cal terms the result of such a program is a freak of nature, whilernin mental ones the program itself is comparable to treating arnschizopiirenic with a powerful drug devised to subdivide hisrnalready divided personality. The aim of consciousness-raisingrnis a society in which everyone is a protected minority thoughrnnever a minority of one, which is, after all, the meaning ofrn”individual” in the most honorable sense of the term. Therntypical men’s movement apostle on retreat in the wilds ofrnWest-chester County is conscious of himself as a participant inrna variety of identities, which in ascending order would be:rn(unappreciated) Trickster, (abused) Son, (uninitiated) Male.rnThe notion that he is, first and foremost, a human being probablyrnnever crosses his masked mind.rnAristotle and Aquinas taught their philosophical descendantsrnthat manliness is merely the human male’s achievementrnof the fullest humanity, womanliness the human female’s.rnGreek philosophers and Catholic theologians—and confessorsrn—have always known that the determined quest for humanrnperfection is the means by which this humanity is finally obtained.rnBut this wisdom not only appeals to the modern mind,rnabsorbed in scientism and technique, as hopelessly simplistic;rnit also strikes it as being exceedingly demanding, which it certainlyrnis. Before I became a Catholic, I imagined that writingrna good book was the most difficult task I could ever face in myrnlife; now I know that being a good man is. Which brings mernto another unpleasant subject, that of work. The English wordrnvirtue has as its root the Latin word vir, meaning man. And Laborrnest Virtus, as my Episcopal school motto went.rnFran Lebowitz, the New York social critic and humorist, remarkedrnsome years ago that her father, by wearing a three-piecernsuit and fedora to the office every morning, registered his idearnof work as serious business, unlike the businessman of todayrnwho commonly arrives at his place of work attired in a sportsrnshirt and slacks, or even shorts. “Work,” Mencken said, “is thernonly solution”: not just the sole anodyne for the cosmic painrnthat seeps through every human life, but the activity that mostrndirectly and efficiently makes a man or woman fully human—rnChristian moralists say by participating in the creative action ofrnthe Divine Being Who made them in His image. Of course,rnthis conception of work as a process—of self-discovery, selfdedication,rnand therefore true self-fulfillment—is today anrnoutworn and strictly unfashionable one except among feminists,rnwho have performed a miracle by resurrecting the oldrnmale myth of stock-broking and corporate lawyering as sociallyrnuseful and humanly rewarding careers. (“Sensitive” men forrndecades now have suffered what Walker Percy called “fuguernstates” in the middle of such careers, bailed out, and devotedrntheir time to golfing or existentialist philosophy instead.) Otherwisernwork has been degraded to a 40-hour week of boredomrnand frustration tolerated for the sole purpose of having enoughrnmoney to stay soused through the weekends and make paymentsrnon the new car, the condominium, and the VCR.rnBut this matter of work does suggest that the mythopoeticrnmen’s movement, like so many bizarre contemporary programs,rnrepresents another silly response to a legitimately diagnosedrncomplaint. The thesis of Robert Ely’s Iron John, arngenuinely interesting book, is that corporate industrialism hasrnalienated fathers from their sons, both physically and spiritually,rnwhile indefinitely postponing the initiation into manhood thatrnall male youth desire and that is in fact necessary for them tornbecome men. Deprived of the workaday presence of their fathers,rnyoung males come to suspect the abstract work performedrndistantly by adult males, which they finally see asrnsomething evil (multinational corporations, the CIA, the Pentagon)rnand indeed are so; denied the ritual initiation of pre-industrialrncultures, they remain for most or even all of their livesrnthe tender, callow youths—”soft men,” Ely calls them, orrnnaifs—that corporate society desires, encourages, and requires.rnIf it often seems that we live in a country where there are altogetherrntoo many boys and far too few men, Bly argues, ourrnperception is accurate enough. The Commonwealth of PeterrnPan is not the same thing as Queer Nation.rn/ ^ / 7’^°*’^o’^s”^ ^’yrnl / i y Old the men’srn/^ A ^ movementrnperceive to be lacking in American andrnindeed contemporary men everywherernis best described as w7a%, a qualityrnthat is being squeezed from the humanrnpsyche—but especially perhaps fromrnthe mo/e human psyche—by thernwine-press of Americanism, otherwisernknown as Modernism.rnThe Rocky Mountain press gave considerable coverage lastrnsummer to the increasing regional problem involving peoplern—most of them non-Westerners—having to be rescued byrnexpensive technological means (usually helicopters) from dangerousrnor daredevil expeditions in rugged wilderness country afterrnthey had attempted to scale mountain faces or ski downrnglaciers or simply exposed themselves to natural conditions ofrnwhich they had no previous experience. From mountaineeringrnto bunjee-cord jumping, the past ten years or so have witnessedrna dramatic increase in the number of sportsmen participatingrnin hazardous activities whose rewards include, beyondrncheap thrills, pride in performing feats of personalrncourage or the satisfaction of an experience more existentiallyrnreal than those afforded by everyday life.rnPart of the appeal is simply the chance to escape the boredomrnthat afflicts all decadent societies, but most of it reflectsrnthe process—steady, inexorable, with no end in sight—of denaturalization,rncharacterized and accompanied by suburbanization,rnhomogenization, technologization, centralization, andrnabstractionism that is a crucial aspect of American decline.rnPeople who lead strenuous outdoor lives in their daily work—rnranchers, game wardens, loggers, oil field roughnecks, professionalrnhunters—do not deliberately put themselves at risk, eitherrnon the job or in their private activities: only computerrnprogrammers, ad executives, and other epicene creatures do.rnFEBRUARY 1994/13rnrnrn