An eclectic post by Maynard
This is Maynard writing, who is of the opinion that we ought not focus entirely on the antics of our un-esteemed political leaders. Sure, those jackasses are busily arguing amongst themselves whether they prefer to bankrupt us before they get us blown up, or the other way around. But until they succeed in their lunatic plans, we must survive and prosper. Hence this post of useful information.
I had previously mentioned that I was picking up the classic humorous novel, Three Men in a Boat. Herein I obtained life lessons. This is the value of a diverse reading program.
The book opens by describing the narrator’s struggle with infirmity. It seems he, like so many of us, is stricken with every disease in the book (with the possible exception of house-maid’s knee). In consequence, he consults a physician, who writes out a medical prescription. All who follow its regimen will benefit:
1 lb. beefsteak, with
1 pt. bitter beer
every 6 hours
1 ten-mile walk every morning
1 bed at 11 sharp every night
In a postscript to the foregoing, the physician advises the narrator, “And don’t stuff up your head with things you don’t understand.”
So much for health. Happiness is addressed later in the manuscript. In preparing a small boat for a leisurely vacation, the narrator contemplates our fundamental needs:
Let your boat of life be light, packed with only what you need — a homely home and simple pleasures, one or two friends, worth the name, someone to love and someone to love you, a cat, a dog, and a pipe or two, enough to eat and enough to wear, and a little more than enough to drink; for thirst is a dangerous thing.
It really is that simple, I think. (Absent from this list is the pursuit of a philosophical basis for our existence, which is a vital quest indeed, but beyond the scope of today’s essay.) Part of our problem is we’re frantically chasing something that can’t be caught by speed or cunning.
With respect to the pursuit of women…here I shall be circumspect. I will cite sources, but you can research the sordid details for yourself.
I’m pausing awkwardly here because this post is starting to sound rather squalid, and that’s not entirely the effect I wish to create. By way of explanation, I’ll offer additional background. I was exchanging thoughts recently with Pat about mind control techniques — something I’d like to write more about, and maybe I will soon. It’s a frightening thing, to think about the manipulation of people, and how easily it can be done when you know the tricks.
It’s a world of manipulators and manipulation out there. You know it; you see it every day. But where does that leave us as inhabitants of this world? Do we aspire to manipulate people? Or are we subject to manipulation by others… or perhaps you feel you are far too clever to succumb to those Jedi mind tricks? These are interesting questions, and not easily answered, if you want to consider the matter honestly (and frankly I’m not comfortable doing that, but I think it should be done nevertheless). So in all seriousness, I’m not writing this to help people pursue mindless conquests; I’m just thinking (with concern and despair) about what it is that makes human beings tick.
Getting closer to the details…In an earlier blog note, I mentioned Jack Woodford’s autobiography. In one of the chapters, Woodford gives a straightforward technique for seducing any woman.
A similar lesson is to be found in Part 4 of Richard Feynman’s eccentric collection of autobiographical tales, “Surely You’re Joking, Mr. Feynman!”. (This book is IMHO generally interesting, but does not rise to the level of a must-read.)
The amorous revelations of both authors follow the same broad (no pun intended) pattern. Both observe another gentleman who has inexplicable success with the ladies. Both are curious how this stranger does it. Both eventually find an opportunity to have a frank discussion, and from this they learn a behavioral technique that is unbelievably simple. Both eventually put this technique to the test, and are astounded to discover that it really works. However, both find the results to be spiritually unsatisfying and even troubling, and are thus disinclined to make further use of this technique. (Interestingly, the two seductive techniques are different.)
In reporting the foregoing, I’ll quickly clarify something that may already be obvious: These procedures are of no possible use to you, and there’s no point in pursuing them as if they were. If you’re of a mind to seduce, you already know what you’re doing, and cookbook instructions won’t help you. If you’re a fumbler in the arena of romantic arts, you’re seeking something that won’t be satisfied by mechanical acquisition.
I’m flashing to a film I recently saw on TCM, the 1931 version of “Svengali”. The villainous Svengali uses the power of mind control to make off with a beautiful woman, who is now under his spell and will do whatever he asks of her. But she does not love him, and this troubles Svengali greatly. Even a villain seeks true love! In a touching moment, they exchange these words:
Svengali: [With yearning]…we could be so happy. Look at me, in the eyes. Open your eyes.
Trilby O’Farrell: [With love, induced by Svengali’s trance] Oh, I do love you!
Svengali: Close your eyes.
Trilby O’Farrell: I love—
Svengali: [With despair] Ah, don’t say it! You are beautiful, my manufactured love. But it is only Svengali talking to himself again.
We can manipulate each other. But satisfaction is forever elusive. (Sometimes I wonder whether this is part of God’s reasoning, when He chose to give us the precious and much-misused attribute of free will. Thus God’s dilemma is preferable to Svengali’s dilemma…or so I believe. Likewise, I choose the path of liberty rather than coercion (within reasonable limits, of course…murderers and child molesters must be forcefully stopped), in spite of the fact that free people have more latitude to, as a power-hungry community organizer once claimed, go off “acting stupidly”. Yes, liberty is problematic, and we are unworthy of it. But we relinquish it at the cost of our humanity.)
I remember being a young man at Starfleet Academy, and thinking everything would be so simple after graduation. You get this and that and the other thing. Then you’ll be happy. Now I know better. Some things we can get, and some things we can’t get. That’s the human conundrum, and how we deal with it in large part defines what kind of human being we become. (Cognoscenti will recall the notorious Kobayashi Maru test, which forces the participants (can I refer to the people being tested as “testes”?) to face failure. Did young Jim Kirk act appropriately in short-circuiting that test, do you think? I might argue that he did himself a disservice, but in so doing became a hero to the rest of us. This is quite reasonable for a fictional character, since he doesn’t exist and we need heroes. Unfortunately, I fear I am not a fictional character, so I’m stuck with the raw test, and so are you. I apologize for the digression, but it seemed relevant.)
I’m not writing these words to be discouraging. No, not at all. Rather, my goal is always to clarify the framework of our existence, so that we may better focus on doing good where good can be done. I have listed here some useful pieces of the puzzle. The health, the happiness…these will help you! And the woman (or whatever it is you pursue)…well, just try to connect to another human being. If there’s anyone out there that knows you well and still likes you, you are indeed a lucky creature. And if there isn’t, then just keep your eyes open. And in the meantime, a dog or cat will serve you well and keep your secrets.