Saturday, August 27, 2005

Ray & Nes over tea

11:31:31 AM ray: here's my plan
11:31:31 AM nes: go for it
11:31:42 AM nes: mhmm
11:32:21 AM ray: albert once said, showing me his passport photo, that he dressed up and made himself look old fashioned on purpose.
11:32:36 AM ray: in fact, he made up an entire personality around this photo:
11:32:39 AM nes: uhuh
11:32:59 AM ray: a different name for this shipping tycoon from 1930s shanghai
11:33:10 AM ray: who led a glamorous, itinerant life
11:33:54 AM ray: meanwhile, check out this bicycle poloing
11:33:55 AM ray:
11:34:42 AM ray: and from there i started exploring the dandyist-dressed up people who use it as a sort of anarchist tool for overturning the bland world around us
11:34:48 AM nes: lol that's hilarious
11:35:05 AM ray: i showed it to bon and we talked about it until 2 in the morning
11:35:10 AM ray: it was wonderful
11:35:56 AM ray: here's the website for the London-based Chapism movement
11:35:57 AM ray:
11:36:34 AM ray: they hold annual "Civilize the City" events that function as art-demonstrations (in both senses of demonstrations)
11:36:52 AM ray: now, how do I fit into all of this?
11:37:17 AM ray: part of what they make fun of is the actual old-fashioned british conservatism.
11:37:43 AM ray: but they use old-fashioned conservatism in order to critique present-day complacency
11:38:31 AM ray: but how do i do it? am i heir to british stodginess?
11:38:47 AM ray: what will people recognize in me?
11:39:02 AM nes: this last one u sent looks more american than brit
11:39:21 AM nes: "give three-piece a chance" <- brilliant
11:39:37 AM ray: it's difficult to say just what is american and british giving that people'll draw from each other and confuse things, don't you think?
11:39:37 AM nes: ppl already think ur a dandy so no worries
11:39:43 AM ray:
11:39:49 AM nes: yeah i suppose
11:40:01 AM ray: but i need to get to something that no one else can.
11:40:13 AM ray: because otherwise i'm just posing, aren't i?
11:40:17 AM nes: well ur asian, so u've got it covered
11:40:31 AM ray: which part do i have covered?
11:40:50 AM nes: the fact that ur not white
11:41:00 AM ray: which means that i'm unique in being a dandy?
11:41:12 AM nes: ur unique in being an asian dandy
11:41:21 AM nes: actually no that doesnt make sense
11:41:40 AM ray: i think i see partly what you mean... being an anglophile asian dandy is unique.
11:41:42 AM ray: but.
11:41:57 AM ray: even though that's the case, i impersonate less effectively.
11:42:14 AM ray: people can see the difference as dress-up, which is part of the critique, sure, that asians can dress up as brits
11:42:15 AM nes: unless u go for a strictly asian conservative business look
11:42:23 AM ray: ah, but there's more
11:42:30 AM ray: that's where albert comes in
11:42:50 AM nes: ppl in japan already look like they're old fashioned
11:42:55 AM nes: the suits
11:43:10 AM ray: his alter-ego as a romantic nostalgic Shanghai shipping tycoon is actually used as a critique of modern day blandness, even if he doesn't think so
11:43:40 AM ray: he actually found a moment (and place) in history where there actually were asians as western dandies
11:44:07 AM ray: cute
11:44:33 AM ray: so if people see me dressed up and say, "well, that's funny, but it has no historical basis in fact"
11:44:42 AM ray: then i can point to the details in my dress:
11:45:00 AM ray: this tie tack is from the 1930s, which is what shanghai dandies would've worn
11:45:05 AM nes: as if ppl would say that
11:45:24 AM ray: people can think all sorts of things that they never know how to articulate
11:45:53 AM ray: historical legitimacy is important, otherwise, people would be right to say you're just dressing up
11:46:21 AM nes: but u are
11:46:30 AM nes: we always are
11:46:49 AM ray: people would at first think i'm just dressing up, but the revolutionary moment (the moment when they'd have to confront their lack of knowledge) is when i point out that this actually has historical legitimacy and they better acknowledge that
11:46:59 AM ray: of course we're just dressing up all the time
11:47:09 AM ray: but people forget that VERY easily
11:47:20 AM ray: which is why we dandies have to dress up
