Last week, on our commute to her school, my daughter made a rather dismissive comment about cars. She said "Ian, cars aren't cool anymore". I've heard quite a few kids say that recently, and studies show that more and more kids are opting out of learning to drive, partially due to the financial climate, but also out of dissatisfaction.
And I think it's true that cars aren't cool anymore. There was a time when cars were cool - back in the 1920s, when most of them had an open cockpit, when you started them with a crank and when you needed to wear goggles and a heavy driving coat. But now? She's right - they aren't cool, and I think they're not very 'manly'.
My daughter made me realize that, as far as 'manly' commuting goes, driving a car leaves something to be desired: it's air conditioned, you sit in a comfy chair, you can drive in your shirt even in a blizzard, there's a radio, cupholders, GPS, etc. It's hardly 'Scott of the Antarctic'. The motorist's motto is something akin to "Hope the seat warmer is working" or "Glad I've got my coffee".
Meanwhile, those on bicycles and motorbikes have a different and much more rugged experience: you're out in the elements, you're on a saddle (how manly is that!), no radio, no cupholder (other than a cage with a bottle of near freezing water), no GPS, you must balance and wrestle the bike through rain, wind, snow. Your motto, like that of the Post Office is "Victory or Death". If you cycle more than half a mile you get more excitement than a motorist gets in a week.
Even car ads have a sort of desperation about them - they're all about danger, thrills and driving fast somewhere exotic, but when the ad gets to the interior, it always just looks kinda weak. And the outside... well, they all look the same - and they're almost always offered in shades of grey. And you know that when you actually drive it, it's not going to be an experience of driving like a bat out of hell on the Nurburgring - it's going to be pottering along at 5mph in bumper-to-bumper traffic while cyclists and bikers pass you by. The fact is, the modern car experience is slow, frustrating and BORING!
So, assuming other members buy the premise, what happened to make cars go all wimpy and boring? And when did it happen? Was there some key moment when the car lost its manliness? Why is it that modern cars just don't have that 'manliness quotient' anymore?
Oh, give me a break. The way the American economy is going, what is sustainable?
I dunno. For some the economy is fine;
our clients are spending quite nicely.
Well, some do well enough in most circumstances; & some few thrive specifically on bad circumstances; & think of how much happier all will be if there is anything like economic growth anytime soon... But I'm glad to hear that 'I dunno.' I would be very disappointed to see Americans disappointed in Mr. Obama's stewardship of the economy.
Well, Monster, there are trade-offs. My husband and my lifestyle is "more efficient" than most Americans'. We live in high-density housing, and I take public transit. But we don't recycle plastic (because there's no room for a third recycle bin, after aluminum and paper, in our apartment) and order more online, resulting in more truck deliveries.
But even today kids think the Camero, Mustang, Challenger, etc are 'sweet'.
The manliest car is the one that best suits your needs. So I'm not entirely sure that manliness in cars is dying out. Plenty of variety in auto design nowadays, with something for every functionality need.
That said, I am disappointed in how unfriendly cars have become for us to repair in our driveways.
Rick, let's have the 'beauty & the man' talk here.
Yes, men want to have things their own way--& their own way of having them. That's part of manly courage. Unfortunately, it is hardly a way to distinguish between idiot & genius. If we accept that man has a kind of ambition, to be great, & that it takes a kind of confidence, that he will do what is necessary to achieve greatness, then it follows that the highest virtues are the ones most admirable. Add to that that men are men to begin with, it makes it quite clear that it takes more daring for a man to think daring thoughts than to do daring deeds...
About beauty, I'll tell you this: What is it but insight? You see the thing for what it is for once, & that's all there is to it. If there is such a thing as beauty, it is similar in certain ways in what concerns both women & poetry--or else love poetry, what is that? But of course, your usual painter is able to tell that there is science to the way a woman is built, so to speak, & the poet needs great craft. Mozart was not emotionally beautiful, or whatever mangled language this world has come to--nor is his music reducible to function. Although maybe function is a better way to think about it: Thinking has to make sense, right? I am advised that scientists understand that there is such a thing as beauty or elegance to their science. They may be deceived tremendously about being, but they get what it means to make sense of something. People are also able to do that reading poetry...
It's tough to bring men around to beauty, because men are tough. Some of this toughness is present in most males, though perhaps not the decisive toughness. But it is always tough to educate men about beauty. It must be a beauty that appeals to manliness, for one. For another, men reject awareness of neediness. It is usually the fact that men admit that they need women that gets them to learn anything about beauty. It is also usually true that social expectations, or whatever you like to call the habits & habits of mind which teach people about the good life, get men to excel. Beauty is bait also for the soul to arise.
I would agree that some men have difficulty in expressing their appreciation for beauty in such certain terms, however there is something about what they find beautiful that attracts them to that beauty some indefinable, in their way of speaking, thing that they appreciate. That thing, I believe, is the Golden Mean, not one extreme or the other but not in the middle either. Take a woman that a man finds beautiful. If he were pick her features apart he may not find a single one that he could describe as beautiful, but put them together in a package, her, then that is beautiful to him. Her beauty may not even be seen by any other man but to him she is.
Another example is the Camero. If the rear quarter panel upper curve (front to back) were to start even four inches further back then the car would look ungainly, too much in front, not enough in back; or if the windshield started further toward the front of the car. There are men who love the beauty of the Camero and there are some who although they appreciate that car their ideal of beauty would be the Mustang, and for similar reasons.
You're doing better explaining about the car than the woman. That's polite of you. The thing is, though, even with the car, you're just looking at the structure. There's got to be more: Why is it done that way? Maybe this mean-not-in-the-middle business would help you explain things; I'm not fully persuaded as yet. I'd like to hear how it explains about the woman...
People can learn about beauty. That, I believe, is the salient fact. It is not merely a matter of opinion, & everybody can have theirs. Some people are damned wrong. Some are graced with nature's grace. If you want to see my point, consider that the difference between art & craft is mostly snobism or Philistinism. People who make chairs & tables want them to be beautiful, too--except at IKEA, I guess. You see adornments & likenesses of things, aside from the matters of proper design & build-
I agree that people can learn about beauty as there is a natural beauty that anyone can see. On the other hand you can corrupt an idea of beauty if you try hard enough.
Beauty with regards to women has been described, as far a physical features go, as the ratio between different parts of her body. For example the length of her legs and her torso or the distance between her eyes and the distance between her eyes and mouth, or the width of her face and the length of her face. By the way, this is also true about men and their 'beauty'. Actual studies, or at least one, has been done on this although I'm not quite sure why. Now if we take an individual woman and look at the particular features or ratios separately she may fall outside what would be termed beautiful for those features in otherwords her eyes may be too close together or too far apart with respect to the distance between her eyes and mouth or her mouth may be too wide with respect to the center of her eyes; but she is still considered beautiful; examples of this abound in our popular culture such as Sandra Bullock (width of face vs. length), or Julia Roberts (width of eyes vs. width of mouth). As a matter of fact I would say that 99% of women have some feature or features that fall outside these 'beauty' ratios but their men find them beautiful. Also, there are women whose men find them absolutely lovely when other men find them 'average' or even below average looking. Understand that we are talking physical beauty not the soul or mind nor are we talking pheremones which play a huge part in attraction between men and women.