Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Pride ...

The Latin for "pride" is "superbia."

Doesn't that sound like a nice place to live?

On Monday, Angelo Surmelis, the host of HGTV's "Rate My Space," posted an entry on his blog about his Davis chair. In addition to being one of my three favorite hosts (David Bromstad and Candice Olson are the other two), Angelo also has a line of furniture. Among other many other endeavors. Truly, I wonder when the man finds the time to sleep.

The post features lovely photography of Davis decked out in various fabrics and leathers, each shot styled with flair.

But what struck me most about the post was the disparity between the pride he felt for his new offering yet the need he felt to apologize for expressing it.

Here's what he wrote:

I just love this chair!

I know. I know. It's completely uncool to talk about something you had a hand in designing in such a self congratulatory way. I should be a bit more reserved and humble about it, BUT I can't.

Actually, I can't even take all the credit. I have to give a lot of it to Tom, my manufacturing partner. He made it possible to be a large sitting chair, engineered in a way that doesn't cost as much as a chair like this normally would. It sells for $299.99!

This is the part where I sound like a proud parent....they are even better looking in person! You should see how big and strong they are.

I'll be quiet now. It's probably a good thing I don't have kids. I'd be THAT Dad. You know the one--going around with pictures and videos boring everyone to tears.

If you've ever seen Angelo on his show, you know that the man has a true gift for design. His rooms consistently knock me out. Recently, I watched an episode in which he created a master-bedroom suite and when it came time for the reveal, I was literally pointing at my TV and yelling, "That's awesome!" Everything about the bed was asymmetrical. The artwork over the headboard was hung left of center. The pillows on the bed were arranged from tallest to smallest, left of center. Ditto the ottomans at the base of the bed.

Unexpected, that. And therefore very cool.

But what I really love to watch on his show are his reactions during the reveals. Invariably, the people for whom he's designed the rooms get very emotional, and he responds to those emotions in a very real way. I find that so endearing.

And so his recent post set me to thinking about pride, which – thanks, Catholicism – is not just one of the Seven Deadly Sins, but which, Wikipedia tells us, is the mack daddy of 'em all.

Behold: "In almost every list, Pride (Latin, superbia), or hubris, is considered the original and most serious of the seven deadly sins, and indeed the ultimate source from which the others arise. It is identified as a desire to be more important or attractive than others, failing to acknowledge the good work of others, and excessive love of self (especially holding self out of proper position toward God). Dante's definition was 'love of self perverted to hatred and contempt for one's neighbor.' In Jacob Bidermann's medieval miracle play, Cenodoxus, pride is the deadliest of all the sins and leads directly to the damnation of the titulary famed Parisian doctor. In perhaps the best-known example, the story of Lucifer, pride (his desire to compete with God) was what caused his fall from Heaven, and his resultant transformation into Satan. In Dante's Divine Comedy, the penitents were forced to walk with stone slabs bearing down on their backs in order to induce feelings of humility."

I beg to differ.

Frankly, I think there's not enough pride in the world. We should take pride in our work, in our relationships, in everything.

To my mind, pride is fine. Boastfulness is the problem.

Nobody wants to hang out with the guy who constantly talks about how great he is, that's annoying, sure.

But when we create something wonderful, why should we feel as though we have to apologize for being proud of our achievement and for telling others about it?

Humility is yet another example of too much of a good thing.

I'm all for being humble. But there's a balance to be struck between humility and pride. And too many artist types I know don't allow themselves enough pride, lest they be judged.

Happily, everyone who responded to Angelo's post (myself included) told him that he had every reason to be proud. And he does. He's doing his part to make the world a more beautiful place, from without and from within.


Blogger Rick Hamrick said...

I think this one is simply an issue of the translations which have taken place. There is a huge difference between hubris and pride in workmanship, or pride in a job well done, or pride in one's own ethnic heritage.

Merriam-Webster says pride can be "a reasonable or justifiable self-respect" *and* it can mean "conceit." In other words, the pride which resembles hubris is what the poets and playwrights and sin-list makers had in mind, and the satisfaction one feels for designing a great chair is what Angelo is expressing.

Definitely two different beasts who happen to share a name.

11:15 AM  
Blogger Beth said...

Two beasts for sure, Rick, but the issue I struggle with (and which Angelo presented in how he wrote his post) is how some of us feel as though it's OK to be proud of something we've done but it's not OK to share that with others, as if there's something inherently wrong with calling attention to one's work.

Some people seem to have a much easier time with self-promotion. They do it in such a way that it never seems like self-congratulation.

Whereas someone like me? I'd need a publicist to tout my achievements to others. It'd feel too weird to do my own PR.

There's a problem to look forward to, eh? : o )

2:29 PM  

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