A personal library is an X-ray of the owner's soul. It offers keys to a particular temperament, an intellectual disposition, a way of being in the world. Even how the books are arranged on the shelves deserves notice, even reflection.
Over at Heaven Tree, Gawain has been musing on clothing again. Why do we dress ourselves according to popular fashion, instead of dressing to suit ourselves (our shapes, colorings, bearings, personal tastes)? In the eighth section of "Shopping with Mrs Sei (2)" he recounts a telling story of one shopper, Ariadne.
But what I really want to report is Ariadne’s manner of shopping.
This is what happens in the no-name boutique.
She spots it immediately and heads straight for it, like a mechanical homing pigeon. This is the jacket she wants. She had seen it displayed in the window of the Mitsukoshi department store in
and there is cost $4,000 and here it is half-price. She wants it. Tokyo
I am mystified. It is, for one thing, two sizes too big, making her look like Robocop. . . . And it is remarkably unremarkable, it is grey and brown, and shapeless. I don’t seem to detect any design in it, but if there is any, it has nothing to do with being pretty, or comfortable, or making the wearer look better. . . . And it is made of cheap and inferior materials – it is all synthetics, synthetic fiber, faux fur, and none too good, either, for the designer’s concept was, apparently, “unfinished”: the hem is not sewn and loose threads hang from it, as if had just been ripped. The whole thing has the appearance of a frightened, mangy rabbit. It will shed hair and will be hot in the stifling
Tokyosummers and cold in the freezing winters; and it will be hell to take care of in every season. (But that is OK, because it won’t last that long: it will fall apart in two or three seasons). Tokyo
No matter, that’s the thing she wants.
She clutches onto the jacket like a drowning woman onto a blade of grass.
In the evening, the ladies return to
and I am given the benefit of the fashion show: a lustration of the catch. Ariadne, none too good looking to begin with, looks in her new $2000 (or is it 4?) jacket as if she had spent the night under a bridge somewhere. She has paid $2,000 to look shabby and poor and indifferent. Rome
She struts before me in all this misery, beaming with pride. “How do I look?” she asks. She looks at herself in the mirror and asks again: “How do I look?”And then I realize: she cannot tell. She has no idea how she looks.
Yes, both of these essays are on the long side. But they are well worth your time. Perhaps you might peruse them this weekend, when the blogging world gets slow.