Friday, February 24, 2006

The Word of a Gentleman: Rule Nine

A Gentleman is Attentive.
He knows that he thereby declares his valuation of the moment.

While a Gentleman is Observant (see Rule Eight) to benefit his reading of life, he is Attentive that he and others might know he did the assigned reading. Attentiveness signals the observed and the self that a certain grant of importance has been offered to each event or persons. It helps you honestly assess whether or not what you claim to be important truly is. A Gentleman ought to express, through his attentiveness, the valuation of a person or moment that it deserves. Not every moment or person deserves undivided attention but all persons, regardless of deservedness, expect your attention to be undivided. Rarely is a Gentleman's own assessment of some other's importance sufficient datum for not regarding said "some other". He must know that the social price he pays will be according to the other's valuation, not his own. For instance, you sit in a music club and the stage act is playing while your companion responds to a question you asked. Your question may be offhand and you may really enjoy the music. The stage act ought to get less attention than your companion because your companion believes it deserves less. When your companion's conversation draws to a close your highest level of attention may shift to the stage. "Doing unto others as you would be done by" means, in this case, if you would wish to be listened to when you speak, listen. Do you want people merely to look your direction and focus on a spot behind your head by ten or so feet? No? How about responding to your comments with something incoherent? I didn't think so.
This is applicable to remembering people when you are introduced. Should you have trouble with names, you show your recognition of their and their name's importance by apologetically asking for it again. This shows that you find the fault in yourself and grant them the level of attention that seeks the information again.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

The Word of a Gentleman: Rule Eight

A Gentleman is Observant
He knows that he needs be an active and informed participant.

When an adolescent blurts out his next non sequitur, it is not that he has no control over his words. He has no knowledge of his surroundings. That his remark "followed in no way" is a judgment that gathers that some of reality had remained unobserved. A word cannot be "fitly spoken" nor can it be "in season" if one does not know what it was attempting to fit or which season it is. Observation is the exercise of your sense faculties to gather to yourself more than what is said. Most of meaning comes into you in words, direct and unabashed in their definition. But if a Gentleman is to participate in ways better than those who could care less, he will note to himself every state and change along every axis in his surroundings and persons. It is simple for the observant man to refrain from flirting with a young woman flashing an engagement ring. It is incumbent on those that wish to stand apart from the herd to watch all movements, hear many conversations, select a variety of vantages because with such study your deeds will be remarked as fitting, refreshing, and even frightening in their perspicacity. When you don't know who some one is, ask. When you don't understand something, look it up. Whatever knowledge you gain is a tool for your actions and words. See to it that what you discover is accurate.

"He spoke of trees, from the cedar that is in Lebanon to the hyssop that grows out of the wall; he spoke also of beasts, and of birds, and of reptiles, and of fish. And men came from all peoples to hear the wisdom of Solomon, and from all the kings of the earth, who had heard of his wisdom."
I Kings 4:33-34

Monday, February 20, 2006

Basking in the Beatific Vision

The Moment: Cast like jetsam against my library wall after an evening well spent with gallant young men and decorative articles of the female kind. We had hoisted the wine and consumed the cooked beast in celebration of St. Valentine. Thoughts ran riot across my fevered brow and I sought the deeper ways. My Lady Nicotine bestows, as one of my basic food groups, a state of being effortlessly captured by the digital eye of one, Matt Gaither (

The Word of a Gentleman: Rule Seven

A Gentleman has Graceful Speech
He practices to display his words at their best.

