The Sun Sets in the West #2

I remembered something today while trying to remember the title of a book I once read. The book was Stop Time by Frank Conroy, which I liked at the time. I don’t know that I would like it now. The guy who turned me onto it was an interesting conversationalist—well-read, intelligent—and for a few months I sought him out. One day I said something to him about having noticed that some guys think they’re men just because they have a pair of balls. He looked at me straight-faced and said, “That’s what a man is.” At first I thought it was a joke; then I thought he was making some kind of statement about biology—but that would have been almost a non sequitur. Then I realized he meant it. He even repeated it—quite seriously. I knew then that he was tremendously cynical, and it was the beginning of the end of our friendship. His belief was a little unusual at the time, I think. There was still some feeling of the 60s and early 70s in the air. And this was San Francisco.I think his belief is quite common now—so much so that I don’t think it’s a conscious belief for most guys. It’s just “reality”—not worth taking the time to examine. The world is saturated with porn.

A man is someone who disciplines his ego, who doesn’t seek personal advantage at the expense of others, who makes sure that what goes down around him is just. There shouldn’t be any argument with that, and yet I find that people do argue with it. And not just men. A year or so ago I had a long debate with a woman who took the a-man-is-someone-with-a-pair-of-balls side. This is one of the reasons our culture is collapsing.

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2 Responses to “The Sun Sets in the West #2”

  1. joe Says:

    I really agree with your definition of manhood, or as i would call it, responsible adult human being, it also happens to coincide with what anarchy Actually means, Every adult a leader, responsible for every aspect of their life,& for the collective they fully,conciously,choose to belong to, neither god nor master, every individual leading by example,”be the change you want”,walk the talk.A demanding task, ill-suited to most.It’s a choice most leave behind early on in their lives, those of us who persevere along the lines of your definition are rapidly labeled after the age of thirty as a phenomenal list of negative things: dreamer,activist,idealist,(somehow people now use these as Negatives? wtf??) unrealistic,immature,dangerous pinko commie faggot & more,i’m sure you’re familiar, but it’s a life’s choice,& for some of us, not a choice, it’s who we are.

    “It is what it is” (the human beings we live amongst) &
    “We are who we are” (one’s roots, choices,& profound nature, far from easily modified)

    The task of a lifetime is to make one’s peace with the often conflictual nature of the two, to somehow find balance, happiness,meaning,integrity,despite the difficulty of what can so often seem an intractable paradox.

    • markbittner Says:

      Eventually the world reaches a point where the idealistic dream is mandatory for survival. We’re getting there.

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