The Renaissance Man
This isn’t about techniques, but inner-game. It’s about developing the Renaissance Man within. It’s a longer post, but I promise this idea will be worth it.
‘Cause you could have all the game in the world, but if you’ve got nothing to back it up, you’re gonna come off as shallow, having no substance… hello turn-off.
Yes, cultivating the Renaissance Man within isn’t exactly “active” game. But your SUB-COMMUNICATION will be waaaay better. You know, what you “say” in between the lines. The tiny unthinking, subconscious things you say and do, like body language, your reservoir of stories and conversation topics, confidence.
Oh hell yeah, confidence. I’d say a guy becomes a man of high-value FOR REAL by cultivating his inner Renaissance Man. I mean, he’s realizing his potential, choosing the “high” road over and over, how could he not? That’s a HUGE source of confidence.
Then of course there’s the fact that as a Renaissance Man you keep your woman attracted in the long-term, rather than merely attracting her in the short-term.
Actually, I’d say that’s the biggest benefit of becoming a Renaissance Man. Better than helping you “get” women, it’s good in itself. It’s good in itself to become a more excellent, well-rounded man.
So I know this post isn’t exactly how to “game” women. But without a solid foundation to build a house on, the house’ll crumble no matter how pretty it looks from the outside.
Shit, I love what I’m about to share with you. This idea inspires me to no end. I mean I named my pen-name after the idea for God’s sakes. I hope it’ll inspire you, too.
Okay, here’s the basic idea behind this post: let’s not let the ideal of the Renaissance Man die.
Every guy’s got a Renaissance Man inside them.
You’ve got one, I’ve got one. So why not let that beast out to play? Especially since it’ll make us into naturally attractive guys.
Emphasis on “naturally.”
I mean, look, learning how to pickup chicks and how to cold-approach and how to attract women kicks ass. I love it. Shit-load of fun. And not to mention, all-important skill that can apply to life outside of pickup.
But it’s ONE skill. There’re others. So, if we only focus on that one skill, don’t you think that kinda limits us? Stunts us from becoming all that we could be?
Like, what if our life became about picking up women and nothing else? Then what? What would our conversations be like? What would our relationships be like? How interesting would we be as human beings?
Whoa, that was a lot of questions. But here’s my point.
Yes. Having no life outside of pickup stunts our full potential as human beings.
But a man who also spends time building a life outside of women becomes a fuller human being. You’ll be like: Screw needing women to validate me. Or having to wear a “pickup” mask. Or fearing there’s nothing behind my pickup mask.
You’ll be the man who’s a “10” on the inside. That kind of guy attracts “10’s,” and KEEPS ’em keep coming back for more… ‘Cause he’s a “10” himself.
How cool is that?
Now, what better way to cultivate a life outside of pickup and become that “10” than cultivating ALL our gifts? Than becoming a Renaissance Man?
Okay, okay, okay. I get your point already. What the hell IS a Renaissance Man anyway?
According Baldessare Castiglione…
in his book, “Courtier” every Renaissance Man has six characteristics in common. He’s a:
He’s got social intelligence (and perhaps seduction skills…)
He CONTRIBUTES to (and participates in) society.
He explores existence, learns, grows in awareness.
He’s got a craft in something and does it with care, imagination, creativity, even play.
He takes care of his body and health, he’s strong and assertive, he’s equanimous and honest.
Castiglione was writing during the Renaissance when everyone was a Christian. Doesn’t mean you have to be a Christian per se, but to have some kind of spiritual life. In other words, a Renaissance Man does things for “the greater glory of God and the salvation of man” (the Jesuit motto). Put another way, he works to puts aside ego to love.
My favorite part?
ALL of us have the ability to be this. It’s not a few are born to be Renaissance Men. Being a Renaissance Man is the lot of being human. It IS being a human being. A FULL human being.
But unfortunately, our culture tends to specialize. So it seems strange that you could be a nerd AND a jock. Or an artist AND a scientist. Or a Christian AND a warrior. It’s like in our culture we think “you’ve got to be one or the other.”
Not according to this ideal.
According to the Renaissance Man ideal, we can do it all. And there are plenty of people that have proved it’s possible.
Check out some of these examples so you KNOW it’s possible for you:
black belt, weight-lifter. He speaks Swedish, English, German, French, Italian, Spanish. Studied chemical engineering, and economics. Professional actor (see ‘Rocky IV’), founding member of a New York theater company and a production company, he’s directed six films, and apparently can sing.
Actor (see Lord of the Rings), singer, composer, professional photographer and abstract painter–whose work gets featured in actual art galleries. A poet and a general badass.
Philosopher and cognitive scientist. His work has influenced psychology, and he literally invented modern linguistics.
professor of cognitive science, artist, calligrapher, composer, programmer, and physicist. He’s also fluent in three languages, and he’s studied eight others.