Language is the primary link between the autonomous agents in a given society. It is the one arena where the symbols passed back and forth have lexically agreed upon meanings. But alas, errors can still occur. Tone, expression, inference, imputation, or even malapropisms are among the many ways what we say can be misheard and cause confusion or offense. The Gentleman wishes that he not be inaccurately heard. Presuming, of course, that he wishes to say that which befits the situation, he will be alert to the wealth of terms and usage that his native tongue has granted him. If gracious it is natural that even a simple man will normally say gracious things. At least his speech will be gracious in content at the limits of his vocabulary. A Gentleman rises above a presumption that this intent should be sufficient. Your audience is hearing more than the pure meaning of your words as they appear in the Oxford English Dictionary. A proper skill to obtain is a phrasing that will sing to all those ways your composition is being heard. You know already that you choose your words to convey your meaning. Choose also your metre, your voice, your gestures, your allusions, which will each decorate what you meant with your meaning.

The Word of a Gentleman: Rule Six

A Gentleman will Dress as One.
He is obedient to his company.

The tuxedo does not make a Gentleman. A Gentleman is not a peacock intent on flashing the greatest degree of his dapper plummage but is a man who cares to ask himself, "What would my company expect and benefit from?" If working on a transmission, a Gentleman wears coveralls. If the hostess says semi-formal he will eschew the temptation to prove he can be better than she asks. And since he is in service to others, he will seek to meet each moment with a studied understanding. He must care for each society he enters and not be only on the mark when the moment calls for that which he enjoys, be it high or low. A blue collar laborer can, in this regard, be a Gentleman if he studies his obligations to the dress higher than his normal life and is able to achieve it when called upon. Conversely, if you can't wear the coverall as convincingly as you wear the tuxedo then you are no Gentleman, you are an eccentric. That which can honestly claim to be high will be able to accomplish sufficiently all that is below. A Gentleman is Better, not merely Different.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

The Word of a Gentleman: Rule Five

A Gentleman is Clean
He commits the time necessary to be inoffensive.

Futility has her way with us. That which we tidy seeks chaos. That which is clean becomes dirt. Merely standing around allows entropy to keep grinding our flesh in its gears. Civilization, of which the Gentleman is husband, is collectively exerting itself to keep these unpleasantnesses at bay. The civilized society longs for order and longs for a vista to its senses that does not laud the insults of Futility. We are constantly cleaning up after those insults and the Gentleman must do his little part to amend. As Futility dirties, he must cleanse. The senses of man (like smell and sight) have ability to apprehend the range between the ugly and the beautiful. Society looks on a man and sees service to the one or the other. If we are men whose will and will power is capable to cleanse our persons, why would we not? Those who persist in their dirtiness and unpleasant pungency are the paramours of Futility. Your physical cleanliness will reflect which of these wives you find most attractive.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

When Pigs Have Wings

This was written for a St. Valentine's edition of a webzine a couple of years ago.

For this was sent on Seynt Valentyne's day
Whan every foul cometh ther to choose his mate.
Chaucer's Parliament of Foules

