Wednesday, September 8, 2010

the boy with the broken halo

Before we get started, a disclaimer- this image is absolutely unrelated to the content of this post. Normally I try to find complimentary images that will marry my words or take them further in some way but I found this and it was just so deliciously odd that I had to use it. Coco Rocha mid-fainting-spell/death draped over her cadaver-like lover. I find it slightly (very?) strange that his pantyhose are the same colour as his skin. And her dress, it looks like spilling blood to me. It was part of a 'Love of a Lifetime' fairytale spread shot by Annie Leibovitz but shown out of context it's just creepy.

OK, so if you can tear your gaze from the scene above- o man, it's weird, eh? I'd rather have the dancer-boy and the McQueen dress and also be alive to enjoy the company of both but maybe that puts me in the minority of US Vogue's readers? Who can say. Props to Grace Coddington for imagining another incredibly memorable editorial. But I digress.(Clearly it's me that can't tear my eyes from the image. But I digress again.)- quickly, let's move on before I start to rhapsodise about Coco Rocha's auburn hair-

So I still have the book. Red-handed, guilty as charged but I feel like it's kind of like trying to stop yourself from finishing a block of Green and Black's milk chocolate when you're home alone and watching 'Love Actually' for the nineteenth time- why even try to stop when it feels so darn fantastic? In a similar way, despite my flagrant disregard for the TWO URGENT NOTICES Fisher Library have sent my inbox, the book remains in my custody, and I don't even care about the fines I'm racking up because Warner's ideas feel made for my eyes and my delighting synapses (is that even- does that even make sense? Sciencey people, maybe avert your eyes as a rule when I mention physics or chemistry or other sciencey things I have no knowledge of. 'Synapses' is a lovely word, though, all I'm sayin'.)

So let's talk publics. That is, let's talk you, because you are my public- or, a public, unified by the very act of reading this post. Warner writes in his book that a public comes into being when it is addressed, that it is The End at the end of writing (and thus he ties it inextricably to texts.) What fired my mind for this post is that I have been thinking lately about who reads Fashademic. Not who actually reads it, because I don't know who most of you are, I don't think, but the you I imagine in my head as I write. I don't consciously have a picture of who this very public (YOU) are but of course in my head you laugh uproariously even when my jokes aren't funny and you stick with me even in the most trailing of long-winded sentences and when I get fiery-passionate about something you too feel your heart beat more urgently. 
In my head, you have the same knowledges that I do and yet interestingly when I write about something that I know sticks me out a bit (like when I wrote about coming back from my old church's camp) I also feel that conspicuousness. I suppose, in short, I imagine that you are exactly like me and yet understand instinctively that you are simultaneously not-me. 
Warner touches on this (more concisely, 'course!) when he writes of a 'social imaginary.' This term arises when he writes in Chapter Two that there are publics that are open-ended and that such publics are imaginary, at least in the act of writing to them. I don't know if what I am describing is what Warner is qualifying, and yet there is an element of the unknowable in a public drawn together by the internet. Most of you don't leave comments nor send emails so I know you're there, somewhere in the world, yet you're intangible to me. When I write, I am conscious that your eyes might drift over these words at some stage, but what that experience might be like, how you respond and where you take it next is entirely your own. In some way we are having a discussion- are we? or am I just monologuing?- and in some way we are in a community- are we? or are we just strangers who happen to be on the same webpage from time to time?- but we are also doing neither of those things at the same time.
The ideas in 'Publics and Counterpublics' are helping me sift through these multitudinous ideas, even as it tosses more up into my hands. And even though I feel I am gently teasing apart a dense something, and that this post is just the beginning of the unravelling process, I feel like there is something distinctly lovely about this whole blogging business. That you are there, that I am here, and that somewhere that's not unified in either time or space, we are briefly somehow together.

PS. Won't be blogging this weekend cause I'm off to Melbourne! And I'm taking 'Publics and Counterpublics' with me- sucks to be you, Fisher Library! (I do feel guilty about the student I'm short-shrifting. Anonymous student- I really am sorry. I'll return it on Monday, promise.


  1. Firstly let me say thank you, for providing yet another as always thought provoking post.

    I have been asking myself these same questions as of late and in particular the value of the blogging audience.
    Inevitably somewhere, someone is asking the same questions I am, and when I happen to stumble upon such posts I am overwhelmed with an unexplainable sense of validation. Yes I am not a complete nut job, yes there is somebody else out there who perhaps in someway views the world as I do. This particularly happens for me with your blog and occassionally Tavi's posts. (Although I rarely comment on her posts due to the overwhelming comment responses she generates).

    But here is my questions in terms of the audience, is there any value in the blogging audience?
    And will it continue as a form of discourse if people continue to fail to engage with each other? From my own observations only, the majority of responses to fashion/style blogs seem to be of the "I love your skirt/ Where's it from" calibre, don't get me wrong there is a time and place for such comments, it is always nice to know that someone appreciates your post, I fail to see how 40+ such responses though promotes anything of worth. However if we don't actually engage with each other, query each other and provide each other with new view points and information how do we grow and learn from this discourse? We won't (or rather the majority of us wont). The blogging realm provides us with an overwhelming opportuntity to share our knowledge with one another and provide new perspectives for each other. I hope we do this with more than simply what we are wearing today.
    Yes clothing/fashion is a form of expression but surely we have more to say than just that? I love knowledge and learning, but what I am truly passionate about is the sharing of this knowledge and information, it is what allows us to grow and to grasp, providing one another with the opportunity to possibly gain a new view point, to see something afresh, gain a wider perspective and be essentially more giving and human to one another. So I'd love for more members of the blogging sphere to comment, to respond, to email, to link posts and put forth new ideas and reflect on others. Rather than simply continue to put forth individual voices, I understand the desire to do so and there is space for that, but the truth wealth of these things we call blogs I believe is the ability they have to connect us to one another. To share a discussion, promote a new discourse, the way philosopher's and theorists of old use to connect through intellectual papers and face to face discussions.

    So thank you, for this post and your previous posts I believe your voice is one that aids the future of blogging positively. Can you please provide me with the details of the text book you are currently devouring, as I'd love to chase up a copy and sink my teeth into it?

    I look forward to your next post as always!
    xo C
    P.S. I hope that made some sort of sense

  2. Thanks C! I completely share your lust for knowledge! The book is by michael warner, it's called 'publics and counterpublics' and should be in most university libraries, I should think! It's still in print as well (uh, yep, may have ordered a copy so I can write in the margins!)

    As for the future of blogging- wouldn't it be amazing if such a thoughtful, responsive 'community' (we need a more accurate noun for this but for the moment, 'community' will do) sprang up around style blogging? I think it may well develop- many other kinds of blogging seemt o feature such discussions. Why do you think style blogging hasn't yet? just thinking it through... maybe perhaps because many style bloggers don't critique fashion, they present their take on it, which is more personal- which would encourage compliments, rather than discussion perhaps? And they don't really present problems to be solved either- though if they do (of the 'where can I get this item' kind) they usually get many rapid responses...
    Though I have to say, for the purposes of my research I'm more interested in how it currently is and how it will continue to be shaped by others, rather than desiring to change it myself. That's not to say I'm not a part of style blogging, because I guess now I am, but it is definitely interesting to explore why it is like it is:)
    Thanks for reading and writing, it's always great to hear from you :)