The (Near-Lost) Art of Manliness, 1875

July 24, 2013 § 1 Comment

Stolen directly and without permission from:

1. Even if convinced that your opponent is utterly wrong, yield gracefully, decline further discussion, or dexterously turn the conversation, but do not obstinately defend your own opinion until you become angry…Many there are who, giving their opinion, not as an opinion but as a law, will defend their position by such phrases, as: “Well, if I were president, or governor, I would,” — and while by the warmth of their argument they prove that they are utterly unable to govern their own temper, they will endeavor to persuade you that they are perfectly competent to take charge of the government of the nation.

2. Retain, if you will, a fixed political opinion, yet do not parade it upon all occasions, and, above all, do not endeavor to force others to agree with you. Listen calmly to their ideas upon the same subjects, and if you cannot agree, differ politely, and while your opponent may set you down as a bad politician, let him be obliged to admit that you are a gentleman.

3. Never interrupt anyone who is speaking; it is quite rude to officiously supply a name or date about which another hesitates, unless you are asked to do so. Another gross breach of etiquette is to anticipate the point of a story which another person is reciting, or to take it from his lips to finish it in your own language. Some persons plead as an excuse for this breach of etiquette, that the reciter was spoiling a good story by a bad manner, but this does not mend the matter. It is surely rude to give a man to understand that you do not consider him capable of finishing an anecdote that he has commenced.

4. It is ill-bred to put on an air of weariness during a long speech from another person, and quite as rude to look at a watch, read a letter, flirt the leaves of a book, or in any other action show that you are tired of the speaker or his subject.

5. In a general conversation, never speak when another person is speaking, and never try by raising your own voice to drown that of another. Never assume an air of haughtiness, or speak in a dictatorial manner; let your conversation be always amiable and frank, free from every affectation.

6. Never, unless you are requested to do so, speak of your own business or profession in society; to confine your conversation entirely to the subject or pursuit which is your own specialty is low-bred and vulgar. Make the subject for conversation suit the company in which you are placed. Joyous, light conversation will be at times as much out of place as a sermon would be at a dancing party. Let your conversation be grave or gay as suits the time or place.

7. In a dispute, if you cannot reconcile the parties, withdraw from them. You will surely make one enemy, perhaps two, by taking either side, in an argument when the speakers have lost their temper.

8. Never, during a general conversation, endeavor to concentrate the attention wholly upon yourself. It is quite as rude to enter into conversation with one of a group, and endeavor to draw him out of the circle of general conversation to talk with you alone.

9. A man of real intelligence and cultivated mind is generally modest. He may feel when in everyday society, that in intellectual acquirements he is above those around him; but he will not seek to make his companions feel their inferiority, nor try to display this advantage over them. He will discuss with frank simplicity the topics started by others, and endeavor to avoid starting such as they will not feel inclined to discuss. All that he says will be marked by politeness and deference to the feelings and opinions of others.

10. It is as great an accomplishment to listen with an air of interest and attention, as it is to speak well. To be a good listener is as indispensable as to be a good talker, and it is in the character of listener that you can most readily detect the man who is accustomed to good society.

11. Never listen to the conversation of two persons who have thus withdrawn from a group. If they are so near you that you cannot avoid hearing them, you may, with perfect propriety, change your seat.

12. Make your own share in conversation as modest and brief as is consistent with the subject under consideration, and avoid long speeches and tedious stories. If, however, another, particularly an old man, tells a long story, or one that is not new to you, listen respectfully until he has finished, before you speak again.

13. Speak of yourself but little. Your friends will find out your virtues without forcing you to tell them, and you may feel confident that it is equally unnecessary to expose your faults yourself.

14. If you submit to flattery, you must also submit to the imputation of folly and self-conceit.

15. In speaking of your friends, do not compare them, one with another. Speak of the merits of each one, but do not try to heighten the virtues of one by contrasting them with the vices of another.

16. Avoid, in conversation all subjects which can injure the absent. A gentleman will never calumniate or listen to calumny.

17. The wittiest man becomes tedious and ill-bred when he endeavors to engross entirely the attention of the company in which he should take a more modest part.

18. Avoid set phrases, and use quotations but rarely. They sometimes make a very piquant addition to conversation, but when they become a constant habit, they are exceedingly tedious, and in bad taste.

19. Avoid pedantry; it is a mark, not of intelligence, but stupidity.

20. Speak your own language correctly; at the same time do not be too great a stickler for formal correctness of phrases.

21. Never notice it if others make mistakes in language. To notice by word or look such errors in those around you is excessively ill-bred.

22. If you are a professional or scientific man, avoid the use of technical terms. They are in bad taste, because many will not understand them. If, however, you unconsciously use such a term or phrase, do not then commit the still greater error of explaining its meaning. No one will thank you for thus implying their ignorance.

