Mission: to make us face our true nature
When I fish, I do so in a manner intended to camouflage my presence from my intended prey. The lure I use is intended to deceive. Even the live bait I’ll occasionally use is intended to screen the presence of the hook.
Some of the fish I catch, bowfin and oscars, for example, have markings that look very much like an eye on their tails. People without theories such as those by Lamarck, Wallace, or Darwin have shown nice imagination in inventing just-so “explanations”: God did it; when Hwougho desired the mortal maiden Bo, he disguised Himself as a bull — his chief consort, Hwaghi, was so jealous that she ensorcelled Bo into a fish, but backwards: so she had eyes at both ends; the tiger chased Little Black Sambo around and around …
Evolutionary theorists are also full of explanations but of a far more rigorous nature. Evolution is a mill of efficiency. What advantage might the possessors of this or that characteristic have had over earlier versions of the life form without it? The forms of life that we example are organized between head and tail. Biologists can start a frog egg’s development toward embryohood by simply pricking it with a pin. Now the egg “knows” which “end” to make the tail. Therefore, it knows which end to make the head: and it can proceed. (This Batsonian point was intended for further development under information)
Large predators bring large prey down by attacking the hind end, but then kill at the head end. The lion claws the zebra’s genitals, then bites the downed zebra’s throat. Most predators attack small prey and go straight for the head. Fishermen like me place the hook in the head end of the plastic worm to (counter-)attack the bass’s attack to the head.
Some lizards have developed false “heads” by masking their tails. Attacked from the wrong end, they may survive. Some lizards drop their tail, leaving it in the confused predator’s mouth or thrashing on the ground where it may distract or confuse the predator long enough to delay pursuit. Similarly, some fish have “eyes” in their tail.
The reverse-engineering of evolutionary theory is stochastically, not divinely, “causal.” The “reason” comes from the results. Bass-ackerds from traditional “explanations.” More bowfin with eyes in the tail survived to breed than proto-“bowfin” without them … till all bowfin have eyes in the tail.
Men were deceivers ever.
Many delicate butterflies have huge “eyes” in their wings. The reverse-engineered message? “If I have eyes this large, then obviously I’m much too huge for you to bother to try eating.”
Predators and prey have co-evolved camouflage: the latter to screen their presence; the former to mask their approach.
But nature is nothing if not varied. Never more so than in our Cenozoic Period. Some creatures have chosen other methods to hunt and defend. There are creatures who poison their victims; others defend by poisoning their vanquisher: sainted ancestors sacrificed themselves till the predators learned. There are poisonous frogs and lizards whose next message was to develop and display bright colors: “if I’m this gaudy, obviously I’m not hiding note from you. Beware.”
The Life on Earth series, which David Attenborough indulged himself at the BBC by developing personally (thank goodness) beautifully illustrates myriad examples. He’s kept at it since: as have many others. I sketch a few examples here to emphasize the antiquity, ubiquity, and survival advantages of deception.
The “higher” life forms invent as well as inherit deceptions. We’ve done so in spades, parlaying rare breeding capacity (for apes), social organization, and a genius for deception (among other qualities) into the present population bomb and ecological crisis. Our need for social organization has bred a new variant on deception (one that at least I am not aware had much prior ancestry): self-deception. (See Survival [Link to be restored]).
There’s no deception
As has been already multiply hinted, stated, and argued throughout this site, I believe that we have multiplied an asset until it’s become a liability. Fooling ourselves while we fool others has gotten us here. But can it get us beyond here? “Here” can’t last much longer. Isn’t it time we undelude ourselves on at least the most critical issues?
But in my anxiousness to communicate my final points I’m getting ahead of my developments. Let me broaden our base with a more sophisticated example of camouflage for predation.
Screens & Masks:
Psychology & Predation
Once a near dozen of us had failed to raise much more than $1/day for the several years of FLEX‘s operation and my wife refused to continue to pay the bills, I determined that as impressive as I seemed to be at generating, conducting (as in an electrical relay), and expressing ideas, I was worthless at selling
them. I determined to learn salesmanship. Almost as short of time as I was of resources, I had no recourse but to teach myself. “Over night” as it were, I could sell ice to Inuit (though I still can’t seem to sell intelligence, reason, or survival).
My favorite selling is the easy kind: they want it; you have it or can get it for them. Yet I get a blood thrill when I use craft to make up note someone’s mind for them.
