Tuesday, November 16, 2010


I recall the term "fashionista" from the Bruno DVD. Much of what motivational psychology is about is this drive for "coolness", which is of course a moving target. Sometimes a style will make a come back though. I'm reminded of the movie Being There. Our hero (played by Peter Sellers), had just the right look when his time in the limelight came around.

These games around fashion may seem the apogee of self-indulgent nonsense a lot of the time. The narcissism may be intense, as the pro models learn to strut the latest stuff. One needs to not only look good, one needs to feel good about looking good, to perform in the groove, to stay in the zone. William Burroughs spoofed this as DE ("doing easy").

The flip side is feeling awkward, inept, out of one's depth, dorky.

One needs to go through these "I'm not cool" experiences in some chapters, when adapting to new styles. If one's resistance level is too great, then one gets stuck in a rut, and maybe hopes the old music and dance numbers will at least have a niche. One finds one's flock, one's natural audience for a finite set of karaoke numbers, perhaps even written by one's self, in a past chapter.

Here at the Blue House, we have these same growing pains. Just when I'm at the top of my game in some dimension, a superseding technology or better way of doing it comes along. Take Visual FoxPro for example: that used to be my bread and butter. If it weren't for using Python, I'd be looking more reptilian (more like a dino -- and yes, I know they were more like birds).

In terms of having the right credentials for this zip code, we're gold at the moment, maybe platinum, and yet there's a sense of imitators nipping at our heels.

We're surrounded by serious urban gardeners, community organizers, radical teachers, star debaters, other IB students, other Quakers, other cool individuals who sew their own clothes and make yogurt out of soy milk, made directly from ground soy beans. Not needing electricity may be a next trick, cooking with sunlight at some tailgate party for bicyclists / tricyclists (semi-clothed) and their sensor-equipped trailers.

We hold our own as fashionistas, but the competition is intense.

On the activist front, criminalizing nuke weapons has never been trendier, even among so-called conservatives (sometimes just a euphemism for "among the last to catch on"). Carol was interviewed for KBOO after Countdown to Zero, like how cool is that? The show has since aired.

To keep ourselves in the zone, it becomes necessary to tap into that 73% of the universe (aka the collective unconscious) known as "dork energy". This is where we talk to God (or Bob Dobbs as the case may be) about our deficiencies, our uncoolness, our sins. Confession is important, the Catholics got that right. You need to find a good ear, as just talking in your head will not necessarily do the trick.

For me, the Linus Pauling House group has been a good source of feedback. We know we're dinos in some dimensions, unable to roll back every sign of obsolescence. On the other hand, as committed scholars and thinkers, we're able to stay up to speed in other respects, plus have the benefits of long and varied experience. That's not my only source of feedback though.

Speaking of feedback, I was privileged to catch up with Dr. Tag recently, my Palestinian friend. She's off to Malaysia in the near future. We talked about visas, other complications of world travel. She's a fan of Yemen in much the way I'm a fan of Bhutan: people don't freak out when the electricity fails them. Not that either of us have much access to our respective ideal countries. Neither of us has much use for idle tourism, and the free open source eco-villages ala GOSCON etc. are still in storyboard phase.

A still rustic, simple way of life keeps people honest and in touch with their physical environment, their integrity. There's no need to spoil this, by adding too much glitz and faux glamor, much as the media moguls might like to pimp it out more, add more crass consumerism. There's a big difference between being a consumer and a connoisseur.

Yes, I'm connecting back to our theme of encouraging Havana, the whole of Cuba, to stay free of fast food franchises, and to continue nurturing a more well-rounded way of life. That would be strong PR, attractive to Global U students seeking meaningful experiences in collaborative environments, making and delivering ice cream or whatever.

Driving gas guzzlers past the fast food window was cool at one time in El Norte, but is today a more reptilian activity, neither romantic nor even warm blooded. On the other hand, reptiles are cool in other contexts (like Jurassic Park), so I'm not about to fall into the trap of demonizing them across the board.

Speaking as a Pythonista, that'd be somewhat counter-productive.

The Cult of Athena (so-called) remains enamored of Pythons, Apollonian atrocities notwithstanding.