Consumerism and Beauty

By Manolo the Shoeblogger

One of the Manolo’s many internet friends has left the most interesting comment in the posting of “What the Manolo Is…” below.

Maestro Manolo, we are very confused. Fight Club is a great film, it’s in my top five. But Maestro, doesn’t the theme of the film run contradictory to the values you espouse here? Fight Club is a film about the abandonment of material cultures, of being the core of what you are without overmuch commercialization. Many commercial brands are denigrated. But you yourself, Maestro, have become famous for your espousal or mockery of one particular brand over another, for being a self-admitted (and extremely adroit) fashionista.

Please understand, Maestro, I have a great amount of respect for your taste and choices. You yourself have affected some of my style choices and views on what a gentleman should wear. I do wish you nothing but utmost success, and perhaps one day that script with Mr. Day-Lewis or Monsieur Depp as a star in it (which I will PROMPTLY go see!). But your choice of films confuses me! What are we to think!

Manolo says, this comment it is worthy of discussion in the body of the Manolo’s blog.

First, the friend of the Manolo perhaps misapprehends what the Manolo does in his “What the Manolo Is… “ postings.

These postings they are merely the listing of the media that the Manolo he is consuming this week. It is usually not the endorsement of the worth or the unworth of the item being consumed.

For the specific example of this, with the Fight Club, the Manolo he truly enjoyed the visuals, the acting, and the manly violence, but overall he found the movie more than somewhat ridiculous in its premise, and more than somewhat juvenile in its viewing of the world. Yes, it is the very good movie, but it is also the immature fantasy, which, of the course, are by no means mutually exclusive.

As for the culture of the consumer, which is proudly celebrated here in the blogs of the Manolo, the Manolo he is under no illusions that “things” are the substitute for the life of the soul or the mind.

Instead here the things they are celebrated as things, as objects of beauty or unbeauty to be admired, or denigrated as the case may be. This applies especially in this place to the shoes, the clothes, and the fashion.

It is also the belief of the Manolo that the admiration of beauty, even of the beauty of the objects that can be purchased at the outlet store of the factory, is not imcompatible with having the rich inner life.

Indeed, until recently, it was the commonly held belief that owning or even looking at things of beauty could aid in achieving the inner spiritual beauty. (Do we not take our children to the museums of art? What is the purpose of that if not to inculcate into them some idea of the power of beauty.)

The Manolo will not pontificate on the trouble caused by the rise of the Protestantism, or the Weberian theory of the ethic of work and the iconoclastic leanings of Calvinism, instead he will merely note that most of the religions of the world believe that the spiritual can be accessed through the contemplation of beauty. Why else, for the example, the veneration of the icons in the tradition of the Eastern Orthodox?

So, in the final response to the question, the Manolo can only say that beauty and the acquisition of the objects of beauty, have their own spirituality, one that if approached properly enriches life.

This it is one of the reasons why the Manolo blogs about fashion, because beautiful clothes and beautiful shoes, make us happy and enrich our lives with their beauty.

But enough of this! Back to the funny pictures of the celebrities!


15 Responses to “Consumerism and Beauty”

  1. Joan Says:

    The Manolo is very wise. I reviewed Fight Club when it was first released on video and had the same reaction.

    As for the material world, to me, “A thing of beauty is a joy forever.” I explained to my daughter one day — if we must have these things to live, why shouldn’t they be delightful? Why should things be ugly if they don’t have to be? People are instinctively drawn to good design, and to beauty — hence the success of Target and their nifty housewares from Michael Graves.

    I know you don’t like to get all serious, Manolo, but I love it when you do. Thanks.

  2. Tania Says:

    The Manolo is wise.

    “Beauty is truth, truth beauty–that is all ye know on earth and all ye need to know.”

    Of course, even after all these years of pondering that sentence, I still don’t know quite what it means.

  3. blackbird Says:

    Oy. The Blackbird can’t take much more of this very cerebral – yet valid discussion and would appreciate a photo of a nice little skirt — or something.

  4. Mimi Says:

    The Mimi appreciates the conceptual thought of the Manolo, and his perspective, as much as she does his senses of beauty, style, and humour.

  5. Mary Says:

    A couple of weeks ago, a math geek posted a negative comment on this blog, the subtext of which was “you fashion types are just superficial airheads who know nothing but shoes.” I can’t imagine a finer rebuttal. Thank you.

  6. Jenny Says:

    The Manolo has impressed me. He makes me want to revive such antiquated terms as, “gentleman,” and “gracious living.” He makes me yearn for a life spent lounging in salons filled with beautiful art and talented musicians, clad in fine couture, pondering the marvelous musings of such philosophical gentlemen as the Manolo. *sigh* At least my cubicle has a window.

