Tuesday, May 8, 2007

the absence of style

The common man has dressed himself in pre-ripped jeans and sweats with words across his buttocks, he has shaved his chest and plucked his eyebrows, he has brought back the bell-bottom after deriding it for a decade, he has spiked his hair and pierced his belly-button, but does he know why? Do his tribal tattoos and his thongs and his designer ipod pouches exhibit his style, or lack thereof? None can dodge blame; none can absolve themselves of responsibility for their style. Can we imagine such a one, can we imagine stylistic innocence? One can choose one's style, but can one choose not to have a style? Certainly, one can have no style, but this itself is a choice. Usually, lack of style is really lack of imagination, an apathy towards appearance and blind deference towards the social defaults for all aesthetic judgments. But these are the worst styles: those which defer to the aesthetic judgments of others, not out of laziness, but out of status-seeking conformism. The man who is lazy about his style will never presume to sneer at others for theirs, he will not pay extra for aging on an article of clothing which would accrue naturally if he simply wore it for several years, he will not flaunt the ugly, the boring, the unimaginative as if they were symbols of worth. But the man who copies his style from an authority in the hopes that it will confer status, his is the emptiest hubris. One is judged an authority because of one's sexual orientation, one's net worth, one's photogenic figure ~ but none of these cause good style. And if they are correlates of it, what the causal direction? No, such a one punishes. Himself, perhaps, but more importantly: my eyes, my eyes; where can I find a haven from this ugliness which pretends to beauty!

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