Sophistication: What is it?

Copyright ©1996 Sophisticated: The Magazine. All rights reserved.
Updated in 2008 for Sophistication: How to get it...then what!


ophistication is one of those personal attributes, like a sense of humor, that all persons claim for themselves whether deserved or not.  Sophistication has many ironic properties and thus few genuine synonyms.  Intelligence is not one of them.  Knowledge does not qualify at all.  Intellect comes close but watch out.  Complexity works -- but for things not people.
Fasten your seatbelt: I have yet to meet a sophisticated engineer.  Maybe one will come along tomorrow, but meanwhile, that let-me-fix-this-guillotine stereotype applies.  The things engineers build and the things engineers do are often sophisticated indeed.  So right there is one of sophistication's many ironies for you.
To provide an in-depth answer to the question "What is sophistication?" might take a lifetime. My only credential in the subject is a lifetime already spent writing things and saying things and hearing the complaint, "That's too sophisticated."  So apparently sophistication, unlike intellegence and beauty and wealth, is not all that good, else the expression "too sophisticated" would not make sense.

As an introduction, I shall propose three attributes for sophistication:

  1. Control of Relationship Tension,
  2. Management of Expectations, and
  3. Conquest of Ego.
Not bad for starters, but there's a whole lot more. 

t appears that sophistication will be found as an alternative in any number of dichotomies -- not necessarily as one of the opposites in paired extremes, but a conceptual waypoint marking philosophical pathways with many forks and angles, thus...

  • The road to Simplicity goes off in one direction, Sophistication in another -- toward Complexity not far off.
  • Go one way for Naivete, another for Sophistication and you will find yourself on the turnpike to the City of the Jaded.
  • The sign for Straightforward points toward Obvious and away from Sophistication, which is but a milestone on the roadway to Deviousness located in the distant swamps of Despicability.
  • If your destination is Idealism, you may not be happy with the Pragmatic places you glimpse along the Realism road, which will, of course, include Sophisticated points of interest.
  • Most modern maps show the routes to Success as being Circuitous indeed -- which is not to say Crooked -- and the unpaved parts have Sophistication written all over them.
Sign posts make no mention of 'rightness' and 'wrongness,' 'goodness and 'badness.' 
    There was a time not so long ago when people would have said that smoking is sophisticated. Same for minimalist art -- and cubism before that. More recently a cybergawker described a webphoto as being that of a "sophisticated lady." Not clear how these and other judgments are formulated from the information at hand.
Sophistication: How to get it...then what!

rying to define sophisticaton has left me out of breath.  Given the darker attributes of sophistication, I have no doubt that the larger effort will take place in the exploration of the exclamatory query "...then what!"  There remains much to do...

Work-in-Process: Notes and Topics

The title question brought about the first appearance in 1996 of S:TM's department of "Never Answered Questions" and continues as a private challenge for the author.

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