Review of The Mystery Method by Mystery
Posted by Jew from Jersey
12 May 2021
There’s nothing like a pickup artist manual to remind you why you never wanted to be a pickup artist... Erik von Markovik, a.k.a. “Mystery,” recommends: “Go out gaming four nights per week for four hours each night.” In addition to the time commitment, there is the nature of “gaming” itself: hanging out in bars and nightclubs making chitchat, which is not everyone’s idea of a good time. And it soon becomes clear that the kind of conversation you will be engaging in is not for your enjoyment or amusement, it is something more like babysitting or a summer camp counselor’s job. It is not fun, it is real work, and you’re not getting paid. You cannot even expect to be successful at picking up any women any time soon and as a matter of fact, the author tells us, a successful pickup artist must be “outcome independent,” in other words, he is indifferent to whether what he is doing is getting him any results or not. Needless to say, you will be spending money on cover charges and overpriced drinks for the privilege of passing your time in this way. And lest you think you at least get the perk of enjoying some good liquor, Mystery recommends not actually ingesting any of the alcohol you carry in your glass around the club, it’s just for show. Actually drinking it may impair your “game.”
And all this for what? After expending hundreds of hours and dollars engaging in activities you don’t even like, you might eventually have sex with a woman who will probably not have much to say about you later, if she remembers you at all. Do you think she will ever cook for you, help you attain your goals in life or get out of a tight spot, or arrange flowers in a vase in your home?
But for all that, there is little doubt that The Mystery Method works in the sense that it will increase your attractiveness to the opposite sex and the amount of sex in your life. In particular, it will do this by desensitizing you to the fear of approaching women and by demystifying the seeming unknowability of their nature.
Even if you have no intention of taking to “the field” to try out "the “method” and sample its potential rewards, the book is still worth reading. All good technical manuals are at heart applied philosophy books. Mark Rippetoe’s Starting Strength: Basic Barbell Training is such a book. So is The Intelligent Investor by Benjamin Graham. The beauty of such books is that the philosophy emerges in a way that cannot be easily summarized outside of a close study of technical subject matter.
The Mystery Method consists of a multi-stage program (attract, comfort, seduce). Each stage is divided into substages (female-to-male interest, connection, foreplay, etc.) with their own specialized techniques and principles (congruence, the time-bridge, peackocking, etc.). There are also many acronyms (e.g., ASD stands for “anti-slut defense”). Above all, a man must demonstrate “high value.” To an extent, this means not even caring about individual women. In fact, the entire book is oriented towards approaching larger “sets” of people as opposed to approaching women who are alone or in pairs. Generally, a man uses the group dynamic to demonstrate value and does not indicate interest in a particular woman until she has first displayed IOI (“indication of interest”) for him.
A man must demonstrate competence. He must memorize routines, stories, games, cultivate his wardrobe and his persona. And he cannot approach any woman of his choosing, he must make sure she displays “IOI.” A woman will never “reward” a man’s competence with sex. At some point he must flip the script so that sex becomes something he rewards her with. He must transform the situation so that she is the one “qualifying” for him and not the other way around.
The Mystery Method takes stock of what women require for this to happen and makes sure men know how to supply it. Upon observing a new “set,” a man must “open” within three seconds or risk being perceived as creepy. A man should not compliment a woman on her looks during an approach as this will mark him as a generic supplicant. Sex should not occur before at least seven hours of total time in close contact have been spent together. This is necessary to build “comfort” and does not include time spent apart following the “open.” But more important than anything, all of this must seem to the woman to be a completely natural process unfolding in a spontaneous manner.
A man thus spends sixteen hours a week practicing “game” in public venues and probably at least as much time as that reading, discussing, and memorizing routines, all so that an eventual seven-hour sequence of highly choreographed developments appears spontaneous. It’s rather like a concert-level musician, really. Musicians spend many, many hours rehearsing for each hour in concert. We know this, but we just want to hear the concert without having to hear them practice endless scales and arpeggios. But women don’t even want to know that a man has rehearsed at all. They want to believe he just happened to pick up an instrument by accident and by complete coincidence it sounds like concert-level playing. This is what Mystery calls the principle of “serendipity.” Despite the fact that a woman has dressed herself up and transported herself to a venue with the sole purpose of attracting a man based on her looks, she wants to believe she just happened to meet a man who becomes interested in her for some other reason. Despite the fact that the level of competence required for him to accomplish this can only come about from thousands of hours of practicing with other women to the point that he hardly cares about her at all, she wants to believe that it is all the result of how special she is.