23. In conversing with a foreigner who speaks imperfect English, listen with strict attention, yet do not supply a word, or phrase, if he hesitates. Above all, do not by a word or gesture show impatience if he makes pauses or blunders. If you understand his language, say so when you first speak to him; this is not making a display of your own knowledge, but is a kindness, as a foreigner will be pleased to hear and speak his own language when in a strange country.

24. Be careful in society never to play the part of buffoon, for you will soon become known as the “funny” man of the party, and no character is so perilous to your dignity as a gentleman. You lay yourself open to both censure and bad ridicule, and you may feel sure that, for every person who laughs with you, two are laughing at you, and for one who admires you, two will watch your antics with secret contempt.

25. Avoid boasting. To speak of your money, connections, or the luxuries at your command is in very bad taste. It is quite as ill-bred to boast of your intimacy with distinguished people. If their names occur naturally in the course of conversation, it is very well; but to be constantly quoting, “my friend, Gov. C,” or, “my intimate friend, the president,” is pompous and in bad taste.

26. While refusing the part of jester yourself, do not, by stiff manners, or cold, contemptuous looks, endeavor to check the innocent mirth of others. It is in excessively bad taste to drag in a grave subject of conversation when pleasant, bantering talk is going on around you. Join in pleasantly and forget your graver thoughts for the time, and you will win more popularity than if you chill the merry circle or turn their innocent gayety to grave discussions.

27. When thrown into the society of literary people, do not question them about their works. To speak in terms of admiration of any work to the author is in bad taste; but you may give pleasure, if, by a quotation from their writings, or a happy reference to them, you prove that you have read and appreciated them.

28. It is extremely rude and pedantic, when engaged in general conversation, to make quotations in a foreign language.

29. To use phrases which admit of a double meaning, is ungentlemanly.

30. If you find you are becoming angry in a conversation, either turn to another subject or keep silence. You may utter, in the heat of passion, words which you would never use in a calmer moment, and which you would bitterly repent when they were once said.

31. “Never talk of ropes to a man whose father was hanged” is a vulgar but popular proverb. Avoid carefully subjects which may be construed into personalities, and keep a strict reserve upon family matters. Avoid, if you can, seeing the skeleton in your friend’s closet, but if it is paraded for your special benefit, regard it as a sacred confidence, and never betray your knowledge to a third party.

32. If you have traveled, although you will endeavor to improve your mind in such travel, do not be constantly speaking of your journeyings. Nothing is more tiresome than a man who commences every phrase with, “When I was in Paris,” or, “In Italy I saw…”

33. When asking questions about persons who are not known to you, in a drawing-room, avoid using adjectives; or you may enquire of a mother, “Who is that awkward, ugly girl?” and be answered, “Sir, that is my daughter.”

34. Avoid gossip; in a woman it is detestable, but in a man it is utterly despicable.

35. Do not officiously offer assistance or advice in general society. Nobody will thank you for it.

36. Avoid flattery. A delicate compliment is permissible in conversation, but flattery is broad, coarse, and to sensible people, disgusting. If you flatter your superiors, they will distrust you, thinking you have some selfish end; if you flatter ladies, they will despise you, thinking you have no other conversation.

37. A lady of sense will feel more complimented if you converse with her upon instructive, high subjects, than if you address to her only the language of compliment. In the latter case she will conclude that you consider her incapable of discussing higher subjects, and you cannot expect her to be pleased at being considered merely a silly, vain person, who must be flattered into good humor.


no, no, I haven’t replaced you… entirely

October 24, 2012 § Leave a comment

New blog required for one of my UBC classes to be found here:
Class requires 3 posts before the end of the term, so you can count on at least that!
Haven’t had luck making it pretty yet, so please forgive.

showing respect for Ashley Judd

April 21, 2012 § Leave a comment

“Patriarchy is not men. Patriarchy is a system in which both women and men participate. It privileges, inter alia, the interests of boys and men over the bodily integrity, autonomy, and dignity of girls and women. It is subtle, insidious, and never more dangerous than when women passionately deny that they themselves are engaging in it. This abnormal obsession with women’s faces and bodies has become so normal that we (I include myself at times—I absolutely fall for it still) have internalized patriarchy almost seamlessly. We are unable at times to identify ourselves as our own denigrating abusers, or as abusing other girls and women.”

The only weakness I see in the MissRepresentation film/movement and in Ashley Judd’s op-ed is the hesitation to directly address (what I see is) the heart of the matter: that women are treated like objects. A male actor with greying temples is mysterious; a female actor who doesn’t dye her hair is old. The difference is in the depth of the judgement; the man’s appearance is assumed to indicate something deeper but the woman’s appearance stops there. She is what she appears to be, so she damn well better appear how we think she should.

