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The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 6, Issue 8 (April 1, 1932.)

The Importance of Importance

page 49

The Importance of Importance

The most important part of life is the importance of appearing important. The “air of importance” is the thin monoxide that makes the social circle so rarefied and difficult to breathe in; yet there are many who will suffer semisuffocation of the thought-waves to float in the upper reaches of mental make-believe. For life is a stage and man utilises all possible “props” to prop up his sense of importance and knock his sense of impotence. His apparel clothes the self-deception, motors propel it, mansions house it, and his face reflects it; which, things being as they argue, rather than as they are, is no more unnatural than it appears. The only alternative is to be one's self, and this of course is as unthinkable as thinking and other old fashioned practices. But there still exist people who prefer to remain put. In fact the world is inhabited by people who like to be what they are, and people who try to be what they'd like to be. The latter often assert that they are proud to be what they are and then move heaven and earth to be something else. In many cases it is all to the good.

Importance proves the importance of advertising on personal grounds by inflation of face values, for the more pertinacious the personal propaganda, the more prolific the profits. A man's face is his fortune, or his misfortune, according to how he advertises it. Thus the wages of skin is not necessarily debt, and the imposing front is often the elevation that elevates its owtter to the Elysium of L.S.D.-sium.

Deception and Reception.

Appearances are deceptive sometimes, but they are receptive at all times, and “keeping up appearances” is more profitable than keeping down expenses. Only hobos, philosophers, and suchlike social solecists can afford to risk the ignominy of being themselves; the hobo holds that serenity of soul or harmony in the harmonium is more fecund than a fallaciously filigreed facade, and the philosopher is a hobo at heart anyway. It must never be overlooked that the humble pie often conceals good meat beneath poor-looking paste. After all, man is after all he can get, and he requires so many aids to bolster up his self-esteem, that often he fails to conceal his artfulness behind his art.

Importance comes much more natural to the so-called lower animals. For you never saw a camel wearing spats, and a camel has been known to make a rich man feel so small that he could crawl through the eye of a needle. And what is more important than a hen who has just expressed her essential egglomania? But you never saw a hen dolled up like a decorated ham. If by the same token, men were obliged to compete in the flesh, as it were, the humble hen would win in pin feathers alone. But man, tonsorially titillated, suitably salved with the sassafras of society, and advertised with taste, is a thing of booty, winsome, handsome—and then some. If, however, a truth-ray were turned on him, there is reason to suspect that his definition of his declension would page 50
“Inflation of face values.”

“Inflation of face values.”

be such that in comparison George Washington would be classed as a manipulator of the verities. Yes, sirs, man would get the cherrywood on George.

Air Attacks.

Man cannot wholly blame himself for himself, for he is the product of his products. His importance is a defence rather than an offence. He realises that he could no longer command the respect of his fellows if they knew that he knew he was no better than they knew that they were.

Competition is the power behind the throw-in. When it is the aim of all men to achieve “that little more, and oh how mush it is!” it is easy to understand this intimidation by air-attack.

Although the K.O. is countenanced in the ring, it is barred in better circles, and the only hope the social-demoscratcher has to eliminate his competitors is to try to look more like what his neighbour would like to look like than his neighbour looks. In other words, it is imperative that he should beat his neighbour to it, with knobs on.

Look important, if you bust
In the process, for you must
Blow your chest out,
Have a “front,”
Work the psychologic stunt.
Look successful,
Crimp your brow,
Look important anyhow.
Look portentous,
And despotic,
Look inscrutably hypnotic,
Be disdainful,
Slightly glum,
Dignified but dourly dumb.
Be mysterious and Stoic,
Be intangibly heroic.
Even look Napoleonic,
Be consistently laconic.
But in any case look mystic.
Make your “hidden powers” realistic.
Don't be human,
Don't be zestful,
If you want to be successful.
Seldom speak,
For what you say,
Often puts the show away.
But be ponderous,
Sort of “strength that's lying static.”
Be a man of depths unplumbed,
Never bend or come ungummed,
Be—well, ev'rything you oughtn't.
But of all things Look Important.

