The Week’s Most Interesting Reads
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To be sure, manliness is not synonymous with wisdom. In fact, if you take some of our wives’ words for it, manliness is usually synonymous with confident ignorance or loud arrogance, not to mention poor table manners. For these and other reasons, it is safe to say that manliness is not gentle and that the definition of a gentleman is a fellow whose manliness has ben tempered by his wife, his boss, and his church. Tempered, but not castrated into oblivion. For while wives, bosses and churches don’t want ogres, they likewise don’t want men without chests. “Man” is still very much present in “gentleman,” and gentle is not the same as genteel. While women appreciate intelligence, even wisdom in men, they tend to be wiser and more intelligent than we are; ergo they can do without us being Einsteins, but they certainly want us to be reliable, resilient, persistent, and ambitious. These traits are manly traits all summed up by a nice old word used by Plato: thymos.
An entire generation of America’s finest men and women demonstrated manliness on the battlefield, but our political leaders demonstrated schoolgirl naivety and fat, dumb ignorance in the halls of power.
The only culture Americans truly share is a culture of commerce. They identify with each other across racial, ethnic and sexual boundaries through a common love of products, of musical performers, of movies and television shows and clothing brands and sports teams. This culture of commerce is only capable of inspiring a national unity as cheap and disposable as the products that characterize it. If you could get everyone to be as fanatically devoted to the country as Apple users are to Apple, you might have something approaching a national culture, but the nation is divided over Apple and PC in rather the same way it is divided between Republicans and Democrats or gun users and gun prohibitionists.