But the first judgement there wasn’t on appearance. It was on gender. We distinguished between the male and female actors, as if that was the most urgent identification. It’s obvious that if we make gender the primary identifying factor of people we are going to assume there is some important difference. I don’t believe that to be true, and in fact if we are going to treat men and women equal, this cannot be the first characteristic we look for in others.

Do you realize that one of the very first lessons we teach children about identifying people is to differentiate between men and women? We say “Why don’t you say hi to those boys?” or “Thank the nice lady.” It’s simply assumed that we identify people by their gender — but this is a brick wall across the path towards viewing all people with the same lens and in fact it is not an important distinction. There is not a person in the world (except perhaps with some mutation of genes or hormones) who inherently adheres 100% to the expected stereotypes of their gender. Look biologically – men have estrogen and women have testosterone in their bodies, certainly to significantly lesser degrees than each other but it’s there. The social expectations associated with each sex mean nothing. Men are not always aggressive and women are not never aggressive; women are not always more in touch with their emotions and men are not necessarily less so. That applies to every single expectation. I’m not even just talking stereotypes, most are much more insidious and subtle: “Women care about their appearance.” “Men like to show off.” These mean nothing. Every person has a combination of all possible characteristics in degrees totally different and also often similar to others, regardless of gender. Perhaps it would be fair to say that high levels of testosterone in males increase aggressive tendencies but this could be manifested in so many ways it isn’t worth identifying in such a way, and people with less testosterone are also capable of showing those traits because of factors besides testosterone levels. So the statement fails to be useful or even accurate.

So why make the distinction?

What ensues is a long conversation that I would love to have with ANYone. Yes, that means you.

Grass – Animal Collective

March 13, 2012 § 1 Comment

Oh I was walkin on feet just like my father’s
My knees were trying to reach you at your mother’s and
My nose was screaming that you smelled like a lover
But my hands were happy to treat you like a brother

We do the dance upon the plain
And I shake-shake your shoulders
Push me down into the grain and rub our noses in the night,
We do, we do.

Well I’ve been into the plants and simple treasures and
I sew patches on pants and I get pleasure
I don’t make particular plans cause they don’t matter
If you keep on foolin in bed with my sleepin patterns

And we dance upon the plains
And I shake your shoulders
Push me down into the grain and rub our noses in the night,
We do, we do.

What’s with all the changin since the time I was aware?
It’s like the apple-eatin people that we once were aren’t there.
Did they empty out their pockets and debase their younger faces?
And you must make sure you’re happy when you leave your summer places

Pretty little femur sittin in my cherry dreamboat
I’d be sad if you’re rejected from my hipbone or my knee
If I sailed away from continents and touched my lover’s hair then
You’d be very happy if I touched her there

Pretty little femur sittin’ in my cherry dreamboat
I’d be sad if you’re rejected from my hipbone or my knee
If I sailed away from continents and touched my lover’s hair then
You’d be very happy if I touched her there

I was very nervous how I felt in there
I was very cautious would you say “Hey there”
Would you like to see me often
Though you don’t need to see me often
Because I’d like to see you often
Though I don’t need to see you often

We do the dance upon the plain
And I shake-shake your shoulders
Push me down into the grain and rub our noses in the night,
We do, we do.

Goodbye, bookface

February 24, 2012 § 6 Comments

Deleted. Gone. Kaput. And now, lacking a public billboard for my thoughts, I recall the enticement of a blank blog entry screen…

Dear blog,
I know it’s been a while – we’ve barely interacted in the last few months – but I hope you haven’t forgotten the good times we’ve had. I think of you often, you know. If you’ll have me back, I’m here, waiting…

(Dear ava,
no one reads your shit anyways.
Love, your blog.)

I’m going to pretend you didn’t say that.

Malcolm Wells beats me to the punch

January 17, 2012 § 1 Comment

I’ll admit, it kinda makes me sad to see that someone else (and therefore I’m sure several someones!) has already written a book on what I want to make an architectural thesis about, natural architecture and a natural city.
Wells’ particular bent is titled “Gentle Architecture” and I actually encountered (read?) the book almost three years ago. Then managed to totally forget about it until “magically” coming up with the idea myself. But that’s nothing new, so we’ll get over it and move on.
Here are some choice bits so far:

“I see in the wilderness model the only way of saving the citeis. Remember that what we call wilderness, or nature, is a community. […] The difference is that wilderness works; cities no longer do.” (p28/29)

“As I see it, all we need do is start, start with a tiny row house, in necessary, or a doughnut shop or a fruit stand. One by one. It’s the way the quiet city got destoryed. It’s the way we’ll replace the noisy one. Large projects will grow out of the experience accumulated on all the small ones.” (31)
I actually disagree with this in some ways – I don’t think it’s enough. But there’s a good point in here – no one should be approaching gentle architecture wielding the sort of power that got the shitty architecture built, the power to erect some massive megalithic homage to anything. We’re absolutely going to make mistakes, so let’s make them small and earn our way up. But not too far.

