Sunday, August 17, 2014

Just Deserts: An Out Of Sequence Tirade

Despite my possession of both A Kindle Fire HD and a NOOK Color, once in a great while I still sally forth to a Barnes & Noble to "slap the racks:" i.e., to scout the shelves for conventionally published books and writers with whom I'm unfamiliar but seem to deserve a tryout. This is an important process for me, as I'm the sort of reader who exhibits "high loyalty" to writers who've pleased me in the past...and sad to say, they don't always keep on writing. Some of them have the poor grace to die, leaving me without the entertainment I've come to expect from them. (The most recent entrant on the casualty lists was SF and fantasy great Jack Vance, a longtime hero of mine. And at only 90! At the very least, he could have called first.)

But there are dangers. One's eye cannot be constrained to view only the shelves upon which one expects to find one's imagination fodder. It sees what it will. And today it saw a selection of most disturbingly titled tomes. Allow me to give you the flavor thereof -- paraphrased, as I'd rather not be haled into court for "artistic defamation:"

  • Changing Your Frog Into A Prince
  • How To Get The Love You Deserve
  • Winning Love While Staying Yourself
  • Husband Hunting For The Overworked 21st Century Woman
  • Keeping Him Faithful Without Pandering To His Icky Male Fantasies

...and so forth. All of them were aimed at women. All of them embedded as fundamental assumptions that:

  • You, Miss Reader, deserve to be loved;
  • That's inherent in your being an American woman;
  • You shouldn't have to change yourself to attract Mr. Right;
  • But changing him is your God-given, double-X-chromosome right;
  • And we'll ram the enforcement legislation through Congress Real Soon Now.

Imagine that.

I have an unfortunate role on the World Wide Web: it's my job to tell people things they don't want to hear, and having heard them, would greatly prefer to disbelieve. I appreciate your sympathy, but someone has to do it, and who better than I: a racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, Islamophobic, gun-toting, retrograde Catholic knuckle-dragger who blathers onto the Web for fun and profit? Though I must declare: there's precious little profit in it. But "my station and its duties," as some pompous ass other than myself once said.

And in keeping with those duties, I must tell the women of this once proud nation something terribly bleak:

You are not entitled to love.

How can I be so certain of that position? Quite simply: Love in this context is an emotion engendered in another person's psyche. To say that Jones is entitled to Smith's love is therefore to say that Jones is entitled to dictate Smith's emotions. But not only is it impossible that Jones should be so entitled, the dictation itself is impossible. The three pounds of "little gray cells" within Smith's skull, wherein he decides such things as whom to love, whom to ignore, and whom to waylay, behead, marinate, fillet, and serve at a church barbecue, is the most private of all organs. It does only what Smith pleases.

Many who yearn for love never receive it. Many who love are not loved in return. It's the subject of quite a lot of memorable (and even more mediocre) fiction. No tactic -- i.e., no technique that anyone can master acontextually and without reference to her situation, her personal qualities, and her character -- will reliably get you love. Indeed, no tactic is even odds-on to do so.

Nevertheless, there's apparently a huge market for books about "getting the love you deserve." It appears to be the fantasy of half the women in America that they can "bag Mr. Right" without having to do more than: 1) find him; 2) zero in on him; 3) apply the appropriate tactics.

The most terrible thing about this delusion is that quite a number of the women afflicted by it are married.

As awful as the above must sound, here's worse -- much worse:

No matter how "perfect" you are or become,
Love is not guaranteed you.

I've known thousands of people of both sexes. I could rattle off a dozen names of men and women I regarded as utterly without fault, sterling examples of the very best of Mankind...all of whom have been single their whole lives long, and not from a disinclination to mate. That's because personal quality isn't the only factor. Chance is involved as well.

The hell of it is, though "working on yourself" -- your appearance, your character, your social graces, your small talk, your comfort level among strangers, etc. -- is the approach most likely to put you in the way of someone who'll love you, there are still conditions to be met:

  • You must meet;
  • You must both be available;
  • You must be physically compatible;
  • You must be compatible in age, values, and priorities;
  • You must both be positioned to capitalize on one another's availability;
  • You must be moved to love him back.

For any given individual of the opposite sex, at the most optimistic the probability that he and you will meet all those conditions is 1 in 64. This is not a figure the pari-mutuel industry is likely to embrace.

All that having been said, most Americans do find love at some point in their lives, whether or not they manage to keep it. It's unlikely to be the sort of all-consuming passion one reads about in "pink and purple books," to the dismay of many fantasy-ridden women. And it could cost quite a bit of effort to keep it alive. Given the disinclination to such efforts so many women exhibit today, rampant domestic disillusion and unhappiness, the plague of marital infidelity, and the "divorce epidemic" stand largely explained.

I can't say with justice that this is entirely because so many women think they deserve to be loved, entirely without conditions and just because they're alive and ambulatory, but that's surely part of it. The "entitlement mentality" is powerfully unattractive. It's especially unattractive when it touches upon human emotions. You cannot command the emotions of others no matter how hard you try. It's pointless to look to the march of science for assistance.

And here's the Ace kicker:

You might be eminently lovable by every objective standard.
That makes absolutely no difference.

You cannot deserve love.
You cannot somehow earn a right to it.
You cannot make yourself irresistible by any means.
No matter how many frogs you kiss, you might never find your prince.

The only love we are guaranteed is God's love. All else is a matter of personal quality and happenstance, with happenstance being by far the larger determinant. And it won't matter how many "romantic tactics guides" you buy and devour.

1 comment:

lelnet said...

I disagree. The more of those books one buys and follows, the less likely it is that one will find anything worth having. There is not merely an inverse correlation involved, but I would assert a causal one.