Thursday, September 30, 2010

"All our knowledge is the offspring of our perceptions." - da Vinci

I was lying on the grass yesterday afternoon, reading Man's Search for Meaning, and I thought of something I wanted to post about...but now I've forgotten what it was...


While I was getting paid to take off my clothes for money (read: nude modeling for figure drawing), I was in a position that apparently made me look pregnant. As I was staring off into space, I hear the professor say, "You've made her look seven months pregnant!" Of course, I'm not pregnant, so I can't be seven months pregnant. Furthermore, I'm fairly certain I don't look pregnant. But, it illustrates how our perceptions influence how we see people, society, ourselves, the world, everything.

A friend once anxiously said to me, "But Erin, what if my red isn't your red?!" My red probably isn't her red, but does that matter? We can still talk about "red" and be referring and thinking about the same definition of the color, so it essentially doesn't matter if our perceptions match. Just as color is a perception, I would argue that everything else is as well. Beauty, especially, is surely not a matter of "fact" but of perception (which usually boils down to opinion, right?). What I consider to be beautiful may not be the same as what you consider to be beautiful. (Though social and evolutionary psychology will argue that everyone finds symmetrical people "beautiful.") But, again, we can still talk about the concept "beauty" and have some idea as to what we are talking about.

Many would maintain that this dress is ugly. Let's be honest, it's essentially a well-cut sack. And therein lies the beauty. It's a really, really well designed sack. The print alone is divine.

Drives Van Noten SS 2011

Tim Blanks described Gareth Pugh's spring/summer 2011 collection thusly: "And, keen as he was to avoid the sci-fi tag that has been continually attached to his clothes, he still showed sinuous silvery pieces that clung to the body like thirty-first-century armor" (italics mine).

Yes, actually, I would like to pretend that I don't live in the 21st century where the majority wears jeans and t-shirts every day.

Okay, these pants are — and I'm stealing a line from Rachel Zoe — literally to die for. Clearly the model is wearing heels and is probably at least 5'10" but STILL (bold and italics are necessary, yes), the line of the pant is...I can't describe it. Just look at it!

Can I wear this dress every day for a month, please? (After a month, I'll want to save it for my future children.) If Pugh really wants to get away from the sci-fi label, he's not doing a very good job of it. (You can see the rest of the collection here and understand what I mean.)

If our perceptions already don't match and already don't matter, then the bottom line is essentially this: Wear whatever you want, because you can't please everyone's skewed perceptions.

(all photos via

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Kierkegaard and Nietzsche, but mostly Kierkegaard

I'm taking a philosophy class called Phenomenology and Existentialism, and I absolutely love it; it is my philosophical cup of tea. So, here are some random quotes from essays by Kierkegaard and Nietzsche.

Kierkegaard in The Present Age (written in 1846): "If I tried to imagine the public as a particular person, I should perhaps think of one of the Roman emperors, a large well-fed figure, suffering from boredom, looking only for the sensual intoxication of laughter, since the divine gift of wit is not earthly enough."

This is one negative side of fashion that I wish didn't exist. Kierkegaard and fashion don't really assimilate well, (especially because fashion people are generally not large, though perhaps well-fed), but I occasionally get the feeling from reading blogs and reviews of the collections that everyone is bored with the clothes. It's almost like it's a game now; it's about who can dress the "best" so as to be featured on Tommy Ton or Scott Schuman's blog. It's sheer vanity. And guess what, the "street" photographers end up taking pictures of the same people in the industry - perhaps because there aren't too many to choose from. It's supposed to be inspirational, and sometimes it is, but I am honestly tired of seeing editors being photographed. Of course they're going to be wearing designer goods and look awesome. It's part of their job.

Nietzsche writes in The Gay Science (1887) "I doubt that such pain makes us 'better'; but I know that it makes us more profound." (p. 36)

But is suffering worth being profound? Or is it better to be simple and take suffering for what it is and think naught of it?

I think Nietzsche's conception of Dionysus is here.

Kierkegaard in The Present Age: "But in mere scope flirtation has all the advantages, for one can flirt with anything, but one can only really love one girl. From the point of view of love, properly understood, any addition is really a subtraction (even though in a confused age a capricious man may be blinded by pleasure), and the more one adds the more one takes away" (p. 75-76).

Kierkegaard in The Present Age: "The very soul of a writer should go into his style, and a man puts his whole personality into the style of his conversation, though limited by the exception which Matthias Claudius noted when he said that if any one conjured a book its esprit should appear — unless there was no esprit in it. Nowadays one can talk with any one, and it must be admitted that people's opinions are exceedingly sensible, yet the conversation leaves one with the impression of having talked to an anonymity" (p. 76). (emphasis mine)

The italicized line happens much too often in this modern age. I think everyone can say they've experienced it time and time again.

