Sunday, April 22, 2012

A Question of Fashion

We try not to be controlled but it's not possible.

Our biggest problem is with cloth makers, they decide how they want us to look like. We grow up at a time when our fashion is mandated by what is present around us. We might choose to look a certain way but then they change things around. All of a sudden, it's not cool anymore to look the way you do. Even when you decide you don't care about their insipid fashion games, you can't maintain your look.  The kind of clothes that give you the look you want aren't for sale anyway. Time has a way of destroying your old clothes and changing your size. You may resist the change for a few years, but one day you wake up and find yourself looking like a completely different person and you can't do anything about it.

The Overcoat
You may hunt for what remains of your chosen fashion style, but all you will have is a cheap second rate alternative. You may look with contempt upon the next generation choosing those strange jeans or those ridiculous T-shirts, but they're as much a victim of circumstances as you are. You have  been driven down a path of conformity and there's nothing you can do to fight it. You have been driven into cheap alternatives for your chosen fashion style, and they have been driven to their own trendy fashion.

Weaving your own clothes is a good alternative.  I would rather choose an ugliness of my making than a beauty mandated by others. Of course, we aren't talking about any beauty here, they're just a set of choices that you never asked for in the first place. It feels that to be free one must be a designer of everything; clothes, furniture and ideas. There's no other way to live. But life isn't easy. Life doesn't want you to create your own path, but to implement a path which others, far more rich in resources, have chosen. Yes, you don't have time to design and implement your own version of life because others want you to implement theirs. Instead of designing your own look, you design it for others and skip all the furniture, ideas and what have you. There's a sort of specialization for each field and all you can really get is a choice about one aspect of your life. I don't mean you don't choose, I'm talking about creating choice not just choosing it.

Sometimes I wish I had more of a say about my life. I wish the car makers would ask me what I wanted in a car rather than just making cars and asking me to choose. I wish I had a say in what I looked like after wearing all their clothes.

One of the few options we have to taking control of our lives is to go for the individuals who support in decisions rather than make them for you. Tailors who ask you how you want to look like, carpenters who ask you how you want your furniture, builders who ask you how you want your house.

How do we get back to being so personal in a greedy world where, not only the producers just want to produce, but also consumers just want to consume? Greed is what hinders our quality of life. Why not just have a few things you've invested yourself in rather than a hundred things that you have just because you can?

I'm reminded of Gogol's story, The Overcoat. Akaky Akakievich invested everything in making a new overcoat  his. He designed it, he loved it and waited patiently for it to be done. It was a moving tale of investing yourself into something that reflects you. But the ending of that story is a very scary prospect. His coat was stolen from him in a moment of greed. In one moment, those who do not understand the value of investing yourself into something, in working hard for something, in loving something, in that moment an entire life was stolen, just like that.

Yes, it's greed that makes our lives less personal. Greed is what hinders our quality of life. But how do we make people love one another? How do we make people love themselves. How do we get people to choose how they dress?