SCHOLAR – Made important discoveries in electricity, invented the “Franklin Stove,” discovered three methods of cooling, introduced several crops to the U.S., invented bifocal glasses, studied several languages, designed a phonetic alphabet, mapped the Gulf Stream and Routes for the post office, traveled extensively in U.S. and Europe, involved in founding of two colleges (University of Pennsylvania and Columbia University).
CITIZEN – Founded first U.S. Hospital, first circulating library, first fire department, first police department, first insurance company, founded street lighting, paving and cleaning, started American Philosophical Society, started Society to Abolish Slavery, started “Leather Apron Club” Union, first postmaster, originated matching contributions idea, crafted well-known maxims on thrift, business-owner, “Patron Saint of Printing,” held government positions such as governor, Ambassador to England, Minister to France, helped found the United States, Philanthropist, organized fund raising and contributed to many worthwhile causes.
GENTLEMAN – Known to be a ladies’ man, known for his great sense of humor, known for his diplomacy and social skills.
ARTIST – Wrote for several early newspapers, considered U.S.’s first writer of humor, drew first cartoon in an American newspaper, founded “Poors Richard’s Almanack,” invented musical instrument – glass armonica, designed “sea anchors”
RELIGION – Introduced idea of prayer in Congress
WARRIOR – Colonel in Militia
Leonardo da Vinci:
artist, architect, inventor, scientist, poet, amateur musician.
was said to demonstrate the most courage on the battlefield during the Peloponnesian War, one of history’s greatest philosophers, humble stone mason/sculptor, active citizen in Athenian democracy, known for his gentlemanly sense of ethics, duty, sense of humor, wit, social skills.
“But hold on,” I hear someone saying. “If I follow this Renaissance Man ideal, won’t I just become a jack-of-all-trades but master of none?”
Here’s what I think we can learn from the examples above.
Yes, each of these Renaissance Men often had a focus. For example, Da Vinci focused on painting. Socrates focused on philosophy. Franklin seemed to focus on being a citizen. But that didn’t mean they couldn’t also be poets, musicians, scholars, and so forth as well.
To think otherwise is limited thinking. It’s to defeat one’s self before even beginning.
In fact, when I say “Renaissance Man,” I don’t mean just being multi-talented. I mean being a COMPLETE human being:
Being a scholar (learning and developing), a citizen (contributing and participating), a gentleman (social skills), a warrior (healthy body and assertiveness skills), an artist (using a skill that helps us imagine) and “Christian” or spiritual person (serving a higher power and living an ethical life) are just different facets of being human.
In fact, Plato had this PHENOMENAL idea that “education is recollection.”
We’re NOT born blank slates. We DON’T begin life knowing nothing. It’s NOT that a teacher fills us with knowledge.
Rather, we’re born with the answers within from birth. It’s just the teacher’s job to help us remember. According to Plato, we can learn math because we already have the ability to learn mathematics within.
If that’s true, you can take that a step further.
The reason ANY of us can learn music, art, science, ethics, or whatever, is because we already have the capacity to do it. We just have to remove the plank from our eyes and remember how. The Renaissance Man is within all of us. It’s prewired within us already. It’s what it means to be human.
That’s how I understand the Renaissance Man. Developing the WHOLE human person, not just a part.
I hope we haven’t become so specialized as a culture that we think this is impossible. If so, we’re in danger of creating a self-fulfilling prophesy where we’d be walking around as one-dimensional men.
To show specialization is not the only way of thinking, look at the ancient Greeks. They were the ones behind this Renaissance Man ideal after all. In fact, historians named the Renaissance era with the French word for “rebirth” because this was the age where persons were rediscovering the Greeks and their value of plural excellence. Rebirth of the Greek ideal.
This ideal wasn’t a big issue for the ancient Greeks as it is for us moderns.
Few Greek were specialists (like us). Instead, they were about plural excellence. That’s why so many Greeks were naturally Renaissance Men.
Plato was a poet, a budding politician, a philosopher, and a star wrestler (Aristolces is Plato’s real name; Plato was his wrestling nickname… Plato meant “broad” in Greek… because Plato had such broad shoulders. We know Plato by his wrestling nickname. Isn’t that awesome?).
Aeschylus, the “father of tragedy,” was a great poet and playwright but if you look on his gravestone, his inscription makes no mention of his plays, only his military achievements. He had fought in both Persians Wars and identified more with his honors as a warrior. But he was also an active citizen, gentleman, and a member of the Eleusinian cult.
Thales, the first philosopher in Greek philosophy, was a mathematician, an engineer, a scientist, a philosopher, an entrepreneur, a citizen who attempted to federate the twelve city-states on the coast of Turkey to fight against the Persians.