Wat the Daft was a swineherd. His skin could boast actual layers of filth and his rustic garments had bragging rights to only being wet when it rained. His mind contained little but pigs and even in that body of knowledge he sometimes failed his masters. If told to stand and watch he could easily forget to watch. What he knew of his world was a tragically short list limited on his best days to twelve or thirteen items of fact. In spite of these shortcomings he believed what little he knew. He believed whatever anyone told him. His eyes and ears, (his nose had long ceased to function) were the immediate, unvarnished path to truth. Whatever he thought he saw or heard, he knew, in an instant, to be true. But today, perhaps from an evolving of Wat the Daft to Wat the Merely Dim, he could not believe his eyes. What lifted off the frosted muck was more than a miasma of porcine offal. A synapse had fired which had not fired before. His horizons, admittedly by best estimates only fifty yards away, opened like a scroll. He was its John of the Apocalypse and the fetid pen of unclean animals, his Patmos. Silly Wat, as his mother was fond of calling him, was as religious as swineherds could possibly be in the Year of Our Lord 1363 but his small religion took special note of holy days and today was the day of St. Valentine, one of this day’s twelve or thirteen available facts. As Wat gazed across the cold brown sludge and rounded pink bellies awash in what such swine call comfort, there was a blending of his vision and religion.
It was almost spring and the thaw was early, (along with plague in the town), but February had fulfilled its promise on time. On the rail of a tree limb fence, on the far side of his kingdom rested two sparrows. They rested close together as if to warm their small bodies by doubling. Wat felt a shiver, though the day had been warmer than the passing winter, and that shiver was from a thing unknown to him. “Hope” others would call it; an ambition, a future, desire. He wanted this doubling. He scaped his brown hands against his bit of fence and leaned forward resting. The sparrows, perhaps feeling the unclean eye that studied in their university of Love, took their lessons elsewhere. They took it elsewhere together, flitting in a weave and dip and lift that still taught the unknown things of two, now more or less apart but always, from now on, together.
Was it possible? Was it prophesy? Wat looked around to see if St. Valentines Day found him inevitably in the company of some other, a wench, who would weave and dip before him. His believing eyes took in his world. From hovel to pigs back to hovel he scanned. He had to believe that his world contained nothing of the kind. In its absence he was learning the new thing and it was one of two things. The doubling magic was not here. It was coming? Hope. It was not coming? Loss. Had Wat been given to melancholy such a powerful tide of Spring would have drowned him. He stood in sinking mire, lost his balance and fell face first into worse. His pigs merely smiled at his good fortune and Wat, with the perennial good cheer of the stupid, smiled back. His banner, though he named it not, his lady fair, though he saw her not, found Wat the Daft kneeling in knight service to Hope. As he struggled back to his clumsy feet the knowledge of ‘she is not here” asked more of him than staring dumbly at satisfied sparrows. He would away, away to town, to risk all on crusade, amid the pestilence, to seize the hope called “wife”. The swine, his hosts, must come along and see the great things that must anon, come to pass.

Edmund of York smelled the scented cloth on his wrist as he looked past parapet and wood and field. “Mistress,” he said, drawing on the hand that was resting on his arm and pointing to the distance,
“It is spring, the time when kings go out to war.”
She laughed and let her eyes speak doubly for her gratified heart.
“Perhaps, tis a just war, a crusade that leads such a noble van to siege the town.”
Edmund smiled back. She was a wit, this one. He insisted that Spring was just the time for such a war, such a siege of many citadels the world over. He looked back at the distant vison to spare her natural blush. Their conversation was at a place of unremitted double meanings.
“For,” he continued, “it is when every foul cometh there to choose his mate”.
Her bright laughter became the larger graces that had been felt this St. Valentines Day.
“If those pigs have wings they might be doubly foul.” said she. He laughed and led her back inside to the dance where they weaved and dipped and lifted in doubled step.

Saturday, February 11, 2006

To What Do I Owe This Honor?

Son? I have no son!
But the recognition of my dignitas threatened is the wild call of the humility wolf.


Four Jobs I Have Had:

Bookstore Manager
Graphic Designer

Four Movies I Could Watch Over and Over:

The Three Musketeers and sequel(Richard Lester version not the Disney pap)
This is Spinal Tap
Dirty Harry

Four Books I Could Read Over and Over:

That Hideous Strength- C. S. Lewis
The Moon Endureth - John Buchan
Pride and Prejudice- Jane Austen
Leave It To Psmith - P.G. Wodehouse

Four Places I Have Lived:

Yokohama, Japan
Annapolis, Maryland
Ann Arbor, Michigan
Moscow, Idaho

Four TV Shows I Watch:

Whose Line Is It Anyway
The Simpsons

Four Places I Have Been on Vacation:

Edmonton, Alberta
Genoa, Nebraska
Grand Canyon

Four Websites I Visit Daily:

Four Favorite Foods:

Ayers Rock Steak at Outback Steakhouse
Onion Rings at Sangria Grill
Machaca Burritos at the Big Haus
Sausage McMuffin with Egg

Four Places I'd Like to Be Right Now:

By the fire at Wes Callihan's
In an argument with a benighted Calvinist

Four Favorite Articles of Clothing:

Tweed jacket
White button-down, long sleeve Oxford shirt
Big Haus Sweatshirt

Four of your five philosophic basis for your thought life:


Four Bloggers I'm Tagging:

Ok, do the same categories I've done here, and then add one of your own. Please.

