Monday, August 1, 2011

My man.

The Art of Manliness seems to be making a comeback in the margins of the Interweb. You can find, hidden in cyberspace, all sortsof blogs dedicated to the revival of such skills as classy tattoos, shaving with a badger bristle brush, and holding the door for the ladies (or just women, if ladies are in short supply). It's a subculture, and it's pretty cute.

One Catholic blog is devoted to Castiglione’s “sprezzatura,” sometimes translated as "noncholance," as outlined in his Renaissance work The Art of the Courtier. Castiglione writes that the true gentleman exudes this quality: I have found quite a universal rule which in this matter seems to me valid above all other, and in all human affairs whether in word or deed: and that is to avoid affectation in every way possible as though it were some rough and dangerous reef; and (to pronounce a new word perhaps) to practice in all thing a certain sprezzatura [nonchalance], so as to conceal all art and make whatever is done or said appear to be without effort and almost without any thought about it..."

I'm thinking that, from a lady's point of view, YES. There is something irresistable in the man who performs in a seemingly effortless way--appearing unpretentious and at ease in al things. This is true, I believe, about men I don't particularly like for other reasons, e.g., Frank Sinatra and John F. Kennedy. Is it sprezzatura that makes most male comics funnier than the women (Seriously. I'd watch Bill Cosby over Lucille Ball any day.)?

Thanks to a dear friend from long ago, I have a brief list of qualities in the true courtier. A guy can hardly exhibit the sprezzatura and still be a jerk, a dawdler, or a coward around the ladies. What think you?

Swift. This is not to say the masculine male is hasty, but rather that he doesn't Muck About. In romantic parlance, that means, "If you're going to marry the girl, ask her. If you're not, stop dating her."

Adroit, but Humble. It takes a person of considerable talent to not only court the lady, land the job, start the business, father the children, and hold the door, but also to do so with an effortlessness and humility that inspire others to seek their best.

Friend. He never fails to greet people with a smile and is ever ready to assist in times of sadness, confusion, or celebration. For those of us who know the Man personally, it is no understatement to call his friendship one of life’s privileges. And he's attentive to his mom.

Poised. While he always looks dapper, it is his grace of bearing and personal presence that truly reflect his inner self and make the stronger impression. In a time when many mistake accoutrements for the source of personal style, he reminds us that how we carry ourselves is just as (if not more) important.

Patron. His pursuits of objective truths through scientific study support his appreciation (and support) for endeavors in the arts and humanities, which—as he often reminds us—also speak to deep truths about humanity and God.

A whole man. Recognizing that we only know Truth insofar as we practice Truth, he is unabashedly devout, drawn to the Truth by the timeless “lens of Beauty” and the admiration of goodness. That worldview compels him to be actively involved in his country as a citizen and as a witness to the gift of all life.

Thank you to the men who are these things to us.


Joe P. said...

I like that word: sprezzatura!

Erika Ahern said...

Joe, That's a word you exemplify!