11:47:29 AM ray: so we can remind everyone that they're dressing up to
11:47:30 AM ray: too
11:47:33 AM nes: if anyone says "well you're jsut dressing up" then u can say "so are you"
11:47:34 AM nes: lol
11:48:00 AM ray: no one ever understands that. they might understand that in a rational way, but few people feel it
11:48:05 AM nes: have u heard of the new wong kar-wai film?
11:48:09 AM ray: just think about the way you talk about hipsters
11:48:13 AM ray: you're bored with them
11:48:24 AM ray: you like more laid back, "authentic" people
11:48:24 AM nes: i'm bored with ultra-hipsters
11:48:44 AM nes: but it's hard to tell who's authentic when uve just met someone
11:48:56 AM ray: my guess is that you're bored with people who constantly show up how we're dressing all the time
11:49:14 AM ray: they're constantly on-guard, and you're bored of people being on-guard, when in fact they're on guard all the time
11:49:19 AM ray: they meaning everyone
11:49:29 AM nes: not only that, but go overboard and hit every element of a style
11:49:32 AM ray: actually, part of my inspiration is from wong-kar wai
11:49:55 AM ray: even the gap is all about boredom down to the smallest detail
11:49:59 AM nes: yes, i love that in 2046, everyone dresses like in the past
11:50:01 AM ray: very thought out
11:50:25 AM ray: days of being wild is the informal first movie to 2046 and in the mood for love
11:50:41 AM ray: in the final scene of days of being wild, there's a long shot of a dandy dressing up
11:50:47 AM ray: that has no connection to the rest of the movie
11:51:04 AM ray: that actor ended up being the star of in the mood for love and 2046
11:51:15 AM nes: it's the same characters
11:51:27 AM ray: but he only shows up for 5 minutes in the first movie
11:51:32 AM nes: neat, never heard of that one
11:51:37 AM ray: so he's not really one of the characters in days of being wild
11:51:40 AM nes: u know.. i'm pretty bored with myself
11:51:50 AM nes: but fashion is apparently expensive
11:51:58 AM nes: especially the ultra-hipster look
11:51:59 AM ray: that's the interesting part... that one's role in a movie can be reduced to a fantastic moment of simply dressing up
11:52:16 AM ray: it doesn't have to be expensive. hipster is boring when it's expensive
11:52:28 AM ray: actually, it's more complicated than that
11:52:32 AM nes: i know. that's why i have a love-hate thing going for it
11:52:56 AM ray: but historically-speaking, many of the people writing about dandyism said that it's about impersonation of aristocracy without actually being one
11:53:23 AM ray: and so part of the basis of dandyism is looking expensive without having spent all that much on it.
11:53:31 AM ray: it's about using aesthetics to make up for money
11:53:40 AM ray: or to show that money is simply the easy way out
11:53:44 AM nes: i dont know if i wanna look expensive
11:54:04 AM nes: sometimes yes, i guess when i'm looking especially ratty and i see someone looking especially spiffy
11:54:25 AM nes: trying to figure out what it is about them that makes them look spiffy and new
11:54:39 AM ray: it's part of the entire plan that when people who ask me where i get things, i always get to tell them that i got it from a vintage store rather than ben sherman or something equally boring
11:54:56 AM nes: i dont even know what ben sherman is
11:54:57 AM ray: spiffy is only one part of the spectrum
11:55:10 AM nes: u know u should be blogging this
11:55:16 AM ray: you can wear a screenprinted tshirt and people will still wonder where you got it
11:55:24 AM ray: if i blog no one gives a shit
11:55:40 AM ray: that's because the people who read our supposed site don't give a shit
11:55:47 AM nes: well u should definitely be recording it somewhere
11:55:50 AM ray: no. one. gives. a. shit
11:56:16 AM ray: and that's what the entire chapism thing is about: it's showing people who don't feel as if they have to give a shit that they ought to.
11:56:35 AM ray: because otherwise the system is going to think for them and through them
11:57:00 AM ray: post this online if you think it's important.
11:57:20 AM nes: i wouldnt' know how to structure it
11:57:35 AM ray: just post it as a conversation. bon does that on her LJ


