How To Get Along

Over at Jr. Ganymede MC has posted an interesting modest proposal.  I don’t have much to say about the content itself, but I want to draw attention to G’s reply to another commenter:

The story I read wasn’t about women submitting to men. It was about upper-middle class people “submitting” or adapting to their lower-middle class spouses.

That word “adapting” is important.

If we think of human society as a collection of biological machines, each with their own needs, and able to produce certain outputs, then a lot of things become clearer.  You wouldn’t pay your electric bill in grain, you wouldn’t put cat food in your gas tank, and you wouldn’t try and make your dog subsist on lettuce.

Nobody thinks that electric companies, cars, or dogs are “broken” because of this.

Yet we do exactly this to men and women.  What man among you, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone?  Yet when young men and women ask for mates, don’t we give them products of a factory intended to produce academics and corporate drones?


I came up with a definition for a well-tuned system in the last few years:  one that wastes nothing, wants nothing, and is contributing to some larger goal outside of that system.

I think this is also a good definition of a system that has meaning.  Being a part of this system necessarily means your contribution is needed and valued (nothing is wasted), and that you’re having your needs met, and you can see your contribution as part of a larger effort toward a worthy goal.

Does that sound like a hard system to construct?  It is, frankly.  A lot of moving pieces, each with their own needs and outputs.  Matching and tuning them so that they feed each other, in the correct amounts, and keeping the system such that it is net-positive, is really hard.  Change one piece, and there will be cascading butterfly effects through the system.

One way these systems form in the real world is under evolutionary pressure.  Harsh conditions leave little room for waste and inefficiency.  Animals are beautiful because they are functional:




What happens if you take away the pressure?  Maybe invent a bunch of appliances, removing the need for a lot of the work one gender used to do.  Raise the general standard of living such that a high income is no longer quite so obviously necessary, or even necessary at all.

Here’s my theory:  winning WWII and the fruits of modern civilization gave us a choice on how to spend them:  sex or status.  We largely chose, and choose, status.  Since the family is the bedrock of civilization, this was…less than a good move.

(By “sex,” I mean much more than intercourse; I mean sexual polarity, or “the way of a man with a maid.”  Gendered traits.)

Reading through MC’s post, what jumped out at me was my meh reaction to Ben Haight.

“But I don’t want to hear another word about next year’s election for as long as I live. Is that alright?”

Ben laughed nervously, “Yeah, that’s OK, sorry for boring you. What should we talk about instead?”


Oh, sure, if you’re a normal person not playing PUA status games, and you bore someone, sure, go ahead and apologize, whatever.  But why even talk about the election at all?  Did he really think beforehand, “What would add value to this girl’s life—I know, I’ll talk about arcane political stuff!”?

Having the urge to do that, and not doing it, is the beginning of what adapting the pieces to fit looks like.  It’s what not filling your gas tank up with cat food looks like.

Ben thinks he wants status, because he’s had it for being smart, and who doesn’t like status.  But what he really wants is sex (he’s a dude), but he’s embarrassed by this and won’t admit it to himself (everyone else was too embarrassed to encourage him to seek it, but they err).  And certain things—keeping up on politics, for instance—are great for status, and horrible for sex.

This is easy to miss, because anyone around this space knows that status is an attraction factor.  But it’s one factor—to steal from Donal:

Looks – Athleticism – Money – Power – Status

Is Ben dressing well?  Is he in shape?  Does he have control over his finances?  Can he exercise control over his environment?

None of these really matter for status in rarefied circles, which are all about thought (Flatter yourself, reader, that you’re as high it gets here on earth, merely by reading this blog.  Good show!  I say!).

There’s a tendency to regard personal attractiveness as a selfish thing.  And it can certainly be used that way.  But it can also be a gift.

Are we giving our best to each other?