STYLE, a Subconscious of Culture - Let's Prehend
Let's Prehend
A Manual of Human Ecology and Culture Design

STYLE, a Subconscious of Culture

"Style is everything" MOM said. Surely style refers to the elements of culture, the cuisine, garb, dwelling, tools, artifacts, and countless other small and large factors, including neighborhood, religion, and even the ARTS, p.314.

Styles, like other minor systems, have lives of their own, LOOs. They evolve, increasing their value, Ei, sometimes regressing or degrading. In stable cultures, life stylizes as artifacts are embellished and integrated life, work and ritual. Anthropologists and art dealers collect, cherish and sell high Ei items from stable cultures - pottery from Japan, carvings from Africa, tools from the Aleuts. Hand woven rugs are much preferred to machine made less expensive carpets, driving some unscrupulous merchants to fake the legitimizing minute blood stains from the tiny fingers that make them.

Cultural stress and abstraction dissociates style from life. As Modern Abstract Culture, MAC, progresses, items that once were made by hand now are bought from manufacturers. Common wisdom celebrates the advance, the economy of mass production, and the wealth and leisure it brings. Instead of tediously weaving serapes, the Latin Americans can buy inexpensive T shirts, or fine Italian suits. Then they are free to watch TV or jet around in search of culture. This Compulsion to the Abstract Life, CAL, rapidly replaces production and participation with jobs and commerce.Modern technology enables but does not compel CAL's drive to MAC. Cohousing and Ecovillage Reconstructions of Organic Social Life, ROSL, not only protect and preserve creation and production but also greatly enhance human life and culture, as detailed in SUSTAINABLE LUXURY, p.225.

STYLE AS CULTURE, a lighter look

We can practice the psychoanalysis of cultures by considering common custom and costume. Female costume derives from our zoological roots as we evolved from hairy to hairless vulnerability to the elements, or from plain to fancy enhancement of the genetic imperative. In MAC, clothing represents conformity, self image and status, impelled by the memes of the market. For a thorough analysis see anthropologist Cathy Guisewite's syndicated cartoon series, CATHY.

Cosmetic makeup among women, notwithstanding its hysterical mythology, is a gross loss of information, an abstraction of the greater self by the enslaving ego as it submits its own integrity to the style of the day. On the organic side of the D chart, it's an embellishment and celebration of the great procreative process, but on the abstract side, it makes her impersonal and obscure. Makeup also protects her from the attention of strangers in a culture that has lost the security of organic social life (p.73). Lipstick protects her, especially in elevators, by discouraging a kiss on a mouth of wax. (The word "sincere" derives from "without wax", from the Romans who gave trusted messengers scrolls without wax seals.)

Clothes among men are similarly abstract. Like the legal profession, they formalize friction inherent in a jungle of urban warriors. Their dull conformity alleviates flamboyant competition and serves as a tribal uniform, a declaration of loyalty. Neckties have become the universal symbol of obsequiousness, a submission to the abstract authority of the system, an authority more compelling by being covert. The necktie functions like the ring in the nose of the bull, like the bit in the mouth of the horse. A necktie is a rope around the neck, a choke collar inviting enslavement - an enslavement constantly accepted.

Similarly, the shaved beard signifies the vulnerability of the exposed neck. In the evolutionary period, the beard protected the neck from enemy humans and other carnivores. Needless to say, females lacked bears because it was adaptive for the female to be vulnerable. The Asian races alleviated this adversarial context earlier than others, therefore have fewer pesky whiskers left. Such cultivated vulnerability testifies to progress from savage confrontation toward cooperative behavior.

Anthropologist Ann *Hollander, in her book SEX & SUITS, The Evolution of Modern Dress, discusses the dress of a black-tie dinner, a formal occasions with tuxedo and gown. Notice the males all look alike, thus enhancing their individuality by focusing one's attention on face, the seat of the soul, and on figure, the seat of health. Woman are most interested in sizing up a man's personal qualities from his face, and his good health from his buns.

Women, in contrast, dress like a bunch of wild flowers, deviously distracting man's attention from her personality. While the men are hypnotized by the cleavage, the women see right past it, more easily to compare notes as women are apt to do. Of course, the social context is the celebration of class as well as the broader participation in quasi-clan life, with wheeling, dealing, strutting and flirting. For deeper disclosures, see OBJECTIVE SEX, p.200

Ms. Hollander explains that men's fashions are usually more integral and unified, whereas women are more varied and distracting. In the recent decades, more casual and varied attire represents a feminization of men. Another complication is the increasing class status insecurity that leads to a transvaluation: the rich dress down and the poor dress up.

The suit evolved in recent centuries from an assortment of garments, such as the robe or toga, that concealed the figure. Today the world wide dress of the middle class is the sexual envelope called the suit.

Concealing the legs might be considered a middle class assertion that, unlike the laborers in tunics, the robed ones do not do physical work. But with the advent of armor, articulate legs became necessity for the warrior and fashion for the victors.

Consider contrasting gender roles of ego, sex and clan roles in this clan process. The men are important on a deeper Ai level of character and health, while the women are valued by the men more for status and fecundity.

A lawn is an abstraction, a mini ecosystem reduced to a planar monoculture. What would naturally be a weed patch, farm or garden is leveled, planted, irrigated fertilized, weeded and mowed.

The net produce, the clippings, are put in a plastic bag and driven to a landfill, preserved for decades in a bed of plastic.

The impulse to conform to implicit or explicit neighborhood rules is not the whole story. We are amused by those antagonists who take lawning to its logical extreme and put in plastic astroturf or even green concrete, the impulse to retain real growing grass has more behind it than a simple psychopathology of CAL. Keeping a lawn of real grass is a nostalgic impulse to keep to the roots of our agricultural heritage, to relive the millennia of our evolutionary history which was spent as AGs harvesting and planting grains.

In the great subconscious life, keeping a lawn is a participation in the ancient rituals of sowing and reaping the grasses. When agriculture was first discovered, it was a long slow gradual progression, each step a new excitement, each new practice a great gain in security and prosperity. Each new prosperity offered relief from panic and drudgery and a chance to appreciated the bounty of the earth and all Gods gifts.

No wonder keeping a lawn has such religious undertones. It is often done on the Sabbath. Even though profoundly wasteful it is seen as productive accomplishment. It is also offers a vicarious participation in the thin veneer of quasi-tribal process, conformity to the extremely compelling implicit demand for a green lawn by of the neighborhood of strangers.Make a chart of styles to help compare abstractness. In sports, the movement is from the sand-lot baseball game to the multimillion dollar players watched passively at the stadium, then down left, to the TV couch. In music, recorded music has replace almost all personal performance except those lucky few who join choral groups or sing in bars or at parties. Church hymnists and Christmas carollers hang on to their last remnant of quasi-clan music. As the media become more mass, the remuneration for the performers increases as explained in *WINNER TAKE ALL SOCIETY.

How can one explain this rejection of cultural participation. Objectively it's mostly culture systems problem, CAL. But perhaps there are deeper pathologies as explained in CULTURAL NEOTENY, p.324.

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