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click opera - Brash!
February 2010
 
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Sat, Mar. 18th, 2006 10:23 am
Brash!

Getting on with a city is a bit like getting on with a person. Cities, of course, change from day to day and from district to district. Yesterday, for instance, New York filled up with Irish and pseudo-Irish celebrating St Patrick's Day, "the biggest collection of white trash I've ever seen in one place", as I heard a man telling his wife on the phone. But despite these variations, cities do have personalities. I'm a tender-minded, shy person. And New York is brash. Very brash.

New York hasn't really changed much since the days when the Irish clashed brashly with the blacks and the Italians in the notorious Five Points neighbourhood (now Columbus Park in Chinatown) recreated in Scorsese's "Gangs of New York". The other day I rode the subway into work as usual, ear-plugs screwed into my ears because the train squeals loudly as it rides the bend between Grand Street and Graham Avenue. The New York subway is twice or three times as loud as anything you'll encounter in Tokyo or Berlin. It clangs and squeals and roars. It also stinks; sometimes a homeless person who hasn't washed for months can make a whole carriage impossible to breathe in. So anyway, I stopped at Hunter College on 68th Street for lunch, because I like the canteen there. I tend to sit outside on the patio, next to the door. People come out here to puff on cigarettes. As well as clouds of smoke, I get clouds of "fucks" drifting across my lunch; the students swear like troopers. This particular day two women from the kitchen staff were there too, puffing cigarettes, complaining about a new chef who was making them cut onions. One was black, one hispanic. Every second word was "fuck" or "shit". I don't really mind hearing people swear, it just seemed unneccessarily vehement. A big effort. Brash just for the sake of being brash.

It isn't just poor, over-worked kitchen staff who swear. After lunch I was walking along East 74th Street between Park and Madison, a very tony and expensive street, and some rich lady who lived there was trying to park, and started shouting at a post office van for blocking her space. I felt sorry for the meek public employee who had to suffer her wrath, just as brash as the kitchen orderlies. Later, I passed a short, swarthy man on Lexington walking up and down, gesticulating into his cellphone shouting that he was going to "fucking crucify" someone, or get his lawyer to do it. Brash!

But maybe brash is hot and hot is warm. The old cliche is that in New York they say "Fuck you!" and mean "Have a nice day!" whereas in LA they say "Have a nice day!" and mean "Fuck you!" Sometimes I think there's some truth in that. This testy, brash head-on style is one I would never adopt, even if I lived here all my life. But I wonder if that isn't because I'm a bit of a cold fish, and would rather disengage politely than really get to grips with someone? Is brashness a form of engagement, even a form of "hard love"? The way a city educates itself about reality, even bonds?

The psychologist William James (1842-1910) distinguished between two basic temperaments, the tough- and the tender-minded. According to Hyperstructures, "the tough-minded individuals are those who are empirically oriented, those who 'go by facts'. By contrast, the tender-minded are rationalists who 'go by principles'. According to James, the history of philosophy is largely the story of the clash between these two temperaments: 'The tough think of the tender as sentimentalists and softheads. The tender feel the tough to be unrefined, callous, or brutal."

The Keirsey Temperament Testing website expands: "The Tough-minded are often accused of being "inhuman," "heartless," "stony-hearted," "remote," of having 'ice in their veins," and of living "without the milk of human kindness." In the same way, the Friendly are chided for being "too soft-hearted," "too emotional," "bleeding-hearts," "muddleheaded," "fuzzy-thinkers," and for "wearing their heart on their sleeve."

This breaks the brash and the brittle down to tough and tender, realistic and dreamer, is and ought, right and left, uncaring and friendly. But mightn't it be we tender, polite, principled ones who have "ice in our veins"? After all, we never lose our tempers. That's more icy than nicey, no?

I'm currently living with a bunch of Italian artists in Brooklyn, and when I get home after all these encounters with brash New Yorkers I hear the Italians through the wall, Skyping with their gallerists back in Italy. My Italian isn't great, so I have no idea what they're talking about, but what's interesting is that I can never quite tell whether they're arguing or agreeing. Their tone suggests they're veering weirdly between blasting and bonding, between anger and excitement. There are lots of rich Italian obscenities (culo this, culo that), and the tone sounds brash, but maybe it's a kind of macho bonding.

