Mr. Berme was a Vietnam veteran, and a teacher of philosophy. In my last year of high school — lo, these many years ago — I was in an honors humanities program, and Mr. Berme the vet co-taught the class with a canny old bat named Mrs. Oldes. Oldes was in charge of literature and art, and Berme was in charge of history and philosophy. This was unlike any class I have had before or since.
This wasn’t a typical “honors” class, where you just had to punch in and punch out, do the work and pad your college applications. Oldes/Berme (as we called it) was different. This was a classical education, the kind British kids used to get in the days of the Great Pink Empire (minus, unfortunately, the Latin grammar).
On the days that the usually-shrieky Mrs. Oldes yielded the floor (“DEATH IN THE BATHTUB!!!!” she would scream when we read about Clytaemnestra and Agamemnon, or “Hagia Sophia was… THE GREATEST!!!” when studying Byzantine architecture), Mr. Berme calmly provided a counterpoint. This old, grizzled Nam vet used to wander through the classroom, randomly picking up objects and turning them over in his hands, examining them as if they held the secrets of the universe within, as he spoke calmly about Plato or Aquinas or Kant. Sometimes the item in his hands would be a student’s binder. He would pick it up on one side of the room, right off your desk without warning, turn it over in his hands several times, slowly, making his way across the room saying something like, “Why did Plato ban the poets from his Republic? Does that not upset our modern sensibilities about the place of art in society? What can he be trying to tell us?” Then he would finally come to his point (“Because metaphor is a lie!”) and slam the binder down on a completely random desk forcefully, eliciting a startled jump from the poor student, and walk on. After class we always had to meet up and exchange all the shit that Berme had caused to migrate about the room.
One day Berme was lecturing on Nietzsche. I remember listening with my usual half-awake mind, phasing in and out, looking over at the incredible tits on Kerry Edwards, trying to imagine what she looked like all smothered in vegetable oil and tomato purée. Berme was making his usual migration from one side of the room to the other, carrying some random kid’s book with him.
“Nietzsche wants us to be strong and individualistic,” he said. He stood in front of my desk with a deep pause and set the book down on my desk. I looked up. Berme continued with a deep seriousness: “And not namby-pamby…. or wussy.”
It’s hard to describe just how he said that word, “wussy,” but I will never forget it. He spoke with a sort of deep contempt, his eyes off in the distance, almost spitting the word out, despite it’s lack of plosive sounds. It’s as if he were having a Vietnam flashback, in which he could see a fellow soldier pissing his pants or crying to his mama. “Wussy,” the way Berme said it that day, stuck in my mind forever, as the worst thing you could be. The fact that he also used the word “namby-pamby” just made it all the more funny and quotable. My whole senior year my buddies and I went around saying things like, “This is fucking great! And not namby-pamby….. or wussy.”
And that my dear friends, is where fucking chicks meets Nietzschean philosophy. I’m done giving pep-talks for a while. 11minutes has alluded before on this blog to those pep-talk PUA posts where the author has nothing more to say other than “get your shit together and the rest will follow.” It’s really not very useful, now is it?
It’s not news that you need to be strong. It’s not news that being a weakling beta asshole is a dead-end in the pussy-maze of life. There’s a never-ending chicken-egg debate about which comes first, being an alpha or getting laid. The easy answer is well, duh, they go hand-in-hand.
And that conventional truth is just that: true. Nevertheless, if you don’t already have complete mastery over your desire for women, there can be something insidious about trying to meet girls. There’s a basic neediness. Even feeling 100% good about yourself, fulfilling all of Herr Doktor N’s requisites for ubermensch-hood, the very fact you have a desire that you cannot meet without the consent of another being — and that being a woman, no less — seems like a fatal chink in the armor.
Well, all I can say is that needing woman is part and parcel of being a man. It is your essential nature, just as it your essential nature to feel violent, to feel protective of your home city and country, to love your friends like brothers, and to remember your mother on Mother’s Day. It is not a weakness, it is a strength. The desire for women is a fucking glorious thing. And in fact the only thing greater than the longing is the release itself.
And the release itself is all the more glorious because as it passes it brings on an even greater state of longing.
The sense of incompleteness that comes when you don’t get the girl is not bad. It is good. It’s not good because it teaches you some lesson; it’s not good because it might spur you to greater accomplishment (though surely these are good things). It is good because it is what makes you a man. A human, mortal, and yet more than human.
If you can lose your way with a girl and damn yourself, turning to that traitor moon with a spit-blood curse, and then laugh it all off, you’re already there. The next one is a lamb and you are a wolf. Fucking her is the greatest triumph, and the greatest joke.
Something about the way Mr. Berme said that line captures the whole essence of the thing. Just don’t be namby-pamby; and for god’s sake, don’t be a wussy.
Desire must always outpace the soul, and I would not have it otherwise.