Kierkegaard, again, in The Present Age: "In Germany they even have phrase-books for the use of lovers, and it will end with lovers sitting together talking anonymously. In fact there are handbooks for everything, and very soon education, all the world over, will consist in learning a greater or lesser number of comments by heart, and people will excel according to their capacity for singling out the various facts like a printer singling out the letters, but completely ignorant of the meaning of anything" (p. 77). (emphasis mine)

This occurs every single day. No one wants to know the meaning of anything, because it's so much easier to let things slide by without analyzing everything, or even some thing. Oftentimes, it's what the school system boils down to. "Memorize this! You don't have to understand it; just memorize it so you can do well on the test (so we can get money from the state)!"

And, to be off topic, here is my future wedding dress.

Marchesa spring/summer 2011 via

The other two pictures are kind of random. They're just pretty, and the post would look really dreary with just one photo. They're aesthetically pleasing, which is what Apollo represented, among other things.

(other photos via fashiongonerogue)

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Le Smoking

Hollywood and fashion love to glorify smoking. Is it sexy? Seductive? Mysterious? Trendy? A sign of status? (As long as the person is good looking, of course.)

I remember the first time I saw Marla Singer blowing smoke into the camera with her blacked-out sunglasses on and her jawline defined, and I thought, "I want to look like that."

(via here)

(Lara in Interview)

(Sasha in Vogue Paris 2009)

(Ben in Naag)

(Yves Saint Laurent "le smoking" tuxedo, photographed by Helmut Newton; via wikipedia)

(Lily in Vogue Paris 2009)

The photo above is just supposed to get a rise out of people. "Oh my God! She's smoking and pregnant! Bad bad bad." I don't smoke, and I definitely wouldn't smoke if pregnant, but I find this picture - and this whole spread - comical. It's really about creating controversy (just like this editorial, which is NSFW).

Anyway, I find something very interesting about smoking and its occasional appeal. I think it's the James Dean bad boy image. What female doesn't love a man with a hard exterior, and then with her influence she changes him into a "better" man. This never happens, of course, but it's an archetype that influences society. The mystery that a James Dean character has — the "what motivates him? what happened in his past that causes him to be so hard?" — in a way, impacted the way women see themselves. Some women want to remain an enigma so men will be interested or, after the interest is there, will stick around to figure out what's underneath. (I'm being incredibly transparent here.)

(via here)

Picture I took down by an old dam in my hometown.

Dree in Numero #113 in "Blood Ink"

The last photo really doesn't have that much to do with smoking. I think I'd hang this (after I blew up the picture and framed it and such) in my living room or dining room.

(all other photos via fashiongonerogue)

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Contradictory Allusions

As well as wearing the McQueen gown to the VMAs, Lady Gaga wore a meat dress.

(via here)

Ellen DeGeneres asked her, "What is the purpose of the meat?" Gaga replied, "Well, it is certainly no disrespect to anyone that is vegan or vegetarian. As you know, I am the most judgment-free human being on the earth. However, it has many interpretations; but, for me this evening, if we don't stand up for what we believe in and if we don't fight for our rights, pretty soon we're going to have as much rights as the meat on our own bones. And, I am not a piece of meat." (bold mine)

I wonder if Gaga knows about Magritte's famous pipe painting, which is essentially going for the same thing.

(via here)

"This is not a pipe." Magritte is not telling a lie. It's not a pipe. It's a painting of a pipe.
"I am not a piece of meat." Gaga is not telling a lie. She is not a piece of meat. She's a human, a woman.

So much can be said with an apparent contradiction.

Side note: Does Gaga really think she's the most "judgment-free person on earth?" That's such a silly thing to say. It is the rare person who is free of judgment, and the skeptic in me says she's not one of them.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Why lie when I can be honest?

Lately, the disconnect between fashion and reality has become immensely apparent to me. For example:

In the first photo, Natasha Poly is wearing insane heels while working out. No one does this. In the second photo, Iris van Berne looks breathtaking in the dress with the cracked out hair. Oh, but wait, something else is going on. She's eating a Big Mac. While dressed to the nines. Does this happen in real life? Of course, it very well could, and I could be completely oblivious to it. But, I highly doubt that's the case. (Why does she have to be eating McDonald's of all fast food chains? People equate McDonald's with obesity, right? I feel like she's rubbing it in my face that she can eat high calorie food and remain the type of skinny that is considered "beautiful.")

