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September 13th, 2007

Principles of Elvish Archery, #7

The Law of Conservation of Arrows
No matter how many orcs, trolls, or mumàkil get pincushioned over the course of a battle, Legolas will always have six arrows in his quiver.

-The Gneech
Sorry for the delay. :) For your present, here's today's Forgotten English (© Jeffrey Kacirk):

nupson
A simpleton, a fool.
--Sir James Murray's New English Dictionary, 1908


Birthday of Sir William Cecil, Lord Burghley (1520-1598),
who, in his "Precepts and Directions for the Well Advice of a Man's Life," conveyed to his son the art of selecting a wife: "Use great providence and inspection in choosing thy wife. For from thence shall spring all thy fortune -- good or evil. And it is an action of life like unto a strategem of war, wherein a man can err but once. If they estate be good, match near home and at leisure; if weak, far off and quickly. Inquire diligently of her disposition, and how her parents have been inclined in their youth. Let her not be poor, how generous soever, for a man can buy nothing in the market with gentility. Nor choose a base and uncomely creature altogether for wealth, for it will cause contempt in others and loathing in thee. Neither make choice of a dwarf or a fool, for by one thou shalt beget a race of pygmies. The other will be thy continual disgrace, and it will irk thee to hear her talk."

...and he wondered why his daughter-in-law never wrote to him.

-The Gneech

Sartorial Agony

dhlawrence sent me a link, specifically: A tip of the hat to the classical fedora. The basic thrust of the article was, "Yay, fedoras!" which is certainly a sentiment with which I strongly empathize.

That led me to wonder, as I perennially do, where our culture went so far wrong that fedoras are considered a novelty or affectation, rather than standard fare as they once did. A bit of Google searching didn't find much ... one page blamed sunglasses, and John F. Kennedy is another popular scapegoat.

Of course, fedoras (and hats generally) are only part of the picture. Another item lost in the general slobification of the culture has been the suit. As one of the only two people at my high school who would willingly wear a suit even when we didn't have to, and as someone who still looks wistfully at tweed whenever I encounter it, I must face the fact that I'm an aberration in this regard.

It's made worse by the fact that I work in IT, an environment where deliberately wearing a suit makes you a freak. As it is, my daily necktie makes me more dressed-up than my boss is. Where this, say, 1964, I would be considered slovenly. These days, people regularly wonder what I'm all got-up for. People post blog rants crowing about how virtuous they are for not wearing a suit to tremendous applause.

Am I, in the classical sense, turning more and more into a dandy each day? Quoth Wikipedia:

Charles Baudelaire, in the later, "metaphysical" phase of dandyism defined the dandy as one who elevates aesthetics to a living religion, that the dandy's mere existence reproaches the responsible citizen of the middle class: "Dandyism in certain respects comes close to spirituality and to stoicism" and "These beings have no other status, but that of cultivating the idea of beauty in their own persons, of satisfying their passions, of feeling and thinking .... Contrary to what many thoughtless people seem to believe, dandyism is not even an excessive delight in clothes and material elegance. For the perfect dandy, these things are no more than the symbol of the aristocratic superiority of his mind."

Well, perhaps I am. Maybe the Joeys are on to something. If given my choice between the two, all other things being equal, I certainly prefer dressing up to dressing down. I don't always go that route, of course ... sometimes I "shabby shirt and unwashed hair" with the best of them. But if I ever catch myself sideways in the mirror on those occasions (or worse, see a photo after the fact), I have to suppress a wince. At my best I'm an ungainly blob of flesh as it is; let that blob of flesh go untended, and I turn into a shambling horror.

The problem is, it's not just me that makes me wince. Just going out on the street and seeing a world of people who just let it all hang out tends to get me down. That as much as anything is why I usually find myself dressing "just a wee bit better" than most of the people around me, or than people expect me to -- because I'm trying to inch the bar back up against the tide. If I go nuts and start wearing tuxedos all over the place, people will just dismiss me as a kook out of hand and I'll never make any progress. But if I am consistently in the upper reaches of what people are expecting, there is at least a glimmer of hope that I'll bring the overall average up with me.

That's the theory, anyway. In reality, I'm probably tilting at windmills. But at least, to my own self I'm being true.

-The Gneech

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