries to the list of human rights: the right to contradict yourself and the right to leave.” Use them. By being nimble and supple, and by moving in unexpected directions, you will outsmart your enemies.
4. The Pack Is Never Entirely A Pack
In my book about meeting women, I argue that there is no such thing as consensus. Guys are naturally nervous about getting rejected publically. Say you approach a girl in a busy station and she rebuffs you. You will likely feel embarrassed because you imagine that everyone around thinks badly of you. But human beings are all different, and there is no uniform point of view. Some will think you are very brave for having approached. Others will be envious of your lack of inhibitions. Levi talks of the readers who have corresponded with him over the years and supported him through controversies and arguments, and the bloggers who similarly continued to support Houellebecq.
In those times when you are facing seemingly widespread public or social censure, it is helpful to keep in mind that this is never the full story. To some extent, the notion of the pack is a myth—people are individuals and all differ in their opinions, even if they claim otherwise to fit in. The best course of action is to remain true to yourself regardless of feedback and trust that there are others out there who think the same as you do.
To learn more about how to reject pack mentality and attract beautiful women click here
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