Friday, September 1, 2017





adjective: unseemly; comparative adjective: unseemlier; superlative adjective: unseemliest

(of behavior or actions) not proper or appropriate.

"an unseemly squabble"

synonyms:improper, unbecoming, unfitting, unbefitting, unworthy, undignified, indiscreet, indelicate, indecorous, ungentlemanly, unladylike

"their unseemly behavior at Donna's baby shower"

Tricky area, especially for males, who often want to stand out, have to stand out to win a place, in the words of "Fighting for Life" by the American Jesuit scholar, Walter Ong.  Fighting can lead to death or injury of course but that is sometimes the cost of success, or strong competition at the least in these modern times.

Given the energy, numbers of workers and costs of modern fights for a place, for a name, for recognition and acceptance, I found it quite surprising that in the early years of our country, it was unseemly for the candidate for office to do what we now consider to be campaigning.  When that was the norm, one counted on one's friends and supporters to broadcast one's virtues and likely success as a leader.

I am very much enjoying "Republic of Spin" by Professor of history David Greenberg.  Given that direct campaigning was unseemly and given that there was only word of mouth and newspapers, spreading the idea of one's candidacy was slower.  Even by Lincoln's time, it was a new idea for a paper to send an artist to sketch a candidate so that some likeness could be conveyed to the public.  We humans invest in faces and we believe in faces so it is a big advantage today to be able spread still pictures, motion pictures and voice recordings to personalize the candidate or other humans.  

We are not above giving a peanut or a bar of soap something of a face and voice and personal name in the hopes that Mr. Peanut or the Scrubbing Bubbles will appeal and be retained and accepted and recalled.  

The Republic of Spin recalls Lynn's doctoral studies in postmodernism, a movement in modern thinking in philosophy and criticism and art theory that grew out of French thinking.  In essence, the postmodernists emphasized what we all know but sometimes don't want to face up to: most if not all of our lives are based on our tastes.  And, our biases and prejudices, our backgrounds and upbringing.

What and who feels right can be explained and justified but we tend to start from what strikes us as seemly, appropriate.  It may be that because Queen Victoria or her advisers didn't like a certain fashion or mannerism, I now behave in accord with their tastes, handed to my grandparents and my parents and then to me.  They have become my tastes, all unknowing.  I don't doubt that some of what feels ok, acceptable, seemly comes from much further back to Neanderthal, and primate ancestors. What seems aggressive, what soothes, what arouses and what placates may be from a long way back.

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