I think there's a real gulf between tough and tender-minded cultures. Something that always disturbed me about living in Paris, for instance, was that some people expected you to be brash. You'd often be expected to have some tug-of-love tussle with a taxi-driver, a landlady or a neighbour, a conversation full of violent expletives, which would then be resolved in some kind of semi-erotic reconciliation (if you didn't both die in a crime passionel). In Paris, a slap was never far from a kiss. Trouble is, these altercations were with people I neither wanted to slap nor kiss. I just wanted level-headed, cool, civilised neutrality. New York is more like France or Italy than the countries I spend most of my time in, Germany and Japan, where people maintain exactly the sort of cold-fishy, neutral distances I'm used to, and enjoy.

It may be that the brash, like chronic alcoholics, attack people only because they love them, and turn their pathetic fights with strangers into love-huddles at the first opportunity. Perhaps if I lived in New York, Dublin, Paris or Rome (perhaps even more so in Hong Kong or Sao Paolo), and drank heavily, I would learn to scream at people that way, scream with a warm heart, scream only to back down later and give a big hug and a big tip. But that's not my way, and it's not the way of the cool, cold, tender-minded cities I frequent.

What do they say about Aquarians again? "Do you only care about the bleeding crowd, how about a needy friend?" We're both tender-minded and somewhat aloof, somewhat abstracted. Maybe the cities I love and choose to live in -- Berlin and Tokyo -- are somewhat Aquarian cities, chilly and tender like me. Brash is something I can't do, and fuck you if you even make me try!

53CommentReplyShare

triestine
triestine
full of vacuum
Sat, Mar. 18th, 2006 03:38 pm (UTC)

Thanks for these, they make one think. My stand is very simple - I find "brash" more honest. If somebody is always cool and civil, I am never certain whether they are genuine, afraid, or bored; with people who are direct, no matter how brash, I know where I stand and to me it makes relations better.


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imomus
imomus
imomus
Sat, Mar. 18th, 2006 03:49 pm (UTC)

I actually think it's also a matter of physique. If you're brash, you must have muscle to back it up, because there's always the possibility that your shouting will turn into fighting. For someone built like me, fights must at all costs be avoided. No cerebrotonic would risk damaging his brain in a tussle with some hot-tempered mesomorphic baboon.


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socialcarwreck
socialcarwreck
lala
Sat, Mar. 18th, 2006 03:54 pm (UTC)

i wondering what you like so much about hunter's eating facilities? i go there, between classes, but have never found the food to be very remarkable.


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imomus
imomus
imomus
Sat, Mar. 18th, 2006 04:00 pm (UTC)

In a word, impersonality. I can go there alone and be completely ignored. And I've always liked institutional canteens because I'm an emotional communist. Also, I like seeing "Protest the Iraq war" posters outside the canteen, they make me digest better.


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bostonista
bostonista
It's Not Rocket Surgery
Sat, Mar. 18th, 2006 03:57 pm (UTC)

Would you label Britain "Brash" or "tender-minded"?

Americans are usually labeled "brash" by the English, but I find that the hard-drinking hooligan culture over there competes handily with any "brashness" we produce.

There's also a difference between New York and everywhere else in America. It has its own culture of obscenity and directness. You'd find the South and the Midwest to be quite different, I think.


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bostonista
bostonista
It's Not Rocket Surgery
Sat, Mar. 18th, 2006 04:06 pm (UTC)

(And I deliberately focused on "English" vs. "British" here, because I have no experience of Scotland or Wales.)


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alisgray
alisgray
spoonful of sugar, pinch of salt
Sat, Mar. 18th, 2006 04:02 pm (UTC)

Best wishes. I hope you are not entirely tired out by your brash surroundings. They sound vigorous.

In my experience, Los Angeles is pretty brash as well. The down-side of the not brash is avoidant behavior, sliding even into passive-aggressive. For example, Minnesota Nice. Strangely, if one is brought up with that as a greater part of the culture, it's quite comfortable; folks who move here from brasher climes tend to feel frozen out and underappreciated.


