Douchebag or Doormat, An Annotated Bibliography:
Eldredge, John. Wild at Heart. Thomas Nelson, Inc. 2010. Print.
This book, Wild at Heart, centers around the Christian Life, but specifically focuses in on a single point. What does it take to be a Christian MAN? The case he makes throughout the book is that in today’s society, especially in churches across the United States, manhood has been boiled down to an ideal being a ‘Nice Guy’, and that this is a fundamentally flawed view of what real masculenity should look like. Eldredge, who on top of being on the New York Time’s Best seller list for several of books, is also the director of Ransomed Heart Ministries in Colorado Springs, uses his easily accessible writing style to strike deeply at the heart of men, using examples from famous films, poetry, philosophy, and grounds all of his work with a strong Biblical foundation. The struggle with this book is that it is directed specifically at a Christian worldview. However, the cases he makes about every boy’s ambition to fight a great battle, to live a life of adventure, or rescue a princess has an appeal to the everyman. Eldredge maintains through the course of his text that masculinity is bestowed rather than earned, and that every man has some inherent wound on his heart. It is by acknowledging this wound and overcoming it that one can fully embrace the ferocity that epitomizes how a man should live. Originally published in 2001, the fact that this work is still a staple at Christian me conferences and held up in certain circles as the definitive work of what it takes to be a modern Christian ‘warrior’, is the basis of what makes it ideal for presenting the idea that men don’t have to be a doormat. Eldredge stance on how real men have to overcome a society of ‘mama’s boys’ is another key reason I choose this work, as he points out that real manhood cannot be ‘bestowed’ by a woman. This ties in closely with Palahniuk’s stance which is why I want these two authors to fight, er, talk, with each other.
Palahniuk, Chuck. Fight Club. Norton. 2005. Print.
A short story written for an creative writing class, read at a bar, then evolved into a novel and later into a major motion picture starring Edward Norton and Brad Pitt; Fight Club itself is a story of overcoming insurmountable odds to be successful. The main plot centers around one man’s struggle with insomnia and a numbness which manifests itself eventually (spoiler alert) into full blown schizophrenia and multiple personality disorder where the narrator’s alternate self creates a world of underground fighting and eventually full blown anarchist revolution. This later part of the work doesn’t concern me as much, as some of the snippets earlier on, where Tyler Durden (the fantasy anarchist) mixes Buddhist philosophy with Marxist social engineering to appeal to the Average Joe. This piece, Palahniuk’s first work in a series of brutal, gripping fiction, is very closely related to, and actually referenced by Eldredge’s piece mentioned earlier. It follows a similar thought, that men have become too docile and need to find their ferocity again, it even mentions one of the same problems of a ‘society of men, raised by women.’ The difference between Wild at Heart and Fight Club are serious, where Eldredge suggests that men need to overcome their wound, Palahniuk seems to say ‘Fuck the Wound, take what you want from a world that has denied you.’ Whether or not that was the author’s intention, this fantasy has developed a strong cult following for nearly twenty years, (the short story was originally published in 1996). It emphasizes the difference between secular and christian viewpoints on roughly the same issue.
Peres, Daniel. Details: Men’s Style Manual. Gotham Books. 2007. Print.
Daniel Peres is the Editor-in-Chief for Detail’s Magazine, took it upon himself to write a definitive guide to style. Working with several other editors for Details, he has assembled a veritable tome of knowledge for the young male professional; using engaging photography, top-ten lists, and interviews with fashion moguls like Giorgio Armani and Tommy Hilfiger, Peres outlines all the do’s and don’ts of modern men’s fashion. While not really quotable in itself, this book holds a light up to a serious need in today’s world. The main point of this book, like The Modern Gentleman mentioned below, points out that guys today don’t know how to act, or even dress themselves well. This work is a basis of illustrating the consumerism that drives the average unenlightened man today. Where The Modern Gentleman takes on the task of outlining how a man should ACT, Details confines itself to how a man should look. ‘Classics are classic for a reason.’ The underlying message throughout this work is that men themselves are lost, and need as much direction as possible, whether it is a pretty picture on how to tie a tie, or a complete breakdown on which shoes go well with jeans. These kind of materialistic ideas stem from a man’s need to control their environment and books like this are popular and prolific in catering to that desire.
Trungpa, Chögram. Shambhala, The Sacred Path of the Warrior. Shambhala Publications, Inc. 1984. Print.