To be a Renaissance Man in ancient Greece was not an anomaly. It was expected. All men strove for plural excellence, NOT for specialization.
Why was this ideal not a big issue for the ancient Greeks?
Here’s my theory at least. Maybe they thought plural excellence IS what it means to be human.
We know how much the Greeks exalted humanity, what humanists they were. Perhaps what they recognized and loved in humanity was its universality.
The Greek myth about Prometheus explains what this “universality” is.
Check out the myth. I think you’re gonna like this…
First, backstory: Prometheus was a Titan who lived before the gods were even born. In fact, Zeus and the rest of the gods had to battle the Titans in order to rule Mount Olympus. Prometheus was one of the few Titans that had helped the gods beat the Titans.
His name meant “foresight.” He had a brother named Epimetheus and it meant “after-sight.” In other words, Prometheus was the one who thought before acting, Epimetheus acted before thinking.
Okay, here’s the story: Prometheus and Epimetheus were given the task of repopulating the earth after the gods beat the titans. The gods gave the two brothers gifts to hand out to all the beasts. Prometheus crafted an animal called “Man” with great care. He even modeled them after the gods.
But Epimethus made all sorts of animals rapidly without thinking. And he gave away all the good gifts to them. So animals could run fast, see, smell, hear better, and had more endurance than Man. Plus they had coats of fur that kept them warm in the cold nights.
Man had no gifts and no ability to survive in the wild.
Prometheus took pity on man. Of course he did. Man was his special creation. So this is what he did. He asked Zeus to have some of the sacred fire to help them out.
Zeus said, “Hell, no. The fire belongs to the gods alone!”
Prometheus couldn’t bear to see Man suffer so he decided to steal some of the fire anyway. He carried it down to earth.
And thank God. ‘Cause the fire kept Man warm in the night. It also kept away other beasts so they wouldn’t attack.
Even better, a strange thing happened.
Man would watch the smoke spiral upward. Their eyes lifted from the ground up the the heavens. They began to wonder, think, become more aware, and they built temples to honor the gods.
Still, when Zeus found out about Prometheus’s thievery, he punished him… SEVERELY.
He chained Prometheus to a rock with unbreakable irons, and each day an eagle would eat out his liver. At night his immortal liver grew back again. But every day the eagle returned to make him suffer again.
They say it was Hercules who finally rescued Prometheus, but that’s a whole other story.
The point is, humans didn’t have a special gift like other animals. Their gift was fire, awareness, and their ability to transcend their “one-giftedness” that the other animals were limited to.
Jean-Paul Sartre made a similar point.
In his essay, “Existentialism Is A Humanism” he argued that what makes humans unique is we’re NOT bound by an “essence.” We exist first. We have this incredible freedom to create our own essence.
I like the way a Renaissance philosopher put it. Giovanni Pico Della Mirandela…
…in his “Oration on the Dignity of Man” drew out the lessons of the Prometheus myth in this way (by the way, I know this is a long quote, so feel free to skip it, but let me tell you how WORTH it is to check it out):
“Man is the most fortunate of living things and deserving of all admiration…he’s not of the brutes alone, but also of the astral beings… Hear what this condition of man is… The Great Artificer still longed for some creature which might comprehend the meaning of so vast an achievement, which might be moved with love at its beauty and smitten with awe at its grandeur. He brought forth man.
“But there remained no archetype according to which He might fashion a new offspring… All space was already filled; all things had been distributed in the highest, the middle and the lowest orders… At last, the Supreme Maker decreed that this creature… (man has) nothing wholly his own, (but has) a share in the particular endowment of every other creature. Taking… this creature of indeterminate image, He set him in the middle of the world and thus spoke to him:
“We have given you no visage proper to yourself, nor any endowment properly your own… (but) whatever place, whatever form, whatever gifts you… select, these same you may have… The nature of all other creatures is defined and restricted… you, by contrast, aren’t impeded by restrictions… by your own free will… you, trace for yourself the lineaments of your own nature. I have placed you at the very center of the world, so that from that vantage point you may with greater ease glance round about you on all that the world contains. We have made you a creature neither of heaven nor of earth, neither mortal nor immortal, in order that you may, as the free and proud shaper of your own being, fashion yourself in the form you may prefer. It will be in your power descend to the lower, brutish forms of life… (or) to rise again to the… divine.”
“To have what (man) chooses, to be what he wills to be! The brutes from the moment of their birth bring with them all that they will ever possess. The highest spiritual beings were from the very moment of creation… (are) fixed in the mode of being. But upon man… God bestowed seeds pregnant with all possibilities the germs of every form of life. Whichever of these a man shall cultivate, the same will mature and bear fruit in him. If vegetative, he will become a plant. If sensual he will become brutish. If rational, he will reveal himself a heavenly being. If intellectual he will be an angel and the son of God. And if dissatisfied with the lot of all creatures, he should recollect himself into the center of his own unity… become one spirit with God, in the solitary darkness of the Father Who is set above all things, himself transcend all creatures.
