“They seem frigid and phlegmatic to those who have been spiced with the frantic passion and violent coloring of inferior but popular writers.”
~ RWE, The Over-Soul, 1841
I love Morrissey: I have every breath he ever uttered in a recording studio. Naturally, I seized his autobiography, which hastily revealed itself to be indecipherable. Sans the promise of further punishment, I appropriated List of the Lost, which was…equally thus: someone had given Morrissey a thesaurus for his birthday, he ate it and evacuated his bowels onto the page.
I recollect the cautions of people I knew, some were well-read and erudite; and some heeded Critics: tread not there; it was eviscerated by Critics; it was rubbish. Though, I follow not; nor do I permit any person but myself to form my conclusions. The twelfth time I thrust it across the room was my moment of determination. Now neither did I acquiesce to my devotion to Morrissey when shouldering this endeavour. People seek Fashion. Mobs devote themselves to trends. Crowds pursue those things and people to which and to whom Critics steer them. They esteem Artists and styles which are favoured and beloved, whether deservingly or not; merely because they are.
The ostensibly mundane musings — or even “throwaways”— of well-known Artists or Writers are preserved. Whilst celebrated Artists are more often than not, endowed and worthy of prominence, alas; how often are those likewise revered who are not deserving (for my part, Banksy does nothing for me)?; how many are acclaimed solely via Critics or the Fashionable?
There is an ineffable quality of art, which is lost upon the Fashionable and pretentious, as it is received with obscene intent.
“Let an Artist scrawl a few lines or figures on the back of a letter, and that scrap of paper is rescued from danger, is put in a portfolio, is framed and glazed, and, in proportion with the beauty of the lines drawn, will be kept for centuries…How many copies are there of the Belvedere Apollo, the Venus, the Psyche, the Warwick Vases, the Parthenon and the Temple of Vesta! These are objects of tenderness to all. In our cities, an ugly building is soon removed, and is never repeated; but, any beautiful building is copied and improved upon, so that all Masons and Carpenters work to repeat and preserve the agreeable forms, whilst the ugly ones die out.”
~ RWE, The Conduct of Life/Beauty, 1860
Segue to discourse on Fashion. And the Gentleman. Fashion is garish and ostentatious; a facade; a performance, if you will; it is an outward manifestation and guides others to hypothesise about a person. A Gnntleman was held to be “a man of truth; lord of his own actions.” For the purposes of this discussion, one must conduct the distinctions current: from Gentleman to those of any gender who demonstrate gentility; which denotes good nature and benevolence and are those who maintain the distinction between Fashion and a heroic character.
“The point of distinction in all this class of names, as courtesy, chivalry, fashion and the like, is that the flower and the fruit, not the grain of the tree, are contemplated. It is beauty which is the aim this time, and not worth.”
~ RWE, Manners, 1841
Whilst manners appear intimidatory to the uncultivated; the latter can attain decorum and elegance, and when this occurs, the barriers recede. Fashion is vague, a facade, though lamentably, also powerful. Breeding and civility present badges of social distinction, and serve us; however, regrettably, out of them, Fashion is borne.
“Thus grows up fashion, and equivocal semblance, the most puissant, the most fantastic and frivolous, the most feared and followed, and which morals and violence assault in vain…Great men are not commonly in its halls; they are absent in the field: they are working, not triumphing. Fashion is made up of their children…”
~ RWE, Manners, 1841
In Gifts, the distinctions are drawn more succinctly: labour yields property; inheritance yields gifts.
These considerations about Fashion and more earnest respectability beg the question of whether the ugly buildings cited might be otherwise protected or reproduced if the fashionable deemed them…fashionable.
The potency of pretension and veneer…
Seriously, Geth was off work one day and texted me this photo, observing that “the legs and torso match.”