Boyhood: Every Terrible Party You’ve Ever Been to Rolled Into One Three-Hour Movie
You know how annoying it is when you’re watching a movie that has flashbacks or flash forwards and there are different actors playing the same character at different ages? Or how completely distracting it is when they try to make the same actor look older or younger using makeup and wigs? Me neither. But as an inelegant solution to this nonexistent problem, we now have the movie Boyhood.
To be human is…to endure the trauma of self-consciousness. It is to be aware of the existential shock of the threat of nonbeing. No other living thing before us has ever been required to embrace this level of anxiety….It means that if life has no ultimate meaning, we alone of all other creatures embrace the threat of meaninglessness. In response to that threat, human life is driven to create meaning. It was and is the human experience to tremble before these realizations. It is, however, also the acknowledged human destiny not to win the struggle for meaning, for survival or for life. The fate of all living creatures is to lose, but only the human life knows this self-consciously. It is thus not easy to be human.
John Shelby Spong, Jesus for the Non-Religious
BLINDED BY THE LIGHT: MY FIRST FASHION SHOW (PART 3)
Part 1. Part 2.
Now that I have kept you
breathlessly awaiting completely unaware of the next installment of the narrative reenactment of my first fashion show for this long, I will finally describe the show itself.
The space was set up as theater-in-the-round. We all gathered around in the dark spaces at the edges of a centered X, lit in bright white light. Black tape painted baselines on the runway, presumably indicating the path the models should take. At the crux of the X was a tall rectangular post with a sort of circumcised obelisk look to it. The black tape scaled the Jewbelisk rather than circumnavigating it, which meant either that the models didn’t have to stay inside the baselines or that we were in for something more special than I could have imagined.
In subjective terms, the search for the self seems to entail a paradox: we are, after all, looking for the very thing that is doing the looking. Thousands of years of human experience suggests, however, that the paradox here is only apparent: it is not merely that the component of our experience that we call “I” cannot be found; it is that it actually disappears when looked for in a rigorous way….Almost every problem we have can be ascribed to the fact that human beings are utterly beguiled by their feelings of separateness.
Sam Harris, The End of Faith
Blinded by the Light: My First Fashion Show (Part 2)
Continued from Part 1.
Our flock finally gathers in a vestibule at the top of the stairs. Eventually I realize that we are all waiting to check in at a bank of fold-out tables mashed together like 8-year olds arriving at summer camp. The harried interns behind the tables probably have cousins in Vermont doing this exact same shit in front of a log cabin by a lake.
There’s a wait to check in but no apparent effort to stop people from just walking past the check in area and straight into the show. I spend the entirety of my wait in line considering doing exactly this. By the time I had decided to make a go at it, I was already giving my name to harried intern number 3, who found me on “the list” and handed me a card marked “ST”. The guy next to me got an “ST” as well. “They must hate us,” he says to me. So I assume I’m in the standing section. We leave the fluorescent purgatorial light of the check-in area and dive into the dark glow of Studio B.
Blinded by the Light: My First Fashion Show (Part 1)
So I went to my first fashion show. It was Robert Geller. It’s a little bit strange that he was my first, since I don’t own anything from his brand, nor could I have told you anything about it before the show. Maybe I should have held out for someone I really cared about, but whatever. I guess I’m easy and don’t even care if everyone knows it.
In some ways the fashion show experience is a metaphor for the fashion world as a whole. The core of it is that some people walk around wearing some clothes. That’s it. But because wearing clothes is such a banal activity, and therefore watching someone wear clothes, by the Law of Indirect Exponential Banality, is at least twice as banal, there has be a lot of hubbub and brouhaha to make the event and all the people involved in it seem Important.
Therefore my dear friend and companion, if you should think me somewhat sparing of my narrative on my first setting out - bear with me - and let me go on, and tell my story my own way - or if I should seem now and then to trifle upon the road - or should sometime put on a fool’s cap with a bell to it, for a moment or two as we pass along - don’t fly off - but rather courteously give me credit for a little more wisdom than appears upon my outside - and as we jog along, either laugh with me, or at me, or in short, do any thing - only keep your temper.
Laurence Sterne, Tristan Shandy
The Unbearable Politeness of Being
I have been politely nudged no less than five times in the last week to read this well-polished gem of humblebraggery on ‘How to be Polite’, by Gentleman Paul Ford. So I have, and have been duly regaled by the author’s lamentation of our current impolitic times, and how far ahead in life and love he has gotten by sending thank you cards, “turn[ing] the conversation relentlessly towards the speaker”, and not touching anyone’s hair without permission until “at least six or more years of marriage.”
I will try, though my editorial muscles twitch with vituperative energy, to refrain from mentioning the many ways in which this article is poorly written. (Okay, allow me just one as a proof of concept: “at least six or more years” reduces to simply at least six years. The “or more” is superfluous.) I want to focus on the message, since it bothers me more.
SEX, POWER, AND SUITING?
Cameron Wolf an article in Business of Fashion magazine that has me perplexed. The thesis of the piece is that skinny suits of the sort designed by Thom Browne and Hedi Slimane have re-injected men’s suits with a forceful thrust of sex and power. “The slim suit is where sex and power converge,” says Wolf.
Perhaps tellingly, the article’s only photo is a picture of Barack Obama wearing a suit that bears no resemblance whatsoever to the skinny, or shrunken, suit popularized by Browne and Slimane (pictured above - Browne suits on top, Slimane for Dior in the black and white photos). Because nothing about the skinny suit projects sex or power.
…irony tyrannizes us. The reason why our pervasive cultural irony is at once so powerful and so unsatisfying is that an ironist is impossible to pin down. All U.S. irony is based on an implicit “I don’t really mean what I’m saying.” So what does irony as a cultural norm mean to say? That it’s impossible to mean what you say? That maybe it’s too bad it’s impossible, but wake up and smell the coffee already? Most likely, I think, today’s irony ends up saying: “How totally banal of you to ask what I really mean.” Anyone with the heretical gall to ask an ironist what he actually stands for ends up looking like an hysteric or a prig. And herein lies the oppressiveness of institutionalized irony, the too-successful rebel: the ability to interdict the question without attending to its subject is, when exercised, tyranny. It is the new junta, using the very tool that exposed its enemy to insulate itself.