Pass the Ferrero Rocher

by Kieran Healy on June 13, 2011

Via Jonathan Davis on the Twitter, the Registration form for the Royal Opera House, which comes with the best drop-down box ever devised. Choose your title! I fear “HE The French Ambassador M” may be taken, however.

Your Majesty

{ 102 comments }

1

Niall McAuley 06.13.11 at 4:50 pm

Oh-oh!

I hope they appreciate the free performance testing they just got…

2

Myles 06.13.11 at 4:54 pm

At the very bottom, there’s “Viscount and Viscountess.” I’m wondering how one could simultaneously be both.

3

Gareth Rees 06.13.11 at 5:02 pm

I see that “Comrade” and “Citizen” are missing from the list.

4

Red 06.13.11 at 5:06 pm

I like “Hon”. When I order a coffee here at the local Dunkin’ Donuts, the nice lady always says: “Here you go, hon.”

5

peter ramus 06.13.11 at 5:07 pm


Duke of
Earl

6

Thuringwethil 06.13.11 at 5:10 pm

Curiously they seem to have left off Admiral and all of its permutations. Clearly realtions between the Roayl Opera and the Senior Service are some what strained.

7

alph 06.13.11 at 5:12 pm

“Comdr”??

If they have in mind the Royal Navy rank of commander, oughtn’t they abbreviate to “Cdr”?

8

dsquared 06.13.11 at 5:14 pm

Commodore, I think.

9

LizardBreath 06.13.11 at 5:15 pm

What nouns are available after the title “HRH The” (other than Prince and Princess, listed separately)?

10

alph 06.13.11 at 5:16 pm

But it looks like Commodore goes to “Cdre”, not “Comdr”. And they don’t tend to provide abbreviations alongside full expansions in most other cases, do they?

11

Myles 06.13.11 at 5:18 pm

“Duke of
Earl”

Interestingly, this is actually correct usage. (I don’t know why they added “Earl of” below that.) Only dukes and marquesses are “of” Placename XYZ, earls have the XYZ follow directly.

12

dsquared 06.13.11 at 5:23 pm

#9 Duchess of Cornwall (ie Camilla) or HRH the Duke of (or HRH the Duchess of for that matter) Kent. The Duke of Kent is also a Prince, but not the kind of Prince that outranks a Duke.

13

RK 06.13.11 at 5:26 pm

Myles: It depends on the earldom, doesn’t it? Compare the Earl of Arundel to Earl Spencer — the former is a geographical location, while the latter is derived from a name.

14

peter ramus 06.13.11 at 5:26 pm

Interestingly, this is actually correct usage.

Yes, Myles, it certainly is.

15

alph 06.13.11 at 5:30 pm

Interestingly, Myles is just as wrong here as on most topics.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_earldoms#Earldoms_in_the_Peerages_of_the_United_Kingdom_and_Ireland.2C_1801.E2.80.93present

Wherever the title is toponymic, there’s an “of”, from Earl of Ancaster to Earl of Wessex.

(Setting aside the fact that he was missing Petrus Ramus’ joke to begin with).

16

Myles 06.13.11 at 5:40 pm

The Duke of Kent is also a Prince, but not the kind of Prince that outranks a Duke.

This is somewhat imprecise. A British prince is a dignity, not a rank within the peerage, which legally speaking is the only one that counts. Thus the agnatic heir of the Hanovers, the Duke of Brunswick, is a Prince of Great Britain and Ireland, even though he’s not actually British. But he has no official position within the peerage (because his British peerages, chiefly the Cumberland dukedom, were forfeited during WWI for services to Germany, and he has not yet reclaimed them). As far as the British system concerned, a substantive foreign prince could no more than be equivalent to a duke. (It’s an entirely academic discussion, anyway, because no one in their right mind would thik that there’s actually any difference in status between someone titled a duke and one titled a marquess based purely on the title.)

Myles: It depends on the earldom, doesn’t it? Compare the Earl of Arundel to Earl Spencer—the former is a geographical location, while the latter is derived from a name.

