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The Strange World of Pick-Up [Oct. 19th, 2010|11:10 am]
Just wrote a big post re. PUA stuff which I thought I’d post here. I wrote it for a little mailing list thing I’ve got going with Seth.I READ IT SO YOU DON’T HAVE TO.

I’m quite into writing a post about The Game et al. because I’ve done a lot of reading on it other the last week or three and I need to turn this into a positive out somewhere (rather than on the dance floors of the UK’s discothèques. Three weeks might not seem a long time but the material is pretty shallow. Arguably, that’s 20 days too long.
Firstly, the book. I, too, couldn’t bring myself to buy it and it was found in a Church on Steve Grasso’s wedding day! Obviously, Steve didn’t need it anymore, after successfully employing the techniques on Allison. As one would expect, it’s a humorous memoir and is written for laughs, about Strauss discovery and entry into the pick-up artist subculture (PUAs). For anyone reading this who’s not heard of them, PUA is an internet fuelled “subculture” of men trading tips on how to pick up women.
Some of the techniques are approaching are very basic, some bizarre – it begins with improving your looks, wearing items of clothing that attract attention (“peacocking”), moves through approaching lots of women (there’s a three second rule, i.e. if you find someone attractive you have to go up to them straight away) and onto “negging” (playful insults to show you’re not intimidated by a women’s good looks), and the use of pre-rehearsed canned routines and “openers”, and status games – showing you are “worthy” of spending time around.
Here’s an interview with Strauss being very affable: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M0omMTu9Ax8
However, lest you should think this is anything normal I should point out it’s all done in a nerd jargon which I find absolutely hilarious. It’s this kind of weird language that only men talking with other men on the net could come up with, as they attempt to crack the mystery of Woman very much like a computer code.

Check out the 9 stages of the Mystery Method! (“Mystery” is Neil Strauss’s PUA guru in the book):

.Some of it is actually quite astute psychology, though it’s embedded in this freaky language, and has a particularly unpleasant set of aims – to bed as many HBs as possible (Hot Babes, who are normally given a numerical ranking). This basic sexism and objectification isn’t questioned. There’s also an argument about manipulation here – at what point does this work on one’s self-presentation slip into being unethical manipulation? I think it’s impossible to draw a hard and fast line here BUT techniques for “blasting last minute resistance (overcoming a woman’s last minute doubts about sleeping with you) and unannounced hypnosis are on the wrong side of that line wherever it is.

See here for pick up guru Ross Jefferies being an utterly unethical creepy predator, using hypnotic techniques on a young woman without her being aware of it: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xn_oqEOtLYU&feature=related

Strauss struck me as an excellent reader of people and he has his cake and eats it by presenting himself at a distance from the PUA subculture. This doesn’t strike me as particularly true, but then again the whole book has the whiff of bullshit about it. Having read the works of various magicians and then spent time with them, I’m always conscious of how different people are from their written personas. I would expect the real people he is writing about to be much more damaged and crazy than the humorous caricatures presented. The techniques seem to work at least as he presents them.

As one would expect from a bestseller, at the books climax, he subscribes to mainstream ideology of “true love” and falls for a woman on whom none of the PUA techniques work. She is Lisa Leveridge, Courtney Love’s bassist. True love blooms, swelling music, exit stage right to wild applause and a lucrative sequel. Right? Well maybe not.

“The Game” was a huge success, and spawned a legion of people who wanted to “live the dream”. There are many online communities and message boards discussed this sort of advice as well as a bunch of “gurus” selling and marketing the same at frankly staggering rates. To continue the critique here, PUA stuff, in particular the marketing is the ultimate extension of male entitlement. It promises you can “get any girl you want”. This is a really dangerous and dubious line of thinking that ultimately ends up in rape. Thankfully, its promises are false.

I discovered an online community called PUAhate.com, which is dedicated to attacking pick-up artists and gurus. I discovered this board by googling “Neil Strauss liar”. The thread I uncovered suggest that not only was a lot of the book false, the relationship that forms the books dénouement was in fact just a publicity stunt to promote the book and both of their careers. Now, I knew it was bullshit, to a degree, but I didn’t realise “how far the rabbit hole goes” to misquote another piece of mendacious pop-culture psychology.

The thread is here: http://www.puahate.com/showthread.php?t=6075
(Contains a lot of anti-Semitism, sorry. I don’t recommend reading that site from work as it’s totally unmoderated, thus lots of porn and racism).

