According to writer Jenny Diski, very few “animals, as far as we know, edit reality. Survival in the natural world is about knowing what’s what and whether it wants to eat you.” (“Bewitched” by Jenny Diski, Harper’s, Dec. 2014, pg. 96.) Her observation is part of a review for Virginia Postrel’s book, The Power of Glamour: Longing and the Art of Visual Persuasion. Diski’s assessment of the work isn’t flattering but her discussion of glamour’s effect upon others set my little grey cell to thinking.
As Diski points out, we tend to describe glamour as form of magic – beguiling, bewitching, captivating. (Ibid, pg. 98) Fans are aglow in its presence, their faces uplifted, their lips parted with expectation as they lean against the velvet ropes hoping for a glimpse of someone famous as he or she trods upon the red carpet.
What fuels this adoration, according to Diski, is envy, born of the conviction that with the right cosmetics, the right gown or hairstyle, we, too, could… (Fill in your dream.) Which leads her to point out that the source of glamour’s magic resides in us rather than in the object of our rapt attention. We give power to those who seem exclusive or unreachable, people who remind us of “who we might be but aren’t.” (Ibid pg 98)
Diski’s opinion of glamour is a trifle cynical, I confess. Nonetheless in a few lines, she has given me more ideas about the subject than I’ve entertained in a lifetime. To be honest, if I’d given the matter much thought, would I be sitting in my sweat pants at this moment, wearing fuzzy rabbit slippers and peeling an overripe banana?
(Courtesy of glamourglutton.com)