Another example of this annoying disconnect is the famous 14 year old blogger, Tavi Gevinson, of style rookie fame. I'm not knocking her; she seems like the sweetest, most genuine person in the business. Recently, she has acquired an agent because her parents were tired of taking her to fashion shows and such. Her recent post says, among other things, "Thanks for the lovely night, dudes! Real talk with awesome people is just what you need during the middle of Fashion Week." A 14 year old is covering fashion week. Perhaps I'm merely jealous, but something is off about a 14 year old attending fashion week. She's a great writer, so I almost wish she'd just go off and write a novel - something as groundbreaking as Catcher in the Rye (I think she could do it, too). I don't want the fashion industry to scoop her up in its glamorous arms, show her love, and then throw her in the dumpster for the garbage machine to crunch and eat her up.

I suppose I'm wondering if fashion does indeed have a place in reality. Can a person be involved in the fashion world and still be grounded? Can a "normal" person wear Yves Saint Laurent and Prada and Balenciaga and Zac Posen and Alexander Wang and Chanel and Lavin and Louis Vuitton etc. etc. and remain connected to reality? I once knew a girl who threw on her Burberry trench, grabbed her Zac Posen bag, and went shopping at Marc Jacobs the night before her midterms. I don't understand.

(Both photos via

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

A 2007 Vogue Italia editorial that makes me feel strange.

Apparently if you're beautiful, rehab is amazing. According to, "Rehab never looked so appealing as it does in this brilliant editorial shot by Steven Meisel for Vogue Italia, July 2007."

Here's most of the spread; I left some shots out because of needless nudity.

I have really mixed feelings about this editorial. It's Vogue Italia, so it's not surprising that they're taking on an issue and using it to create controversy. The photography is pleasing to the eye, and the models do a good job, especially Sasha Pivovarova (but I'm biased - she's my favorite). As it was published in 2007, it was clearly referencing Britney Spears and her meltdown (the last picture makes it blatant). What I hate about this shoot (and perhaps high-society/Hollywood life) is the "glamour" and "elegance" surrounding these people — people who are in need of help — while they're attending their group sessions and private sessions with their psychologist or whomever. It's great to look nice and all, but who the hell wants to dress up while in the midst of confronting the shadow? When a woman is confronting her psychological problems in confinement, it seems quite backward and out-of-touch to wear a well made jacket and an odd hat to a therapy session. And yet these women are meant to be out-of-touch, right? So in some strange way, it makes sense.

The seventh photo of Sasha is the one that hits me the hardest. Here is a "crazy" woman, presumably famous or rich, who has to be physically restrained from doing something. Doing what? Committing harm to herself or to someone else? Trying to run away? No matter what, the point is that she needs to be restrained.

The thirteenth photo is great. I love this shot. It makes me sad. I can't tell who the model is in this photo, but she, too, is decked out in an expensive garment, all the while holding herself in a somewhat fetal position.

Earlier I said I wanted substance in an editorial, and I most certainly do. This editorial has depth, because it's creating an adverse reaction. There's something about having a mental breakdown while wearing high-end clothing that just doesn't fit. It seems like an unusual disconnect between reality and well, the life of the rich and famous. But kudos to Meisel and Vogue Italia. Good job.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Small towns, barns, and flat lands

Small towns are boring, but they're beautiful in their own right. Of course, I couldn't really see the allure of it until I was 19. Never do I want to live in a small town again, but it's nice to call an 8,000 population town home.

The power plant that is going to give us all cancer. Still, it's neat; at night, it looks like a boat.

The back way to Beall Woods.

The red and purple circles are tiny alien spaceships. (Also on the way to Beall Woods.)

River Road

River Road

River Road

Somewhere on 130 S

130 S

130 S

130 S

Taken from my car while driving on 130 S

On the way to Lancaster, I think.

I don't remember.

Cherry and...8th, I think.

Tiny toyssszz

Sleepy cat on Cherry St.

Fall of 2008 or 2009; je ne sais pas.

Why not put plants in Folger's coffee containers?

I know it doesn't matter where you live. "You have to make your own fun," everyone says. It's true, what "they" say, but it helps to have people you love (and who love you back, I would hope) surrounding you, and maybe having a place to dance, whether that be at home or at a club or at a park or at the grocery store. A book store and a bar where "good" bands play would be nice, too. Oh yes, and culture. There's not much culture and diversity in small towns — especially in the small towns of southern Illinois.

After all my crying and moaning about Mt. Carmel, watch me end up back there for the rest of my life.