“Who will not look with awe upon this our chameleon? …If you see a man dedicated to his stomach, crawling on the ground, you see a plant, not a man. If you see a man bedazzled by the empty forms of the imagination… and made a slave to his own senses, you see a brute, not a man. If, however, you see a philosopher, judging… (from) the rule of reason… he is a creature of heaven and not of earth. If… a pure contemplator… wholly withdrawn into the inner chambers of the mind, here is neither creature of earth nor heavenly creature, but some higher divinity clothed with human flesh.
“Who will not look with wonder upon man… (who) is designated sometimes … by the term “every creature” because he models, fashions, transforms himself into the likened of all flesh and assumes the characteristic power of every form of life?
“But what is the purpose of all this? That we may understand… we have been born into this condition of being what we choose to be–that we ought to be sure above else that… we appreciate it… we may… not pervert this free option. We(‘re) impatient with mediocrity (and) pant after the highest things. Let us emulate the kind of life life they lead. For if we lead this kind of life, we shall attain their same estate. If we burn with love for the Creator only… (we) transform into… a heavenly being.”
Humans have the ability to be anything we want. We’re both brute and angel. We’re not fixed, we’re “every creature,” we’re universal. The choice is ours what we make ourselves into: to transcend our brutishness or to cultivate our more universal “God” nature.
It’s that universality that’s at the heart of the Renaissance Man.
Marx the same insight, too.
He thought the essence of humanity was the creative act, to be universal men. But unfortunately, he observed most of humans are stuck working 9-5 jobs, getting minimum wage, and not fulfilling his humanity. That’s why he was so passionate about healing the contradictions and injustices inherent in the capitalist system.
Again, whole other story.
My point is: it’s that universality the Greeks loved so much about our humanity. It seems like for them, it was expected to cultivate this universality within us, ’cause it’s what it means to be a well-functioning human.
THAT’S what it means to a Renaissance Man.
Awesome right? See why this ideal inspires me to no end?
Okay, okay. What does all this have to do with pickup?
My point: Pickup focuses on ONE area of the Renaissance Man… the “gentleman.” That’s important, but let’s also develop the other five areas.
For example, how can we also:
- Contribute to our community? Be a citizen?
- Be an Artist? Fire our imagination?
- Be a warrior? Perhaps making our bodies stronger? Becoming more assertive? More courageous to be honest?
- Be more spiritual? Serve God (or whatever label you prefer to name that which is larger than us)?
- Exercise our mind? Learn more about philosophy, science, math, history?
Again, what does this have to do with pickup?
I alluded to it at the beginning of this post, but it’s about becoming a more excellent man FOR REAL.
It’s one thing to have tight game on the outside. But if a pua’s sub-communication isn’t there, his game will be like an empty shell. If we build a life FOR REAL that kind of confidence spills over naturally in our sub-communication. Women will feel that inner-strength coming from us.
Also, if you’re building a life FOR REAL, you’ll have a life she’ll want to be part of. And, you’ll naturally have more references to talk with her about once your pickup is done.
Don’t get me wrong. It’s important to get the techniques down. But that’s just the part of the iceberg that peaks up from the surface. Even more important is what’s underneath.
Imagine a girl coming back to your place, and you can play the guitar for her.
Imagine being able to talk poetry, politics, psychology, history, sex, the stars, movies, music… if she’s interested in some or all of those things… with your girl.
Imagine being able to whisper Italian in her ear as you make love to her: “Sei la piu bella donna del mondo” (you are the most beautiful woman in the world).
Imagine being able to sketch her.
Imagine if giving to charity were part of your everyday life anyway. Then when you’re on a date with a woman you help an old lady cross the street. Not to impress her but ’cause it’s who are. You’d attract her without trying. As a byproduct of who you already are.
These are just a few of the surface-level benefits that can help a guy with his success with women by being a Renaissance Man. Call me biased, I just think becoming one helps a guy be naturally attractive to a woman.
But, again, screw being a Renaissance Man for her. Be a Renaissance Man for you. Because it’s good in itself. Because constant growth, constant “rebirth” in becoming a more excellent man is good in itself.
Okay I’m done. I’m stepping off the soapbox now.
All I wanted to say is: let’s master pickup, but let’s also develop our whole person, too. Let’s become an excellent men first and worry about attracting women as an after-thought. Let’s become the “sun” that naturally draws women in, rather than being a “planet” seeking to revolve around her.
Shit, man. Let’s become Renaissance Men.