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ex_sonjaaa
sonjaaa
Sat, Mar. 18th, 2006 04:04 pm (UTC)

I wrote my own MBTI test here: www.kisa.ca/personality


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svenskasfinx
NOT Greta Garbo
Sat, Mar. 18th, 2006 04:10 pm (UTC)
Aquarian Cities...(or rather countries)

While Sweden is an Aquarian country, Stockholm is a Cancerian city... funny thing about New York and the US is that although they are technically classified as "Cancerian"- they both have a Mars/Uranus conjunction on the ASC (in Gemini I think) with the Sun (signifying the "Ego" of the City or Country) in the Second house.. so its Cancerian Ego.. if you want to put it, loves to be put on desplay as what it's movable resources are, its, money for example and what it can get exchange for...

Mars/Uranus conjunct ASC in Gemini and could explain the tendancy to be "brash and outspoken" though.

(I don't really know that much about Stockholm's ASC.) I suspect Sweden's Aquarian style overides most of the possessive, family oriented way of Cancerian cities..but still there is a cool exterior people on the "outside" don't seem to like.. where as I feel Stockholmers are "aloof" because they ARE senstive.. but unlike people from NYC.. don't have huge "chips on their shoulders" as a general rule.


I've been interested in asking you for your time of birth Momus, if you don't wish to post it, could you e-post me via the address I have on my LJ (when you are logged in); as I have drawn up your solar chart and would love to see where the ASC is as well as the house placements..(especially for that Venus/Mars conjunction in Capricorn you have ;))

Thank you in advance,

Dorian


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svenskasfinx
NOT Greta Garbo
Sat, Mar. 18th, 2006 04:17 pm (UTC)
Re: Aquarian Cities...(or rather countries)

Oh, and the city, and country you were born in, as well.


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dickon_edwards
dickon_edwards
Dickon Edwards
Sat, Mar. 18th, 2006 04:12 pm (UTC)

Hey, Brash and Un-brash can get on. Shane MacGowan is actually a very gentle, well-read and tolerant man. And of course, he took me to Tangier with him. ME! It's a sector of his fans I often clash with, though, who'd rather get drunk and destructive and sod the Joyce / Yeats musings.


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dickon_edwards
dickon_edwards
Dickon Edwards
Sat, Mar. 18th, 2006 04:17 pm (UTC)

Also, I myself am incapable of shouting, violence or saying "f--- you" sincerely. Utterly. I wouldn't how. Sometimes I think this is a noble trait and could save the world if Essence of Dickon was put in the water of the globe's troublespots. Other times I feel it's a disability and disadvantage. The meek will not inherit the world, though they've annexed much of LiveJournal, heh.


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(no subject) - (Anonymous) Expand



cap_scaleman
cap_scaleman
cap_scaleman
Sat, Mar. 18th, 2006 04:59 pm (UTC)

I felt like this yesterday. The brashness in my class is growing. Something I have found, being that silent background analysist guy, is that most times the brashness in a class rises as summer gets closer. Usually culminating during the last two weeks before summer vacation. But this week my class was unbarable. Bad sex jokes, loud rockists, loud laughter, loudness here and loudness there, I couldn't stand it and I wonder if I can stand staying in school for another year. It really sucks. It made me ill and I feel hurt since I fucking hoped that I wouldn't get into another brash class AGAIN. Top on that the majority of my class wants to go to Paris. But is Paris really that brash? I hoped it wouldn't.


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(Anonymous)
Sat, Mar. 18th, 2006 05:31 pm (UTC)

What a can of wriggling worms you've just opened! I live in New York and spend a great deal of time myself thinking about what makes my fellow citizens so brash. I'll no doubt do so for the rest of my days here. However, I do know that although I surely don't care if people use expletives in public, I do mind that more and more it's a substitute for uttering an intelligent sentence. Where twenty years ago one overheard interesting conversations everywhere you went, now it's veritable arias of swearing, interrupted only by the dreaded, "So, I'm like..." or "And he's all like..."

I've come to the conclusion that a generation that won't read won't know how to speak or spell either.


