Sunday, June 07, 2009

What Men Perceive as "Romantic Evil"

I happened to find the following by mere chance, while searching for some information on Piper Bill Millin and Lord Lovat at Flickr and it had me floored. I think it fits brilliantly the ongoing discussion about what makes men and women tick so differently.
La Style Anglais

Bad behaviour is more interesting, more downright entertaining, than goodness and rectitude. This is a great gift to the Devil of course, but there's no getting away from it. Who ever heard of a soap opera about sober, sexually continent people who go to bed early and take their holidays in Redcar?

I think this explains why the generals of the Wehrmacht High Command, with their whiff of arrogance, cruelty and romantic evil, have always received more attention than their equivalents on the "good" Allied side. For every biography or television documentary about Viscount Slim, or Alexander of Tunis, there must be a dozen about Guderian or Von Rundstedt and a hundred about Rommel. Yet there were some eccentric and flamboyant characters among the commanders of the wartime British Army...
Guderian? Rundstedt? And -- of all unlikely people -- ROMMEL as examples for "romantic evil"? For heaven's sake, Rommel looked exactly like what he was, the son of a small-town schoolteacher, Rundstedt looked exactly like what he was as well, namely the scion of a family of generations of dour Prussian career officers and Guderian, the only one of the three who shows a smidgeon of dash, looks basically too like what he was, namely the son of another Prussian officer, albeit from a lesser family. All three of them, whatever they may have in fact been, look like the archetype of sober, sexually continent men who go to bed early and take their holidays maybe not in Redcar, but in Warnemünde.

Rundstedt


Rommel


Guderian

The discussion following the "La Style Anglais" picture at Flickr may serve as a key to such an (I think) obvious misconception:
Well, thats a DSO and bar, OBE, MC, 4 ww2 stars (one with a bar, maybe 8th army?), ww1 pair with an MiD, and probably the silver jubilee medal. Don't think there are too many out there with that combination. He looks like a poof but the medal bar proves he's solid English oak.

Alas, with the red hackle on his bonnet and the sword guard of his claymore poking out of the bottom right this 'solid english oak' is most likely a scotsman :) the red hackle is the regimental distinction of the Blackwatch regiment.

The soldier in question is a Commanding Officer from the Black Watch (Royal Highland Regiment). I believe he is Lt Col Critchley a very distinguished soldier and a gentleman. his son carried on the tradition of serving in the Regiment. Neither of which were in the least bit a poof nor English.

Why couldn't he have been a hero and a poof?
Indeed, and that's what men find so hard to understand. I see neither arrogance, nor cruelty, let alone romantic evil, in the German archetypes, just austereness, sobriety and professionalism, and I'd like to know how other women react to the different archetypes. My money is on the Brits, and not on the Germans in their demonstratively sober uniforms, who shout "straight" in marked difference to the elegant, flamboyant, dashing, bordering on the sexually ambiguous, Brits, who show more than just a whiff of arrogance, as I understand it.

Interestingly, the author of the "La Style Anglais" entry contradicts himself by quoting from Evelyn Waugh's "Men At Arms":
He was the great Halberdier enfant terrible of the First World War; the youngest company commander in the history of the Corps; the slowest to be promoted; often wounded, often decorated, recommended for the Victoria Cross, twice court martialled for disobedience to orders in the field, twice acquitted in recognition of the brilliant success of his independent actions; a legendary wielder of the entrenching tool; where lesser men collected helmets Ritchie-Hook once came back from a raid across no-man's-land with the dripping head of a German sentry in either hand.
Frankly, that is not exactly a prime example of goodness and rectitude and a scenario in which the boringly sedate mugs of neither, Guderian, nor Rommel, nor Rundstedt seem quite to fit.

At this blog there is an entry about Rex Whistler, another one of the Brit archetype, again one who carries that sexual ambiguity, and again one who was found irresistible by many women (and men), a feeling to which I can relate.


And of course, Lord Lovat, the man who triggered off this entry, makes an excellent romantic hero as well:


There is hardly anything more endearing about the male sex, and I am not cynical or jaundiced here, than the trait, which sees something romantic, even if it is romantic evil, in Guderian, or Rommel, or Rundstedt. The great tragedy is that their women are meanwhile eloping with Evelyn Waugh's Ritchie-Hook.

Cross-posted at
Roncesvalles.

2 Comment(s):

Claudia said...

The only thing *I* see in the German officers is a horrible vacuum. They are mentally absent. They are not there, not even Rommel with his studied smile. I believe they came to life only in battle.

The_Editrix said...

Interesting point! You are certainly on to something there.

I cross-posted this entry here. There is a lifely discussion, which you may find interesting.