  7. Lisa Says:

    The Manolo is a deep well of wisdom. I especially like his democratic approach to beauty and fashion – and the funny pictures of celebrities!

  8. Cooper Says:

    Congratulations on articulating so clearly this philosophy of art, which I’ve always advocated. I’m thoroughly impressed with the insight and astuteness of the Manolo, as well as his inexhaustible cleverness. :)


  9. postmoderngirl Says:

    It is also worth mentioning that the movie Fight Club does not necessarily denigrate the owning of the things. While the desire to constantly obtain more and more material items is mocked in the film, so is the opposite desie, the need to destroy. If you watched the movie and thought that the Space Monkeys were the heroes, perhaps it is time to watch it again? Empty consumerism is bad and so is empty destruction.

    The postmoderngirl loves the shoes, and she loves the Fight Club!

  10. The Baron Says:

    Maestro Manolo,

    Truly, again, we are most impressed with your skill with words. The appreciation for items of beauty, no matter what their providence, is something we both share. Beauty is the food of the soul as much as foie gras is food for the body, no? From the Sacred to the Profane, this contemplation of the beauty which we create with our minds and hands does indeed lead us to a higher path of thinking. Feeling good about yourself means you look good, no matter what you are wearing.

    It is my belief, however, that the man who is unencumbered by the contemplation of beauty will fall into the path of animal lust, where having is less important than the getting. This, to me, is the danger of overmaterialism – we will value a thing because of the name or price tag attached to it, not because it is beautiful in and of itself. This is a dangerous trap. It is my hope, Maestro Manolo, that through your blogging you will help enlighten us (as you have certainly enlightened me) as to the true natures of beauty – regardless of price or name or place of manufacture.

    Maestro Manolo, you have also served the double purpose of renewing my faith in the strangers of this world, for if you & I may question and answer each other without the loss of ego, then perhaps the basic sense of the camaraderie of man is not lost. Thank you for answering my question without attacking or feeling attacked.

    I agree with your other friends who have said, enough of this! Give us pretty shoes! Forgo this contemplation of beauty, and get to the beauty itself!

    No tengo nada pero gran respeto para usted.

    And, if I see that horror Lagerfeld stalking the streets like some ravening beast spat from the bowels of Gehenna, I will give him your regards.

  11. sonji Says:

    Oh, I am so in love with the big brain and the fashion sense of the Manolo. He is super fantastic for real. Not only has the Manolo inspired my soul so early in the morning, he has also provided words that I must look up in the dictionary.

  12. Mike Beversluis Says:

    Hey, those protestants weren’t/aren’t all bad; eg, Bach, the Shakers, African/American gospel, or American culture in general. Sure, there’s a little contradiction with the Puritan impulse, but isn’t that what creative tension is about? In any case, I’m sure “Hearts to God, Hands to Work” has resulted in some very nice shoes.

    Also, it seems like Manolo’s social calender can be as full as he wants it to be. Not bad.

  13. dowdydiva Says:

    “Hey, those protestants weren’t/aren’t all bad; eg, Bach, the Shakers, African/American gospel, or American culture in general. Sure, there’s a little contradiction with the Puritan impulse, but isn’t that what creative tension is about? In any case, I’m sure “Hearts to God, Hands to Work” has resulted in some very nice shoes.”

    Dang it, Mike! That’s what I was going to say! Not to mention Scandinavian design of all sorts. But I get at the heart of what Manolo is trying to say, and agree whole-heartedly.

  14. Manolo the Shoeblogger Says:

    The Manolo he did not mean this as the slight against the Protestants, rather it was only to note that the rise of Protestant iconoclasm in the West it has had the consequence of introducing the idea that beauty=frivolity=work-of-the-devil.

    Of the course, this it is only the minority of the belief of Protestantism, and indeed one can extend the list of Protestant beauty-makers (which the Mike he has begun) to a very long length.

    By the way, many thanks to those who have left the most kind remarks about the humble blatherings of the Manolo. And special thanks it must be given to the Baron, for his perceptive questions and responses, and for recognizing that it is the spirit of civility and comity that should prevail in this place.

  15. Mike Beversluis Says:

    Eh, some of those dour Calvinist ancestors of mine have it coming to them.

    “To many, total abstinence is easier than perfect moderation.”

    -Saint Augustine

Disclaimer: Manolo the Shoeblogger is not Manolo Blahnik
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