Thursday, July 2, 2009


I've been away a bit more than usual, and that, plus some busy work-stuff, has made it hard to keep up with the blogging. This is me, trying to get back into the swing of things.

Although I've been trying to cut down on the number of blogs I follow (Google Reader is an unbelievable black-hole of time for me), I recently added one, The Art of Manliness (this is where I take a moment to remind my sister, who sometimes reads this blog, that Blog Am is a semi-official work blog, so she should keep her comments to herself). I came across it by random (I think through another blog), and I decided to follow it because a) it doesn't seem to be too busy, so it won't take too much time and b) it has the kind of useless, but still practical, trivia that I love seeing - how to tie 4 different tie knots, how to mix the "5 most important cocktails" and so on. I read it just because it's mildly entertaining.

But, even though I know it isn't meant to be taken seriously, I can't help but wonder about the basic idea - manliness. What exactly does it mean to be a man?

American culture often uses the term "a real man," and that seems to imply something along the lines of John Wayne - tough, resolute. Short of words, long on action. A man's man, as we say. We tell someone who is whining or hesitating to "man up."

But, it's interesting to me that the Yiddish word for "man" is "mensch," which is used completely differently - "a real mensch" is someone who is kind. Someone who is thoughtful. Someone who looks out for others.

And, this bout of ruminating also got me thinking about the passage from Pirkei Avot, the 2000ish year old Rabbinic text which asks "who is mighty? (literally, you could read it as "who is a warrior?") A person who controls his urges." A very different image, to say the least.

So, if we were going to make a blog with the name The Art of Manliness, what would go on it?

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