The play is the display. This is why fashion in even its most absurd, outrageous, or parasitical forms remains one of the chief expressions of the civilizing imperative. As Gilles Lipovetsky explains in his fascinating study, The Empire of Fashion, the rule in fashion, especially in the modern age, “is one of free, untrammeled creation…the spectacle of astonishment.” It has less to do with clothes than with the “ecstasy of newness,” that is, with “continuous creation…detached…from the inertia of social demand.”

Similarly, in the modest arena of the quotidian, the significant deed is not the thing done or demanded but the thing said or simulated in the act of getting the thing that is demanded done. It is the unplanned, spontaneous ricochet of original intention, the collapse of the parenthesis. One recalls poet Dana Gioia’s whimsical remark in a fine poem, “Starting Over,” that “even the wind and air can cultivate/a sensuous lack of purpose.” In the specifically human dimension, certainly, purpose is the stalking horse of freedom. Alice succeeded in reaching the looking-glass hill only when she stopped trying to reach it and let a little aimlessness, a little Jabberwocky, gallumph into her life.


Images courtesy Shutterstock / Oleg Golovnev

Previously from David Solway at PJ Lifestyle:

Islam vs. Man’s Best Friend?