Following the fine red lines from one source of inspiration to another, one's self-concept becomes a labyrinthine tapestry of tagged desires, untold purifications and signified originalities. This self-ideation is not materialistic ontology alone, but the individual's careful navigation through the maze of yes and no. Dancing with the Minotaur-now-Hydra, not towards death but rebirth through self-articulation.
One's appurtenances & artifices have become, more than ever before, relevant for their opacity, a firewall in the age of transparency and totalitarian lack of privacy: myth. In austerity, myth rises again, one seeks illicit refinements, the smallest tokens of extravagance alone suffice to speak to the spirited achievements of gilded eras without the need for atonement. The mystery of a soul: one's elsewhere, one's room-of-their-own, one's imagination, one's sexual identity - a half-shadowed creature dwelling in the sanctity of one's private life. Without privacy, the tantric dance is not possible, eros withers. In a culture driven by it's marketplace values, sex is everywhere and one is made to feel a failure without "It." These are the forces which create tensions that drive us to spend without thought, recklessly and without taste. Taste being, to this writer's perception, that exquisite knowledge of privacy.
The ordinary consumer will purchase items at low cost and lowest quality, in great numbers, merely for the conceit of the purchase. If one wears tailored suits, numbering four, a new suit every year, the approach is one of self-discipline and an intimacy with every thread of one's choices. Returning to the historic ethos of the couturier - printer - the apothecary - the chandler - the chocolatier - the maker repudiates the soul-loss of the inauthentic thing, rekindling the original meaning of Purchase [privacy and its' content].
During the French Revolution - in fact, during every revolution large or small - peasants revolt and destroy priceless heirlooms and cultural artifacts. Tattered and starving [wage] slaves, rip into libraries and museums, burning and looting collections [Hypatia's loss, in Agora]. What remains, after the volcano of revolution, as Sontag points out in Volcano Lover [her only fictional work], is the reduction of ancient collections of beauty to rubble and kitsch. In America today, Makers stand in for citizens-in-revolt, a French socialist economic model is being echoed and adulated.
This inarticulate capitalist Maker movement must overstep the baldness of the past uprisings, which desecrated the honey for the drones. As the silences of French [Existentialist] cinema demure, the art was lost, the cultural heritage was squandered and the whole beast just writhes about in the dust eating its tail, epochal waste. For, if the contemporary digital artist-citizen does not maintain the highest levels of cultural sensitivity, in their efforts to right the egregious economic wrongs now as ever at play in banking cartels and in globalized corporate rule, then the entirety of the democratic machinations of the photographic and cinematic media will have been for naught. Walter Benjamin, who pointed out the social good in the democratic echoing of film for the factory, again so too, Warhol, would all writhe in their graves, because, the point of democratizing the tools and media of propaganda, is that the propaganda belongs to the people. The language and the narrative of radicals is being co-opted by such blockbusters as Breaking Bad, House of Cards, Orange is the New Black, Fringe, The L Word, etc. People feel their story is being told, by example of bald-face exaggeration, while the rip-tides of subtext and meaning could not be more clear towards conformity and complicit, apathetic silence. So, beating them at their own game, abrogations of free speech in backhand tattling must be first sensational cum radical and then, underneath, punitive. Subversion has been subverted.
The long shadow of the American experiment, beginning with Benjamin Franklin, was based on the ideation that a middle class of land-owners could be established wherein practices of dignity, fair-trade and sober simplicity could prevail over time. Middle-class self-loathing is the slough of the skin of this writhing double-headed Hydradraulic Janus, the palimpsest of erasure. If artists and artisans cannot remember, or archive, or curate the past, but only make new forms [else they tread on the kitsch, and destroy their talent as did Odd Nerdrum] - then the failure is on the deification of the New as a Democratic value.
Banking cartels are not new. Slavery is not new. Auto-destruction of human habitat through hubris and greed is not new. Democracy is not new. Yet it is deeply imperiled, because it imperils itself. This is the beauty of Sontag's thinking which is Judaic thought, things are relevant and sacred when they bear the meaning of Purchase, kitsch or not. Spinoza at Leiden, to Adrien Van der Donck's New Amsterdam town-hall meetings, to Hollywood's Jewish elite, America is deeply Jewish. It follows that American fashion is deeply Jewish. Herein, two flags are flying high: the black false flag and the white truth/truce flag of profits and portents, obfuscating the fiduciary history of the investors behind the World Wars [Jekyll Island] with the noble propagandistic flag of freedom and liberty for all. Only those who propagandize on behalf of the spiritual treasures accumulated through time, historic archives and intellectual advances will be able to ascertain one flag from another, the one Judaism that gives while the other that takes. This is the conflict within Zionism, this is the nature of the sleight of hand.
As a symbolic gesture, American Apparel established a beacon of hope for the gasping, outsourced American garment industry. The illicit inference of pedophilia [yes, I quote the Piper, which is not the same as paying her] made just enough value through sensationalism, in lieu of the lost actual value of journalism, to sell their excuse for clothing to witless and demoralized public. American Apparel's fashion photography echoed 90's Calvin Klein ads featuring anorexic scarcely-pubescent children in high-contrast, garish lighting and sexual postures. The difference was the use of models less twisted by a gothic, Anglo filter and more wholesomely ethnic and post-modern-consensual [the Millennials' ubiquitous Woody Allen glasses, giving permission to the lens/consumer to bibbity-bobbity-eye-rape the un-starved Latinas of the Valley]. Take all conspiracy theory out of it, on the symbolic face, the story of Dov Charney and American Apparel could be read as a propaganda device to patronize the entire fashion industry and it's consumers at once, Charney being but a patsy. Vertical manufacturing does not exist, little slave-children-sex-objects, just as democracy does not exist. The myth of ethical clothing and ethical fashion is dead.
When is it not dead?
Thus we arrive at the Maker movement. An ad for bespoke sunglasses flickers across the social media margins. The new marginalia marketing, the reader/ cleric/ maker/ consumer by margin notes of trailing cookies. We arrive again at e-tailoring. When is tailoring ethical when the entire internet is custom-tailored to our every micro google or wishlist? Tailoring is no longer an extravagance, or even an option on the symbolic level of the internet's functionality. The internet's sleight of hand, offering infinite freedom of choice, with an infinity of price tags. Choice itself is no longer a choice. Like the new cellugenic screen-writing - this e-tailoring of the internet is exciting because it is so close-to-home. It satisfies the narcissist in each of us. There is good in this, while there is mind-control. It is a mind-control of constant mirroring.
All the more reason for a return to the simple gesture of a garment, hand-sewn or a candle hand-dipped. Local wax. Chocolates made in a little local farm shop are the value of the real thing. The Purchase of the Real Thing, or the Spiritual Journey of Every American: privacy and the act of making, wherein the making and selling of the Real Thing is what is done in privacy, sold in privacy and consumed in privacy. [Thus the success of the internet, take-out, the automobile, the suburb etc]. It is not the reification of sex, per se, but of soul, which is from the same stream but nearer the zenith.
Why commerce at all? Because any resistance must have a mechanism for self-perpetuity. Survivalist camps must have tourists who pay tickets, or else it is a group of sorrowful drop-outs still wearing full-metal jackets. Currency is an objective leveler, in terms of the osmotics of electrical conduction. There is a great value in normality and stealth conformity as a medium of resistance, if and only if, it is no longer a peasant uprising but a middle-class protecting itself against greater bifurcations of wealth, as was the American Revolution of the 1770's. And so the Hydra devours its tail, but with consent.