Monday, February 4, 2013


"Then you are a fool."

Kurt Vonnegut once asked the anthropologist Margaret Mead when men were most happy. I'm sure it had something to do with happiness eluding Vonnegut for most of his life. Mead not only studied many cultures I think she was predisposed to observe objectively, not buy into the Walmart sales bargain propaganda of the world. But some people are not hung up by the endless lies, they see patterns in the lies and truth in the horror...they see it all as destiny and humanity in an endless array of variations with some common traits. That's anthropology. Vonnegut (an anthropology major but not a very objective anthropologist) thought men should be motivated by reason. Mead probably saw this as totally naive. In general, men are not motivated by any one thing...but culturally we find meaning in completely different goals. But there is overlap and correlation. The trouble starts when the culture and the man do not match and Vonnegut is a good example. Another example is T.E. Lawrence. Oggy struggles but weakens in his scar tissue and flagging belly rolls.
At least how Lawrence is portrayed in the movie about his Arabian Revolt years and leading tribes in war against the Turks sometime around the first World War.

Lawrence was no good at following orders but he did have a reckless regard of his safety. I'm not sure what their final goal was. Militarily, the British wanted to rid Arabia of the Turks so they could install a puppet government to sell them cheap oil. Lawrence wasn't a politician but he embraced the lifestyle of the desert with gusto.

In the picture above, Lawrence, in the white robe of a sheik, watches as Auda Abu Tayi argues with Colonel Brighton. The gist of this argument is that since Auda has finally seized that white horse, "an honorable" loot, he will go home and cease the attacks on the Turkish trains.
Brighton says shamingly, "So, now that you have what you want, you will leave?"
Auda responds, "Yes, and when the British have what they want they will leave."
Lawrence says nothing.
Brighton is offended, "No, we won't leave. We will stay."
Auda smiles. "Then you are fools."
He rides off.
Auda is played by Anthony Quinn, of Zorba The Greek fame...back when male actors leaked testosterone and were not chubby geeks with emasculated jokes.

I'm not in the business of film criticism anymore so I will go no further.

Margaret Mead said that men are happiest, in general, over all cultures, when they are preparing for war. Anticipating war and planning and arming themselves for war is when men are most engaged with each other and single minded and happy. It's a different story once they are actually getting shot at, but I have no reason to contradict her assessment.

Vonnegut liked to theorize that men were created "for maintenance". But the evidence is not in his favor. Men were created to kill.

I wish he had asked Mead when women are most happy.

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Man in the Van by Oggy Bleacher is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 Unported License.