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Scottish Country Dancing with Michael Argyle

In December 2010 I wrote to my New Zealand colleague and friend Helen Greenwood, mentioning in passing her encounters on the dance floor with Michael Argyle, the social psychologist. Helen replied, asking, “What's the link with Michael Argyle? I know him as a particularly reckless but enthusiastic Scottish country dancer.” This email followed:

-----Original Message-----
Sent: Monday, 13 December 2010 10:59 p.m.
To: Helen Greenwood
Subject: Michael Argyle

I have always wondered why you seem fairly indifferent when I mention
Michael Argyle. I have several times over the years. To me, the very concept
of actually DANCING with Michael Argyle is stupendous.

We had several of his books at Joint Theological Library [Note: today the Dalton McCaughey Library in Parkville, Victoria, Australia]. He was a fascinating thinker of the old school and no school. He took the need for happiness seriously and made it
his life's work. His conclusions, scientifically-based but no doubt too in
part intuitive, are a mixture of the literary-reflective and the
empirical-experimental. He is the sort of person that possibly only England
in the 20th-century could have produced. Instead of just saying that a happy
life involves being involved in several activities of which you are
passionate, he proves it by surveys and tests. This I find both amusing and
admirable, that Argyle did this, I mean.

Scottish Country Dancing shows up all the time as one of his passions, so it
is always funny to hear you say that he was "reckless" and other things
you've said over the years. My impression from what you say is that his
ability was not always a match for his enthusiasm. This only makes him more
admirable and lovable, in my view and quite a distance from the dance floor.

I relate at a meaningful level with his project of human possibilities, with
what we desire and what we cannot always achieve, any of us. It's marvellous
to think that someone would devote themselves to such a scheme.


Helen Greenwood replied:

That's because you never had to dodge him. He was terribly enthusiastic and
obviously loved it, but not that skilful. I've seen a number of his articles
on happiness, but we were always pleased that he chose Scottish country
dancing to be joyful about.




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