Yes, but not in the way you think. The Arundel earldom is one of the oldest, so it predates the creation of titles by letters patent. Instead, like most medieval titles, it was probably created either by tenure or by writ. (Don’t quote me on this; the baronies-by-tenure are really iffy.)

17

Myles 06.13.11 at 5:42 pm

Wherever the title is toponymic, there’s an “of”, from Earl of Ancaster to Earl of Wessex.

Well then I give up. Bleh, aristocracy.

18

jim 06.13.11 at 5:47 pm

Viscondessa, but not Gräfin?

19

Nine 06.13.11 at 6:10 pm

Why so specific on the French Ambassador ? Is it some obscure protocol ? There’s none for the German Chancellor or the King of Sweden etc or for any other Ambassadkr.

20

marcel 06.13.11 at 6:31 pm

And here, I thought Myles was just making a reference to this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pkU6E1v4bhw

21

praisegod barebones 06.13.11 at 6:34 pm

I was hoping that it would end with ‘other (please specify)’. But I guess Gareth Rees @ 3 is the reason why we can’t have nice things.

22

Bloix 06.13.11 at 7:05 pm

What’s a princessin? A prinzessin is a German princess, but a princessin?

23

HP 06.13.11 at 7:14 pm

When the backstory becomes this complex, clearly it’s time for a continuity reboot. Start over with a clean slate.

Call it “The European Great Houses: Aristo Prime.”

24

praisegod barebones 06.13.11 at 7:20 pm

I also like the box for ‘internet salutation’, which is presumably there to ensure (eg) that Elizabeth Windsor gets addressed as ‘Your Royal Highness’ in mass emails.

Nine@19: my guess is that they were working off an old mailing list.

25

ejh 06.13.11 at 7:22 pm

Is this a new thing? I don’t recall being offered all these options when I registered some years ago. But maybe I was, and thought nothing of it.

26

phosphorious 06.13.11 at 7:40 pm

No “Padishah Emperor?”

They have “Reverend Father” but no “Reverend Mother?” No “Honored Matres?”

My God. . . it’s like the Butlerian Jihad never happened!

27

BM 06.13.11 at 7:50 pm

An odd subset of the clergy. “Father” and “Sister”, but not “Brother”? “Rev. Mgr.” but not “Bishop” or “Archbishop”? Of course no “Metropolitan” or “Patriarchical Exarch” but I can’t say I’m surprised.

28

Davis X. Machina 06.13.11 at 8:00 pm

Which title goes with the internet salutation ‘Yo, dude…’?

29

VV 06.13.11 at 8:33 pm

See also here: http://www.boingboing.net/2011/06/08/comprehensive-list-o-1.html
and here: http://www.britishairways.com/travel/inet/public/en_gb

The Opera house missed the big one: King of Kings, Lord of Lords, Conquering Lion of the Tribe of Judah, and Elect of God.

30

Bexley 06.13.11 at 8:57 pm

So where is “President for life” or “last King of Scotland”?

31

StephenJohnson 06.13.11 at 8:59 pm

Missed the Pope, too.

Bloody roundheads!

32

His Mouldiness the Tope 06.13.11 at 9:06 pm

I am offended.

33

candle 06.13.11 at 9:14 pm

Which title goes with the internet salutation ‘Yo, dude…’?

That would be “The Rt Hon Anthony Charles Lynton Blair, MP”, if I remember correctly.

34

Ajay 06.13.11 at 9:32 pm

The Royal Opera House is not the only English website to offer such a range of titles. The former student occupant of our place in England dubbed himself ‘Sir…’ to one organisation, and ‘Earl…’ to another, which made redirecting his mail a little more amusing than it might otherwise have been.

I remember being sorely tempted by ‘Patriarch’ in one such list, just to see if they were keeping track.

35

Frank ashe 06.13.11 at 9:34 pm

She, Who Must be Obeyed ?

36

Hidari 06.13.11 at 9:37 pm

Following on from comment 3, I notice there is no ‘Running Dogs of the Bourgeoisie’ on the list either. Which is a shame, because if there had been…..(etc. etc.)