What emerges from all of this is a sense of denial of agency, what Mystery calls “plausible deniability.” A man is working around the clock as producer, director, scriptwriter, actor, cinematographer, and grip in an elaborate production which will fail at the box office unless the woman believes it was all an unrehearsed street scene that “just happened” and by complete coincidence was exactly what she wanted. At every step of the acquaintance, the woman is making the choices, but not communicating them. The man is laboriously decoding them, repackaging them, and creating new circumstances where they can be acted on in a way that seems like random chance but that somehow just “feels right”. As Mystery says several times, she doesn’t want any of this to be “her fault.” On the other hand, “if it was meant to be, then... Who is she to deny Fate?”
Mystery has fallen on hard times since his book was published in 2005 and his TV show The Pickup Artist aired in 2007-8. Some in the manosphere say his methods are outdated in the age of social media. Still, it is probably safe to assume that women will continue to like Mystery the man. He has known some heartbreak as he has grown older, but he will probably never remain lonely for long.
But in general, women do not like The Mystery Method. Scaachi Koul’s very long 2018 Buzzfeed article Game Over is probably representative and certainly quite exhaustive. She acknowledges that “pickup artistry became so mainstream that we stopped noticing it at all — their techniques just became the way we dated.” She also meets with Mystery and acknowledges that he “charms” her. She is particularly impressed by his ability to perform magic tricks. She concludes by acknowledging that his method “works, it still works, and I’m absolutely furious about it.”
Who is she furious at, exactly? It seems not so much at Mystery himself. At women, for being susceptible to charm? At men, for wanting to be charming? At God or nature for making women who like charm and men who want to please them by giving them what they want? She doesn’t say. She’s just furious. If her fury has a human target, it is probably the other men, the ones who require Mystery’s services to help them figure women out.
None of Koul’s article indicates she has read The Mystery Method. She does quote from Neil Strauss’s book The Game. Strauss was a contributor to The Mystery Method under the byline “Style.” Her meeting with Mystery is only described in the second half of the article. The first half contains no reporting and is instead a full-throated denunciation of pickup artists and all other varieties of males that have followed in their footsteps: red-pillers, MGTOWS, MRAs, etc., essentially most men who are not feminists. She repeatedly charges Mystery and his ilk with the spread of “misogyny” and men feeling “entitled” to sex. She also recites all known instances of violence committed by self-described “incels.” She doesn’t actually attempt to build a case for cause and effect. “The pickup artist’s influence on culture,” she says, “has made me and women like me feel unsafe and angry...” Her anger, it seems, is enough to establish their guilt.
But the actual guilt and the actual cause and effect are worth examining, as is the reporter’s feeling “unsafe and angry.” Mystery’s life’s work is helping men give women what they want. Generally, women will not tell you what they want themselves, because they want it to be “natural,” although there are some exceptions. Leil Lowndes published a book in 2001 titled Undercover Sex Signals: A Pickup Guide for Guys that was in many ways a precursor to The Mystery Method. An approving Neil Strauss blurb appears on its later editions. Lowndes dedicates her book to “the 96.7% of men in the world who don’t pick up on a women’s obvious (to her!) sex signals. Here’s help so you’ll score with every pass you make.” Lowndes is unusual in imagining that men have feelings and in not seeing unattractive men as a threat. She laments observing men who are too clueless and shy to follow through with women and describes this as a “lose-lose” situation. Neither the man nor the woman get what they want. Her solution, like Mystery’s, is to make unattractive men more attractive. She figures that if there are more attractive men to go around, it’s essentially “win-win.” Where is the misogyny in that?
