The Lost Art of Giving F*cks
The Seeds of Mark Manson’s Discontent, and a Paradigm for Understanding Desire in a More Comprehensive Way
Yesterday, during a solo dinner at my favorite restaurant in Saugatuck, I read this piece by Benjamin Wallace in NY Mag’s Intelligencer profiling Mark Manson, author of the “The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck” book, which has sold more than 12 million copies. The essay, titled “How Mark Manson Learned The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck”, tells the story of Manson’s burn-out.
“Throughout his career, he had wanted to write about what he wanted to write about. When he’d lost interest in something — first Practical Pickup, then PostMasculine — he’d moved on,” Wallace writes. The most striking section comes one paragraph later (emphasis mine):
And I suddenly started being okay with losing it. And as soon I was okay with losing it, I felt great. I’d say the last six months, I’ve probably worked the least of my adult life.” Instead, he played a lot of Elden Ring and became a crypto degen. “The difference between myself now and, say, seven, eight years ago is I don’t feel like I’m seeking anymore,” Manson told me.
Manson’s “being okay with losing it” is the kind of death that Girard (and every spiritual writer who has come before him) has described as a type of conversion experience — if not a spiritual one, then perhaps a literary or intellectual one.
Though in Manson’s case, it seems like the conversion may have simply been to nihilism. (The next sentence: “Especially the last year or two, it feels like that craving for a philosophical foundation to base my worldview on is kind of gone,” Manson says.)
How did craving a philosophical foundation — a basic metaphysical stance in the world — become a bad thing?
Pour me another glass of that blaufrankisch, please. Thanks.
My encounter with the man behind the (very Stoic) “Art of Not Giving a F*ck”, got me thinking about how little we understand craving, or desire in general. Let me be clear: This is a newsletter for people who want to give more fucks. More fucks about the right things. The things worthy of lots of fucks. Thick desires.