37

Alex 06.13.11 at 10:20 pm

A prinzessin is a German princess, but a princessin?

Technically, this could have been pre-1914 Austrian spelling, but I somehow doubt it.

And I like the image of a French diplomat carefully rejecting “Ambassador” and “HE Ambassador” and typing in “HE The French Ambassador M.”

This is, of course, a reminder that data validation is a total bastard to get right.

38

garymar 06.13.11 at 10:25 pm

Wth a quick glance to the bottom of the screen shot I saw

Judge
King

and half expected it to continue with

Numbers
Deuteronomy

39

Phil 06.13.11 at 10:32 pm

An ex-coworker personally coded a list like this into a front end to an insurance quotation engine. His boss eventually agreed to let him keep “Duke”, “General” etc, but drew the line at “Pope”.

I like the fact that they’re catering for His and Her Serene Highnesses, whoever their highnesses may actually be.

40

Alex 06.13.11 at 10:36 pm

Also, amused by image of the Pope thinking “Bloody hell, this trip to Knifecrime Island’s going to cost a fortune. How will I get that past the Congregation for the Expenses of the Faith? Thank God for infallibility…”

AF: M., Mme, Mlle, and c’est tout.
LH: Mr., Mrs., plus Academic Status: Dr, Prof, Prof-Dr.
IB: their website doesn’t work with non-Microsoft browsers

41

Alex 06.13.11 at 10:37 pm

His boss eventually agreed to let him keep “Duke”, “General” etc, but drew the line at “Pope”.

His Holiness is in the BA list, presumably because he flew BA on his trip here.

42

phosphorious 06.13.11 at 10:41 pm

No “High Evolutionary.”

No “Imperious Rex.”

No “H.N.I.C.”

No “Dance Commander.”

It’s like they don’t even want people to come to their opera.

43

William Timberman 06.14.11 at 12:05 am

And so fare thee well: Thou never shalt hear herald any more. On this side of the Atlantic anyway. Just be thankful that on the Internet, no one can tell that you’re a dog.

44

Chrisb 06.14.11 at 1:07 am

Myles says “the baronies-by-tenure are really iffy…”
Having just last night dipped into Randolph Churchill’s book on the Royal Household I can say firmly that titles by tenure (such as “Earl of Arundel”, which used to mean that whoever owned the castle owned the Earldom) have now been definitively ruled out by a number of senior legal precedents on the grounds that if a title by tenure was disputed that would have to be heard in the ordinary courts where questions of tenure belonged, whereas questions as to who is the proper holder of a seat in parliament can only be adjudicated by the parliament. Mind you, I don’t know that Arundel’s on the market – the Duke of Norfolk (Earl of Arundel, Earl of Surrey, Earl of Norfolk, Baron Beaumont, Baron Maltravers, Baron Clun, Baron Oswaldestre, Baron Howard of Glossop, Earl Marshal and hereditary Marshal of England) isn’t that hard up right now.

45

CapnMidnight 06.14.11 at 1:16 am

Ser?
Khal & Khaleesi?

46

Myles 06.14.11 at 1:51 am

Mind you, I don’t know that Arundel’s on the market – the Duke of Norfolk (Earl of Arundel, Earl of Surrey, Earl of Norfolk, Baron Beaumont, Baron Maltravers, Baron Clun, Baron Oswaldestre, Baron Howard of Glossop, Earl Marshal and hereditary Marshal of England) isn’t that hard up right now.

I suspect Norfolk is one of those land-rich, cash-poor nobles. God knows how much money he has tied up in paintings and that sort of thing, which you basically can’t sell unless in serious financial distress, but nonetheless are not producing income. That’s not to mention that agricultural land is generally not ideal for long-term portfolio values unless converted to recreational or vacation property.

I’m not personally sympathetic to the landed aristocracy, because over the generations they have shown an alarming tendency to become dimmer and dimmer, not to mention subscribe to some really silly ideas. And while from a libertarian perspective they should be allowed to be as dim and silly as they wish (and can afford to), the titled nobility do drag the bourgeoisie (especially what in French was known as the grande bourgeoisie), who don’t incline toward that kind of nonsense, down with them. The quicker the death of the titled aristocracy as a class the happier I am.

