Thursday, May 20, 2010

Fashion Reaction

To My Most Amiable Readers...

G.K. Chesterton makes me laugh loudly. And considering his terribly serious countenance in his portrait and that fact that he died 44 years before I was born, and that his book which causes my amusement is ominously titled "Heretics", this is no small thing.

I have of late, taken up an odd bit of research. Via ebay, I have been looking up designer brand clothing, shoes, and purses (think Prada, Balenciaga, Marc Jacobs, etc). Bringing up an entire page of different items I look at them all and see if I like any of it. More often than not, nothing grabs my attention. Then I look at them while scanning their respective prices, which range from $139-$5000+, and attempt to gauge my reaction to the declared worth vs. my true reaction to the piece. Do I see more worth now? Can it induce me to want it?

But here's the kicker. The piece itself and the price of it are not sufficient to cause a reaction in me. But the number of bids is. To know that upwards of 30 bids have been made on a otherwise unimpressive leather clutch is to cause one to wonder what the fuss is all about. What do these bidders know? Why are they willing to part with so much money to attain it? Why is it so desired?

"The sound rule in the matter would appear to be like many other sound rules-a paradox. Drink because you are happy, but never because you are miserable. Never drink when are wretched without it, or you will be like the grey-faced gin-drinker in the slum; but drink when you would be happy without it, and you will be like the laughing peasant of Italy. Never drink because you need it, for this is rational drinking, and the way to death and hell. But drink because you do not need it, for this is irrational drinking, and the ancient health of the world." -Heretics

What has fashion to do with drinking? That excesses in both are quite bad? That is not my point, though true enough. It is the doing of something innocuous for the wrong reason; indeed a reason which kills our joy. Drinking joyfully in celebration, or appreciatively with a fine meal in the quiet of your home hearken to the scripture, "Wine makes glad the heart of man".

I saw no example of high fashion that I did not first process as either bland or alarming, and then, with rapidity, as something that others might be impressed by. Which, when one sees a bidding war on a ho-hum purse, causes an odd desire. I don't like the purse...but apparently I ought to; for it would be dearly coveted by others. It would be recognized by others as expensive, and I, by association, would be valued higher as well. Seeing such petty reasoning in my own heart is enough to turn my stomach.

There are "must-haves" in the fashion world and "must-have a drink" 's in the corner pub. Both have a grasping feel. Neither end well, for they never end. There is always a new urge, a new trend, a new glassful to raise to the lips once again. There are more people to impress and more pain to suppress.

"Dionysus made wine, not a medicine, but a sacrament. Jesus Christ also made wine, not a medicine, but a sacrament. But Omar makes it, not a sacrament, but a medicine. He feasts because life is not joyful; he revels because he is not glad. 'Drink', he says, 'for you know not whence you come nor why. Drink, for you know not when you go nor where. Drink, because the stars are cruel and the world as idle as a humming-top. Drink, because there is nothing worth trusting, nothing worth fighting for. Drink, because all things are lapsed in a base of equality and an evil peace'. So he stands offering us the cup in his hand. And at the high altar of Christianity stands another figure, in whose hand also is the cup of the vine. 'Drink' he says, 'for the whole world is as red as this wine, with the crimson of the love and the wrath of God. Drink, for the trumpets are blowing for battle and this is the stirrup-cup. Drink, for this is my blood of the new testament that is shed for you. Drink, for I know whence you come and why. Drink, for I know of when you go and where'." -Heretics

If I were given a beautiful, expensive scarf, I would rejoice. There is no greed, nor grasping, nor triumph in it; there is beauty, and that of such quality that it would delight for years. If I were passed a glass of a fine wine, I would rejoice. There is no need for it, it's medical benefits never cross my mind, and it will not make me happier or sadder after it is gone.

But if I needed that scarf to work for me, to raise me above the others and manipulate their assessments, it is no longer a joy. If I need that wine to ease my pained heart, it is no longer a joy, but as Chesterton puts it, "medicine". Lord, free us from all such heart sickness!

Your most devoted,