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imomus
imomus
imomus
Sat, Mar. 18th, 2006 05:38 pm (UTC)

Yeah, just about all I've heard since getting here is this "So I'm like..." thing. I suppose it's just the way you use inverted commas in oral speech, but it's a bit tiresome. Then again, I do find New Yorkers very intelligent. For instance, I have to read J. Hoberman's film reviews in the Voice about six times before I can understand anything. Now, that could be because he's very smart, or because he has a style that involves much "infolding" of the Gerald Manley Hopkins type. Maybe both.


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alphacomp
alphacomp
Digital Video Camera
Sat, Mar. 18th, 2006 05:55 pm (UTC)

Personally, I do agree with your observations. Although I don't really mind if anybody curses(even excessively, at that), for example, I tend to never really curse for some reason. Even though it makes me sound like a badly-dubbed anime character, it kind of makes me notice more clearly how curses are so ingrained into the daily lexicon of a New Yorker such that they're almost as common as "the" or "and" at times. My friends are really freaked out by such behavior and my overall lack of "brashness".

Technically, the Unreliable Tour Guide is rather brash - an inadvertent manifestation of the city itself, perhaps?


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(Anonymous)
Sat, Mar. 18th, 2006 07:12 pm (UTC)

Imomus, I've been lurking episodically around your site for a while now, and I have to say I'm really astonished to see you're almost two years older than I am! I'd really thought you were at least ten years younger.

I was struck by the quote from William James,

"According to Hyperstructures, "the tough-minded individuals are those who are empirically oriented, those who 'go by facts'. By contrast, the tender-minded are rationalists who 'go by principles'. According to James, the history of philosophy is largely the story of the clash between these two temperaments: 'The tough think of the tender as sentimentalists and softheads. The tender feel the tough to be unrefined, callous, or brutal."


In our politics in the US today it's just the other way around, the conservatives are sentamentalists, who 'go by principles' and who are unrefined, callous and brutal, while the liberals are empirically oriented and 'go by the facts'.


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(Anonymous)
Sat, Mar. 18th, 2006 07:16 pm (UTC)
Temperament: Neurochemically Speaking

http://www.edgeeffect.org/edge_effect.htm

Rationalists or Strategic Thinkers: characterized by power and control, competence, capability, knowledge. CEOs, generals, doctors, scientists, and architects are DOPAMINE-DOMINANT.

Idealists or Dreamers: characterized by reflection, self-discovery, creativity, becoming. Counselors, mediators, ministers, public service professionals, writers, artists, and actors are ACETYLCHOLINE-DOMINANT.

Guardians or Traditionalists: characterized by tradition, conformity, belonging, loyalty, commitment. Administrators, accountants, security officers, nurses, technicians, air-traffic controllers, news reporters, EMTs, bus drivers, and homemakers are GABA-DOMINANT.

Artisans or Dionysians: characterized by sensations, work-as-play, non-conformity, free thinking, living for today. Construction workers, stevedores, crane operators, oil rigers, truck and ambulance drivers, military personnel, hair stylists, bartenders, and pilots are SEROTONIN-DOMINANT.


Further at the link are dietary recommendations for altering each after taking the test (link below) to 'measure' your dominant and deficient categories. The diet slant conceives the possible factor of "different diets, different temperaments"...even cultural predisposition for certain temperaments ("in general, those people are like that"...historical dietary vein in ethnically homogeneous regions...the genetically imprinted delineation of statistical weighting of certain predispositions in said regions... collective veins of certain takes on life within a society).

The Test: http://www.pathmed.com/downloads/BRAVERMAN-assesment.pdf

*Some* educated discussion here(yes, I know...a bodybuilder's forum): http://www.mindandmuscle.net/forum/index.php?s=f2bcf282495ba0c02dd0c546479e9df0&showtopic=13627&st=0

More similar here: http://www.pathmed.com/downloads/NutirNews...n1-11-14-02.pdf


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nomorepolitics
nomorepolitics
Sat, Mar. 18th, 2006 08:44 pm (UTC)
Thanks for the Fruits

I have to disagree with you on one point, tough and refined can go together.

Other than that, I've never been good with emotional verbal exchanges either, but I enjoy a fight or rough wrestle sometimes. It's true that this is the way men tend to bond. It's one of the things I miss about childhood; these things don't happen too much as you get older.