47

hellblazer 06.14.11 at 1:56 am

Anyone else find the combination of words “web salutation” slightly bizarre, or like something from Bill & Ted?

48

Bill Murray 06.14.11 at 2:21 am

“At the very bottom, there’s “Viscount and Viscountess.” I’m wondering how one could simultaneously be both.”

Hermaphrodite?

49

HP 06.14.11 at 3:11 am

“At the very bottom, there’s “Viscount and Viscountess.” I’m wondering how one could simultaneously be both.”

I’m wondering how one could want to be anything less.

50

Glen Tomkins 06.14.11 at 3:55 am

I’m really quite democratic in these matters, and make no fuss at all as long as people are careful to address me as “Your Enormity”, always kiss the ring as part of their greeting, and never fail to strike fist to forehead should they mention my name in my absence.

51

TheSophist 06.14.11 at 6:15 am

Not even a Thane or a Shirriff (I think that’s how it was spelled?) Clear discrimination against halflings. But then there’s neither a Steward or an Elvenking, and you’d think that King under the Mountain would warrant a separate entry…

52

ejh 06.14.11 at 7:24 am

because over the generations they have shown an alarming tendency to become dimmer and dimmer, not to mention subscribe to some really silly ideas

They took generations to do this. You, however…

53

bad Jim 06.14.11 at 7:35 am

“Mr and the Hon Mrs” is rather striking. It would be better than the way my mother and I sometimes get credited as donors: Mr. and Mrs. James (etc) Jr.

None of the titles I’ve held are on offer: Director, Manager, Vice President, Senior Systems Synthesist (and if that self-designed title seems absurdly nerdly, I used to know a very capable guy whose card read “metrologist”).

54

Keir 06.14.11 at 8:10 am

No Nawab, which is odd, or Maharajah. Not even Raja.

55

bad Jim 06.14.11 at 8:21 am

For what it’s worth, on my last visit to London I dropped into Covent Garden to see what was on and was able to buy a ticket to the world premiere of “1984”. The London opera crowd, as far as I could tell, was not notably better attired than its southern California counterparts, and I did not feel out of place in my expeditionary attire (which included a tie). We, the crowd, loved the piece, the critics savaged it, so I was gratified to see it on the menu at La Scala two years later.

I’m inclined to think well of any venue that lets me have a glass of wine before the show and another glass and a smoke at intermission. Highly recommended.

56

chris y 06.14.11 at 9:46 am

The most glaring omission must be HM. “King” is inserted below “Judge”, as if a mere mortal. I wondered about Emperors, but maybe the Japanese don’t enjoy opera. I think tht’s the only one left.

57

Phil 06.14.11 at 9:50 am

I’m inclined to think well of any venue that lets me have a glass of wine before the show and another glass and a smoke at intermission.

Do you go to the theatre much?

58

ajay 06.14.11 at 12:07 pm

At the very bottom, there’s “Viscount and Viscountess.” I’m wondering how one could simultaneously be both.

Clearly Viscounts only ever go to the opera when the missus drags them along. (I only know one viscount, and, being single, he’s never been to the opera at all.)

The Opera house missed the big one: King of Kings, Lord of Lords, Conquering Lion of the Tribe of Judah, and Elect of God.

He’s been dead since 1997, if Wikipedia is correct, and the title has not descended to the Crown Prince.

And what is a W Baron? (Last one on the list before Wing Commander).

33, incidentally, wasn’t me. I don’t have a problem with it particularly, I just didn’t write it.

59

skidmarx 06.14.11 at 1:25 pm

What’s a princessin?
A dress? Unless she’s the Empress Who Wears No Clothes.
At the very bottom, there’s “Viscount and Viscountess”.
That just takes the biscuit. And his spouse.

60

Tim Worstall 06.14.11 at 1:55 pm

“Mr and the Hon Mrs” is rather striking.

Daughter of a lesser peer marries a commoner. I know one such couple and do rather snigger about it when they’re being formal…..