Malcolm Wells expresses my sentiments on the potential of prefabricated buildings as a new building type:
“Big changes are coming, and our real test may not even begin for a few years more, when the factory-made buildings now being developed begin to flood the market. If we’ve learned nothing at all from the lessons of the times, we’ll scatter those prefabs across the land in a binge of littering like nothing we’ve ever seen before, killing everything in their paths.” (32)
Yes, I will quote this every time anyone proposes that prefabs can save the day, from now on. You are forewarned.

On current construction practices (with or without architects, I might add; this is how suburbs and strip malls are built too):
“The architect picks materials from his brightly colored catalogs, and the Caterpillars roll. From mine to mill to shop, the beautiful and the natural lose more and more of their identity as immense amounts of energy turn them bright and plastic. Assembled as ‘completed’ buildings, they have barely begun their decades of waste.” (48/49)

“The science fiction of architecture, with rare exceptions, is hopelessly man-centered. Sky cities, sea cities, bubble cities, stack cities, instant cities, media cities; biotecture agrotecture, videotecture, cybertecture – what a roster! One can imagine wildlife crying out in terror, […] ‘Doesn’t the man-animal know about the budget?’ For life does have a budget; its currency is air, water, land and a day’s ration of sunlight.
Here is an animal called a human being. What are its characteristics?
-It needs air, water, and food.
-It produces heat, breath, sweat and other wastes [too polite in 1981 to say piss and shit].
-It needs insulation from temperature extremes [or to live in a temperate climate].
-It needs protection against things like rain, wind, dust, insects, peeping Toms, and burglars.
-It was designed to live in a quiet environment. [I would reword this: It thrives in an environment of variety that includes quiet.]
-It craves mental stimulation.
-It needs love and approval [and community] from its fellow animals.
-It likes comfort.
-If its tendency to eat too much and avoid exercise is not discouraged, it dies too soon.
-The budget for its total sustenance cannot exceed the amout of air, water, food, and natural resources which can be taken from its proportionate share of [local!] planet surface without degrading the life-supporting qualities of that area.
-[I would add: It thrives best when it has a means of self-expression, and when it can make its own environment ‘beautiful’.]” (55)

Gunna need to start doing some writing of my own … time to pull out a new notebook, me thinks.


January 11, 2012 § 3 Comments

“How much am I worth? Is my life equal to one square foot of mature forest land? Two feet? An acre?”
[Malcolm Wells, Gentle Architecture, 1981]

How much land do you deserve? If the Earth were to weigh your benefits towards against what you detract from it, how much land would it hand you to pillage at your will? Yes, you, human.

“The minimum amount of agricultural land necessary for sustainable food security, with a diversified diet similar to those of North America and Western Europe (hence including meat), is 0.5 of a hectare per person.”

0.5 ha = 1.2 acres = 53,819.6 sqft

“The minimum amount of arable land required to sustainably support one person is 0.07 of a hectare. This assumes a largely vegetarian diet, no farmland degradation or water shortages, virtually no post- harvest waste, and farmers who know precisely when and how to plant, fertilize, irrigate, etc.”

0.07 ha = 7,534.7 sqft
You, human, are being given a source of clean water to drink, a hundred square feet to create a shelter from the elements, and just over seven and a half thousand square feet of land to garden. A plot of land eighty-seven feet by eighty-seven feet. Till your front lawn into a garden. That’s what you get. We won’t even try to answer whether you deserve it.
If you want to fish from your water source you have to give up a bit of your land. If you want to raise chickens or a goat on that land, think carefully about whether they’re worth how much of your garden they’re going to be consuming. Don’t even think about getting a cow.
No, you can’t go hunt off your plot. Everything you need to live must occur within those square feet. If you want a bigger house, you’re building over your garden and using some of your land to grow trees for wood (a gift – the trees will appear instantly for you, but they’re also instantly depleting all the nutrients from the land that they required to grow). Oh, you’re naked and cold? Maybe you’ll have to raise a goat after all, just for its skin, or calculate how many cotton plants you need to grow. Hang on, you want to cook your food?? Well, you have to grow those trees after all just for fuel. How many trees would you go through in a year? How much food would you be losing?
Don’t even think of wanting a book. Don’t even think of wanting a kettle, or nails and a hammer. Don’t even think of wanting a warm wool blanket. Don’t even think of wanting electricity. Or glass windows. Or shoes. You can’t afford these things.

0.07 hectares. Why should you get any more?

  • history.