A reading of PUAhate.com throws up loads of interesting material on “pick up”. The posters on there are first and foremost a bunch of angry nerds cross about the degree to which they’ve been ripped off financially. I found a discussion of guys detailing how much they’ve spent, and they were averaging $2000 with some having spent 8K and upwards. There was even a mention of guy who’d allegedly spent 30K and was still a virgin! Truly, a sucker is born every minute. It amazes me that an industry can spring up like this, dispensing advice and charging skies-the-limit fees, totally unregulated and people still go for it. I guess it taps into a pretty deep-rooted male fantasy. It makes me think if only I was much more unethical – I could be a millionaire!

Secondly, they detail how much PUA has screwed them up in various ways i.e. overusing “negging” and ending up with women hating you or trying to become “AMOG”(alpha male of group) and your entire social circle thinking you’re an arsehole. Lots of behaviours totally misapplied. One thing I haven’t mentioned is how a lot of PUA stuff has it’s roots in a crappy (mis)understanding of pop evolutionary psychology, about which most of the “gurus” promoting it know less than I do (2 Richard Dawkins paperbacks and a Wikipedia entry). So lots of stuff about being a dominant male etc, and this “firing women’s hardwiring”. Total nonsense. The most fucked up thing I found on here was a mention of a guy practising PUA techniques on his sister (!) and getting her all horny and crazy.

Thirdly, there’s the allegation that basically NONE of it works, beyond the utter basics, of looking okay and approaching a lot of people. It’s basically a numbers game – if you go up to 30 girls, one of them might be interested, and the rest is bullshit, marketed to gullible virgins. There seems to be a lot of truth in this to me.
Take a look at this piece of crap for instance: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ztgNd0kYv3Y
As if that’s going to have any effect of consequence on a real person. I’ve seen a few of this guy’s adverts. There’s only one word for him and it rhymes with “punt”.
Interesting thread here where a guy sums up what’s wrong with it all (a few posts down):

The most basic criticisms seem to be that it turns you into an overanalytical, desperate social robot, buying into the idea that women can be unlocked like vending machines with the right technique or routine. One noticeable thing about the board though is that there’s no critique of the wider goals of PUA – to pick up Hot Babes. Really made me wonder if any of them had ever been in love. Having said that I’m sure some of it works – basic techniques for improving confidence, even having a few canned routines (just as we all have favoured jokes and anecdotes). I feel that a lot of it gives guys the license to approach woman and the rest is down to being a bit funny, charming, and not too needy.

Overall, I think it’s fascinating social phenomena, looked at in it’s entirety, the scamming as well as the fantasy. It could potentially teach people a lot. There are some interesting basic pointers social dynamics and attraction on one side, and on the other, it helps to develop massively cynical towards marketing and easy cures in the field of applied psychology. (I think one of the reasons puahate resonated with me was ‘cos it reminded my feelings about a lot of Chaos magick). There’s definitely a cult-like aspect in play (reminds me of Scientology as much as anything else), and also the way it’s reinforced through marketing, and driven through the internet – it’s a very modern phenomena in this way. And of course, it shows one the power of sexual desire and our emotional needs to drive, effect and distort our behaviour. Anyway, that’s the end of my whistle-stop tour.
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Is this thing on? [Jul. 13th, 2010|05:43 pm]
I wondered how many people are still reading LJ or using it regularly. Was thinking of starting a new blog or reviving this one. Leaning towards the former. Comment if you are still present though..
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Waxidermy Auctions for Haiti [Jan. 15th, 2010|03:01 pm]
Most of you who know me will know that collecting records is dear to my heart and well, the good folks at Waxidermy (home of "weird records that suck") are running a series of charity auctions of rare and collectible records to raise money for various charities. If you've ever fancied dusting of that turntable and getting your hands on some black vinyl goodness, now is the time -

Waxidermy Auctions for Haiti.

Please spread the latter link around where interested parties will see it. Thanks.
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Blogging problem [Oct. 1st, 2009|11:16 am]
Hi there

Having a bit of a problem with Blogger at work at the moment. We have set up blogs for the students for their A2 coursework - blogs linked to a Googlemail account. Someone - presumably a student - has changed the password and we can't access them. Any ideas as to how we can hack this to reset the password? The automatic "send email to password" thing doesn't work 'cos it sends the password to the Googlemail account, which we can't access as we dont' share the same password.