“I suspect Norfolk is one of those land-rich, cash-poor nobles.”

I’d suspected the opposite but on looking it up I’m wrong. 40,000 odd acres of Sussex to their name. The reason I thoought they’d not got much land was that they’ve been Papists all along and more than one of them were executed for being such or rebellious in general. And in such cases usually the land reverts to the Crown.

Worstall wrong: such a surprise, eh?

61

Niall McAuley 06.14.11 at 1:59 pm

skidmarx writes: That just takes the biscuit.

Nice.

62

chris y 06.14.11 at 2:01 pm

I don’t have a problem with it particularly, I just didn’t write it.

Weird shit.

63

chris y 06.14.11 at 2:12 pm

And what is a W Baron?

I fear a W Baron is further evidence to support the hypothesis upthread that this was populated by a not very intelligent piece of software. What we have here is probably dear old Bill Baron Smith of the Waterbury Baron Smiths, a retired bank manager and amateur viola player.

64

Maneki Nekko 06.14.11 at 2:19 pm

Rabbi is included but not imam or mullah.

65

Myles 06.14.11 at 2:32 pm

The reason I thoought they’d not got much land was that they’ve been Papists all along and more than one of them were executed for being such or rebellious in general. And in such cases usually the land reverts to the Crown.

Ah. Well before the Great Reform Act of 1832, Norfolk was notorious for controlling no less than one dozen pocket boroughs in the House of Commons. So he had to have had pretty extensive land holdings.

40,000 odd acres of Sussex to their name.

How much is that worth, approximately? What about income-wise?

They took generations to do this. You, however…

Oh bugger off. The British aristocracy subscribes to an entirely different species of stupid, one that would be entirely harmless were they not the aristocracy.

None of the titles I’ve held are on offer: Director, Manager, Vice President, Senior Systems Synthesist

I always thought it was very good of English-speaking countries to treat corporate and vocational titles with ambivalent contempt. At the root of it, I think, is our instinct that to be defined by what we do for a living, rather than who we are as individuals, is slightly ridiculous. The German obsession with titles always struck me as creepy and unsettling.

66

chris y 06.14.11 at 2:55 pm

How much is that worth, approximately? What about income-wise?

As much as you want to charge. Prime London wealthy commuter country.

67

AntiAlias 06.14.11 at 4:15 pm

No Grandes de España either. And though not a lot, sure they are more Grandes than Popes.

And as long as the distinction is made between “Marquis” and “Marchese”, shouldn’t they list Margraves and Marqueses as well?

68

hellblazer 06.15.11 at 1:57 am

At the root of it, I think, is our instinct that to be defined by what we do for a living, rather than who we are as individuals, is slightly ridiculous.

Manual industry in Britain, 1850 to 1970? (I’m genuinely not sure, hence the question mark.)

69

Myles 06.15.11 at 5:37 am

Manual industry in Britain, 1850 to 1970? (I’m genuinely not sure, hence the question mark.)

What? (I’m genuinely confused as to what you mean.)

70

hellblazer 06.15.11 at 6:36 am

Sorry, didn’t really give enough context. You said:
I always thought it was very good of English-speaking countries to treat corporate and vocational titles with ambivalent contempt. At the root of it, I think, is our instinct that to be defined by what we do for a living, rather than who we are as individuals, is slightly ridiculous. The German obsession with titles always struck me as creepy and unsettling.

This gave me the impression you were making statements about English speaking countries’ attitudes and saying that they came from some kind of self-identification in terms of “individualism” rather than “profession”. If that is what you meant, then I wondered how this theory fits or doesn’t fit the attitudes of manual industry workers in 1850s-1970s Britain.

71

chris y 06.15.11 at 7:03 am

If that is what you meant, then I wondered how this theory fits or doesn’t fit the attitudes of manual industry workers in 1850s-1970s Britain.

Only caught the end of that period but in Britain at least it was perfectly possible to be perceived as “a good lad, but I wouldn’t let him near my wiring” or “a stupid ignorant fucker, but a damn good brickie”. You couldn’t be a good lad if you were slapdash about your work in a way that inconvenienced or endangered your workmates, but that was a moral failing as well as a professional one.

