Good manners, our passport for travel in polite society, are constantly changing, because that which we hold to be polite or impolite changes continuously: today it is acceptable to participate directly in our own weddings, however, throwing plastic bags in the ocean is frowned upon. To know how to behave renders life within society easier, but it doesn't always make the soul kinder: imposing emotional control upon ourselves can make us cold and distant. Fortunately we are not always governable and our spontaneity shows up every once in a while in the shape of blunders, a delicious counterpoint to our daily encounters.
Valentina D'Urso teaches psychology at the University of Padova.
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