What a knack there is to that
Acting like a born aristocrat
We got elegance, if you ain’t got elegance
You can never ever carry it off.
(Excerpt from the song “Elegance” by Jerry Herman from the musical Hello, Dolly!)
Elegance is defined as the quality of being graceful or stylish in appearance or manner. I wonder how important it is to the human race. Are people more likely to value others for how elegant they consider them? Can elegant people carry off behavior that non-elegant people cannot? Are some people naturally elegant? Can elegance be acquired?
I refuse to imitate elegance in order to be socially acceptable. I expect to be valued for qualities such as honesty, integrity, kindness, and good table manners. When I am in public, I take care to avoid any behavior that makes other people uncomfortable; I don’t shout, burp, throw things, or overturn apple carts in the hope that my efforts are enough be agreeable. I was at a nice restaurant one time, dancing on the dance floor, when a woman, for some reason, lifted her top, exposing her breasts bouncing around in time to the beat. I don’t do things like that. To attempt to be elegant is, for me, an exercise in disingenuousness. I have not been born with outward elegance, and I’m not going to fake it.
On the other hand, elegance is also defined as the quality of being ingenious in function and/or design. I love that kind of elegance. I rejoice in the elegance of a mathematical proof. If someone finds an elegant solution to a complex problem, I kiss the hem of his or her garment. An elegant thought process is enough to herald the Rapture. That’s the kind of elegance I can sink my teeth into.
(Note to self: Can one sink one’s teeth–figuratively speaking– into the elegance of ingenuity? Re-read Nisbett’s book Intelligence and How to Get It for some ideas.)
But, on the other hand, what do I know? I suspect that being elegant is related to being beautiful. It may be that elegance, like beauty, is a superficial quality that a select few are born with. Or not. I am going to have to think about it. Perhaps I will formulate an elegant hypothesis and proof. I would love that!