All this still applies of course, though the second sentence applies less frequently than in the days when a lot of people worked on production lines and were consequently more immediately dependent on their cow orkers getting it right.

72

Myles 06.15.11 at 7:30 am

Only caught the end of that period but in Britain at least it was perfectly possible to be perceived as “a good lad, but I wouldn’t let him near my wiring” or “a stupid ignorant fucker, but a damn good brickie”.

Yeah, this is reflected in your personal relationships as well. I was reading this article about a business-owner in Norway whose social circle largely consists of people in his company, which is pretty weird to someone in an English-speaking country.

The Germans (and the Japanese), in contrast, do heavily self-actualize in their professional work. Which can be pretty oppressive in some ways, because I think it’s at least philosophically confused to conflate “that which generates an income” with “that which I consider my life’s moral and personal desideratum.”

73

Myles 06.15.11 at 7:34 am

If that is what you meant, then I wondered how this theory fits or doesn’t fit the attitudes of manual industry workers in 1850s-1970s Britain.

I don’t know enough about the specific industry to comment, but I think we might do well to keep in mind that the British manual industry wasn’t at the forefront of British social attitudes during that time. The one good example I can think of, tailoring, has actually always been a heavily British- and French-led trade rather than a German one, so regionally speaking it has always leaned toward the more individualistic end.

74

hellblazer 06.15.11 at 8:46 am

Myles, I still think your theory has a whiff of Whig history about it. The individualism (existentialism?) you describe seems a more recent invention, and perhaps one more prevalent on your side of the pond, than can be ascribed to “English-speaking nations”. (It’s not as if Continental Europe can be lumped together for this discussion.)

75

Myles 06.15.11 at 8:58 am

The individualism (existentialism?) you describe seems a more recent invention, and perhaps one more prevalent on your side of the pond, than can be ascribed to “English-speaking nations”.

I don’t know, really. It’s pretty hard to look at the public schools and Oxford and Cambridge and think “this is a society where one’s identity is defined by vocation.” If you compare, say, Guildhall with Eastman or Juilliard, I think it’s pretty obvious that the deformation professionelle, mind-bending effects of the latter are greater. If anything, I would argue that the success ethos of the United States suggests a more Germanic/Russian (at least in the New York diaspora) and vocation-based inspiration than the trans-Atlantic example.

To use a more familiar example, someone like Andy Murray would be entirely normal in many parts of the world (including parts of the U.S.), but he sometimes seems a bit excessive to English viewers. The Anglophone norm (I don’t know about the Continental nations’ attitudes on this) is nonetheless admiration for someone like Roger Federer.

76

Myles 06.15.11 at 9:00 am

Myles, I still think your theory has a whiff of Whig history about it.

Well, philosophically I’m a Whig.

77

Steve Williams 06.15.11 at 9:04 am

‘The Germans (and the Japanese), in contrast, do heavily self-actualize in their professional work. Which can be pretty oppressive in some ways, because I think it’s at least philosophically confused to conflate “that which generates an income” with “that which I consider my life’s moral and personal desideratum.” ‘

Well, of course it’s important to have a life outside your work, but doesn’t it seem possible that it is a measure of personal and professional respect that (most) German and Japanese employers have for their employees that makes them take less savage delight in inflicting another massive downsizing? Or at least makes them more circumspect about showing it in public? At any rate, I’m not aware that they’re so ludicrously boastful about mass layoffs?

Bluntly, if bosses socialising with their employees for an hour a week helps them realise that they are people too, then I’m all for it.

78

Myles 06.15.11 at 9:16 am

Well, of course it’s important to have a life outside your work, but doesn’t it seem possible that it is a measure of personal and professional respect that (most) German and Japanese employers have for their employees that makes them take less savage delight in inflicting another massive downsizing?

