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Scent of a woman 2


Some notes considering the moral virtues

The man is blind. First, this foregrounds the sense of touch: he hates being touched. Apparently, self-defense & aggression are one. – Sex & a Ferrari, the man tells the boy, are the two important things in life, in that order. Then he promises an education & gives his right hand to shake on it. But the title points to smell, a compromise between sight & touch. Smells can induce desire; that may be the stuff of poetry. Smell is irrational, but the man shows the boy how to reason from it. It is apparently a part of a larger whole given in speeches. The lt.col. says he worked intelligence; & that the boy has none.

The man smokes cigars & drinks Jack Daniels, dances the tango & hires an escort. Here is the plan to what he calls his tour of pleasures: stay in a first-class hotel, eat an agreeable meal, drink a nice glass of wine, see my big brother, & then make love to a terrific woman. Wine is never again mentioned. He calls the hotel the summit of civilization. He also has a tailor make him a suit & gets a shave.

The man first gives this advice to the boy: Play along, if you want Harvard. He says: some stand up; some run for cover – cover’s better. His contempt is obvious: He was a soldier. He berates the boy for his conscience & mocks his chivalry. He tells him again to squeal & go to Harvard. The boy insists there are things he just cannot do. – The only exhortation is delivered by this man. He is the only man to use the word soul, several times; (he uses it interchangeably with spirit.) He also mentions integrity in relation to the boy.

The man’s speech means to establish the ground & purpose of moral virtue. Addressing this prep school, he says the purpose is leadership. These young men are supposed to be educated to be somebodies. Thus do the laws speak. The man says that following principles develops character. Apparently, good habits lead to moral virtue, & are acquired by following the correct opinion. He insists boys need to be protected, because unrewarded – not to say punished – virtue brings both the boys & the society to a bad end. We ought to grant that he has proved that acting according to moral virtue can be bad for the boy.

The man sometimes calls the boy by various insulting names. The worst is dog; or when he mocks his name. But he also calls him boy & son & – once – friend. Twice he pretends to be the boy’s father. He even proposes adoption. At his school, he acts in loco parentis.