When I sell, I endeavor to read the prospect’s psychological profile. I try to determine what the prospect wants over and above the merchandise at hand. Does the prospect want color in a particular environment? That’s how I’ll present the art. Does the prospect wish to mask his Philistine character with the holy aura of culture? I’ve got him for sure.
You have to be open to weirdness. Perhaps I guess that some woman’s real intention in redecorating is to annoy her husband. I can accommodate her too. “This painting is museum quality. Kids make fun of it, but Peggy Guggenheim put Senator So-and-So in his place when …”
Before long, most of my selling was wholesale. Reading a prospect you’re meeting for the first time is akin to what fortune tellers and stage mentalists call a “cold reading.” Where you’ve researched the prospect in advance, the reading warms up considerably. In wholesale, you know at least one motive for sure: they want to make money. So it’s not art so much as money making that I sell to the would-be money makers note. Soon I was producing product for tax shelters. That’s like shooting fish in a barrel. Quality and sense are irrelevant. Only one thing is: warm-read the tax laws to guess how the government is inviting the rich to deceive note this oh-so-anxious-to-be-deceived government this year. Our government got into the business by pretending that it would tax even handedly: “with representation.” But the government is no fool; it knows its (short-term) safest course is to brown nose the rich. And so the American version of an all too familiar symbiosis develops.
Business is a kind of cooperative predation: those in business know more or less how they’re being done as well as how they’re doing. Business men are both predator and prey. One merchant I used to buy pipe tobacco from talked as though he aspired to harder stuff. “I’ve got a bunch of you on this one [brand] now.” Or, “Try this: you’ll be back.” It’s those not in business who are strictly the prey.
I mount draft two before including most of draft one. Since there’s important stuff there, I’ll just read it in here, properly incorporating it as soon as I can.
For millennia mankind has lied to himself about how special he is. More recently we’ve been standing that deception on its head. “We’re the worst. Only man …” And we offer litanies of our sins. Pride and ignorance before; pride and ignorance still: merely a drunken cybernetic stagger: still far from home.
Everything we do sends messages. Education gives us some measure of control over the impression [Link to be restored] we make. Lawrence Olivier can act like a Canuck fisherman; how many fishermen, Canadian or otherwise, can also play Henry II? Civilization is acting. Educated civilization is dangerous acting.
Hell has no fury like that of a culture unmasked.
In the context of Christianity’s character assassination of Attila
It’s your prom night. You pick up your date. She’s wearing white. She bleached her hair before you met her. You’ve showered and shaved. She’s showered and depilated. You’ve rented a tux. Her father skipped the car payment to buy her a gown. She’s borrowed her mother’s diamonds. You bring her a corsage …
If this describes neither your prom nor mine, it nevertheless describes plenty of others. Let’s examine a few of the elements. The existence of the prom indicates that you’re participating in an organized society, one which encourages mating so long as it’s supervised. Your date’s gown signifies virginity. (Who’s kidding whom? You’ve been fucking her for months. She wasn’t a virgin then. But) it’s the same white she’ll wear at your wedding. You’re impressed. So will everyone else be: regardless of what they “know” or suspect!
At a more basic level the fact that you’re both wearing clothes at all signifies a great deal. A) it signifies the same as the prom itself: organized human society. Over and above its function as shelter and body temperature control, clothing is a screen, a cover, a mask: assigned to us by that society for its own purposes. A principle masking function of clothing has to do with sexual merchandising (what you see is not what you get). The contents are hinted at. You’re supposed to have to buy it in order to remove the wrapping. Only then may you discover what’s real and what’s false. Another function of clothing concerns political and economic symbolism. Where are you in the pecking order? How much of the society’s resources flow to you?
2000 11 19
I write the way I read (and I bet I’m not alone among writers). Right now I’m reading DH Lawrence’s Women in Love (unspeakably great novel) simultaneous to finishing Stephen Jay Gould’s Full House: and a dozen other books, not to mention the hundreds of others I’m still somewhere short of the ending of. I write hundreds of essays “simultaneously.” Few are ever “finished.” Even those that not only have an “ending” but are polished as well, are still not final: not so long as I live and may yet have another wrinkle to add. My one published article is over and done with: but I’ve rewritten it — several times — since: just too late to get the changes and additions into the magazine version.
