The Point Magazine

I once worked within earshot of a dweeby jerk who was taking classes in The Game, that pick-up artist craze of a few years ago. He was unpleasant enough to start with, but grew unpleasant-er as he spent most of his “work” hours on the phone to friends, discussing his class notes in what he clearly thought was an unbreakable code. For all his authority on the topic, he never did seem to pull – likely because his unpleasant dweeby jerkishness was evident to all and sundry, especially those girls he targeted.

When I noticed this piece this morning, I thought of him. Luckily, this didn’t dissuade me from reading it, as it is an excellent essay that encompasses two of Stendhal’s master works, as they (apparently) relate to The Game. It is long, though, so I imagine my dweeby jerk coworker’s interest would’ve waned long before the fabulous ending. Now that I think of it, he would probably have given up somewhere around the first mention of “love”…

Yet you should also know that you are one of a dying breed. True, the reach of Romanticism is long and profoun – it is undeniable that we in the West are still the descendants of Stendhal. But love is fading fast. Long ago, the world provided much of our eroticism for us, by leaving us few options other than restraint. Now we no longer have Madame de Rênal’s happy home, or Fabrizio’s prison walls, to do us the favor of getting in our way. Were Stendhal to visit us today, this would no doubt be one of his first observations: love has become too easy. Or, rather, love has become too difficult, because sex has become too easy. If you take up love today, then, you take on an extra burden: the burden of creating your own eroticism, of conjuring up walls and limits out of thin air to replace the ones we have lost. You have no choice in the matter. Love was hard enough already; it has only gotten harder.

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