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Impudence is fundamental

I wrote to my friend the other day, to spark some jealousy in him, that I was fancying Liam Neeson in Schindler’s List. These were my exact words: “Liam Neeson has suchhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh transfixing EYESSSS in that movie, such charisma, he is sooooooooo drooooling-bloody-gorgeous.” The secret to Oskar Schindler’s seduction lies in his personality, how Liam Neeson portrays him, and how Steven Spielberg films Liam Neeson. My friend played along to pleasure me (how sweet he can be) : he had this priceless reply : “I googled the <del>bastard</del> <del>sissy</del> <del>dandy who spends half his time in front of the mirror posing</del> <del>“man” who spends half his time pulling some hair over his forehead to look “cool”</del> man. Well, I’m not jealous.” (That last bit about the hair only him and I can understand.)

Anyway, my friend was right on when he called Schindler a dandy. Schindler is a dandy, oh the perfect depiction of one. I opened this book I own, The Art of Seduction, by Robert Greene, a devilishly brilliant study of human seduction in its many forms. I wanted to read again the description of The Dandy, one of the many Seducers Types. My own Type is... are you kidding ? You think I’ll disclose such sensitive information ? No way. I am the Ideal Lover. Anyway... I thought I would ask myself to which extent I relate and am sensitive to such character.

Excerpt no 1. Dandies seduce socially as well as sexually; groups form around them.

Well, just think about one of the first scenes in the movie where Schindler goes to a restaurant which is the meeting place of many SS officers. It’s a pleasure to watch him. It’s fascinating to see him transform his social status. He’s an outsider, a stranger, and in the course of the evening, he becomes the center of attention and a famous man, or so will others believe. Of course, it’s a movie scene.

Excerpt no 2. The Dandy has traditionally been defined by clothing, and certainly most dandies create a unique visual style.

Yeah. Schindler buys his clothes, and he carefully picks what he will wear and we can see that in the very first scene with him.

Excerpt no 3. Remember, there must be a reference point. if your visual style is totally unfamiliar, people will think you at best an obvious attention-getter, at worst crazy. Instead, create your own fashion sense by adopting and altering styles to make yourself an object of fascination. [...] Having people imitate you, of course, is a sign of your powers of seduction.

The first time they meet, the first thing that impresses Amon about Schindler is his shirt. He even asks him about it. Schindler responds in a manly fashion, there are other men around them.

Excerpt no 4. Dandies are masters at the art of living. They live for pleasure, not for work; they surround themselves with beautiful objects and eat and drink with [...] relish.

Schindler lives for pleasure indeed. He doesn’t work much, he is not interested in running his own company, what he wants to bring to it is “panache and presentation”. And people imitate his lust for life. Around Schindler, in their social gatherings, Germans become like Romans. Again, the ability to enjoy the physical pleasures of living fascinates me, although I have a hard time partaking in such enjoyment myself. Why ?

Excerpt no 5. Men do not understand how women think, and vice versa; each tries to make the other act more like a member of their own sex. Dandies may never try to please [i.e. show to others that they are trying to please], but in this one area they have a pleasing effect : by adopting psychological traits of the opposite sex, they appeal to our inherent narcissism.

Schindler may act like a boy with his wife, or like himself. However, he seduces other women by being extremely... feminine with them. (Although not effeminate). I am thinking about that scene with Helen, Amon’s maid, in the basement. He becomes the tender, attentive, receptive, un-sexual, un-threatening, confidant. There, I recognize my own friend.

Excerpt no 6. Impudence [is] fundamental to [Dandies]. They don’t give a damn [what other people will think, or so will other people believe]. The nonconformism of Dandies [...] goes far beyond appearances. It is an attitude toward life that sets them apart.

Schindler hires Jews to work for him, and his initial intention is certainly not to create a haven for them. Schindler asks Amon with an air of nonchalance to take out the fire hoses to spray the cars in which Jews are packed. Schindler kisses a Jewish girl at a party in front of every SS officers. That is very attractive. And I can relate to that trait too. I would like to believe that I am like that, impudent.

Schindler as a dandy

Excerpt no 7. A true Dandy will know the difference between a theatrically staged teasing of the powerful ['what did I miss? no, I was talking about the food..."] and a remark that will truly hurt, offend or insult. It is particularly important to avoid insulting those in a position to injure you.

Schindler provides gifts, letters, bribes, visits to his powerful friends, and others, throughout the movie. At first, Schindler likes Amon to the extent that he says about him that he’s a “wonderful crook” (i.e. loves the ladies, good food, etc.) but from the beginning and more so at the end, he has with him a self-interested friendship affair.

Last edited by Caroline Schnapp about 12 years ago.

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