Monday, November 19, 2007

1957 Man

I was reading a great article in the October issue of GQ about a correspondent who attempts to recreate, in modern society and with the help of plaid suits, a manual typewriter, and a penchant for martinis at lunch, the man of the 20th century par excellence: 1957 Man (that's Peter Krause to the left, btw...doesn't he look great?). He plays the part like an actor but lives in this temporary journalistic immersion as if it were real. It is an entertaining read which I don't have time to write about now, what with 3 weeks worth of paperwork glaring up at me from my desk.

One line from the article really stuck with me, though: "1957 Man works." In context, the author is referring to the crisply partitioned roles in post-WWII American culture that allow for a man to be confident in his identity. 1957 Man works; working is what 1957 Man does. When 1957 Man comes to work, he does not surf the net, ordering birthday presents from amazon.com and discussing on the phone with Mrs. 1957 Man who will pick up the kids after school. He lives by the clock, and gives himself fully to the task at hand--because this is what 1957 Man does. He does not ask a lot of his wife: just cooking, cleaning, childrearing, and everything else non-work related;) 1957 Man sees it as a good system and a fair division of labor, because it allows him to do fully the one thing 1957 Man does well: work.

Although I don't have any delusions about living the present through a dead era (though I do have my occassional fantasies of flat-blade razors, fedoras, and all-natural fibers), I would really like to emulate 1957 Man's singular sense of commitment in the workplace and his ability to check his private life at the door (it is bad form for Mrs. 1957 Man to stop by the office unannounced or calling on the telephone). I don't know if this is a reclaimation of masculanity that has fallen by the wayside or just another historically constructed timepiece critical of a headward progression into the future, but one thing is for sure: 1957 Man was mindful of his work. He took it seriously to the point that it oftentimes (perhaps unfairly) trumped family and other commitments. But loyalty to the company, the ability to separate private from work life, and the deferrence of multi-tasking in favor of doing things, mindfully, one at a time, are traits which I think are worth emulating.

With that it might be a good time to get off Blogger and start digging in to the work at hand--with a cup of black coffee, of course.

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