What brings me back to this long unfinished module at this time is that I want to add this thought without working in into the existing prose:
Clothing as magic: Does the graduate wear a mortar board to signify his education? to accomplish his education magically? to mask his very real ignorance? Those are all magical functions. Even more magical is the fact that the student doesn’t conceive of the mortar board for himself: it’s assigned to him. So the “real” magician is the school, the school board, the society as a whole … mislabeling goods already mislabeled to begin with. First the society assumes without verification that the child is ignorant in the first place. (don’t forget: Homer was “illiterate”; Shakespeare had “little Latin and less Greek.” So of what value are these standards?) After twelve years of steeping the child in the society’s standard brand ignorance, they label him educated: certified to belong, be made “useful.” Some few of the students may somehow manage to be truly educated: but what about the bulk of them? They’re all wearing mortar boards! (Or they’re not in the ceremony.)
2002 07 15
No, I’m not back to finish this module: I’m here fixing something but notice to say: I’m about to work into this Evolutionary History theme a caveat that we not confuse the species with the society. If the species is doomed then so too are all of its societies. On the other hand, a social species like ours might well fare better if some or all of its societies died. (I labor for the death of this one.)
(Another word on sexual merchandising: when I was a kid Western after Western showed the cowboy enter the lady’s hotel room (in Westerns everyone lived either on the range or in a hotel. Only the retired sheriff, now not only an old fart but a coward, lived in a house.) The lady didn’t waste time before going behind a screen to change her cloths. We sit while the cowboy stands while the lady tosses garment after undergarment onto the top of the screen. The cowboy maintains a manly silence while we go, Ooo, Ooo.
You want to see naked people? See Schindler’s List. So much live stock. Nothing sexy about it. No. To get the public ready to buy more popcorn, you need a highly suggestive screen. I was at a party in the East Village around 1969 or 1970 when girls were making a show of not wearing bras. An hour into the party, “half” the women had taken their tops off. A girl arrived in a coat. We all looked at her. She removed her coat. Ooo. No bra and her blouse was as sheer as sheer. The topless women might as well have been dressed as Eskimo. The veiled breast, otherwise very ordinary, had everyone’s attention.)
I’ll also add that, packaged together, the symbolic functions of clothing form the way in which man has long told himself that he’s distinct from the animals. The showering was part of that. The barnyard stinks, but not we prom-going predators.
The symbolic functions of clothing provide their own opportunities for further masking: has she stuffed her bra? Perhaps the manufacturer did it for her. Aren’t your shoulders padded? Black boxing champion Jack Johnson used to wrap his penis with gauze before putting on his warm up trunks. Then the bigots in the gym could gawk, thinking they were seeing the black myth in the flesh. Your tux sends the message that you, the male, will be a good provider. Actually, your date knows that not only are you too just in high school and that it’s your firm intention to postpone employment for as long as you can. It doesn’t matter: she’s impressed by the tux, just as you can’t help but go Goingg! when you see her stuffed bosom.
Her borrowed diamonds tell multiple ancient stories. Anyone can bet the bank that you’ll mistake their glitter for hers. They also tell the other females (as well as you and your fellow males) that though she has a date, she’s hasn’t altogether lost her independence. The more oppressed a society’s females are, the more silver bracelets they wear. Indian women are saying, “See? I could be independent if I wanted to be.” After long enough, we begin to believe our own protestations.
The bleach too tells many tales: some ancient, some new. Blond, like the white dress, signifies virginity. Not only that: holiness: the ladder to God. Bleach is the American version of virginity. Harlow. Mae West. Marilyn Monroe. We’re Americans: we can fuck all we want and still be holy virgins. We don’t need to keep no covenants: we’ve got God by the short hairs. We stole Eden; we’ll steal heaven too note.
Shaving and depilating is another cover. It’s how we human camouflage our true nature. Stephen Jay Gould is one of a number of biologists, zoologists, anthropologists, and psychologists who’ve discussed this well. We’re predators. Primate mammalian animals. It’s the mature predator who’s dangerous. Who, me? Look. There’s no hair on my face. I’m not dangerous. I’m too young to be dangerous. (I bet Ike’s baby face fooled a lot of generals. (I’m too young to have hair even on my head.) It certainly fooled a lot of voters.)
2002 07 15
I just notice: I made the same point in the related module, “Covers.”
Her legs say, “I’m really virginal. Just barely in puberty. See? No hair on my legs.”
