Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Back to Basics: The Dandy

1) "The Dandy displays a true and radical difference from other people, a difference of appearance and manner. Since most of us are secretly oppressed by our lack of freedom, we are drawn to those who are more fluid and flaunt it."

2) "Be different in ways that are both striking and aesthetic, never vulgar; poke fun at current trends and styles, go in a novel direction, and be supremely uninterested in what anyone else is doing. Most people are insecure; they will wonder what you are up to, and slowly they will come to admire and imitate you, because you express yourself with total confidence."

3) "The Dandy has traditionally been defined by clothing, and certainly most Dandies create a unique visual style.... But a Dandy's style cannot be obvious, for Dandies are subtle, and never try hard for attention -- attention comes to them."

4) "The nonconformity of Dandies, however, goes far beyond appearances. It is an attitude toward life that sets them apart; adopt that attitude and a circle of followers will form around you. Dandies are supremely impudent. They don't give a damn about other people, and never try to please."

5) "The insolence of the Rake is tied up with his desire to conquer a woman; he cares for nothing else. The insolence of the Dandy, on the other hand, is aimed at society and its conventions. It is not a woman he cares to conquer but a whole group, an entire social world."

6) "Dandies are masters at the art of living. They live for pleasure, not for work; they surround themselves with beautiful objects and eat and drink with the same relish they show for their clothes.... The key is to make everything an aesthetic choice."

7) "Dandies may never try to please, but in this one area they have a pleasing effect: By adopting psychological traits of the opposite sex, they appeal to our inherent narcissism.... This kind of mental transvestism -- the ability to enter the spirit of the opposite sex, adapt to their way of thinking, mirror their tastes and attitudes -- can be a key element in seduction."

8) "Do not be misled by the surface disapproval your Dandy pose may elicit. Society may publicise its distrust of androgyny, but this conceals its fascination; what is most seductive is often what is most repressed. Lean a playful dandyism and you will become the magnet for people's dark, unrealized yearnings."

9) "The key to such power is ambiguity. In a society where the roles everyone plays are obvious, the refusal to conform to any standard will excite interest. Be both masculine and feminine, impudent and charming, subtle and outrageous."

10) "He lures the woman in with exactly what she wants -- a familiar, pleasing, graceful presence. Mirroring feminine psychology, he displays attention to his appearance, sensitivity to detail, a slight coquettishness -- but also a hint of male cruelty. Women are narcissists, in love with the charms of their own sex. By showing them feminine charm, a man can mesmerize and disarm them, leaving them vulnerable to a bold, masculine move."

--Robert Greene, The Art of Seduction

Interestingly, I thought I didn't have much of the Dandy in my style. I remember when I was exposed to this book in 2001, reading about the Dandy just made be think of androgyny, transvestism, and flamboyance. The examples in the book made no personal appeal: Rudolph Valentino, Elvis Presley, and Mick Jagger.

Then, years later, finding guys in the community trying to embody this aesthetic was really creepy. Guys going around pretending like they were gay to 'disarm' a woman. All this talk about David Bowie. The ridiculous emphasis on peacocking. It was making me a little sick. The two Dandified guys that have become recognized as self-declared PUAs -- I swear, it is just a matter of time before they come out of the closet.

But here is the flaw with the community embodiment of the Dandy. Guys try to play around with ambiguity and mirroring female psychology to 'come in under the radar.' That's fine, as long as you follow through. What they're not doing is next making a bold, decisive, and masculine move. The whole point about being indirect is to 'get caught' right when the timing is impeccable. She's mesmerized, she's entranced -- now fearlessly take her with masculine intent. Guys just don't do this, they stay in the familiar land of inaction. Except, now she seriously thinks your gay.

Further, in my tough-love style of teaching, I've always told guys that one of the biggest things you have to demonstrate -- along with ensuring her physical safety, and protecting her reputation -- is that, beyond a shadow of a doubt, you're not a closet homosexual. Get that ambiguity out of your game right now.

That said, returning to this tome eight years later, I find that I can identify with a lot of the Dandy's traits. I consider it kind of an advanced way to present yourself, as you have to be deeply in touch with your masculine core first. Then you can play with subtle elements of feminine charm.

Also, it's worth mentioning that the only musicians that I've seen lately that can really work a large female audience into a frenzy -- and I go to a lot of shows -- are true Dandies. Mickey Avalon does this remarkably well. Gil Mantera's Party Dream is a good example. Even Peaches as a masculine Dandy is actually a great example.

The key points for the recognition of my personal style are #2 -- having extreme disinterest in what others are doing (community gurus, pop icons, other guys in-field, etc); #5 -- the desire to change groups over individuals ; and #6 -- living for pleasure, and not work. I definitely value surrounding myself with beautiful, unique, and interesting objects. My apartment is small, but I've taken care in making it my own pleasure palace. Comfortable, yet very personal, intriguing, even kitchy.

Another really useful realization for me was contrasting #4 -- a nonconformists attitude -- with #3 -- having a striking visual appearance. Having been involved with certain activities that embrace fundamentally nonconformist attitudes, it has become required that I do not visually stand out. So, my manner of dress has been to really blend in. Now, I am confronting attachments to these activities and my limiting beliefs about money... and being completely honest with myself, I have to admit that I would like to dress much more strikingly.

It's a useful question to anyone: If money were no issue, how would your appearance or manner change?

I find that as I become richer with life experience and more comfortable being surrounded with abundance, I embody more of the dandyisms, especially paying attention to detail and making life a truly aesthetic experience. I suppose grace comes with age and maturity. But I love setting the rhythm, not rushing, remaining attentive and present.

It's the difference between being controlling and truly being in control.



Anonymous DavidG said...

Hey J, Robert Greenes book is pretty alright but I never have ever seen a picture of Robert Greene or heard about anyone meeting him personally.

June 16, 2009  
Blogger GoneSavage said...

Writers are never what you expect.


June 16, 2009  

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