December 28, 2012

End of the Year Review

Based on the past two years, my blog appears cyclical in nature- raising its head for the first months of the school year and dying down again after Christmas. By posting this end of the year review, I will break that spell and continue to post throughout the spring and summer of 2013- the year the world didn't end.

In 2011, I focused on defining and setting out what I liked and disliked about each of the three inspirations for my own aesthetic with the intention of putting those into practice for the rest of the year. This discussion helped solidify why I liked somethings, but didn't lead to much practical application.

2012 was a year of transition. In addition to changing the appearance and name of the blog, I have begun to shift focus from reviewing different aesthetics. There were a few practical applications, another test argument, and some more general posts. Not a unified year. It is a pity, because I have pages and pages of half written blog ideas both on the computer and in my notebooks that I never got around to writing.

Based on the directions of my thoughts and the posts I have written already, 2013 will focus on more philosophical thoughts and more day to day 'how-to's' as I attempt to answer the question of 'what do I like' from the metaphysical and the practical standpoints. Hopefully the two shall meet somewhere in the middle.

In conclusion, while I'm glad this blog didn't die in 2012, I wasn't pleased with the quantity or type of posts. My goals for 2013 are to write 50 posts for this new year and stick to my newly defined goal of this blog.

If you are a blogger, what are your goals for 2013 in your blog? If not, what are your goals for the new year in your life?

Have a Happy New Year!

November 28, 2012

An Allegory for Rebels

"Lost" by Alecu Grigore
If our society were like a decaying mansion, what then?

Kibble clutters corners. The stinking water stains eek over rotting plaster while the click of rodent nails echo in the walls. Few panes of glass remain in the windows. The house is decaying. Failing. Rotting from the center out. The occupants recognize this fact but shrug their shoulders or raise their eyes to an uncaring God.

There are some inhabitants who do not conform to apathy. They stalk the forgotten wings of the sprawling mansion, learn the secret passwords to skulk in the basement, identify the weaknesses and ready their attack. Together they plot- drawn together tighter by a hatred of the crumbling house above them than by any creative pursuit. Or rather, destruction is their creation. They whisper fervently about disturbing the sheep and cattle who live above, opening their eyes and leading them from their prison. They speak of the glory of chaos and beauty of anarchy. Fire and blood haunt their dreams.

But what if they succeed?

What if the bombs are placed on the weakened supports? What if the fuses are ignited  What if their dream is realized?

The house explodes. Violently. Passionately. Dust and debris rain down as the flames consume the life we once lived. Ecstatic at the change, we dance before the inferno and believe ourselves to be freed.

But the fire burns out. Dawn comes. We realize what is outside of the house is not the Eden promised, but a world even more drab and crumbling than the house we left. Plus, our winter coats were burned in the fire.

No longer tied together by a common enemy, the inhabitants begin to fight among themselves to establish some sort of shelter. Worse, they band together to destroy an overlooked, but structurally sound shed on the edge of the yard. Their need for companionship that comes from shared hatred turns their focus to individuals or institutions no deserving of such attack.

What have their plots gained them? At least the home was familiar. At least it kept the worst of the rain from our heads. At least it gave us a common complaint. We could always look out the cracked windows and imagine ourselves leaving. Perhaps we even did.

No. I do not want to see our house reduced to rubble and dust. Not unless there is an architect with crisp blueprints that solve, in clear mathematics, the structural problems of our past home. Not unless there is an army of builders who will not cut corners to line their own pockets.

Until then, I will wander my house like a specter  hands clasped at the small of my back. I will neither pretend to ignore the decay nor will I aid in its destruction of the house. I will not pretend the windows are whole and clear, but neither shall a rock leave my hand to shatter the sharp panes. Instead, I will clean what panes I can so others may see the world outside more clearly. I will not step over the discarded chair, but nor will I kick it to pieces for the petty superiority of watching something break. Instead, I will right it, dust it off, be on my way. Better yet, in my own corner of the house, I will gather together supplies and build myself a book shelf or writing desk.

Destruction is easy. There are so many ways to break things. It is much harder to create.

November 27, 2012

A Fond Farewell

Angle of Death Victorious

On November 20th 2012, the world for all those who love alternative fashions and lifestyles suffered a loss. Miss Lumpy of the wonderful blog "Her Lumpiness" hung up her hat and bid adieu to the Lolita lifestyle. In a beautiful final post, she made her farewells, explained her reasoning and introduced us to her new blog.

Her decision to move on has my complete support and understanding. But since this blog was so important to my own developing interest in alternative Aesthetics, I want to take a moment to reflect on her work.

