Thursday, August 6, 2015

So What Exactly is an "Alpha"?

People learn by imitating each other. And even when they're supposedly finishing learning, they still imitate each other. Look at the grown men who wear team shirts. Do they think they can get the athlete's power by imitating them? By imitating those whom they admire? It appears so.

But in the past - and even now, I suppose - they imitated the most valuable men. In the West, when religion was taken seriously, men tried to model their lives on the life of Jesus.

There is even a book called The Imitation of Christ. Which, by the way, is very much worth reading.

I define an "Alpha" (which is a word I never use in conversation and which I wish would go away because it is so embarrassingly adolescent) as a man who tries to be the best he can be. What the Greeks, again, called "arete" (excellence) which leads to "eudamonia" "well-being."

A leader? Yes, sometimes. And that means to get men to follow you willingly ("Follow me and I will make you fishers of men.")

A teacher who tries to get people to be the best they can be? Yes, of course.

It's not charisma, it's not "charm" (which really means to ensourcel people by the use of words).

I seriously doubt Jesus had charisma and "charm." But he had something much more important, such as speaking with authority. Even that doesn't mean that much unless you know what you are talking about.

It's not being popular with women. It's not having lots of sex with many different women. It's not being a bully and being crippled with the "Dark Triad."

Men have sought to imitate Jesus. In the East they've tried to imitate the Buddha. In the Middle East they've tried to imitate Muhammad.

They've always done these things to improve their lives and to be as happy and fulfilled as they can be. That's what imitation is: I'll imitate you so I can be like you and be happy - to achieve well-being.

Most people, especially the young, imitate people, whether it's acting like a whigger with the saggy pants and the hat turned sideways, or imitating some of the worst advice in the Manosphere, in hopes of turning yourself into the Manosphere's version of an "Alpha" and getting all the girls.

That's what heroes really are - people you want to imitate, in the hopes you can achieve what they achieved.

When I was a little kid - like five - I clearly remember that Elvis and Sean Connery (as James Bond) were heroes.

And early in college I definitely remember what a huge hit Star Wars was. Luke Skywalker (Joseph's Campbell's "Hero on a Quest") and Han Solo.

These days, people pick up bits and pieces of those they admire. Public school, for all practical purposes, isn't worth a damn. Who do they teach students to emulate?

How many these days can emulate their parents, to find out what a good marriage is like?

The reason so many people want to move their kids into good schools and live in good neighborhoods is because they don't want their kids imitating the wrong people.

These days, I can't think of any heroes worth imitating. So, of course, people are going to look to the past, to the tried and true. And that, in many ways, is not such a bad idea.

8 comments:

Glen Filthie said...

The alpha male does exist. I've met a couple. My personal hero as a young man was Stormin' Norman Schwartzkopff. That man will wak into any room, take it over and dominate it. No dark triads, no douchebaggery, no pandering to sleazy women or posturing for adolescents or fakery. Politicians were scared shitless by him. He trolled the journalists with impunity.

I think what made him an alpha was that he was always a man on a mission. he was the only man (besides our esteemed host) that had any real and viable reservations about the war in Iraq. It was my only disagreement with him that I can think of.

The characiture of the alpha that is pushed by the boys is one that is constantly posturing and posing for the other chimps in the peanut gallery. Real alphas are about excelling in the manly arts and truly understand honor. There's not much of that these days either...

Anonymous said...

The problem with the word "alpha" is that many subgroups use the term in differing ways. Of course, many groups get upset, and try to fight other groups, assuming they alone have the purest, truest definition.

This is all pointless, because the precise definition of the word is not all that important. For most of us, 'alpha male' is a general concept. It would be like using the term 'more creative'. Or, 'more interesting', or for that matter, 'more powerful'.

Being the best MMA fighter makes you more alpha than an investment banker - but only if you're in a group that values physical strength. Being an investment banker on wall street will get you more alpha cred than being a low income MMA fighter.

It's a descriptive term, not an absolute label. And nothing is more annoying than having conversational interlopers barge in, and demand that a certain group revise its use of the term alpha, so as to more perfectly suit the literary preferences of the interloper.

Those who use the term among themselves know its meaning, because there is MORE THAN ONE USAGE for the word alpha. Just like saying 'artistically creative'. To a group of high society artists, a skilled machinist is not 'creative' in their mind, so they will dismiss the group of hot-rodders who just might see art and creativity in a skilled machinist, then turn around and dismiss a foofy high-art sculptor.

Honestly, I have to laugh at people who seek to be the "one true definer" of the term alpha.

This comment will not change anyone's mind of course, because the word 'alpha' is a precious gem to them, and they cuddle up to their definitions as though their whole identity depended on it.

Anonymous said...

I would say its not enough to stand out in any particular group. Some men stand out in any group. Many men are serious, focused, disciplined and highly competent, but some have something else as well thats damned difficult to pin down. They are men among men. Theres no denying it when you come across it.

Anonymous said...

Just to add to the immediately above. This whole thing seems like a distraction at best and a bait and switch at worst. Why not aspire to be a smart and capable man. Not a freak of nature, just the very best or just a better version of yourself.

Earl Thomas said...

Before the boys tried to come up with the idea of what an alpha is...I only heard that term one other place:

"I am the Alpha and the Omega," says the Lord God, "who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty."

Revelation 1:8

Anonymous said...

This above all: to thine own self be true, and it must follow, as the night the day,
thou canst not then be false to any man.

I believe that is the gist of what you are getting at.

Anonymous said...

All this "alpha, beta, theta" gibberish lacks depth and understanding of the complexity of life and interactions with other people.

I 've met some guys who would be labelled as "alpha" by the Moronsph... ahem, "Manosphere": tall good looking ripped guys who dated a hot chick and were desired by women. The last one I met was not only completely emasculated but also had no real life experience (he was 27 years old, biologist and had never worked outside his father's crops or outside College). He also goes through life thinking of relations with other men as merely transactional (I give you 1 X and you give me 1 Y).

Many of the guys who are supposedly "beta" (I am one of them) simply are people who are struggling to improve in all fields of life. And improvement requires persistence, courage, trial and error (that is, failure). As the philosophy of the Moronsphere has no room for failure, because "alphas always win", their conceptions of successful men become even more skewed.

Succesful men, the real achievers and winners, are the ones capable of enduring through adversity. History is filled with examples.

Bob Wallace said...

"I am the Alpha and the Omega,"

That is also where I first heard it.