Honor

January 22, 2012 § Leave a comment

A discussion of Wymyk, an acclaimed (and promising) new Polish film, on PR2 sports an interesting exchange; one commentator, a woman, comments about a hero’s cowardly behavior:  “Honor does not grow back.”  She then recalls a quote from Lord Jim:  “Honor really does exist.”

With this, another commentator, a man, disagrees; it is not clear what the nature of his disagreement is — I suspect that if one probed him, he would, like the readers of my other blog, avoid the issue; but we are put on notice that in his view honor is not above dispute.

It is not surprising:  a woman, especially a woman of some age and authority, can speak openly about qualitative aspects of manhood: for a woman to speak about manhood is a kind of daydream, a love-wish, it is like men speaking of their ideal female beauty.  But men do not speak lightly of manhood:  if they do, they open themselves to a challenge, and not many are prepared to meet it.  Better object.

The honor-blind will tell you that honor is a relic of the past; that it is not modern.  But another explanation is that honor is a mutation:  those born with it have it, sense it, value it, and defend it; those without it are blind to it like the color-blind are to red or the deaf to high C.  This notion gives another meaning to the term “to be honorably born”.

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