Thursday, May 7, 2009

Having Poise

At the National Portrait Galley in D.C. there is a permanent exhibition called "America's Presidents". It contains the famous Stuart's "Lansdowne" painting of George Washington and features many more presidents all the way up to G.W. Bush. It is a conglomerate of some of the most powerful men of the world. Leaders. Men who made history.
And a deep insight into their psyche.

By choosing a certain artist, image size, background, clothing style and posture each of these men decided to portray themselves in a different light for eternity. You can tell instantly which president thought highly of modesty, or who was the most lavish, or which of them liked order above all.

But, the most interesting observation concerns the audience.

Women, in particular seem to be magically drawn to one and the same portrait.

They walk up to it in an almost straight line, linger around it for minutes, start to gossip and visibly get excited. The men in their company tend to get fidgety and nervous. There is a special aura about this one particular painting.

The portrait of Bill Clinton.

Since this is DC where everyone pretends to be brunching with the political jet set, you can hear women whisper about his "soft hands" and other banal rationalizations as to why they enjoy looking repeatedly at his crotch (I am not making this shit up).

A quick google search reveals that female visitors to this museum are not the only ones who noticed the sexual nature of this presidential portrait.

An online inspection of the potrait does not do it justice.
The original is life sized, lit from above and hung high enough to have Bill's crotch at eye level. He is the most relaxed seeming of all the presidents (and all other men) in the room. But the most powerful part of Bill's bodylanguage is the protruding crotch. He signals that he can afford to expose himself to maximal vulnerability. He is not afraid. And if there really is a
microphallus hidden beneath the cloth it exemplifies how little that matters (pun not intended).

The German word for how you "hold" yourself is "Haltung" (lit. "holding"). Its semantics is interesting since it can be used for posture as well as for attitude, composure or mindset. There is a similar ambiguity for some of the closest English words like poise, composure, position and stance.

The ambiguity of our language is not coincidental. The way we compose ourselves reveals who we are.

Surprisingly, it takes quite a bit of mental effort to analyze what differentiates the different messages one sends out this way (women do it effortlessly and sub-consciously; they are perfect receivers - men are perfect senders but poor receivers when it comes to body language).

What is even more surprising is how hard it is to implement any change in one's own posture in order to send out a strong "high status male" signal.

The changes in your body following amazing sex with an amazing woman (the famous "sex glow"), for example, are so manigfold and subtle that it seems impossible to pick them all out, let alone copy them successfully after a shitty day at work.

Correspondingly, you will be smiled at and oggled down by women whenever your inner world is in "joie de vive" mode, while all your attempts at making eye contact with those beautiful strange women might earn you visible disgust (just minutes later) after something ticked you off.

Muscle tone is hard to control but easy to detect.

Primates are thought to be specialists in fine tuning muscle tone, and within primates humans seem particularly skilled. Yet, there are certain muscles that simply are outside of our conscious control. And thanks to this impossibility of conscious manipulation of your body signals, women (and men) will always do well in detecting your genuine status.

What seems to work to some degree are exercises.

Although ridiculed by some, they can visibly induce a change in how others perceive you, and thanks to somatic feedback - in how you feel yourself.

My favorite exercise is the following:

Position yourself in front of a mirror. Do not worry about your hair or clothes or any other detail for a moment. Just judge the overall impression. Looks normal? Okay.

Now raise both your arms above your head. Keep your head and eyes straight while you do that.

Rest for a second.

Now let them fall to the sides again.

See any difference?

The first time I saw others do that exercise I was blown away by the "before and after". If you do not see any difference, you might have excellent posture already. I recommend trying again at a later point in time, though. Having first hand experience of how much difference this can make while you fail to perceive what has changed is dramatic.

The closer your posture gets to Buba's, the better.
Concerning the soft hands - leave the lotion to the girls.


  1. that portrait is hilarious. talk about not giving a fuck about how it will be received.....just more proof that it's better to be hated or loved, as long as people care one way or the other.

  2. Another good one:

    Put your heels against the wall. Now press your thighs and ass into the wall. Now make sure your shoulder blades touch the wall. Now, last, put your head against the wall. Now consciously look down a little (so your chin isn't to straight out).

    Now step away from the wall.

    Also: Bill Clinton has solid brass ones.

  3. I was going to write this in context of the slave master post, but this is a better place. I mention this because what I am saying here also helps to open the way for the master mentality.

    Dumbbell snatches.

    RKC snatches.

    If you got to a gym or not, you see all these people slaves to the machines, following a predefined by the machine moving pattern, isolating one or two muscles at a time... Some of the guys may actually have greek physiques.. True.

    enter the snatch.

    A free movement. Explosive. you can use heavy weights. No one does this.

    Start with a dumbbell that is bit less than half or your army press, I suggest a dumbbell that is 1/3 of your total army press.

    Too light and you will not learn the explosiveness, too heavy, your shoulders will change place with your ankles.

    This movement, has a few effects:

    - Due to the free movement, you feel free (may be placebo)
    - Due to nature of the movement, after three or four sessions, your posture will improve. Even if it was good to start with, it will get better. This is due to shoulders and back.
    - Due to the opening of the hip and the thorax, you'll get the natural swagger
    - Knowing that you can lift xx in a snatch xx times in five minutes, coupled with the tension in your muscles will increase the swagger, and give you that "dont fuck with me" attitude
    - Street cred in the gym, which will carry it over to the street. Even if you are snatching only 60 pounds, the guys who would be snatching 90 will respect you as they know the difference between the snatch done for time and a 4x8 barbell curl set. Did I mention swinging the 50 pounds?
    - Forearms resempling Popeye. e.g. a 50 pound dumbbell in a full downward swing (of 12.20 reps) has more effect on the forearm than a
    deadlift of 280 pounds. And this will be noticed.
    - The lateral ab muscles when you take of your shirt, not done by machine crunchers, but looking like they actually are there to function.

    there are more effects which do not come to my mind right now

    So, the snatch.

    Besides stretching the hip flexors, the hams, and the pectorals,

    Maybe the single best exercise to get that posture. Physiologically, anatomically, and psychologically.

    The effect is really different than bench pressing 280 pounds. Your body functions, and you know it, and it knows it.

    Next step:

    Rock throwing

    Last step,

    Wrestling with the bears :)

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