Sunday, May 10, 2009


I’m about to quote something from a magazine I never thought I’d quote from— Psychology Today—one of a number of liberal-ish, pseudo-intellectual (I haven’t used that term since high school) magazines that promise much and ultimately leave you feeling empty, of which The Utne Reader is a prime example. Among PT’s many annoying qualities is that it employs those byte-sized fillers with cutesy graphics that magazine people (including those at TIME and New York) seem to think are all our Internet-addled heads can handle. (Here one is “What do you do to prevent nodding off at the wheel? 54% Park and walk around, 52% turn on music, 5% Drive faster, etc.) When will magazines stop trying to compete with the Web and get that if we’re going to sit down and read, we want something to read. In-depth articles, analysis, criticism, investigative reporting, photojournalism—these are all things magazines do well that the Internet can’t. The New Yorker has had that formula down for years, and because of it is increasingly relevant. But I rant, when my intention was to point out something I liked. This from the October 2008 issue of PT (disclaimer: I found it in the acupuncturist’s office) by Hara Estroff Marano in an article about style in an issue about style (the Editor’s Note is entitled Clothes Encounters—pul-lease!—whoops, there I go again):

…style is optimism made visible. Style presumes you are a person of interest, that the world is a place of interest, that life is worth making the effort for….

As the speed of all our transactions increases, we need fast ways of transmitting information about ourselves without losing authenticity; we have less and less time to make our mark in other, more leisurely ways of knowing. Style, like a perfectly-fitting book jacket, evokes the substance within by way of the surface. It makes an authentic visual impression in a world that otherwise strips people of identity. There was a time when style was a luxury. Today it is a necessity.

Yes, because finally, in the 21st century, it appears that “style” is becoming the new “fashion.” And hooray for that! Starting with the vogue for unusual children’s names (which make it easier to be found on the Internet), individuality is key—when everyone used to think that in the “future” (which we happen to be living in) we’d all be running around like so many Spocks in identical silver tights.

Anyway, just thinking about style being “optimism made visible” cheers me up, as do the new, soft, white organic cotton pajamas (with wooden buttons!) I’m wearing while stuck at home with the nasty cold I’ve had since Chicago. The interesting thing is that while I know I have style (although am less concerned about making an impression than pleasing myself—no one can see me in my pajamas), I want a different style. I want to be funky, like my friend, Jude, but over the years have had to come to terms with the fact that I’m simply not funky. Just the way I want to be an expressionist painter and must reconcile myself to being…me. Oh well.


Nancy said...

If I could I'd make you a cup of tea.
It's been a long time since I felt comfortable with my clothing, until recently. Slowly I'm learning my new needs and wants. It's evidence of change both physical and psychological. With that, I hope it shows up optimistically.

joan said...

I love this! And yes you do have great style, for sure. And no you will never be funky nor an expressionist. Leave all that to me...

Unknown said...

I love this! I want it printed on a funky t-shirt!