The next one who visits this blog (yes, it probably is you)
The one after him/her
The one standing nonchantly behind that tree. Yes, I can see you.
No, I didn't mean you but you'll do.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

The Word of a Gentleman: Rule Four

A Gentleman has Genteel Carriage
He practices to display pleasing movement and posture

Much of a Gentleman, at least his recognition as a Gentleman, is the signal he gives to society of that standard of service. A Gentleman, preeminently, is the capstone of civilization and as such must walk, literally walk, through life as if he knew the way. This, his physical entry to our lives, is the first signal to us by which we may recognize him. There is a way to move and stand and sit that is "in tune", that offers we others the hope of order in the governance of our society. A man's person, when scanned by those he serves, takes a stance somewhere between an anchored service to the task at hand and a tangled calamity of personal indecision. A man who has yet to rule his own limbs cannot rule the broader borders of the societal moment. In fact, he has not even reached the average claims of Self, the command of the realm inside one's skin. If one is not disabled (by greater forces than the average man encounters), he has no excuse for his failing. A gentleman will know where his hands and feet are, what expression moves across his face, and if such are inappropriate to the hopes of a moment, he will practice to serve us better next time.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

The Word of a Gentleman: Rule Three

A Gentleman has Good Breeding.
He is obedient to instruction regarding the artful treatment of others.

If someone is considered "well bred" it is not a claim to pedigree or the respective DNA traits of his parents. But it used to be. Breeding harkens back to that distinctive, as well bred behaviour was, for centuries, in keeping with those of good family. Affluence produced opportunities for an advanced pattern of life. Art came with leisure and the art of societal interaction was no exception. But even in those of good family, the good breeding we acknowledged was learned. If the well bred learned, he listened. If he listened, his attention was given to those who advocated the social standards. If the well bred learned, he obeyed. He saw that the standards he heard were no less a law than those of our civil or moral codes, with appropriate punishments he could do without. This is a monastic discipline without the flight from the world. Our order is that of The Cosmopolitine Friars. Whatever (or whereever) the standards, such monks have ears turned, and submission ready, to those things that please others in their company because they wish that their company's pleasure not depend on accident.

Saturday, February 04, 2006

The Intermediate Way

"The Intermediate Way" refers to a sensation in being. The way in which we live seems to have three parts. A Lower Way is made up of obvious decisions on human precepts such as driving or bill paying or hobby activity. It is a conscious behavior and its way is designed by men and is in obedience to the will of men. The Higher Way is that of God. He has said that certain attitudes and obediences should strike you as natural in certain circumstances. It is a conscious behavior designed by God and lived by submission to that content and Spirit. The Intermediate Way merely suggests that Nature, (the lower gods like perhaps Fortuna or the Muses), has a program, of which we are unconscious, that remains unrevealed by these agents. That wills of these sorts have been delegated the rule of these middle paths is a speculation but a natural speculation for the Sons of Clive. If such is the case, than occasionally you find that you are in obedience to these unknown laws and that can make a man sense that he is enjoying a reward from this obedience. It is like an artist's hand delivering a line that reaches inside him to say that it is (or isn't) in the right place. It is the groove. It is stepping up to the dance with more than piety and good citizenship. There is a rhythm measured out by the Earth that can be ascertained when felt and, when felt, enjoyed. Joy from wisdom in the Lower Life is a gift of God as are the blessings of obedience to the Spirit of God. The Intermediate Way is merely another arena of the order that God has given the world. It is just not revealed but I may chance upon it. And chance favors the prepared mind.

Thus the reason for standing stones.

And the stone in the foreground is Augustus, as it sits on Abbey grounds.