Friday, February 25, 2011

On Beards & Dualism

When we think of manliness, we often think of a rugged face decorated with a sweet beard.  It may be the Jeremiah Johnson, the type of thick, woolen shag that could double over as a scarf if need be.  There's no doubt that this is man becoming one with the wilderness.  If the J Johnson is left to its own devices, (and let's face it, what control do we have over such things?) it continues to grow until it reaches the Robert E. Lee.  This beard emits civility and calmness for everyone around, and the wearer is turned into a distinguished sort of fellow.  And if this beard is snowy in color, one very likely may be a long-dead President.  Yet the R.E.L. is not the end of beardom.  There are many other types and styles, ranging from the close-knitted facial scruff to the survivalist beards of the post apocalypse.  Infinite possibilities with the facial hair.

Yes, a beard, a thick mess of hair on the face, this is manliness.  But somehow there exists a dualistic problem that presents a dilemma that needs a resolution from the conflict it produced to start a problem that presented the dilemma that needed the resolution which I'm seeking.  (What?)

I'm talking about the straight razor.  Lethal and aged, shaving with a straight razor also exhibits manliness.  Shunning modern machines and toys, the straight razor is all manner of seriousness when it comes to grooming.  It requires love and maintenance and a little more time, but its results are either an incredibly smooth face or an accidentally cut jugular.  There's no denying that taking such a dangerous tool and scraping it across your face isn't manly, and really, shaving with anything less is just a cop out.

Hence, the dilemma.  How can it be manly to have both a sweet beard but to also shave with a straight razor?  The dualism blows my mind's eye's mind.  It just doesn't make sense to me.

Of course, there are many more aspects to manliness than facial hair or the lack thereof, but this quandary must be worked out.  Any solutions?

Note:  My face has been bearded since September or October of 2010.  On a whim I decided to shave it all off last night.  I'm no longer sure who I'm looking at in the mirror, but his large chin seems much more noticeable. 

Post Note:  Happy Friday.  I was going to put up a new flash fic serial, but it has a few kinks that need working out.  Maybe next week.

13 comments:

Bill said...

Truly it is a duality of manhood that BOTH bearded and clean-shaven can be manly.

The best resource I've found for such questions, however, is the excellent web log, The Art of Manliness.

contemplatrix said...

Great post! glad you used manliness instead of masculinity, cause the straight razor conversation would have been uncomfortable.

I agree with Bill.. and I was going to recommend that blog, too.

fortunately for the husband, I don't equate beards with manliness, though he does use a straight-razor occasionally--have to think if that makes the equation. I think Sean is trying to switch over to the razor (his granddad's unused one--the sustainability and all that of a straight razor.. I think there was a post fairly recently about that on The Art of Manliness.

--so my dad can grow a crazy zz top beard. but he always keeps his mustache which has moved from that hitler trim to the curl at the corners with wax thing over time. anyway. he would grow out his beard to play santa then he would shave after christmas and holy crap he would scare us good when we'd come down for breakfast.. that clean jaw and cleft chin, mom was the only one who was pleased.

~L

Keisha said...

@Bill: Indeed, it was an article from the Art of Manliness that led to this train of thought. That's a fantastic site.

@L: Yes, manliness was purposely chosen. It just sounds better that the effeminate "masculinity" word. Your dad's beard sounds legendary.

logankstewart said...

Gah! I wasn't signed in under my own account! Been playing around with gmail settings...

Paula Titus said...

Awesome post! I guess I don't know much about beards, I just use tweezers on mine.

Angie said...

Heehee. Good post. Glad I don't have to worry about that dilemma.

Carl V. said...

I sport the van dyke and have for decades now. Cannot imagine being without facial hair, despite the fact that my beard is showing the gray much more than the hair on top of my head.

I can dig that manliness. But I'm not manly enough to try the straight razor. No siree. I'm not sure I could actually go into a place and have someone else shave me with a straight razor either. Just not that brave.

David Wagner said...

I only use a straight razor to shave my legs. That's extra-manly...

logankstewart said...

@Paula: Ouch. I only use tweezers when I have to.

@Angie: Hahaha, yeah, so is my wife.

@Carl: Oh man, having a barber use a straight razor and warm shaving cream on you is quite pleasant. I've not been to a barber in a long time, but the shave alone is worth it.

@Dave: Ack! Cannot comprehend. BSOD. Syntax error.

Jay Belt said...

I've been sporting a full beard since 2005, before that it was a masterson from 2000, and before that I was clean shaven. I'd like to make up something about manliness and etc etc, but really it's just laziness in daily grooming. I've come to enjoy being lazy. Plus I think it hides the spare chins better.

logankstewart said...

@Jay: Aye, it's definitely a lazy thing. That's part of the reason I grew mine out. Shaving is just a waste of time on something very trivial.

Human[cubed] said...

Hahaha. Great post. I only use my straight razor to kill people. Doesn't get more manly.

logankstewart said...

@Human[cubed]: Indeed! I prefer my bare hands when it comes to this unlovely case... ;)