Fair enough. It’s true of course that German and Japanese companies are much more measured when it comes to mass layoffs, but I would argue that the flipside is the kind of emotional and psychological commitment demanded from employees that frequently crosses the boundary of civilized and healthy social relations. I have no reference on the German case, but I think it’s been very clear for some time that employer-employee relations in corporate Japan can be quite perverse, from the universal expectation to work tremendous amounts of overtime (without accordant overtime pay), the habitual disregard for one’s privacy, the inescapable expectation for one to self-actualize in the company one works for and to submerge one’s individual preferences therein. the conflation of one’s chief personal identity with one’s professional identity: in an informal sense, these are things that are very much antithetical to the precepts of a liberal society.

Basically, I would argue that all the noted benefits cannot be deemed a worthwhile trade-off against living in an (informally) illiberal society. I think the problem isn’t just the substantive differences; it’s that living in a illiberal society is mind-bending.

79

hellblazer 06.15.11 at 9:25 am

Now I’m confused: what does comparing attitudes towards Andy Murray and Roger Federer demonstrate one way or the other about your point? It’s not like people prefer Federer because they see him as Not Defining Himself By His Job, nor that they are uneasy with Murray because he Does Define Himself By His Job.

It’s pretty hard to look at the public schools and Oxford and Cambridge and think “this is a society where one’s identity is defined by vocation.”

But why would you look at those places and draw inferences about British society or national character? Are you saying that they set British social attitudes, or that view of them were/are a barometer of them, or what?

I am curious where you have this insight into British social attitudes, btw. As far as I know you didn’t go to the places mentioned above, and haven’t lived in the country for any length of time, so… where is this diagnosis coming from?

80

Myles 06.15.11 at 9:33 am

It’s not like people prefer Federer because they see him as Not Defining Himself By His Job, nor that they are uneasy with Murray because he Does Define Himself By His Job.

Well, basically people find Murray’s win-at-all-costs attitude unnerving and uncanny. Federer at least seems more restrained and in possession of a sense of proportion. The basic logical derivation I would guess to be this: that Murray is so obsessed with winning that it is a core part of his identity, to be world tennis champion. That missing his championship, the Murray identity is incomplete and partial. And that really is a form of very extreme vocational self-actualization. Federer, on the other hand, at least seems to possess a much surer sense of self in a manner that is entirely separate from winning or losing in tennis.

I have no special insight on Britain, but I don’t think what I argued above requires any special insight.

81

hellblazer 06.15.11 at 9:42 am

Hmm. One doesn’t get anywhere near the level (and the achievements) of Federer without possessing a large dose of the potentially unhealthy traits which you ascribe to Murray. I would think that most people who follow the sport would recognize that and factor it in to their likes/dislikes.

Isn’t the main reason people prefer Federer that he has the kind of sublime talent that makes the outrageous look commonplace? Nothing to do with “a much surer sense of self in a manner that is entirely separate from winning or losing in tennis.”

82

Myles 06.15.11 at 9:51 am

Hmm. One doesn’t get anywhere near the level (and the achievements) of Federer without possessing a large dose of the potentially unhealthy traits which you ascribe to Murray.

Yes, but the importance of the distinction is symbolic and memetic, not substantive. When people differentiate between Murray and Federer, they are distinguishing not between the two actual person, but between the popular impressions of them, which are much more exaggerated.

Isn’t the main reason people prefer Federer that he has the kind of sublime talent that makes the outrageous look commonplace?

But Nadal is even more sublimely talented, and people don’t admire Nadal in the same way they admire Federer. They admire Federer because he’s essentially a Hellenic figure of athleticism, and embodies not just the physical but also the mental qualities that are often associated. Or to put your argument another way, the sublimity of his talent is, at least in the minds of spectator, a mental rather than a physical quality.

Nadal is the splendid blond beast, but Federer is a Michelangelo.

83

Myles 06.15.11 at 9:57 am

And that mental quality probably includes mastery over self, which goes back to the point I was making about liberalism.

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ptl 06.15.11 at 11:58 am

(shouldn’t feed the troll, I know) here in the UK, Nadal is respected and loved. He’s rather humble, a little shy, very well-mannered. (Look up his interviews with Sue Barker after he beat Agassi — in Agassi’s attempted Wimbledon comeback, and after he last beat Murray at Wimbledon. E.g..)