The Star of Eve.

This applies, of course, to man alone. Woman, or the seeker sex, has her own technique. She calls attention to her intentions by gilding the lily and rouging the rose. Although she can change her mind without changing her hat, she never changes her course in following the Star of Eve, which has always dominated the feminine firmament. Usually progressive, yet she pins her faith to the frock of ages, and sends the bills to Adam to add ‘em. She has done this ever since her skirt was a sort of legal brief done in parchment. Even when she has not got “a stitch to wear” she is never of “two minds with but a shingle short.” She
“A camel wearing spats.”

“A camel wearing spats.”

page 51 recognises the power of the dress. Expressed with suitable drapery:

The love change that fickle fancy
finds, To fill the emptiness in mortal
minds, And keep them on the track of
Is utilised by Eve for vanity.

And so when life appears a trifle flat,

She counteracts the feeling with a
Or if she feels particularly “down,”

She goes and blows the gas bill on a
gown. The ways of Destiny indeed are
queer. In vain Man asks himself why he is
here. But Woman never asks if Life's a
jest, She knows that she is here to “look
her best.”

Reaping and Railing.

But when it is all sad and dun, life is a matter either of reaping and railing, and no one can reap unless he rails. These other concerns are merely sidings upon which we pause to allow the big trains of thought an open track. He who would reap must rail, for every life, by the nature of its freight, must follow the rails of its Destiny, and if perchance it jumps its rails it ends in railings. This journal is a Railway Magazine, but the railway itself is a magazine of forces which for a century has supplied the barrage behind which man has advanced and routed the
The Break Down Gang

The Break Down Gang

defences of undisciplined Nature. When I speed along the twin steels, sunk deep in upholstered tranquility, and secure in the knowledge that I am being carefully handed, as it were, from one of the army of railway zealots to another, I see, not the fat lush lands that swing athwart my vision, not the swelling hills dappled with moving fleeces, nor yet the gold-dusted sheets of grain; I see, as on a photographic film which has been double-exposed, a background of tangled writhing forest, of trackless wilderness, of sluggishly moving swamp, and the primeval disorder of untamed Nature. Then the smooth pulsations of the great black shining steed that flings the scenery past my window awakens me to a sense of his magic, and the only way I can express my gratitude is to whisper “good old horse.”

The iron horse! He is indeed the friend of man, and if the race is to the fleetest, the iron horse wins, and will always win, hoofs, hide and hair.

Popular In Tasmania.

The following extract, containing an interesting reference to the N. Z. Railways Magazine, is taken from a letter received recently by a New Zealand Railwayman from a friend in Tasmania:

“I feel I must thank you for the ‘N.Z. Railways Magazine.’ There is no doubt it has developed into a fine journal. The articles and pictures alike, are of a high order. We all take a keen interest in Ken Alexander, his contributions are right out on their own. There is a general rush for the paper when it arrives, to see who will get first turn at reading it, and after we have read it we all want to come to New Zealand.”

page break
“There is nothing like fun, is there?”—Haliburton. (Rly. Publicity photos.) Railway Picnic snaps.—(1) Picnic train at Maidstone Park; (2) final of 100 yards R.O.I, championship (won by Mr. M.G. Valk); (3) 75 yards ladies' race (won by Miss E. Upchurch, Miss Macklin second); the Locomotive team (winners of tug-of-war); (5) competitors in the three-legged race; (6) thrills and soills in the wheelbarrow race; (7) children's race; (8) the presentation of prizes.

There is nothing like fun, is there?”—Haliburton.
(Rly. Publicity photos.)
Railway Picnic snaps.—(1) Picnic train at Maidstone Park; (2) final of 100 yards R.O.I, championship (won by Mr. M.G. Valk); (3) 75 yards ladies' race (won by Miss E. Upchurch, Miss Macklin second); the Locomotive team (winners of tug-of-war); (5) competitors in the three-legged race; (6) thrills and soills in the wheelbarrow race; (7) children's race; (8) the presentation of prizes.