Miss Lumpy's writing on the Lolita lifestyle is some of the best I have ever seen. This blog was inspired by her own. In addition to covering the basics of Lolita fashion, she explained how she was applying Lolita to her daily lifestyle as well: book recommendations  etsy shop reviews, daily outfit posts. But what set her blog apart is her willingness to tackle some of the deeper and more painful topics. Her posts covered the gambit from relationship abuse to bullying to self esteem. I follow a lot of blogs for alternative fashion, but Miss Lumpy's was the only one that covered such a range of ideas. She blended the profound and the beautiful together seamlessly. 
I will miss her posts. Her writing was clear and nuanced. Her topics inspired me to find beauty in my day to day life despite being from a different aesthetic. Her presence will be missed in my RSS feeds.

However, her goodbye to the lolita aesthetic brings up another interesting idea: we evolve. The ideas we held sacred seven years ago may have no relevance to our current life. As new ideas and information enter our minds, as new experiences shape our memories, it is a greater crime to cling to the past and stagnate rather than embrace the change. There should be no shame in putting old, fond ideas to rest if it means clearing your life for a new  inspiration. 

But, as Chinese Medicine teaches, grief accompanies every change in life- even the changes for the good. Miss Lumpy will be missed, but I look forward to reading Ally Button's new work. 

October 26, 2012

The Bane of Leafblowers

In my mind, there is no modern appliance so annoying as the leaf blower. They vibrate at a pitch  that is designed to destroy concentration, are ubiquitous and guzzle energy.  But their worst fault is that they are unnecessary. A broom removes the leaves from a front lawn or porch just as efficiently with less noise and distraction to every one else.

But this desire for complex technology to do the job of simple objects is not restricted to leaf blowers. I see it many different appliances- especially for the kitchen- and begin to wonder if the bit of ease which this specialized tool offers our lives is really worth the increase of complexity and clutter. When I have thought about this idea more, I'll write a longer post. But I wanted to see if anyone else found overly specialized objects to be more a help or a hindrance to their lives.

October 19, 2012

Why Fashion Does Matter

Let us play a little game.

First, let's pose a hypothesis: fashion is a moral consideration.

No, not insofar as fair trade organic cotton fills your closet or you only buy handmade works of art to support local artisans (both noble goals). But because integration of life and ideals is a worthy goal and fashion is one of the best expressions of an Aesthetic.

Consider it from the point of view of philosophy. If metaphysics is to be anything more than an agreeable waste of time and intellect, it must have some baring on one's personal ethics, world view, and general lifestyle.  What use are convictions or beliefs if they are not practiced as well? After all, if we saw a person claim to love all life on earth, but go home each day and ruthlessly abuse her significant other, there would be some question to the validity of her claim. Hypocrisy in another word.

So, why don't we hold this same standard with Aesthetics? If you claim to love the Steampunk aesthetic, but your wardrobe consists of jeans and plain colored tee-shirts, why are you not branded as a hypocrite? Why is it acceptable to love a fashion or an ideal, but never express it in our daily lives?

The answer may lie in our perception of fashion: it is perfectly acceptable to have many different interests or styles of clothing where it would be reprehensible to have many different sorts of morals. Acceptable to dress as a Neo-Victorian one day, a modern celebrity the next, or search your closet for the perfect dress to match an event. But to put on one set of values to suit a certain situation and then replace them with another when the scenario changes and people become wary of your presence.

Is this distinction between Philosophy and Aesthetic a wrong one? Should faithfulness to one's aesthetic  be regaled as highly as one's monogamy to a certain set of values? If yes, both can and should evolve over time, but our current closet of hodgepodge fashions mingling next to each other shows a distinct lack of discretion and taste. Therefore, if multiple styles appeal to your Aesthetic, investigate further and discover the root cause for each. Find the first principles of your Aesthetics in a sense. Once done, embrace those principles and never deviate.

Clothing, then, is the easiest and most accessible way to express our Aesthetics to the outside world. Our choices of clothes, reflect our choices of what is beautiful or good as much as any action. Fashion does Matter.

October 12, 2012

Penniless Aristocrat: In Praise of Thrifting

Once upon a time, shopping wasn't a recreational sport.

Actually according to various etiquette books written prior to the fifties, it was considered bad manners to enter a shop just to browse. The phrase 'I'm just looking' was incomprehensible; you went out shopping list of goods and stores in hand, intending to purchase something.