Any bright ideas?
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A Cabinet of Cut-price Curiosities [Apr. 19th, 2009|12:25 pm]
[Tags|, ]

As you probably all know, I've been sublimating my anxiety and concerns about life by buying records for the last six months or so. Well, I am about to start taking things seriously again, but in the meantime, I thought I'd share with you (some of) the fruits of what I've been up to. What I enjoy the most about buying records isn't annoying bidding wars on ebay - rather it's the spirit of wandering around the city, digging in a box of crust and taking a punt or a chance on something unknown and seeing what you discover, hopefully finding something fascinating or groovy in these random encounters. I haven’t found any mad psych raers but that’s not really the point – what have consistently found is records I’ve enjoyed, that pique my curiousity or fascinate me in some way.

Some of the fruits of my exertions are in the chart below. This chart was originally for the VG+ board but I'm chucking it out here for you guys as well. All these records have in common is that I’ve found them all (bar one) digging out and about in the last few months or so, and that I knew nothing about them when I picked them up. A couple are from “proper” shops but most are from charities. Oh, and they were all cheap as chips – most expensive by a long shot was £10. It’s a bit random and all over the place, but… erm.. so am I.

ICut for obsession/madnessCollapse )
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COUNTRY WALK POSTPONED [Mar. 29th, 2009|12:08 am]
It seems like too many people can't make it, so I'm putting it off. I've tried to phone/text everyone, hope you all see this. I hope to run it in a week or twos time.
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(no subject) [Mar. 23rd, 2009|07:39 pm]
Hi all

So, this is the detail for the proposed country walk, to take place this Sunday (hope I haven't left it to late for people).

As this is the first time I've organised this, I've picked an easy walk - 3 out of 10! (Also, we may have a pregnant lady along) - and one easily reachable from central London - it's on the tube!It's in the second volume of the Time Out Book of Country Walks near London. It's walk no. 4, Chesham to Great Missenden. I propose to do the abbreviated version of this which is 5.9 miles long.

I suggest meeting at Baker Street at 10am - this Sunday, 29th March. I don't really know Baker Street Station so I'd suggest the platform of the Westbound Branch of the Metropolitan Line unless anyone knows a more convenient meeting spot.

The walk takes us from Chesham Station up through some lovely sounding countryside and woodland. There is a proposed lunch stop at The Pheasant Inn (which provides "inventive, though not cheap, food" - I don't know whether that is a threat or a promise! I'd be keen to try that but if there's a consensus we could bring some kind of picnicy snacks, bread, cheese, fruit etc.

I'll provide photocopies of the map and instructions for all of you, so we can all take a turn orienteering! Obviously, if it's going to piss it down, we'll give it a miss but hopefully the weather will hold.

So - let me know if you are in and what you fancy doing re. food. Going to email people this as well, in case I miss anyone.

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Country Walk [Mar. 17th, 2009|08:31 am]
I am totally failing at technology. I don't have half of your emails and Facebbok messages is failing to open on my works computer. All the more reason for a pastoral existence! Or at least, a pastoral afternoon.

I propose the 29th March as I can't do the Sunday the 5th and I'd like to get this done. Takers? Yet to finalise the location but there are several nice ones that are within 30 mins of London Bridge. Will post full details later.
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Country Walk Discussion [Mar. 15th, 2009|10:26 pm]
Guys, I'm going to switch the walk to my works email as it strikes me as an easier way to organise. If I don't have an email for you, please send me one through Facebook or LJ, or I'll text you. Ta.
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A Very (Nice Walk) in the Country [Mar. 10th, 2009|08:51 pm]

Spring is upon us, the flowers are blooming, the trees are doing whatever it is that they do...or maybe not quite yet, but they certainly will be in a few weeks - which is when I propose we go out for a bit of a walk.

The plan (if we have sufficient interest) - get a train out of London, a route/distance not too pricey and do a short walk from one of the many guidebooks now available. I have the Time Out one for instance, and the walks very in length from 3 to 12 miles or so. Perhaps stop off at a pub for lunch, and go for drinks/dinner/Radox baths as suits when we return to London.

If you fancy it, please indicate your interest here. Try and say any dates which are totally impossible for you as well. I'd be thinking 2/3 weeks time.
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