Lisa said...

dude, at the risk of sounding totally middle school, you're outing my crush! Shhhhh! no one must know.
Like you both, I think this conversation is important. Ray is totally missing on the japanese aspect of the uberdandy culture though and other forms of reappropriating western culture by the east...see this and other posts. There's a lot on the net about this, Ray.

Ray said...

I'm not saying, of course, that there isn't dandyism in Japan. Of course they appropriate "western" dress (leaving aside the question of when "the West" got the monopoly on frilly dresses).

It's easy to wear something that makes people say, "Oh, she's just appropriating Western fashion." The greater challenge is to wear something that subverts what we mean by "western" fashion:

"Oh, she's appropriating something that looks like Western fashion but was actually used historically in the East."

lisa said...

But that's the thing...there's such a living culture around those statements that something like the lollie (or lolita) style is much more associated with Japan's particular fascinations than it is with the victorian culture that spawned the japanese obsession. If I were to go to a club dressed in this, people would know that it was Japanese culture I was riffing on, and not Victorian, as long as I had the right markers in place.

pol said...

ohmygod...this is kind of an impressive discourse...about clothes...nestor didn't warn me that i'd need to have my wits about me at this blog...can i think about these ideas and then respond? cuz i'm afraid i might have to do research to contribute anything intelligent and/or not autobiographical...

kurmidt said...

take ur time. i still have no clue what they're talking about. lol

Ray said...

Hey pol. don't worry about saying anything smart. thanks for saying something. anything.

JT said...

i'm going to join Pol's club. heh
it is interesting though.

pol said...

yay pol's blog.

after revisiting this discourse i gotta say that you guys make some really great points and the discussion is pretty awesome. my approach is kinda different but maybe i'm also sorta reinventing these days. i've had more reasons to dress up this summer than i have in quite a long time, (3 weddings and counting...) and so i've actually had to do some shopping instead of just wearing the best i got, and i've tried on stuff i thought i'd like and stuff i thought i wouldn't and been surprised by both... what i've found out is that i like looking pretty. no real surprise, but i've been able to justify purchases i wouldn't/shouldn't have made. and the shirts i got as summer wedding wear are shirts i'm having fun wearing to meet up with friends even though i thought they'd make me look all too-cool-college-street. hopefully not. at least my shoes aren't expensive enough so maybe i'm saved.

also your thoughts on dandy's seemed to centre on the clothes, maybe only touching on lifestyle...and it made me think of oscar wilde's "picture of dorian gray" (a bit obvious i know) and the word "langour" really comes strongly to mind as something from that book. maybe that comes into a cultural crtitique of apathy as a popular problem...? although it might be hard to languidly do anything...can langour have a purpose other than itself and still be langour?

Rachel McRae said...

but historically-speaking, many of the people writing about dandyism said that it's about impersonation of aristocracy without actually being one

Have you read Charles Baudelaire's Painter of Modern Life? It might be a good bit of research on this topic.

The man who is rich and idle, and who, even if blase, has not other occupation than the perpetual pursuit of happiness.... Whose solitary profession is elegence....

Dandyism appears above all in periods of transition, when democracy is not yet all-powerful, and aristocracy is only just beginning to totter and fall. In the disorder of these times, certain men who are socially, politically and financially ill at ease, but are all rich in native energy, may conceive the idea of establishing a new kind of aristocracy... Dandyism is the last spark or heroism amid decadence.

On that note I'm off to my studio.
Nes... Do you want to go vest shopping with me?
I need a tweed vest!!! (And affordable knickerbockers)