I don't know if you've read Jeanette Winterson's Sexing the Cherry, but it talks about this tendency of people to curse. She describes swearing as a stifling pollution that suffocates everyone in the city.


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cataptromancer
cataptromancer
Bastard anglicana
Sat, Mar. 18th, 2006 11:41 pm (UTC)
off topic

Saw you today at the whitney -- your understated approach is great. Although I had a hard time hearing when I was more than ten or so feet away from you...do they not let you turn your megaphone up any louder?


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nato_dakke
nate
Sun, Mar. 19th, 2006 12:49 am (UTC)

I admire to no end someone who, like momus, can be the cold-fish, and still be a voracious and "successful" ladies man. I'd wager that the tender minded are every bit as voracious as the tough, but generally not so successful.


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stanleylieber
stanleylieber
Stanley Lieber
Sun, Mar. 19th, 2006 02:42 am (UTC)

Nothing succeeds like success!


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(Anonymous)
Sun, Mar. 19th, 2006 03:48 am (UTC)
Momus fan art!

I didn't bother to read this. I might later. But for now I have some lovely pictures of you.

I love the thought of you in "Stupid Sexy Clothes."

http://i68.photobucket.com/albums/i30/MiskaMarie/stupidsexyclothes.jpg

EMOmus.

http://i68.photobucket.com/albums/i30/MiskaMarie/eMomus.jpg

Neko Momus

http://i68.photobucket.com/albums/i30/MiskaMarie/kiyyt.jpg

Maid Momus

http://i68.photobucket.com/albums/i30/MiskaMarie/maidmomus.jpg

Schoolgirl Momus

http://i68.photobucket.com/albums/i30/MiskaMarie/maidmomus.jpg

Sailor Momus

http://i68.photobucket.com/albums/i30/MiskaMarie/sailorman.jpg


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imomus
imomus
imomus
Sun, Mar. 19th, 2006 05:02 am (UTC)
Re: Momus fan art!

Ha, those are most excellent indeed! Afforded me much amusement! I think Sailor Momus is my favourite.

Just one thing, though, you pasted the URL for Maid Momus twice, and didn't paste the Schoolgirl Momus URL, which is here.

I'd love to use one or two of these as new LJ icons, may I?


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(Anonymous)
Sun, Mar. 19th, 2006 06:45 am (UTC)

Brash is *so* hard in this world, isn't it? "Easy to be hard, easy to be cruel."

My motto is "only the strong can afford to be gentle". And strong doesn't mean asswipe. I don't care much to be around people spewing their devils. That's why there are holes in trees. Strong comes from internal security and confidence that comes from knowing-who-you-are and who doesn't like it can fuck-off.

Maybe you live in a place surrounded by psychopaths. Then armor makes sense. But a friend that's armored all the time? Go work out your issues somewhere else.


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(Anonymous)
Sun, Mar. 19th, 2006 09:26 pm (UTC)
sentimental/cruel

let fly!


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(Anonymous)
Sun, Mar. 19th, 2006 09:37 pm (UTC)
brash! brash!?!

ahh the beloved Japanese Unit 731
http://ilx.wh3rd.net/thread.php?msgid=6820096


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(Anonymous)
Mon, Mar. 20th, 2006 03:02 pm (UTC)
Like ColdFishyDizpOhZihshinzzz?

...then Joisey is SO for you! Except it has an innocuous air of warmth and hominess to it, it's down right cold-- Frigid, rather.

LOVED your entry. I've been just sitting here reading your entries and I find your stuff insightful, truthful and sarcastic (but in an intelligent way.)

You are the creme o'da crop.


-some jersey girl (akin to the valley girl, only more booji)


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(Anonymous)
Wed, Mar. 22nd, 2006 11:01 pm (UTC)
wow!

Hi, I'm from fotolog (japanese fotologger in London) , just find your blog here.
Were you in Nokia Theatre on the St. Patrick's day? YES! I WAS!!
(Well, actually I've been at Pogues gigs in London, Tokyo and NYC.)

urrrg, I mean, I just wanted to say hi to you :-)


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imomus
imomus
imomus
Sat, Mar. 25th, 2006 05:26 pm (UTC)
Re: wow!

I wasn't there, but hello anyway, Japanese fotologger in London!


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