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Men and the City Part 3: Rise above Mediocrity

Updated: Mar 26, 2023



Men in the city live in a world of mediocrity. The way we speak, our placid posture, jittery eye contact, indeed our code of conduct is banal, blasé, and uninspired. Increasingly, people in general and men in particular are dressed down, what some describe as casual-comfortable. Standards in the corporate world, the media, and government have noticeably dropped. The quality of inter-personal skills, professional decorum, and self-presentation are lackluster, unsophisticated, and often downright sloppy. Across the board, men and the modern society that spurns them have sunk to the level of lowest common denominator. It is time for men and the city to rise above mediocrity and realize our full potential, to take back control of our lives and restore society’s dysfunctional house back to order.


Blending in is not a masculine virtue. Literature, film, historical figures, even Influencers that make impact are distinguished, authentic, and unapologetic. Successful TV shows are unfailingly headlined by masculine archetypes committed to the principle of excellence – what the Ancient Greeks called Arete. One of my personal favorites was White Collar, a USA Network crime drama about a white-collar criminal named Neal Caffrey. Neal is an infamous thief and forger, but he is also well educated, polished, and a master of his craft. Caffrey lives by an ethos encouraged by his cunning supervillain mentor Vincent Adler: “we have an obligation to assault the common place every chance we get, from the clothes we wear, to the art we collect, to the women in our lives.”



Excellence through Agency


Iconic masculine archetypes are uncompromising. On screen personas like Harvey Specter – Suits, Don Draper – Madmen, Tyrion Lanister and John Snow – Game of Thrones are magnetic because they despise mediocrity, castoff limits to their freedom, bulldoze obstacles to their mission, and confront foes and problems directly. These men view life as a process of expansion, an open range of infinite potential and waste precious little time to seize the moment. At times – as are we all – they flame into recklessness and suffer setbacks due to self-defeating hubris. And yet, in each case they learn from experience and rise above pettiness to achieve something greater. In many ways, the ebb and flow of ego is the hero-story underlying the masculine character arc.



Above all, masculine leaders possess agency. Agency implies empowerment, a deep-seated belief that one’s actions will yield improvement, enrichment, good fortune, and a better world. Harvey Specter says, “I don’t get lucky, I make my own luck.” These characters are so well drawn because they speak to the internal-combustion of the male psyche, the libidinous power that sparks action. First comes self-belief, followed by manifest action in the real-world, and eventually – after years, sometimes decades (queue the montage) of relentless practice and miserable failure – comes excellence.



Modern America – hypnotized by a vogue for conformity to progressive fanatics – has become synonymous with mediocrity. One of the first things you learn when traveling overseas is how obese Americans have become by comparison. Obesity is so acute it is a national crisis. Education in America has fallen into similar disrepute. American youth, especially young men, are the least prepared for adulthood, for promising careers, or for life success than ever before. Winning badges of bureaucratic conformity to woke indoctrination – what we call college degrees – and rewarded with decades of debt enslavement has exacerbated these conditions.


Modern America – hypnotized by a vogue for conformity to progressive fanatics – has become synonymous with mediocrity.

Against the backdrop of such appalling neglect is it any wonder that young men are ejecting from society? Hordes are dropping out of university and falling into unemployment, Fentanyl addiction, and depression at unprecedented levels. Video games, snapchat, and porn binging are distractions from relentless propaganda to accept defeat and settle for beaten-down betatization. Such powerful influences have dimmed the masculine fire for generations of young men, ensuring the desire to take risks, challenge conventional wisdom, or become your authentic self – public opinion be damned – fails to launch. The result is lethargy, obesity, and mediocrity.


Mediocrity Goes Global


The virus of mediocrity is spreading globally. Fast food chains are poisoning populations in Thailand, so-called "fat-shaming" is now taboo in Scandinavia, and the effort to collapse any standards for entry into elite academic institutions are being demolished. At the receiving end of this assault are unsuspecting young men, the cast asides and sacrificial fodder to woke-feminists and soulless bureaucrats. The goal is simple, to neutralize testosterone-sourced excellence, to dilute us of the very things that make us men: mainly courage, competitiveness, and adventure.


Ironically, the principal victims of weak, mediocre men are women.

Ironically, the principal victims of weak, mediocre men are women. The dating market is toxic, dysfunctional, and unrewarding for both sexes, especially for females who expect (demand) excellence from men. A great deal of female frustration is self-induced; it is a consequence of social media’s (dating apps) unquenchable thirst for superficial metrics that serve as unrealistic barriers to entry. As a result, men lacking minimum height, income, and social-media prowess are considered ineligible to participate. Others inspire lukewarm responses from women tantalized by Instagram yacht parties and muscled narcissists.


The Way Out is Through



Still, men are lacking in guile, refinement, and strength of character. Certainly mainstream media, Hollywood, bureaucracy, corporatism, and universities leverage powerful mediums to encourage emasculation. That said, perhaps the most potent deterrent is groupthink. Men who take a different path, adopt higher standards, and speak their mind are reproached harshly, often by weak, mediocre men. I have had editorials rejected, been snubbed at job interviews, and harangued by peers for using SAT words, dapper dress, or perceived snobbery. These too are obstacles men in the city must overcome.


It is not too late, not by a long shot. The specter of defeatism looms large, like a menacing storm cloud fast approaching on a sunny day. Another way to interpret these headwinds is to embrace what Ryan Holiday tells us, The Obstacle is the Way. Perhaps it is beginning to sink in that every generation faces catastrophe, just as every individual at some point confronts an existential crisis. Crisis is what defines us and crises negotiated properly can become the very source of our power.


Like the masculine archetypes we idolize on TV, YouTube, Instagram, or mythical epics of our ancient past, our mission could not be clearer. A new era – the Age of Aquarius – has begun, and with it the opportunity to birth a Neo-masculinity. Aquarian energy brings bursts of progress, empowerment, and a cleansing washout to begin again, to right wrongs and learn from past mistakes. For men in the city, rising above mediocrity is a good place to start.


More to follow on men, the city and Neo-masculinity.

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