Gould notes the routine manner in which fashion masks both male and female as just barely pubescent. We want to be just old enough to mate but to appear to be too young to endanger our prey: voters, clients, customers, mates … We won’t fool the lions. They know. When I wade in the lake, huge ‘gators go crashing for the deep water. ‘Gators are like the Irish; they remember.
You give her her corsage. An orchid. More signals of affluence. And, as James Agee discussed half a century ago, one of nature’s most obscene displays: the sexual parts of a plant: labia, stamens, scent, color: wow! A little suggestive? But society is all for suggestion. So long as it — society — has approved it and then forgotten the reason in its forebrain.
There are any number of good books and documentaries on this subject. My Thinking Tools Primer mentions several. Here I’ll emphasize Desmond Morris, Owen Lovejoy, and SJ Gould. Dr. Paul Quinnett’s fishing books are treasures of evolutionary wisdom: Pavlov’s Trout and Darwin’s Bass. Jared Diamond’s evolutionary wisdom is the most penetrating I’ve seen. The Third Chimpanzee will introduce you to yourself for perhaps the first real time. For culture and history, see his Guns, Germs, and Steel.
This piece ventures on some of these themes under the rubric of Evolution. Related pieces are salted under other headings:
See also: Magical Covers, Illusion …
Throughout all my directories the following step is implicit. I have to develop the point as strongly as it deserves: law is a cover for organized theft. Ditto religion: not We’re stealing your land; rather God has given us your land. Manifest Destiny is the atheist’s euphemism for God.
(I swear: the way we behave? everyone must be an atheist!)
Deception has seldom been more subtle or effective than when the United States military promoted Dwight D. Eisenhower to Five Star General. The allies, Churchill, DeGaul … knew that they were opportunistic predators. What were they to make of Ike? Listen to or read Churchill’s rhetoric. Ike couldn’t even talk straight. He looked like a baby: as in like stealing candy from … He didn’t even have hair! I’m too young and innocent to have hair even on top of my head.
Really now? Then how come US came away with all the marbles? Churchill went into the war the superstar imperialist. After a little US “charity,” they all went away as old men.
2006 07 05
Why do we lie?
Many animals engage in deception, or deliberately misleading another, but only humans are wired to deceive both themselves and others, researchers say. People are so engaged in managing how others perceive them that they are often unable to separate truth from fiction in their own minds.
@ K. 1997 07 26
Notes’ Note: I’m now moving some of these notes to my Personal Stories folder. Once done, maybe I’ll come back and delete them here, leaving only the links.
Not hiding: Gaudy Deception
I’ve succeeded with this tactic myself. One night I’d had far too many beers at the Whitehorse. By the time the IRT local picked me up at Sheridan Square it was pretty late and I decided to skip switching to the express at 14th Street and then back to a Broadway local at 96th Street. Rickety-clack, I keep trying to wake up for 116th Street so as not to find myself minus my watch and who knows what else, being kicked by the guard at VanCourtland Park. Sure enough. It’s blurry, but the tiles seem to say 116. But something’s wrong. The letters are not the baby blue of Columbia. Oh Jesus, I was too sodden to notice that the local was the Seventh Ave Line; not Broadway.
So, I’m in Harlem. 116th & 7th; not 116th on Morningside Heights. I’ll have to cross the street. Repay. Wait forever for the downtown local. Wake up again by 96th Street. Switch to the Broadway train I should have waited for in the first place. I’ll have missed two classes by the time I get back (instead of merely sleeping through them.)
Or, I could hike up through the dread Morningside Park they spent so much time warning us against in Freshman Orientation. What the hell. My life is already supposedly at risk. How much worse would it be? Larry says he goes down into the park all the time. (Yeah, but Larry went there so he could kill people! Defending himself!) With any luck I’ll be back in the dorm by 6 AM.
I’m still alive when I get to the park. Of course I could still walk down to 110th and go around it. No, man, I’m too tired.
I start climbing the steps. Whoops. A whole gang of shadows are moving toward me. Oh well, I never expected to live to see twenty anyway.
Think fast, you muddle-brain. I was already lurching. I exaggerated it. I started to giggle. I put my hand in my pocket and made my fingers itchy. I left the steps and entered the trees, moving toward them.
They evaporated. The shadows had clustered; now they were dispersing, muttering in Spanish.