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Matt McG 06.15.11 at 12:42 pm

The ironic thing about this perception of Murray versus Federer is that it is in fact, entirely false. Murray is, on the whole, a good loser who says very complimentary things about his fellow professionals and regularly talks of his friendships with other players. Nadal, ditto. Federer on the other hand is a sore, sulky loser who gives sarcastic interviews mocking journalists’ respect for his fellow professionals. Both Nadal and Murray are much more pleasant, equanimous blokes than Federer.

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Emma in Sydney 06.16.11 at 12:03 am

Matt, it was alleged by Myles. It is, ipso facto, entirely false.

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Ginger Yellow 06.16.11 at 4:25 pm

The former student occupant of our place in England dubbed himself ‘Sir…’ to one organisation, and ‘Earl…’ to another, which made redirecting his mail a little more amusing than it might otherwise have been.

A (male) schoolfriend of mine with a somewhat ambiguous first name once received a letter addressed to “Lady of “. Oh how we laughed.

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roac 06.16.11 at 6:02 pm

What I have always wondered about Andy Murray is how his career has been affected by the Angus Podgorny stereotype.

Oh, and speaking of Myles and stereotypes, I want to hear from him about his compatriots who torched Vancouver last night.

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hellblazer 06.16.11 at 9:29 pm

roac: oh god, no, don’t invite Myles to hold forth about something else. It’s hard enough trying to deal with one burst of guff without finding a second front opened.

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Britta 06.16.11 at 10:01 pm

Can you pick more than one from the drop down menu? If not, that is a serious oversight.

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Myles 06.17.11 at 4:57 pm

Oh, and speaking of Myles and stereotypes, I want to hear from him about his compatriots who torched Vancouver last night.

I am seriously not going to get all moralistic about a bunch of fellow Canadians putting on an after-game riot. I mean, seriously, it’s a sports riot. What, you haven’t seen it before?

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ajay 06.17.11 at 6:01 pm

Can you pick more than one from the drop down menu?

There is an option for “Lord High Everything Else”.

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ejh 06.17.11 at 9:45 pm

to be world tennis champion

To be what?

Nadal is the splendid blond beast

He’s what?

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Barry Freed 06.17.11 at 10:01 pm

He’s just checking to see if anyone is paying attention.

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ejh 06.17.11 at 10:05 pm

If I were Myles I would be worried how little it is necessary to know in order to know much more than he does.

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Barry Freed 06.17.11 at 10:18 pm

In support of that proposition: I don’t think I’ve seen a tennis match since I were a kid and Jimmy Connors was playing yet my reaction was also “Say what now?!”

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Barry Freed 06.17.11 at 10:36 pm

@ejh (since this thread seems to be dying down) with reference to your comments about the situation in Greece at B&T and Paul Mason: I thought you lived in Spain. Are you vacationing in Greece now or living there temporarily since many of your comments appear to me to refer to first hand knowledge of some of the protests there. Or were there protests going on in Spain that I was unaware of and that was what Mason was referring to?

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hellblazer 06.18.11 at 12:12 am

@ejh: if you were Myles, you would not be worried. I think that’s what depresses me…

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Myles 06.18.11 at 12:59 am

@ejh: if you were Myles, you would not be worried. I think that’s what depresses me…

Knowledge is morally neutral.

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dr ngo 06.18.11 at 3:23 am

Knowledge may well be morally neutral. Pretending to have knowledge when you don’t is not, IMHO.

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ejh 06.18.11 at 8:16 am

Or were there protests going on in Spain that I was unaware of and that was what Mason was referring to?

Yes: the movement known variously as 15-M, or ¡Democracia Real Ya! or “las acampadas” or “los indignados”.

Mason said that the protests in Greece were, like those in Spain, a mixture of right and left, and I don’t think he’s right about Spain.

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Barry Freed 06.18.11 at 2:34 pm

Thanks EJH. FWIW (and it ain’t much) I’m with you – Mason’s a damned good journalist but I’ll take the judgement of an informed expat speaking the language (having been one myself), and yours in particular, over that any day.

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