Friday, March 25, 2016

Is That Postmodern?

Last week we sat in a rooftop bar in Los Angeles, with a good view of the crowd. What struck me was the collection of clothing styles, in many cases with elements from years past. There was the man in a black hat, denim jacket, and printed tee shirt: it was a mid-1970s look, though maybe the jeans were a bit snug at the ankles. There were a couple of men in white tee shirts, straight-legged jeans, and sneakers: they could have come from a casting call for a movie set in the 1950s.  Several had a look that was from the 1980s. At least one woman had the shape of skirt, above the knees in front, below the calf in back, that I don't remember seeing before about ten years ago. Is this arbitrary mix of styles postmodern? I don't know.

It is more striking in Los Angeles, in that there one finds very old cars in decent condition, along with the very newest. There are 1970s GTOs in which the fellow with the hat would look at home. There is what we took to be a Studebaker station wagon to suit the men in white tee shirts. Along the block where we are staying are a Ford Falcon and a Dodge Sportsman van, both right around 50 years old.


  1. I think what you observed may be evidence of the modern Western curse - narcissism. Each of the people you describe has, I suspect, put far more energy into their image than into anything enduring or involving thoughtfulness towards others. Oh dear, curmudgeon, is thy name zmkc?

    1. It is hard for me to say. I live in Washington, DC, where men of the professional classes put their effort not into standing out but into looking like everyone else. Ortega y Gasset wrote somewhere in favor of the unstylishness of the English male: it proved, he said, that they had more important matters to consider than fashion. Yet are we in Washington thinking of the future of the world, or of our next promotion?