I succeeded in surviving with variations of the same trick on other occasions. I’ll give one more example: 1976ish.
The CEO of FLEX is now the CEO of PK Fine Arts, Ltd. The CEO is crippled, my lower back problems getting jump started in my middle-late thirties. I come out of the bank on Broadway and head toward home and office at Riverside Drive. Three dudes drinking beer outside the welfare hotel perk up. “There’s money,” one says. They form a triangle around me. I’m in so much pain as it is, I can’t bear the thought of any more.
I’m a slender 5’8″, maybe 135 at the time. The guy who spoke was maybe 6’2″. Flab over beef. I alter my course straight for him. I get impolitely close. Right in his face I say, “Are you talking to me?
Apparently not. The triangle dissolved.
There are those who disapprove of gambling but who forget their scruples when invited to the track. There are others who disapprove of gambling who nevertheless become degenerate at it. I have always disapproved of gambling and remain almost a virgin as I reach sixty. With regard to poker and the horses that is.
With my life, I have always gambled [Link to be restored] freely.
Make Up Someone’s Mind:
This example is only mildly psychological, so I move it to a note.
I taught myself selling on my feet in a hugely misconceived graphics gallery. The place was gargantuan: something like 20,000 square feet of floor space just on the ground floor. Subdivided into numerous nooks, the wall space was as close to fractal as two-dimensional architecture got. The inventory was mostly crap graphics: multiple pseudo-originals for people who acquired their taste from the soap box isle of the supermarket (and/or from skin magazines). A staff of seventeen had failed to sell a thing at the gallery’s grand opening or in the ensuing couple of days. I’d joined the sales staff in desperation. The company would dole the staff along but any real income could come only from commissions: just the way I wanted it. But they had to bring the selling opportunities. Thus far, they hadn’t.
Yet one young woman had visited repeatedly. The past couple of times she’d settled in front of a wall of lithographs reminiscent of the Fauves. They were inexpensive as “art” goes, but at least she seemed to gravitate to the two largest and highest priced of the low prices. Maximally, success will earn me $12. I need to sell one of these every couple of minutes. (I didn’t just need to eat: I was determined to finance FLEX myself.)
I was desperate. Suddenly it came to me: a light came on in my head explaining why nothing had sold: the walls had a surface tension, a psychological glue. The graphics were stuck there, mentally adhered. The joint was too carefully hung! (The manager’s husband and I had thrown them up like throwing darts but they appeared to be composed. One veteran shop gofer plus one museum nut hanging a thousand frames in twelve hours get good at it.)
“You know,” I said, “my read is that you prefer this one just ever so.” (They were as like as two playing cards.) “But I don’t think the light is right for it here.” I lifted the damn thing off its hook and she followed me toward the Third Avenue sun at the window.
That didn’t improve it a bit in my mind, but the prospect gasped. “Hah!” And out came her check book. That’s what a salesman calls the close.
After that, I could “take them off the wall” for the client by mental suggestion. That’s the only one I ever physically touched prior to invoice and wrapping time. I made the first sale, the first three figure sale, the first four figure sale, the first multiple sale, the first sale of their top star, the first sale of their second star, the first multiple sale of their star, etc. Seventeen of us, and no one else was selling squat. After a month they put me in charge of the gallery on Madison Avenue — the Whitney on one side and Southby’s across the street — which had been their original outlet.
Within a year they’d closed the white elephant. But by then I was being used as a publishing consultant and within another few months PK Fine Arts, Ltd. was in competition against my former employer.
Money Makers: Commercial Manipulation
I meet a gallery owner for the first time. Out comes the portfolio. I turn one, I turn two, I turn three: “Blah,” here and “blah” there. If I don’t see an order forming by the time I’ve turned and chatted about a dozen, one of my options, depending on my continuing “reading,” is to close it up and start the zipper.
“I’m sorry. I’m wasting our time here. I had thought you wanted to make money.”
“Wait a minute. Take it easy. Of course I want to make money.”
“Then why haven’t you bought any of the hot items I’ve already shown you?”
“Uh, which were they again?”
Unzip. “Here: Jerry bought four of these before the ink was dry and had ordered four more by the time I’d deposited the first check. Here: Gertrude had this framed and in the window before I’d gotten everything back in the car. Back in the neighborhood the next morning, it was gone.”