Yes, there are men in the world who hate women (there are also women out there who hate men). Koul implies that such men will be more likely to harm women if they are exposed to The Mystery Method. She never explains how. It’s actually a simple thought experiment to show why the opposite is much more likely the case. Ask yourself: would a man be more likely to hate women if women found him attractive? Or less likely? Yeah, that’s what I thought... Now ask yourself: would a man be more likely to be attractive to women if he took one of Mystery’s seminars? Or less likely? That’s what I thought, too...
Koul picks at a lot of Mystery’s terminology, but her criticisms are never more than implications, and shallow ones at that. She cites his use of the word “target” to designate a woman a man intends to approach. Presumably, this is reminiscent of a predator “targeting” a victim, although she doesn’t even say as much as that. I wonder what she thinks of advertisers who have “target” audiences? She takes issue with his discussion of how to overcome “last-minute resistance” (“LMR”), implying that something like rape is involved. Again, it doesn’t appear she’s actually read the book. Mystery specifically says that LMR is a natural part of a woman’s desire to have sex without having to feel that it’s “her fault.” Apparently, the really “deadly” way to overcome LMR is... to back off and do something else in order to demonstrate that it’s “no big deal” to you if you don’t have sex. Remember “outcome independence.” And in general, throughout the entire book Mystery repeatedly stresses that it is better to take a longer and slower approach to get surer results than to take shortcuts hoping to get lucky. He calls the latter scenario “fool’s mate.” In fact, he says the surest way to bypass LMR is to minimize it by displaying more “solid game in the first place.” That way, a woman will want to overcome her own resistance. Coercion at any point would be antithetical to his approach. Remember: everything is supposed to seem natural.
And it is this “seeming natural” that is the problem. The key to understanding why women like Koul feel “unsafe and angry” is their abhorrence of unattractive men, the men who are perineal losers. From the way Koul speaks, you would think Mystery is encouraging them to blame women for their sad fate and rise up seeking revenge. She makes it sound as if she’s scared these men in their frustration will rape or murder her. But what Mystery is telling them is exactly the opposite of this. He’s telling them they have no excuses and no one to blame but themselves for their lack of success. You would think this would make Koul happy, but it doesn’t. It doesn’t because it implies that men have it within their power to improve their lot if they do the hard work of learning and applying the Mystery Method. This is what she means by saying they feel “entitled” to sex. In fact, these are the men who are least likely to feel entitled to anything. The problem for her is that they haven’t completely given up trying just yet. She would be much happier if they just acquiesced to being permanent eunuchs. She uses the word “misogyny” here in an intentionally misleading way. She pretends to be afraid these men will hate women and possibly assault them, but more likely she’s afraid they might cease to fear women and possibly charm them. She knows the method works.
Consider Koul’s wonderment at magic tricks. Mystery is good enough an innate magician that she can enjoy his tricks even if she knows that at some level they’re not real. She would love him so much more if he would just tell her “It’s not a trick, it’s real magic!”. But instead, he writes a book and teaches classes where he not only admits that he practices to achieve his effects, he also teaches his methods to lesser men. The way Koul sees it, these lesser men aren’t magicians at all because they only learned it from a book. Some women might not realize this and get tricked. Misogyny!
Perhaps this difference between Koul and Lowndes is the real difference between girls and women. The Mystery Method surely proves that Esther Vilar was wrong to think that men treating women like children is antithetical to sexual attraction. The book The Mystery Method almost reads like a manual for running a daycare, complete with storytelling and games. Yet even its detractors admit it works, and this in a purely sexual context with no expectation of protection or provisioning. But perhaps Vilar is right that when women remain like children for too long it can have a corrosive effect.
Leil Lowndes is an adult who is heartbroken to see a woman go home alone just because a man couldn’t successfully perform a magic trick. She wants more men to learn to do the tricks properly so that there are more happy people in the world. Scaachi Koul is like a child who is upset and hurt after learning that the tooth fairy doesn’t actually exist. Koul is heartbroken if the man can perform the trick and does get the girl. It’s a trick! ... And she insists on real magic. The magic may not be real, but her hatred is.