Nothing to see here. Move along.

What holds together, may not fasten.

posted by on March 11th, 2012

There’s one thing that I’d like to mention, kind of as a tangent off of a comment that I made in the review, about Clarisse’s book being targeted at the mainstream and at alternatives primarily accessible to the mainstream (or at least to those not too far into the margins).

It’s well-known that Mystery’s work, for example, emerged out of the club scene, and out of the club scene in a particular area. And the kind of superficial comments that keep popping up, year after year, keep involving questions like “what kind of people would actually fall for this crap?” But it’s rare, when it happens at all, that anyone infers what can be gathered from that. Especially in terms of why there would be such a strong focus upon tacit communication.

Namely, that pickup deals with, and, in its more complex forms, is likely specific to, high context cultures.1 Low context cultures, in contrast with high context ones, usually require the two bywords that are constantly invoked by critics of PUA: explicit communication and openness.

Identifying that inference wouldn’t just go some distance toward explaining the why and wherefore of pickup; it might also help to identify strands in its development and, more importantly, preemptively identify the circumstances in which it should and should not be applied.

To put that in PUA terms: proper calibration is impossible until and unless one is able to distinguish, both reliably and accurately, between low and high context situations. Which means that pickup comes with a fundamental and unavoidable prerequisite: broad and multifaceted cultural awareness.2

A significant part of the problem is that the opposite has happened: cultural awareness has, in the main, been reduced to archetype and biological principle. But when this has been addressed, internally or otherwise, it’s been (with rare exceptions, and them, usually internal) through the lens of gender criticism — and not through the lenses of cultural, historical and post-colonial critique, which is where the problems primarily lie.

One of the clichés that’s often trotted out about this is “when all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail.” But broadening the toolbox isn’t necessarily the only way to address that problem, or even the most effective; what’s also needed is to learn how to distinguish nails from other things, so that the proper tools, in the proper circumstances, can be brought to hand.

  1. Noting that what is considered mainstream and ethnically normative in the United States is also, generally speaking, associated with low context culture; see the list of countries in Wikipedia’s entry for the subject.
  2. The voluminous Story of [Someone's] Life is an obvious reference here, as is the background of certain current pickup authors (to a degree), one of whom was referenced multiple times in Clarisse’s Confessions.

 

 

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