While others on this blog discussed one of the defining qualities of the masculine, namely, one’s ability to control his own emotions, I was zooming out, wondering what other characteristics could reasonably be assigned to manhood.
It was not that long ago that Howard Hughes began designing aircraft. I’m old enough to say that Hughes’ life intersected with mine, if only in my early childhood. I have memories of riding on the banana planes of Hughes Airwest, a company which Hughes made productive. He was able to design airplanes and build aircraft thanks to directing a series of big budget Hollywood films. He came to these industries completely unschooled, with little more than some seed money from the family business, and a desire to be the best at whatever task was set before him.
The competence displayed by men like Hughes was so demanded, that extremely competent men had the liberty of behaving like complete jackasses. Howard Hughes, for example, broke his girlfriend’s jaw in a fistfight. (Her name was Ava Gardner.) Nothing happened, because he had pimped enough of his actresses out to politicians that he was effectively untouchable.
While not every ultra-competent individual was the sort of libertine Hughes was, many were just as crazy. Moreover, finding a highly competent man meant finding a man who had focused the majority of his time and energy on one discipline, and this often came with a social cost which would never be paid in the world of today. Go through the history books, and find a radical innovator, who lived before the late 20th century, and likely as not, the thinker or inventor will not have been a normal family man, working a nine-to-five. It is quite common to find them extremely competent in one specific area, while being raving nutcases in every other part of their lives. On the bell curve of crazy genius, Tesla and Gates were not the outliers.
The great historical shift of recent decades, then, is not merely the enforcement of conformity above all else, it is also the loss of progress, which usually comes at the whim of a man who is so utterly dedicated to competence that he lets other parts of his persona slip away to their bare animal substrate. Competence itself has gone from being highly prized, to being a detriment in the workplace. Hiring a competent man means hiring someone who will illustrate everyone else’s mediocrity, and this simply cannot be tolerated by the four-eyed woman who runs H.R..
Competence certainly still exists. Today you find it exclusively among individuals and small groups, who will face catastrophe as a consequence of thoughtlessness. Underwater welders, drill rig operators, hard rock nickel miners, test pilots: these are islands of competence in an incompetent world.
When I see younger men today, I see men who are lacking communion with their inner Howard Hughes. Bear in mind that I would never prescribe his personal lifestyle to anyone. I don’t think becoming a manic, sadomasochistic bisexual, who gets political favors by pimping his employees, is a particularly honorable career move. Rather, I hope that men rediscover their drive to find some avenue toward greatness, and follow the path to the becoming of their best selves. Whether anyone wants to admit as much, incompetence is likely going to become increasingly expensive, as the social order continues to unravel, and good for those boys who channel their internal Howard Hughes, as they will stand to profit at the decline of the feminist age.