Monday, December 21, 2009

#3 of Fleur's 10 Best

3 from 2007!

Dear Fleur,

Please help. This woman is adrift on a sea of useless and misbegotten flotsam. How can she navigate her way back to a life of stylish simplicity, enjoyment, and above all truth to oneself? ~Anonymous

Dear Anonymous,

Your question wears the words "navigate" and "misbegotten" the way long black hair wears a red rose. Kudos for raising the mean of popular vocabulary. Still, I am saddened by "this woman" whom you consider adrift and I wonder whether she has any idea of your opinions. Much as I understand your inclination to help, I can't participate in your judgment of "this woman," unless of course, "this woman" is me-- In which case I heartily agree with your assessment! I don't however, believe that being "adrift on a sea of useless...flotsam" necessarily conflicts with "stylish simplicity, enjoyment, and above all truth," as you suggest. Consider the NYC artist de la vega (and others of the graffiti ilk) splashing vibrant and profound images and messages on trains and rubbled buildings. Think of completely unsullied newborn babies alighted on this great, complicated planet. And remember a startling memoir by Holocaust survivor Jorge Semprun wherein he discusses his young manhood in a camp as the most poignant and ecstatic time of his life- because it was HIS young manhood, his own experience adrift on the sea of useless, misbegotten, and horrific flotsam.

Perhaps, regarding "this woman," it might be better to take a different tack: instead of stylish simplicity, why not evaluate her capacity for convulsive beauty? As Andre Breton says, "Convulsive beauty will be veiled-erotic, fixed-explosive, magic-circumstantial, or it will not be." That will certainly give you plenty to do, and in the meantime along with raising the mean of popular vocabulary, you can assist in the adjustment of the all-pervasive, one dimensional attitudes on style, which will certainly help us all to enjoy the "truth."

Dear Fleur,
There is a photograph posted at near the bottom of the page titled "on the street...Right Bank, Paris," dated Saturday, March 3, 2007, 3:48p.m. Is there any way I can get inside that picture and feel what that couple apparently feels? ~Longing

Dear Longing,
When I looked at this photograph to better understand the question, I immediately found myself also longing to be there to the point that I became uncertain whether it was I who asked this question in the first place... The photograph of a couple dressed for chilly spring cares about the two bare hands, one his, one hers, clasped between them as they go or stand, it's not clear. It's about the hands and the faces that look sort of away while simultaneously holding onto one another, almost the way a Frida Kahlo self portrait carries Diego's face in her forehead, a river over bone structure. His top hat is something poetic, an eccentric touch that leaves me certain he has a crumpled letter in his coat pocket. Her clean face eats apples yesterday and has no guilt today. To be absorbed by this photograph would be to have the corners softened by a short glass of port wine and then to go towards home in safe company to a rumpled bed with hair that smells like cold wind, knowing there are delicate joints in the branches of every tree that no finger has ever touched. Best of luck in your quest.

Dear Fleur,
If beauty is pain, and the runway models are all suffering from tight dresses and little nibbles at lunch time, then why do I, knowing this, swoon? ~Anonymous

Dear Anonymous,

Because they are like statues, misted with a light oil

or because they look so alone and you crave solitude

or because you're tired of eating meat and would prefer, for a change, some "little nibbles at lunch time"

or because when a face is truly carved in pain, as was, say, the poet Cesar Vallejo's face, then the beauty is the kind that hurts the one who sees it because it is the physical embodiment of an engaged soul, challenging you to be as engaged


this runway model sort of beauty bears very little witness and therefore it is a nice, fluffy, preternatural exhileration (kind of like doing a whippit)

or because, to paraphrase Jean Genet, you wonder what your reflection thinks of you when your back is turned

or perhaps you are the sort who swoons easily (see my last post: "insomnia is an adorable little pastime" for more on that topic)

I don't however, think it has anything to do with the common belief that we are all just ignorant moles completely under the sway of dominant cultural paradigms intended to keep us enslaved to unrealistic and damaging ideals and addicted to monstrous consumerism at the peril of our own fragile and intimate beings. Certainly not that!

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