The great social blogger Heartiste did a post a week or so ago on the four types of loneliness. It was a take-off on a Twitter exchange on the subject. The original Twitter exchange listed loneliness for a woman, loneliness for brotherhood and loneliness for a lord, as in God, as the three forms of male loneliness. Heartiste adds a fourth, which he calls the loneliness a man feels for the man he has yet to become. This form of loneliness seems to be correlated to the distance one is from their true self.
One interesting thing about this list is it tracks closely with John Derbyshire’s description of the normal modes of thought. There’s no form of loneliness that corresponds with the desire for revenge, but perhaps personal thought could be broadened to include more than revenge fantasies. If so, then it works out well. The list from the Heartiste post then corresponds to personal, social, religious and magical thinking. The implication of that correspondence is that loneliness, or fear of it, is an integral part of man.
Some would argue that the keystone to male loneliness is the personal. A man who gets married and has a family, will never be alone. He will never be forgotten, because some of him will carry on in his children. This raises his social standing and makes for more meaningful relationships with his fellow men. The miracle of family life inevitably leads to a fuller, richer spiritual life. That seems plausible, except that divorces rates and the number of unmarried males suggests a different causal relationship.
Of course, the more spiritually minded would start with the need to have a relationship with the universe. Maybe this is in the form of some esoteric spirituality or the more concrete relationship man finds in Christianity. This connection to the universe, the relationship to God, provides the foundation for personal relationships, brotherhood and fulfillment of potential. As with personal loneliness, the facts on the ground suggest this is not the correct causal relationship. The pews are empty for a reason.
Heartiste, it appears, makes his first mover the loneliness a man feels for the man he has yet to become. He describes this as “Thwarted passion, a decision to avoid a risky venture, procrastination…these things will deprive a man of the ideal he always strives toward, and in the depths of that deprivation he will feel lonely for the company, and the mentorship, of his idealized self.” If you are all the man you imagine yourself to be, you will have all the women you want, all the brotherhood you want and the love of the universe.
The benefit of thinking of it this way is that it makes the fulfillment of your true self as the glue that binds the other forms of thought to one another as co-equals. There is a romantic quality, where this fulfillment of the true self completes a man in a perfection of the personal, spiritual and social. The flaw though, is that a homicidal sociopath reaching his full potential is a very different thing than what Heartiste has in mind. The ring cycle can just as easily end in horror as a romantic sense of fulfillment.
The final combination starts with brotherhood. The man who has established fulfilling relationships with other men, will inevitably share the spiritual life of his peers. He will believe what they believe and feel that the universe cares for him, as it cares for his brothers. An assumption here is that the only way for a man to find brotherhood is if he has completed himself in the personal domain by finding a woman. This golden triangle, so to speak, is what unchains a man to reach his full potential as a man.
Up until recent, western society was held together, to a great degree, by the voluntary associations we call brotherhood. It may have been organizations for former soldiers, fraternal organization or social clubs organized around a particularly male activity, like hunting or sporting. What we now think of as male loneliness and the degradation of male roles, corresponds with the collapse of brotherhood. The war on sexism was always a war on brotherhood, which in turn was a war on the bones of society.
The argument against this is that brotherhood does not necessary free a man to reach his potential as a man. Anyone who has been in the service or played team sports knows that talent is often sacrificed for the goals of the group. Organizations always take on a life of their own, putting the group ahead of its constituents. At the same time, organizations tend to devolve into politics, resulting in factionalism, which inevitably reduces the effectiveness of the group and the individuals within the group.
That’s not brotherhood though. That’s simply organization, which is different from brotherhood. In fact, in order to forge the bonds of brotherhood a man has to voluntarily sacrifice something of his self. It is this sacrifice, often a sacrifice of blood and sweat, life and labor, that makes brotherhood possible. The man who willingly gives his life for his brothers, so his brothers may live, is a man making the ultimate sacrifice. There is a reason such men are held in the highest honor by his brothers.
Of course, this assertion suggests a universal. In order to have personal, spiritual and social fulfillment, man must first find brotherhood. It is the pivot point upon which the balance of a man’s life rests. The collapse of the male domain in western societies, has then brought down with it the personal, the spiritual and the social. In order to avoid hanging alone, in the loneliness of modern despair, men will need to rebuild the structures that allow for brotherhood and most important, make the sacrifice it demands.