Handbags of the Apocalypse

handbags1502Reprinted from C-Arts Magazine (September 2008).

Walk through the downtown of any major world city, and you’ll see the intersection of fashion and status carried on women’s shoulders or stacked like oranges in the corners of stores by Louis Vuitton, Prada, Gucci, Hermes, Bottega Veneta, Fendi, Christian Dior, Valentino, and Yves Saint Laurent-handbags with prices ranging between $1000 and $10,000 each.

America hasn’t known rationing since World War II, but Bergdorf Goodman and Saks Fifth Avenue both recently restricted purchases of the popular Yves Saint Laurent Downtown bag to three per customer. Similarly, the Louis Vuitton website limits online purchases to two of each style per customer, per calendar year.

With the American dollar weak, Europeans and Asians are flying in for deals and designers are worried about undercutting themselves, much as in 2000 and 2001 Gucci, Hermès and Vuitton shops in Paris put bag limits on Asian shoppers, leading to surreal scenes of Asian customers on the Champs-Élysées soliciting Western tourists to buy bags for them. And with American handbag sales growth slowing this year (perhaps there’s no more room in those New York closets), the handbag phenomenon has not only become world wide, it is now fuelled by growth in emerging-market countries.

Handbags are weird, almost mystical.

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Art as a Lifestyle

Paul Renner, Theatrum Anatomicum, KUB Plaza, 2007

Paul Renner, Theatrum Anatomicum, KUB Plaza, 2007

Reprinted from C-Arts Magazine (November 2008)

Art as a Lifestyle—those four words have such fundamentally opposite possibilities of meaning that it’s like titling an article “Precision and the Soul” and then trying to decide where to start.

The idea of art as a lifestyle requires a definition of art. Artists have asked what is art? for a very long time now; some illustrate the question with every piece they make. And, perhaps, at one end of the spectrum of opposed meanings, art as a lifestyle is the process of artists living out the question of what is art? every day. It’s the vague magic that still dares to believe art is a real thing, interesting because of the impossibility of defining it, gathering people who still quest for it. This is the vaguely utopian, perhaps naïve view of an artful life. In “Precision and the Soul,” this interpretation of art as a lifestyle would be the soul bit. It’s the part not easily amenable to textual interpretation. Writing about it sounds unsophisticated, talking about it best left to freshmen in art school. But it is also the ineffable essence of art, the starting point where art is still art, before it becomes celebrity, marketing, politics, corporations, image or an assimilatory safety valve by which our markets absorb enemies of the state.

Perhaps this should be called art as a mindset, the mental plasticization of a lived reality, where walking through the streets of Delhi can be art, whether you’re from there or not, where every morning you walk out of your house to a new garden because the garden along with all physical reality is determined by subjective layers of shifting meaning.

Some artists have tried to extend and magnify this idea, turning life actions into art, like Hermann Nitsch Dionysian naked baths in the intestines of freshly slaughtered pigs and lambs—as Otto Mühl wrote in the Vienna Actionists manifesto, “Far more important than baking bread is the urge to take dough-beating to the extreme”—or one of Paul Renner’s Hardcore Dinners, in which I was lucky enough to participate once.

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The Beauty of the Lie

Ingmar Bergman, The Seventh Seal, closing scene

Ingmar Bergman, The Seventh Seal, closing scene

Reprinted from C-Arts Magazine (January 2009)

Ingmar Bergman once wrote that in an hour-long film there are 27 minutes of complete darkness, of space between film frames. “When I show a film I am guilty of deceit,” he continued. “I am using an apparatus that is constructed to take advantage of a certain human weakness, an apparatus with which I can sway my audience in a highly emotional manner—to laugh, scream with fright, smile, believe in fairy stories, become indignant, be shocked, be charmed, be carried away, or perhaps yawn with boredom. Thus I am either an impostor, or, in the case where the audience is willing to be taken in, a conjurer.”

Every conjurer, every artist, is also an imposter. It is the essence of art. But if a lie is the act of equating things that are not equal, of saying two equals three, then lies are the key to not just art, but all life. Truth is death.

Nonfiction

List of Alexander Boldizar’s nonfiction publications, with images. Below the fold.

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Fiction and Short Stories

List of Alexander Boldizar’s fiction publications, with images, below the fold.

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Bucket of Venary

Collective Nouns

Reading through the inconsistent collective-noun entries in Wikipedia and Wiktionary I was dismayed that we use the same venery term for a group of sharks when they’re at 30 meters as we do when they’re at 18 or even at the surface.

Also, the English language — and every other language — is desperately lacking palindrome-like collectives that swing both ways. For example, we should have “a shiver of sharks” if you swim with sharks at 30 meters, but “a shark of shivers” if you are wracked by a shivering spell while descending from the frenzy of sharks at the surface to the shiver of sharks at 30 meters.

At any rate, here’s my in-progress compiled collection of collectives. Blame them on PADI.

* actors: A troupe of actors
* actors: A cast of actors
* actors: A company of actors
* actors: A pride of actors
* admirals: A bridge of admirals
* academics: A faculty of academics
* alcoholics: A bevy of alcoholics
* alpacas: An inflation of alpacas
* angels: A flight of angels
* angels: A host of angels
* angels: A chorus of angels ?
* angels: A choir of angels
* ants: A colony of ants (standard)
* ants: A bike of ants ?
* ants: A nest of ants
* ants: An army of ants
* antelope: A herd of antelope
* apes: A shrewdness of apes + ?
* apes: A troop of apes (standard).
* asses: A herd of asses (standard)
* asses: A pace of asses ?
* authors: A chapter of authors

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The Bucket

Collective Nouns

A collection of collectives, an extravagance of venary terms, ranging from an abomination of clergy to a stench of zombies, via an ex cathedra of professors emeriti, a singularity of boar, and a neverthriving of jugglers, all brought about by swimming amongst a shiver of sharks.

Favourite quotes

From Groucho Marx to the US Marine Corps Manual, some people have said some things. Yup.

Moderation leads to dementia, coffee cures you

Moderation leads to dementia, coffee cures you

The Times reported today (Coffee Linked to Lower Dementia Risk) on a study that showed 3 to 5 cups of coffee lowered the risk of Alzheimers by 65%. Two cups of coffee did not have the same effect. More than five could not be studied because of small sample size.

(I wish they’d studied what two to three liters of espresso does. I’m sure the results would be even better. On the other hand, who needs a study — I know if I don’t drink at least five cups I’m demented all day. Five cups should be the cut off. If you didn’t have at least five on, say, election day, then you don’t get to vote. Because you’re demented. We bar felons from voting — which makes no sense. But barring the demented might improve the country.)

On a different note: the NYTimes lede when emailing the page was “A 21-year study finds that moderate coffee drinkers are much less likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia.”

Five cups, for most people, is not “moderate.” Some editor is injecting his morality of moderation into that lede and twisting the results of the study, which basically supported extremism in coffee drinking up to the limit of what was studied (5 cups). This isn’t just about some unintelligent science editor. It’s the whole frustrating mantra of moderation is good. Moderation is dementia, as two cups showed.

Ugly Blog

I asked my three-year-old son for a word that starts with “A.”

Samson said, “Asshole.”

I said, “There’s no such word.”

He said, “That’s strange, the asshole exists but the word doesn’t.”