Wednesday, June 18, 2008

It's So Elegant, So Intelligent

"Elegance," that quotable paragon of style and editorial genius Diana Vreeland once said, "is refusal."

Lately, people have been calling me elegant, which I find very pleasing. "Pretty" is a genetic accident. "Beautiful" is a state of mind. "Glamorous" is good, but is also applied to showgirls wearing enormous headpieces. "Elegant," on the other hand, takes a lifetime of work and discipline.

I finally finished the superlative This Is Your Brain on Music. In it, Daniel Levitin says many studies show that it takes approximately 10,000 hours of practice to become a world-class expert on anything - for a pianist, that would mean three hours a day, or 20 hours a week, over ten years, which explains a lot about my piano playing.

But when I add up all the focused time I have spent on my appearance, including exercise, it's at least that many hours. And apparently it's paid off.

Cyd Charisse embodied elegance on film, and watching musicals on TV as a child, I always wanted to be her. She died Tuesday at 86, and recent photos showed her still looking fabulous.

But I wonder if she would have known that the title of this post is taken from Eliot's "The Waste Land"?


(Photo from the official Cyd Charisse site.)

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