March 13th, 2008

"The Game"

Prior to three and a half weeks ago, I had no idea who Neil Strauss was. I was introduced to him and his work by way of a thread on the Rudius Media Message Board, talking about small things a person can do to improve his or her life. The thread's first message links to the 2005 thread discussing Strauss's bestselling book, The Game: Penetrating the Secret Society of Pickup Artists, shortly after it came out. Tucker Max heaped praise on both the book and author, providing extensive commentary. When I saw it in my local Barnes & Noble, I was struck by two things. For one, it looked like a hotel room Bible, and for two, it'd cost thirty-five American dollars - a hefty price for a book that came out over two years ago. Yet I plunked down the money, and I wasn't disappointed by the purchase.

Within three days, I'd read about half the book - no small feat, given that it checks in at over four hundred pages. As the pace of my work subsequently quickened, the pace of my reading naturally slowed in response. I didn't finish it off until about a week ago, and my overall opinion differs little from that of Tucker - I loved this book. The title is deceiving; as much as this book is about the men who claim to know the secrets of attracting women, it's just as much about the author's journey through that community and how it affected him. Neil, also known as "Style," used what he learned to transcend what the pick-up artists call "sarging," and took major steps toward becoming the person he wanted to be. There's a marked contrast between people like Style and Tucker, who are truly alphas and have that inner self-confidence to drive their lives, and the betas like Mystery, Papa, and Tyler Durden, for whom it's all a facade. Style successfully transitioned from beta male to alpha male, and that gives the rest of us hope. As Hedley Lamarr said of seizing Rock Ridge: "you see, it can be done. It CAN be done!" This, of course, is notwithstanding the fact that I am myself no closer to figuring out how to actually do it.

One quote had particular significance to me (page 21-22):
As Mystery dissected the alpha male further, I realized something: The reason I was here--the reason Sweater and Extramask were here also--was that our parents and our friends had failed us. They had never given us the tools we needed to become fully social beings.
These two sentences spoke to something that, to various degrees, I've struggled with for the past ten years or so. It took me a long time to reach a place where I could accept this fact, and yet not hold it against my own parents. I'd say that it has only been in the last two years that I've reached that point - and even now, there are times when I fall back, and want to "make them pay for what they've done," as Captain Picard said once. But I know now that it doesn't matter what my parents did or didn't do; at this point in my life, if there are problems there, it's up to me - and only me - to get them fixed, and they don't owe me anything in that area.

I can't overemphasize how amazing this book is. Go to wherever it is you go for books and buy it; The Game is not merely a purchase, it's an investment, especially for beta males like myself.