The stories I’d tell were always true. But lies would have worked the same. For a time anyway. Even the implications were usually true: my clients usually did resell their purchases.
(The next line above refers to selling the “art” as “product”: isn’t that the most gorgeously meretricious diction?)
Deceive the Government: Tax Shelters
One Philadelphia lawyer decided that since Congress allowed depreciation on the machinery and tools of production, the “plate” used in printing art might pass the new regulations for recognition as such a tool. So he was buying and selling volumes of copyrights of art images and commissioning the production of plates and “original” limited editions.
He knew nothing about art or the marketing of it. That’s where I came in.
The problem is, few modern editions are made from a single “plate.” In no cases were the plates regarded as permanent tools. Honor note bound artists and ateliers to destroy, or at least mark as canceled, the plate from which a limited edition (which required just one plate — a single color etching, for example) had been made. In the case of silk-screen printing, the “plate” is washed from the screen at the end of each color run: or, if the “plate” is created by cut acetate, the acetate is peeled off and discarded. You couldn’t put it back right if you tried.
The production guy in the deals I was in on (I later learned) had the atelier make a set of phony “plates” to show the IRS. These were the plates that were sold with the copyright to the doctors and dentists and plumbers who suddenly decided, typically at fifteen minutes before midnight of December 31 that they didn’t want Uncle taking 50% of their nice income. The lawyer had an office on the top floor of a building facing Franklin Park. You could have landed a Cessna on his carpet (had the roof been removed): a pilot like Phil Lockwood or John Hunter could have landed their AirCam ultra-light within the length of the lawyer’s always clear desk top. The lawyer filled his office annually at New Years with the prospects his shelter salesmen had found. The salesmen had been hammering them for five or six months. But 90% of the closes came just before midnight.
All the tax shelter lawyers would have been open and active at midnight, but my guy had them right there, feeding them cocktails.
When one edition of lithographs was ready I was surprised at its quality. It was by an artist I’d thought I’d succeeded in vetoing. But the lawyer must have made some special deals involving additional kick backs, so, if I wanted the up-front money, I was stuck with it. I phoned the buyer to tell him how “nice” his lithographs looked.
“Hello, Mr. Smith? This is Paul Knatz, PK Fine Arts, Ltd., the distributor of your Joe Blow edition.”
“Sorry, I don’t know you. You have the wrong number.”
“Just a moment: weren’t you in a certain office on Franklin Square in Philadelphia sometime before midnight, December 31 of last year?
“Did you not buy something while you were there?
“… Uh, yes.”
“Do you remember what you bought?
“… Well … Some oil wells, some movies, some mining rights …”
“And the copyright with production plates for a multiple original lithograph by New York marine artist Joe Blow.”
“Who are you again?
“Paul Knatz, PK Fine Arts, Ltd. Your distributor.”
“And why are you calling me?
“I’ve called to tell you that your edition is ready. I think the chromist and printer did a pretty good job. I’m not sure when I’ll be releasing it, but it’s safe in the warehouse.”
“Oh. Really? How nice of you to call.
No one knew whether Congress would swallow or choke on the silk-screen “plates,” so this particular lawyer concentrated on railroads the following year. He bought a rusty half mile of unused siding and parked a dilapidated freight car on it. He filled the car with something like sawdust and sold time shares on the inventory at $30,000 the half-hour! He sold a lot of time shares. Still he was unhappy: for yet another year (late ’70s) his personal income was not quite seven figures.
The other tax shelter group I worked with wasn’t so altogether sleazy. Others, that my colleague-competitors dealt with, covered the diapason. There was one particular building on Madison Avenue that houses a great deal of such traffic. Going up on the elevators the sharks would recognize their ilk and tele-ID themselves:
They’d look at me. “Product.” Everyone but me had the eye glint of amyl nitrate if not coke. Or maybe each thought I had it too and he was the only one who didn’t.
There was another thing that killed me. After the signing, the buyer’s lawyers would call me, asking me to explain the contract to them! I always did my best. (Alas, I never sent my own legal consultant’s bill.)
The poor sense that something is fishy but few decipher the real sense of it. Foutû encore, as the French say.
Heaven Too: Bleached Blond Symbolism
See the writings of Leslie Fiedler, Love and Death in the American Novel in particular.
But of course commercial societies have no honor. Honor breeds from tradition, a stable economy … like the king owning everything but subsidizing a few knights.