I will not fail to speak of Leviathan’s limbs, its strength and its graceful form.
Everything in the world is about sex except sex. Sex is about power.
The love triangle is the feminine equivalent of the hero’s journey. It’s the woman’s archetypal coming-of-age story, where the maiden attracts the attention of both the narcissistic dragon and the altruistic knight errant, and they strive against each other in competition for her.
The dragon flatters her idealizations because he secretly wishes to sacrifice her to himself. The knight flatters himself to sacrifice the dragon to her in admiration of his ideals. The woman must play the coquette between her two desires for masculine power and provision. She simultaneously craves
1) to be powerless before the masculine pragmatist who takes as he wills (submission -> arousal), and
2) to be all-powerful before the masculine idealist who gives as she wills (worship -> comfort).
The two male archetypes in the love triangle represent the woman’s two competing sexual interests. The knight excites her egoistic monkey brain through admiration (dopamine), because he sacrifices himself for her. (This is why flowers, expensive vacations, and other Instagram-able displays of frivolous spending are intrafemale status symbols.) The dragon excites her animalistic lizard brain through fear (adrenaline), because he wishes to sacrifice her to himself.
Faced with this dilemma, a woman yearns to resolve the paradox by choosing without responsibility for having made the choice, being overwhelmed by emotions and forces beyond her control. Because the lizard brain came first, the need to feel powerless takes priority. She will always eventually place the moral responsibility for her choices on the men in her life, because they are her god. Men are the source of her daily bread and her deliverance from evil, just as she herself must eventually serve her infant children. This is the nature of asymmetrical material dependencies between people, resulting in the familiar hierarchy from God to man to woman to child, and it is why the only sin a man can commit in the eyes of a woman is weakness. (In the face of which she will become something like a virulent atheist, a self-proclaimed little god called a heroine.)
(Men mirror women in their relationship with his Mission, to which he craves perfect submission and moral abandon.)
The modern primacy of this fundamentally feminine irresponsibility (due to our culture’s surrender to Rollo’s “Feminine Imperative”) can be seen in the prevalence of the “soulmate” myth. If a girl is particularly stricken with fancies for a man, and this is taken as evidence that she is destined to bond with him and him alone, then who is she to go against fate? Indeed, she will strive purposefully to realize this ambition with perfect moral abandon, spending and sacrificing aall to achieve it, even (and in her heart of hearts, especially) her sacred virginity. For what is more terrifying to a woman than to be passed over by the moment of truth, and thereafter be lost and alone forever? (The oneitis we see in men is equal parts ideologial adherence to the soul mate ethos, charitable devotion to a dependent, and sexual dependency up to and including desperation.)
Understanding the resolution of this struggle requires an understanding of primordial human psychology.
Levels of Your Brain
Every night you go to bed with a human, a monkey and a lizard. No we’re not saying that you are kinky. Nor are we insulting your significant other. What we are talking about are analogies of the different levels of your brain.
Although not exactly accurate, a useful rule of thumb goes:
- Neo-cortex = human brain
- Limbic system = monkey brain
- Cerebellum = lizard brain
The Neo-cortex controls rational thought, speaking and other higher brain functions.
The limbic system controls emotions and a whole lot more.
The Cerebellum controls movement. action and body functions.
Each of these levels not only were important for our species evolution, but they handle different jobs. You don’t have to think about breathing because your lizard brain takes care of it for you. It also keeps your heart beating. (Oh good, one less thing to worry about.) It’s also real good at telling you when to eat, have sex and run.
Your monkey brain patterns your emotional responses and helps guide you through social interactions. This is where our primate social behavioral patterns are rooted. It could be said these patterns are less about ‘psychology’ than they are about the hardwiring of the humans to behave the way we do(1).
Technically speaking the monkey and the lizard don’t ‘think’ — at least not in the sense of rational and logical thought. While they do process, they are a lot more action and emotionally oriented. They’re big on doing. And given the right stimulus they will jump behind the wheel and drive the bus.
The neo-cortex seldom totally abandons us. This is why even someone who is exceedingly drunk can still talk. But that doesn’t mean we are functioning in that part of our brain. Or that our behaviors are rational, logical or even under our conscious control.
Chemical Baths, Neural Pathways, Monkey and Lizard Brains
The lizard brains of both man and woman have only one value—survival—on one moral axis: from fear to security. A man’s lizard brain is obsessed with power. Its interests are violence and gathering resources. His feelings of security are rooted in power and possessions and his insecurity is bound up in helplessness, which promises penury. Fear provokes a fight or flight response in him.
As Robert Greene explains, the lizard brain of a woman is also obsessed with power, but any influence she has over her fate relies upon her ability to command the desire of powerful men.
Thousands of years ago, power was mostly gained through physical violence and maintained with bruth strength. There was little need for subtlety—a king or emperor had to be merciless. Only a select few had power, but no one suffered under this scheme of things more than women. They had no way to compete, no weapon at their disposal that could make a man do what they wanted—politically, socially, or even in the home.
Of course men had one weakness: their insatiable desire for sex. A woman could always toy with this desire, but once she gave in to sex the man was back in control; and if she withheld sex, he could simply look elsewhere—or exert force. What good was a power that was so temporary and frail? Yet women had no choice but to submit to this condition. There were some, though, whose hunger for power was too great, and who, over the years, through much cleverness and creativity, invented a way of turning the dynamic around, creating a more lasting and effective form of power…
In the face of violence and brutality, these women made seduction a sophisticated art, the ultimate form of power and persuasion. They learned to work on the mind first, stimulating fantasies, keeping a man wanting more, creating patterns of hope and despair—the essence of seduction. Their power was not physical but psychological, not forceful but indirect and cunning. These first great seductresses were like military generals planning the destruction of an enemy, and indeed early accounts of seduction often compare it to battle, the feminine version of warfare. For Cleopatra, it was a means of consolidating an empire. In seduction, the woman was no longer a passive sex object; she had become an active agent, a figure of power.
The Art of Seduction, Preface
Whereas a man can go without sex and feel safe and secure (if unhappy), a woman’s very survival traditionally depended on sex. The result of this distinction is that a woman’s libido is a psychopathic emanation of her lizard brain, whereas a man’s libido is a narcissistic emanation of his monkey brain. This can be further conceptualized within ERG theory:
In practice, I prefer Clayton Alderfer’s version of Maslow’s hierarchy, which he called “ERG theory”: people seek existence, relatedness, and growth, in that order. When people have what they need to survive, they move on to making friends and finding mates. When they’re satisfied with their relationships, they focus on doing things they enjoy and improving their skills in things that interest them.
The Personal MBA, page 40
These three levels correspond to the lizard, monkey, and human brains like so for the male archetypes:
You may note that the Lover is missing from this analysis. That is because a man’s progress along the Moral (?) axis mirrors his discovery and mastery of the shadowy feminine archetypes within himself. (The same is true for the helpmeet: woman-as-provider.)
Let me know if all that made sense. I moved the puzzle pieces around a lot to hopefully get them in the right order, and I’m worried the coherence may have suffered. On Friday (probably) I’ll take a first stab at fixing the West’s sexual culture.