Thursday, June 23, 2011

Robert Augustus Masters - Birthing the Man

This article came up a week or so ago - I meant to post it then, but life has been a little hectic of late and the tab simply got lost in a sea of open tabs that I wanted to post about.

But this is important stuff, and it's related in part to the session Owen Marcus and I did for the Ultimate Men's Summit (you can still register for free and download all of the talks - 10 days worth, including a talk by Robert) - how men can be adults, fully masculine and mature.

In my experience, being too strongly identified with either the masculine energy or the feminine energy leads to imbalance and loss of integrity. We need to hold those energies lightly, without attachment, and allow their fluidity to ebb and flow as needed.

For example - when I am in the gym working out, I tap as much as possible into what the mythopoetic menfolk would call warrior energy, but even then it's more samurai than gladiator - there is mindfulness. But when I go to see clients for therapy, there is much more softness, openness, and communion. When I am writing and editing, it's a more balanced mix.

More and more I am beginning to think that the goal should be to embody a healthy human being, but in order to get there, we often have to heal our gender wounds - it is this last piece that I think Robert is addressing here.

He offers a set of polarities between the traditional masculine identity (tough guy, jerk, unfeeling) and the sensitive New Age guy (wimp, limp, nice guy). We need to work the Buddha's Middle Way and forge a new path for men.

Birthing the Man

June 14th, 2011 | By Robert Augustus Masters

Some men, recoiling from hardness, get stuck in softness and hypertolerance, drawing their soft-shelled carapace ever inward, ever tighter, squeezing the power out of their breath and the heat out of their anger and the meat out of their lust, trading in their power for approval and security, chronically caving in to prove their harmlessness, confusing surrender with collapse and emotional flatness with equanimity.

Now and then they lightly potshot raw male power, smudging and scorning its lyrics, fleeing its muscular intensity and no-bullshit solidity, scrambling to please yet another surrogate of their childhood’s dominant parent, reducing themselves to not much more than psychologically sophisticated beggars for his or her multi-headed applause, little men to the end, their tears falling in deserted rooms.

In the vacuum often left by their fathers, the backslapping absence or sleepy hollow or dressed-up desolation or shaming blows or emotional constipation, the sloppy anger, the cement swirl of misguided challenge and disconnected care, the ethical sewage of buried shame, the slaps of far-from-fatherly touch… In that achingly crushed vacuum, that vacuum crowded with loneliness, that emptiness battle-numbed and flattened and silently weeping, such men ricochet rootless and anxious, bouncing around between a surplus of shoulds, castrating most of their passion and force, bottling the pain, sterilizing the screams, and storing the rest, leaving it in shadowed display in the secret museum of their gelded remains.

Fleeing their full maleness, they dwell in highrises of mind, worldly or otherworldly, greening their deserts of abstraction and self-contraction with oases of handy flesh, copulating with mirages of femininity, repeatedly sacrificing their anorexic inner warrior on cleancut toxically reasonable altars, offering his heart and belly to their deified fear while they march for peace, secretly designing and refining new weapons for their inner war, crushing their instinct to pass through a saner door, leaving their love puddling in lukewarm corridors.

Other men, hiding in the foxholes of their maleness, vacate their vulnerability and softness, paving the wasteland of their anesthetized torso, keeping a hotline open between brain and groin, a pornographic hookup of scantily-clad taboos and rising heat, their chest, inflated or deflated, a no-man’s-land, their belly, flat or bloated, a meatiness of misaligned power, their jaw and loins obsessed with thrust, their flesh burdened by decades of split-level lust and a great subterranean sadness.

Talking too loudly as they race up and down the freeways of diseased boyhood, going nowhere fast, they allow their inner warrior to be exploited, to be reduced to little more than a fighting and fucking machine, an obsessive doer impaled on consistency, a square-shouldered puppet of industrial strength shoulds, self-sentenced to solitary, isolated even in womanly embrace, too lost to lose face.

They rationalize their self-mutilation, their self-rejection, their doing time in the troughs of unnatural selection, plastering siliconed pinups on their spiritual oblivion, turning away from the enemy’s child even as they turn away from their own softness and innocence, running from the boy they once were, the broken boy still loitering in a toughened loneliness, emptied of himself, already hardened for the next command, steeling himself against feeling, against revealing and healing, thinking and shrinking himself into a logic of heartless survival and pleasurable distraction, trusting only his mistrust.

It is between these, between the overly soft and the too hard, the wimp and the bully, the strategically sensitive and the reasonably numb, the de-scrotumed and the pathologically penile, the bored room and the savage space, the terminally nice and the violent, the limp and the stiff, the gentleman and the tough, the nice guy and the jerk, that so many of us rise and stand, trying to anchor ourselves in a saner, more loving land, a place bright with true man, the man at home with all his qualities.

Read the rest of the article.

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