There are two kinds of assholes: Weak assholes and strong assholes.
Weak assholes are weak men. They come at the world from a position of weakness that they have put themselves in. They don’t achieve much with their lives and they blame other people for their problems. When it comes to other men, they resent the greatness they see. When the great man is someone far off, like a titan of industry or a brave U.S. Marine they sneer and mewl, calling these men unfeeling oppressors. When it is someone closer to home — like a friend who is trying to improve himself by, say, spending less time drinking and playing video games, or starting out on a new exciting career — they feel betrayed and often try to sabotage his new project. This they can do subconsciously; in fact, doing it subconsciously is often the first refuge of the weak man, because to come right out and call his friend a traitor would take more balls than he will ever have.
Weak men are often Nice Guys. They whine and complain that women don’t love them. They can’t understand why everyone doesn’t see their special uniqueness. They are precious, delicate snowflakes, a wonder of nature in their infinite sensitivity and complexity. If the world doesn’t treat them like this, it’s because the world is a terrible place. If a girl doesn’t feel sexually attracted to him, it’s because of she’s a bitch, or because she’s been fooled by a slick, scheming “real asshole,” (i.e., a Strong Asshole).
When weak men don’t get their way, which is often, the weak asshole comes out. They lash out at the world with bitterness. Or they pull into their own shell, feeling surly and unappreciated. And this way of moving through the world just makes them less attractive, causing more bitterness.
Passive aggressiveness is the hallmark of the weak asshole. If he were merely surly and bitter, he might be more fun. We’ve all met guys who are extremely acerbic and dry, and they can often be a lot of fun. But the weak asshole, through all his bitterness and self-absorption, stridently maintains that he is not a jerk, that he is not bitter. It is his hypocrisy that makes him truly contemptible.
Women do not like weak assholes, and, frankly, neither do I… See, ladies? We have so much in common. I guess I’m just a sugar-coated sweetheart deep down. Like this guy…
Strong assholes are men who move through the world with force. Because he comes from a position of power, the strong asshole feels good about himself. He’s worked hard, and he has had to make sacrifices. Hard work and sacrifice give meaning to the pleasures he does indulge in. He is not wracked with guilt, because he has nothing to feel guilty for. When a strong asshole sees a weak asshole, up close or far away, he is sometimes filled with contempt, but just as often he barely takes notice. He is too busy living his own life to worry about what some other punter is doing.
Strong men understand that inner greatness is nothing without outer works. Rather than waiting for people to notice how special they are, they go out and do things, and let the rest go to hell.
The “asshole” side of the strong man is a side-effect of his central masculinity. He’s not trying to be a jerk, but it happens anyway. He understands that there is conflict in the world, that not everything is going to be gumdrops and lollipops. He doesn’t shit on people just because he can; but neither does he shrink from asserting himself when the time is right. When he sees something he wants, he goes out and gets it. People standing on the sidelines, weak men muttering bitterly, call it being an asshole. But he doesn’t care what they call it.
Strong assholes are far more capable of real compassion than weak ones. Strong men don’t have a hidden agenda. They have a public one. And so they can act from a place of real kindness when they want to. Strong men can compete openly with other men without resenting them. Strong men can admire other strong men. And strong men can love their women openly, and with power and real feeling. They do not cling; instead they seize.
Women like strong assholes. And that’s what confuses weak men who try to adopt the poses of the strong asshole. They get the “asshole” part down, but they never manage the strength.
You have to see yourself as a god first, and behave like one. Even when no one is looking. All the asshole stuff flows naturally from that. You can try and put the cart before the horse, and you might get a few dozen yards down the track. But life is a journey of many miles, and you’ll be better served to get shit straight rather than learning a few neat tricks.
Yesterday I inspired myself with references to the raging Achilles, so I’ll leave you with a couple of quotes from Lattimore’s classic translation.
Achilles is not a good guy or a bad guy… that’s too modern a distinction. He is a great man — half mortal, half divine. A hero. And he went to war knowing full well that the prophecy said it would be his doom. Did he mope about the prophecy? You be the judge…
As inhuman fire sweeps on in fury through the deep angles
of a drywood mountain and sets ablaze the depth of the timber
and the blustering wind lashes the flame along, so Achilleus
swept everywhere with his spear like something more than a mortal
harrying them as they died, and the black earth ran blood.
Or as when a man yokes male broad-foreheaded oxen
to crush white barley on a strong-laid threshing floor, and rapidly
the barley is stripped beneath the feet of the bellowing oxen,
so before great-hearted Achilleus the single-foot horses
trampled alike dead men and shields, and the axle under
the chariot was all splashed with blood and the rails which encircled
the chariot, struck by flying drops from the feet of the horses,
from the running rims of the wheels. The son of Peleus was straining
to win glory, his invincible hands spattered with bloody filth.