How does one forge an identity? Or better still what is identity? Is it the sum of my name, my social status, the inferred representation of one’s title, masculinity or what culture deems as appropriate and palpable? And since we’re talking about masculinity, what exactly is masculinity and how do we identify with it and how is that more than ever in our highly charged times of rock stars, celebrity and reality stars forging an identity has become paramount. Paramount but paradoxically steeped in existential woe.
My existential woe began some time in the middle of my 30’s. Which is not to say that I had never experienced it before (I certainly had as a young man in my early 20’s when I first left my mother land- Australia to live on the other side of the world where to this day I still do)- but this time round, the internal dissent, the self hatred, the disdain of the social mileu had become too discerning for me to put aside.
I had everything, a penthouse on the Upper West Side, a fantastic salary, a master on wall street, but then I also had a serious cocaine problem, a serious apathy towards women ( they were tasty morsels who came in one after the other) and of course a serious hate of myself. I was in the eyes of my peers the wanton gentleman, the pioneer, the beacon of what success meant. But that was a lie- I was a self medicating individual who had begun turning up to work with blood running down his nose wondering why his bosses refused to fire him, until one day I decided to fire myself…
And from there I spent the next few years exploring who I really wanted to be, what legacy I wanted to leave the world, what I wanted to mean to the world and what the world really meant to me. In many ways I imposed myself into some sort of wilderness where I had to learn from scratch what it meant to be a man, a man of integrity, of vision, of meaning, of value. A journey that few of us dare to take, but a journey I had to take for the sake of my sanity which at this stage had taken me to very dangerous places emotionally, spiritually and physically.
How does one define masculinity and what makes us desirable? And why is it as I get older the things that I used to aspire to in my 20’s and 30’s mean nothing to me now? Yet the irony in this journey is that as I go forward, for the first time in years- I have found myself for once at peace with my lot. I am to be sure- poor (for now), a scoundrel and highly contentious and often refusing to tow the corporate or cultural ‘movie star’ policy that is forged down our throats on a daily basis. In fact today I feel more alive and more masculine because I have embraced my femininity, my sensitivity and desire to explore the underlying tenets of my being and that of the underlying dialectics of the world.
That said, I urge you all to read this piece from the revered goodmenproject who we here at Scallywag have come to adore. And as you read what Tom Matlack has to say- ask yourself- am I really the man I wish to be and what does it mean to be a man today? Or to be more succint- where have all the good men gone?
We have also offered a point of view of Anthony Poerio (see next page)- a young man of extraordinary talent and a frequent contributor to our journal as he too grapples with the conundrum of masculinity. His response we think will hearten you and unfortunately beseech you in further woe. Alas…the conflict of masculinity is a wondrous one.- love Scallywag.