Last year for Christmas ZG got me a pipe. Mariela got me dirty martini mix. I have told Dedita (my girl and the slave I have been writing about recently) I want cuff links this year. Last summer I bought myself boots and my favorite toy in my toy bag is my belt. Each item is something that I have grown fond of. Each is something that I feel embodies not only me, but the me that I would want to see from the outside. Each is nothing in itself but an object, a tool, a noun but they are piling up, accumulating to make what can only be described as my style.
Style is often seen frozen in time; fifties style, Art Deco, Victorian, Gothic are all styles caught like flies in amber. They will not move or change. They are times that people can look back to and try emulate. This often is done not out of some sense of belonging but by the need to qualify ones life. By living in the style of a bygone era one can feel superior to others. I am not lost in the modern world, I am more authentic. It is natural for humans to want to find their stations in life by defining them as better than others but this definition of self through negative space can often leave a person feeling vaguely unfinished.
Style is defined as: “a mode of living, as with respect to expense or display.” There is a commonality within items and traits of a specific style. Types of clothes, music, philosophies are all seen as being specific to the style. This gives a person direction and structure on which they build their persona. It is often first seen as a way of standing out against the backdrop of the general population. The rockabilly wears his hair, the goth-chick paints her nails, the corporate attorney drives the car he does to show his style to the world. Each screams, “I am not like you! I am better for my ability to be true to my style!” This works for a while, especially when the style is first found but the contradictory nature of the human animal is that it wants to both stand out and be accepted. So, after a while this desire to stand apart runs into the need for company and the person begins to look for like minded folks. Social gatherings that have a theme, comic book conventions, cigar shops, drum circles draw like-minded souls together. They can compare their fashions, use a vernacular, listen to music that is both common to them all but apart from the rest of society. The need to be better and to stand out does not go away though and after a while, even within the microcosm, the need to be better arises. People begin to stratify themselves, claiming to be more ___ than the next person.
“H___ is ok but all her jewelry is from Hot Topix. I get my jewelry only from antique stores.” Civil War reenactors often look for the minutest details in their fellow soldiers. A pair of sneakers, a watch or cotton socks can be enough to make one feel superior to another. It is a constant back and forth of seeking community and individuality.
We all do it. I am as guilty as anyone but it is something that I am aware of and work to address (which of course makes me better than others). This comparison is hard to avoid when you are working with style because of the very definition. Everything that is of a style must have something in common but what that commonality is depends on the person defining it. No two people will see a style as being exactly the same. So how do you get around this?
I don’t know art but I know what I like
I like Johnny Cash. I like Die Atwoord. I like Hank Williams (I,Jr. and III) and I like AC/DC. I like my black cowboy boots and I love my sneakers. I wear jeans and Henleys but have a collection of button down shirts that I am very comfortable with. I smoke a pipe and drink dirty martinis. I watch tv and play cards. In short I follow a unique style; my style.