As an ex-sales girl, I bemoan the death of this custom. It would have made my job so much easier and more satisfying, but I realize a return to this mindset is impossible. Shopping is now recreational. The urge to buy and consume is now an epidemic in most of the Western world. There are many other, better blogs, articles, studies and philosophies to explain this problem. You've all read them before, so I won't waste our time. Needless to say: more stuff does not equal more happiness. Clutter damages the serenity of our homes, our pocketbooks, and, potentially, the environment.

The logical solution would be to stop buying so many things. With the extra money, you can invest in one high quality item that brings delight and charm to your life- rather than a houseful of items that are only 'maybes.' So why don't we do it?

The fault lies with our increased desire for la nouveau- the new. There are so many novelties in modern life: new products, new ideas, new fashions, and new entertainments. Every time we fire up our computers or turn on our televisions, our brains are bombarded with the new, the different, the exciting. Our capacity for boredom has diminished with our attention spans. Why force yourself through "Vanity Fair" when you can flip to facebook or netflix in a second?

This desire for novelty extends  not only to our mental landscape but to our possessions as well. The thrill of a new pair of shoes, a new accessory or a knicknack is still delightful, if diminished, even if we are constantly buying new things. It will take a change far more than my willpower to keep me from wanting to acquire and consume.

So the Neo-Aristocrat faces a dilemma. Financial independence, ecological consciousness, and a desire for unique and high quality items directly compete with the drive for the new. This is where thrifting plays a role.

Again, countless other alternative fashion blogs rightly laud thrift shops for their unique and cheap clothing and accessory options. It's true. Especially if you live near a rich city, the pickings of thrift stores are a superb  place to build your wardrobe  But they also are a superb place to scratch the itch for the new. You can pick up a new mirror or skirt- have all the excitement of buying something new- while still maintaining the values of an Neo-Aristocrat. As second hand stores, the items of thrift shops do not pull more resources from the environment, are no expensive, often support a local charity, and can contain surprisingly wonderful items.

In short, Thrifting is a responsible and fun way to deal with a modern neurosis while maintaining some of the values of a Neo-Aristocrat.

Grace Notes:

~ A closet packed full of thrifted items is just as bad as a closet of items from designer brands or other clothing stores. Buy responsibly and purge your closet twice a year when switching out wardrobes.

~ Learn your fabrics, brands and cuts of clothes. Something from the Banana Republic will be of higher quality than something from Forever21. 100% pure silk or wool is generally higher quality than polyester or spandex.

~ If you can sew or alter clothing, the value of the thrift store expands exponentially. Same if you are learning to sew. Some thrift stores carry craft supplies or material. But if you want practice drafting patterns or making a mock up of a pattern, I recommend buying a bed sheet or table cloth to experiment with.

~ Wash everything before wearing it. Dry clean if necessary.

What about you? How does shopping at a thift store compare to a mall? Do you tend to value your thifted items more or less? What do you look for when you go into a Thrift store?

September 29, 2012

Re-breaking the Lense

Sometimes in life, it is necessary to take a step back from a project and let it reform in your mind. I do this often: sometimes for an hour, a day, a week, or, in this case, more than seven months. But with more life experiences under my belt, I am still very interested in continuing to explore the foundations of the Neo-Aristocratic aesthetic and applying it to my l.
Though I'll still undertake the more philosophic discussion of comparative lifestyles and what exact it is to be Aristocratic, the gist of my interest has turned instead to applying the aesthetic to my current lifestyle. After all, a philosophy is just so much hot air unless applied to your day to day life.
With that in mind, here are three new themes I will follow:
The Penniless Aristocrat
Neo-Aristocratic behavior and lifestyle should apply to everyone- not just those with a fat wallet. But it is easy while poor to fall into some bad and very un-aristocratic behaviors. I'll try to find the most Neo-Aristocratic way to deal with the mundane problems of public transport, landlords, thrift shopping and otherwise. 
Reflections on Refinement
Though the process of refinement is an internal one, the quality of material we have to reform matters a great deal. Here I will be reviewing various pieces of literature, music, art, theater, etc that I find to be Aristocratic. More importantly, I hope to offer tools to look at these pieces of fine art and literature so they can be fully appreciated.
Maintaining Health 
Finally, health of both body and mind is essential to living a good lifestyle- tortured poets aside. As I am studying Acupuncture and have always been interested in holistic medicine  this will be a small forum for me to put some of the lessons I've learned into practical use.
With these themes and others in the trend, I hope this next installation of "Life Through a Cracked Lens" will be an interesting read. As always, if you have any questions or suggestions, feel free to email me or comment below.