While much of today’s society values aggressiveness in men, Trungpa holds a different stance, that of a peaceful, gentle warrior. Born in Tibet in 1939, Trungpa was the Supreme Abbot of the Surmang Monasteries and by the age of eighteen received the equivalent of a doctorate of theology. After the 1959 Chinese invasion of Tibet, Trungpa went into exile in India, where he was appointed by the Dalai Lama to serve as Spiritual Advisor for boys at the Young Lama’s Home School. In the late sixties, Trungpa studied western philosophy at Oxford, and in 1970 was invited to teach in United States. Using his home in Boulder, Colorado as a base, Trungpa founded over one hundred schools and meditation centers across the U.S. While the Shambhala is not a spirituality book in the strictest sense, it deals with the Buddhist versions of the Platonic ideals of Bravery, Dignity, and Beauty. Some of the key points through out the work place emphasis on self-esteem, and true courage. Using Buddhist asceticism and an anti-materialistic viewpoint as a foundation, Trungpa offers a humble and soft-voiced resistance to a society he sees as tearing itself apart at the individual level.
Mollod, Phineas and Jason Tesauro. The Modern Gentleman. Ten Speed Press. 2002. Print.
A loquacious and somewhat presumptive literary gem written by two lawyers with a verbose incontinence of grammatical elitism, The Modern Gentleman offers advice on every topic a man might face; from choosing songs on a bar jukebox to how to lie about your number of sexual partners without completely appearing the ass that you probably are. This work, when coupled with Details, offers an insight into the stereotypical Hollywood reject. While some of the advice is well intentioned, it does paint a grim portrait on how ‘real’ men act. One wonders at the author’s emotional and spiritual depth, but in reality is another example of a bigger problem: Men don’t know how to act. Books such as this one, while often regulated to gag gifts and coffee table paraphernalia, do get read and used often enough to be popular; and it this pop culture which becomes the defining source of the ‘douchebag’ stereotype. This book is something that you might find in the back pocket of How I Met Your Mother’s writing team, and serves to illustrate the attitude of entitlement which so many men have.
Chesterton, G.K. The Man Who Was Thursday. Ignatius Press. 1999. Print.
This work of fiction, subtitled ‘A Nightmare’ takes the reader on a journey through the looking glass of Victorian England. Chesterton, held in the literary heights with such authors as C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien, takes into an abstract world of intrigue and espionage where undercover policemen are sent to undermine the machinations of a group of philosopher-anarchists. The main character, Gabriel Syme, while a character of fiction, is a breathing, bleeding, incarnation of masculinity who is far too quotable to leave regulated to pages of a novel. Chesterton, with Syme’s lips, speaks the words that many men feel in their hearts. Through this caricature of Victorian ideals, Chesterton gives us a window into our own history of the many faces of the masculine. While much of the philosophy of Thursday centers around the ideals of justice and anarchy, the philosophies of the CHARACTERS within Thursday is of great import to the same idea of Thumos, laid out in Mckay’s piece, which is outlined later. The book itself is a poetical glimpse of what every author thus far has alluded to, a true Renaissance Man.
Mckay, Brett and Kate Mckay. “Got Thumos?” The Art of Manliness. Artofmanliness.com, 15 March 2013. Web. <http://www.artofmanliness.com/2013/03/11/got-thumos/>
This blog, established in 2008 by the Mckay duo strives to ‘Rediscover the Lost Art of Manliness” and focuses on a broad range of topics, from literature to advice on shaving. This particular article is the beginning of a series concerning Plato’s chariot metaphor and specifically focuses on Thumos, or man’s Passion. Plato’s metaphor describes a chariot (symbolizing Reason) being pulled by a dark horse which symbolizes man’s Appetites and a white horse symbolizing Thumos. Through a delicate balance of driving this two horses together with the chariot, the driver can reach the immortal heavens and behold Truth. A well researched periodical designed to get at the heart of every man. This blog aims to combine what both Eldredge and Peres are trying to accomplish in their works, while being accessible to everyone. This article stitches together the two garments of these opposing sides of the Wounded man which Eldredge describes, and the Entitled or Wronged man prevalent in Peres and Mollod’s books. A unified approach to one of the classic Greek Ideals is one of the things men need, and coming from a blog dedicated to making guys act like real men becomes a center point for any conversation which involves lost masculinity.
Mr. Mafioso. “Is this the Worst Generation?” Ask Men. Askmen.com. 25 March 2013. Web.
AskMen.com, a site sponsored by such entities as GQ magazine and Macys is the center point of the douchbag culture. Hosting such articles as ‘Top Ten Pickup Lines’ and ‘How to Shave Yourself’ really appeals to the prevailing narcissist culture which faces today’s society. Mr. Mafioso, the working name of an otherwise unknown staff writer for the site is dedicated to appealing to the inner Al Pacino of his readers. One preeminent theme in his work is building back up that image of confidence one may find in television shows like The Sopranos or Boardwalk Empire, which has a mass appeal to every man dreaming of opulent power. This particular article, however, breaks from the mold of the website and holds a magnifying glass up to the current stereotypes and points out some of the things missing in our society now. A thoughtful, though humorous take on many of the same examples seen in Palahniuk and Eldredge, Mafioso shows himself to be tuned into the same underlying issue which every author so far has touched on, the emasculation of American Society.