Adonis Diaries

Archive for February 8th, 2012

What options of changing signals clothes send? What it indicates in social-divide?

Clothes have always sent signals, especially headwear, headgear.

Virginia Postrel, author, cultural critic, and columnist in the Wall Street Journal said in an interview with Debbie Millman:

“During the Great Depression, an average person’s wardrobe contained fewer than 15 items. Following the economic crash of 2009, the average wardrobe was 88 items.  There is the two questions: How is this possible and why is it possible?…”

Postrel wrote in her book “The substance of style“: “The visual appearance of a person or a logo sends two signals:

First signal says: “I’m like this an individual. This is my group that I share qualities with the members. And I like that…”

Second signal says: “This is what gives me pleasure as an individual...”

When selecting an outfit from the huge wardrobe, you are essentially trying a tradeoff of which of the two signals should be predominant…

“I’m feeling this way today, so I can wear this outfit…” is more at hand today than when China and the Far East were not in the marketplace for manufacturing very affordable and good quality fabrics and exporting garments to the world.

In the old days, how people should select and wear clothes were dictated by strict explicit social laws to discriminate among classes.  The explicit laws were replaced by tacit informal laws that would handicap lower classes to emulate the higher classes, such as changing outfits several times a day and elevating the wardrobe to very complex, complicated, and highly expensive etiquette pieces…

Classes and “races” waged villain wars in wardrobe styles in order to maintain discrimination very concrete and visible. Within a class, dresses are dictated by a personal sense of identity, an own sense of style, pleasure, and comfort…For example, high couture companies don’t make their new styles available for the common public before a lapse of time, the necessary period for the rich, glamorous, and famous get tired of their expensive acquisition, and won’t mind more copies displayed in the market.

Mankind has both highly developed visual information and social cues, and make good usage for navigating social relations.  If teenagers could afford a huge wardrobe, they would be changing outfits several times a day, even by reorganizing the pieces to making look as a new outfit, every time…

“A lot of subgroup communities are created based on creating clever plays on clothes assorted with individual distinction.  There is always the actor within us and we like to change characters by simply selecting the proper combination of garments.  We want to project an image that suit our mood of the moment.  We wear a musical band merchandize when we attend a concert…” It is how bands make most of their profits: marketing their merchandize.

The commodity most scarce is becoming “how to get attention, and what is our attention span…

Economics is driven by capturing whatever attention can be spared for an item.  Capturing attention is the first phase in brand design of “what is the direct message”, but the harder step is “how can I discipline this attention to recur again at my brand, my product, my service...”

A brand is a promise of consistency and continuity over time: Nowadays, the politician is the brand instead of his party affiliation; the journalist is the brand instead of the daily or the particular media.

The irony is that counterfeit brands still conjure the same associations with the real original product…

“Pen association” (Al Rabitat al Kalamiyah) in New York of 1916: By Lebanese and Syrians authors

In 1916, a group of immigrants, Lebanese and Syrian born authors, formed the “Pen association” (Al Rabitat al Kalamiyah).  The first announcing article or the New York Declaration was published in April in the weekly Al Saeh (The Tourist) owned by the member Amin Meshrek from Lebanon sea-town of Betroun.

The 5 initial constituents were: Amin Rihani (from Frikeh and the first who suggested this association), Jibran Khalil Jibran (from Bshereh and the author of The Prophet), Amin Meshrek (from Betroun), Abdel Masih Haddad (from Homs), and Nassib Arida (from Homs, and owner of the weekly Al Founoun (The Arts).

Another weekly was published in New York called “Mir2at al Gharb” (The mirror of the western civilization).

The author Mikhaeel Nuaimeh would join this group in 1920 and be elected its chief executing officer.

Nuaimeh tried hard in his works, especially Sab3oun (Seventy), to coin the year 1920 as the begining for the Pen association, a way of giving himself most of the credit. Rihani frequently published in The Tourist, followed by Jibran and Nuaimeh after 1920.

Rihani returned to Lebanon after WWI and visited the Near East countries, and pushed forward to Saudi Arabia and Yemen, and met with monarchs, leaders, Emirs in order to gather intelligence on the state of affairs in the Arab World and social structure. Rihani published at least three books of his visits and the personalities he met.

Amin Meshrek also immigrated to Equador before 1920 (Latin America to make a living, and was run over by a car)

Jibran died in New York in the 1940’s, at the age of barely 50.

Nuaima died of old age in Baskenta (about 90 year-old).

What was the purpose of this pen association?

First, reminding the world of the tragedy befalling the people in Syria, Lebanon and Palestine: The people in Lebanon experienced the worst famine and hundred of thousands sold their properties for a loaf of bread because of locusts and the Ottoman (Turkish) troops hoarding all the foodstuff. They tried hard to ship foodstuff to the Near East and coaxed the immigrants to contribute in alleviating the plight of their families back home.

Second, discussing and figuring out the state of the people after the defeat of the Ottoman Empire and the mechanisms for gaining independence. They formed the Council of Liberation (from the Ottoman Empire domination)

Third, how to separate religion from State affairs

Four, how the countries should be unified and under which political framework…

Fifth, rekindling the Arabic civilization and language…

Six, warning against the Balfour (England foreign minister) promises to settling Jews in Palestine…

This famous New York-based pen association played a wonderful role in transforming the Arabic language from the Koran and Islam ready sentences to a modern civic language that describes and explains the common people reflections…

This association was competing with other pen associations based in Egypt and also lead by Near Eastern authors and thinkers…

That was about a century ago.

Lebanon is a pseudo State run by 18 religious sects, Syria is in upheaval trying to change the Bashar Assad dictatorship, Palestine is occupied by the apartheid Zionist State of Israel…

The Arab Spring has swept many countries in the Middle-East, and the Moslem extremists are winning in skewered “democratic election laws”, and the Women are back to fighting harder to retain whatever rights they acquired in the last century…

Note: More details on that period




February 2012

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