The Rise of Dandyism

21 Mar

Driving to the library to mentor I heard this piece on NPR by self proclaimed dandy Sebastian Horsley who, two days ago, was denied entry to the US on the grounds of moral turpitude, a phrase that immediately brings about the image of turgid members. At least to me.  Horsley writes beautifully ornate grafs on the spirit and self determinating rules of being a dandy.  My favorite:

As the tailor draped me in a sevenfold velvet shield of insignificance I knew that I was finally free. We are all imprisoned in our own skins, for life. No longer. Dandyism is the lion skin in which the lamb masquerades.

So what is dandyism? Dandyism is a form of self-worship which dispenses with the need to find happiness from others — especially women. And yet the estrangement of the thorough going dandy is not from women, but from life. It is taking up a posture of ironic detachment from the world and living it out in scrupulous detail.

Dandyism seems to be  building momentum in popular culture, something I didn’t really expect.  How else to explain the near perfect worship of Christian from Project Runway who maybe didn’t know the word dandy but sure as hell pimped himself as one.

The problem with Christian being proclaimed a dandy is that he doesn’t seem to really have the kind aesthetic distance someone like Horsley has created, either by necessity or purpose it isn’t clear as I haven’t read Horsley’s book.  But I think it is clear that Christian’s foppish mannerisms, his “fierceness” all of it was carefully created as a personae, a second self, a lion skin for either a lion or a lionesque lamb to use Horsley’s anology.

I keep thinking of the doc The Celluloid Closet and the almost complete rejection of the dandy by the most political of the interviewees.  Harvey Fierstein being a vocal supporter of the dandy, most of the other people rejecting it as offensive.  But here we are, in a time where being a dandy is just another form of being gay and everyone is enjoying it.  So what does this say about progress?  Are we regressing?  Can you embrace something in modern times that was an expression of repression?

Has rhyming in blog posts become acceptable?

I have no answers.

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