Sunday, July 09, 2006

Market States: Lolas in Metallica T-shirts

It's not because they're really cool lolas. It's because the knockoff Chinese Metallica T-shirts were the cheapest thing in the bangketa, the cotton was thick, and since they were extra-large, they got more fabric for their money.

This is refugee style. Or more strictly, this is not style, but necessity, the resultant of the vectors of poverty.

The process of making meaning is short-circuited. Was it Langer who defined Man not as the rational animal, but the symbolizing animal? Consumer style/market style is not style: it is victimhood. When what you wear or use is determined for you by the market, you have lost the ability to create meaning, of making your being and environment legible. Under the onslaught of overruns/remainders/dumped goods, appearance becomes the record of the state of the market. The chaos and chance fortunes of bargains and default.

Of course, everything chaotic becomes legible in time. the cheapest things in the 70's are not the chepest things in the 90's, in the millenium. The cheapest things in Bombay are not (yet) the cheapest things in Manila. We find we can differentiate between types and moments of unstyle, of market states. Making flashbacks and period films in a third world country is all about identifying the style of a particular moment of chance, like studying the details of a car wreck until everything wrought by chance becomes transformed into visible/identifiable detail.

No comments: