intelligence and chic

Discussion in 'English Only' started by QuangHai, Apr 21, 2017.

  1. QuangHai Senior Member

    Viet
    Isak Dinesen, in her Out of Africa, describes a Masai soldier

    "A Masai warrior is a fine sight. Those young men have, to the utmost extent, that particular form of intelligence which we call chic;—daring, and wildly fantastical as they seem, they are still unswervingly true to their own nature, and to an immanent ideal. Their style is not an assumed manner, nor an imitation of a foreign perfection; it has grown from the inside, and is an expression of the race and its history, and their weapons and finery are as much part of their being as are a stag’s antlers"

    I am not sure about meaning of "intelligence" here. To me, 'chic' relates to appearance while intelligence is about mental power. How come they can be similar?
     
  2. Retired-teacher Senior Member

    British English
    It doesn't make sense to me. I am interested to see how others respond.
     
  3. velisarius Senior Member

    Greece
    British English (Sussex)
    Their style (chic) is not an assumed manner, nor an imitation of a foreign perfection; it has grown from the inside, and is an expression of the race and its history, and their weapons and finery are as much part of their being as are a stag’s antlers"

    It does seem paradoxical, but I guess she means that anything that comes from one's inner being is a kind of "intelligence" -- their "style" or chic is not superficial, but integral to what they are.
     
  4. QuangHai Senior Member

    Viet
  5. Truffula

    Truffula Senior Member

    English - USA
    The word "intelligence" has taken on something of a meaning of a quality or facility of the mind - a psychological ability that has either an innate or learned measure. In this sense of the word, which you'll see often in discussions of "emotional intelligence" or "social intelligence" as well as other places - the ability to follow one's own sense of style, which the author calls "chic," is in this sense conceivably a type of intelligence. Since "chic" in more typical uses means a sophistication and smart style, it works the other direction too. So Dinesen is doing something that she intends to be surprising to readers (who won't probably associate chic with intelligence or chic with Masai solders or maybe both) but once they get past the surprise, they will understand the connection she's drawing.
     

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