February 6, 2010 @ 4:09 pm by sean
There is a sign in our living room: Live Simply. You know it, black words “painted” on wood, distressed, nice all caps, serifed font, black frame. What a quaint notion, isn’t it? Live simply. Simply, without all the distractions of this technological age. Simply, without all the concerns of this modern life. Simply, without all all the clutter of this age of consumerism. But, isn’t having a sign denoting to live this way defying the principle of the sign? Isn’t having a trite sign about living solely as decoration not living simply? Does a truly simple life need a sign to remind one of those intentions? This is one of the greatest accomplishments of our capitalist economy in the last 75 or so years: Selling us convenience with more. Selling us simple with more. Selling a basic lifestyle through consumption. Selling us a simplistic lifestyle through more possessions. Selling us “green” with more to eventually be thrown away.
I get daily emails from, and occasionally read at the artofmanliness.com. It is no secret that I lack general manliness. I certainly am absent of the general physical stature and accompanying testosterone of a stereotypical male. I don’t have the quintessential wife, family, career, house, etc. of a male of my age of generations past. My handy abilities are only slightly above average based on informal observations of peers. I have no remarkable experience with dating, or the opposite sex in general. And so on. And so forth. But, is reading a website on the art of manliness not a specific indicator of the lack? And are the men of history, the men of today, living their life to be men, or are they living their life as men? Is it really something that can be learned, or is it only innate? Is gentlemanliness and manliness synonymous? I think not.
“The most significant wars have been won by paper airplanes alone.” Author Unknown
What is it about “Author Unknown” that is so compelling, that we give so much merit to? What if the context of the quote was about some horrible atrocity? A complete idiot could have said it and they just got lucky. Maybe that is the draw, that one day would could come across something we “said” as quoted “Author Unknown” and we could be that anonymous inspiration to others. The “author” of that quote up there isn’t unknown, I “said” it – made that BS up to prove the point. And that’s the thing about quotes in general, is a lack of context. What inspiration or creed to be lived by is there from some isolated phrase without reference to what was actually said? When I see “Author Unknown” or “Anonymous” I immediately read the quote with an air of pretentious lack of eloquence. Until I can be provided with significant and meaningful context, I’ll assume it’s originator was asinine. A quote for quotes-sake means nothing, only with the meat that surrounds it. And a quote without context is trivial. A proverb, a motto, a maxim, even a precept or an epigram, there is something consequential. Quotes are a waste of language.