Things Change

Monday, 21 May 2012


I was looking for some old notes this weekend, and this inevitably led to some cleaning up of boxes of stuff under my bed. Instead of the notes, I found old scrapbooks filled with magazine images and editorials. I used to love going through my favourite fashion magazines, cutting out the most striking images and editorials, and filling up my scrapbooks with them. I used to consume fashion magazines voraciously, totally seduced by the array of models seemingly doing nothing but looking good all the time. I basically think a lot of the fashion and style blogs these days are simply a digital version of such scrapbooks; all those models and ‘it’ girls being coveted for their endless parade of perfectly constructed outfits. That’s what I collected too, in hard copy. And as much as things have changed since my own collecting days with everything migrating to blogs, they’ve also remained the same in a lot of ways.

But now, instead of being fascinated by all these great outfits, I’m just totally bored with it all. I've stopped subscribing to fashion magazines. I’ve stopped buying them in newsagents. I’ve stopped reading style blogs or ‘street style’ blogs. I say this all without any judgement, as I’m not suggesting there’s anything wrong with any of these things. I myself used to love them to bits. And I’m definitely not trying to be some sort of snob here as I still love pretty things, and have my own coveting days when I look at a superbly dressed woman and then cast a glance at my own ‘uniform’ of jeans and a black jumper. I guess I’m saying all this because I’m interested in how much I’ve changed, how things that used to consume all my attention now no longer seem alluring at all. I know there’s nothing particularly special about this as most of us come to a point when our interests, our lives and what occupies our thoughts and creativity inevitably changes direction. But I rarely stop to think about that – how much I’ve actually changed in the past few years, and how my perspective of the world and myself has altered.

This is not some earth-shattering revelation, just a small personal one. I’m totally happy to throw away those scrapbooks, I even feel a sense of relief doing so. I find that now, what I collect are passages, words, poems, articles, opinions. This is what dominates my online behaviour too. Rather than perusing an endless array of perfect style blogs which tend to make me feel anxious, I’m hunting for imperfect words and debate. I want to leave you with one piece of writing I collected, which immediately made an impact on me when I read it. I don’t quite know how to express why it did, so I hope it speaks for itself:

Postcard 2
By Franz Wright

Incomprehensible fate that sentenced my father to my mother. I can’t blame him, I would have left the raving bitch myself, and would do so many many times in years to come. Then, of course, I came along. There is a limit to what one man can endure. So I suppose I am the reason he left, actually. I am the one to blame. And yet he did his best; he did all that he was capable of doing, and wrote me every year, like clockwork. He rarely remembered to mail what he wrote me, poor man (when I think of what I must have put him through), barely legible one-sentence postcards he sometimes worked at half the night; but as they all said the same thing, word for word, it wasn’t that bad. He could be forgiven. The blizzard I visit your city disguised as will never be over and never arrive. I think what he was trying to say was that at some point I’d begin to notice I was freezing, wasn’t dressed right, had nowhere to go, and was staggering into a blinding snow that no one else could see. I think he meant, the cold will make you what I am today.

Source: Poetry (May 2012).

Image sources: I’ve included some of the magazines and journals that I do buy and read these days in the above image, including (from top to bottom, left to right): The Paris Review, Poetry, New England Review, Southerly, Brick Magazine and Meanjin.


Kate said...

Internal change - I notice it only in retrospect and always with a degree of surprise. I don't read style/ fashion blogs but still pick up those big magazines. And remain unsure quite why. That quote will be turning in my head for a while.

Mariella said...

I have been through exaclty the same thing, but it's been a good couple of years I gave up fashion magazine. I suddenly found no purpose in reading them and they just looked like empty paper to me. But this is part of a bigger change. Even the way I shop, the place that fashion has in my life everything has changed. I still enjoy many magazines , just not the fashion kind and I still do enjoy shopping, I just like to spend my money on other stuff, or anyway I abandoned the binge shopping habit I used to have.I guess it's part of "growing up".

Sally said...

I know the feeling, sometimes I look back on what I used to be obsessed with, what I spent my money on, with chagrin. One dorky year I did nothing but look at Beatles fan sites and pictures. For more than two years I collected hundreds of perfume oils. Things change indeed...

Aubrey said...

This is refreshing. Over the past year or so I too have found myself bored with fashion and the corresponding culture. I think it's because it is so cyclical and almost impossible to keep up with. There's always something new to consume and it's exhausting. I don't want to look back on my life and realize I spent so much time buying things or trying to fit trends because there is so much more to life than what I wear today.

Chuck said...

There are still fashion blogs and magazines that I read but I find the balance of my Google reader and window sill (where I like to keep my mags) increasingly tilting away from them. I'm still interested but I want more. More! x

Denise | Chez Danisse said...

Postcard 2 has conjured up so many things for me. We all have these filters we look through, based on our life experiences, and this piece does hit home.

I thought of you today when I read something about color. It was a reference to Flaubert and that all he hoped to accomplish in Salammb├┤ was to "give the impression of the color yellow". Intriguing. Now I want to go back and read your Synaesthesia post again.

Sasha said...

I often feel a lack of intellectual engagement with fashion magazines and fashion blogs. Everything I tend to read is often quite different from fashion magazines or blogs. In truth, I tend to get a creative boost from fashion magazines and nothing more.

I love Poetry, by the way. If I've spent countless an hour perusing their website as well!

odessa said...

Oh, Franz Wright. I'm always stunned by the honesty of his poetry. And asking to be his "friend" on Facebook must be one of the few good things that came out of social networking. His status updates are very fascinating.

P.S. Hello, Hila! I know I haven't been commenting much lately but I've been reading through my RSS feeds. :)

Joanna said...

I'm in total agreement with you about the growing apathy towards fashion magazines and blogs. It's all so incredibly commercial and wasteful and dare I say, a little distasteful. I'm all for personal style and beauty, which I can admire in other women I see on the street. But generally speaking, I'm just not into the idea that I need to reinvent myself and my wardrobe every season or so. It's the Fashion with a capital F that I'm bored of, not necessarily style.

I'm also starting to feel this way about shelter & design blogs. Oh, look, another sneak peak of a perfectly made up home that doesn't look at all lived in. Yawn. The New York Times did a piece recently about the sameness of home design, and how it's sort of become a cliched thing to decorate one's space with certain items, such as a bar cart (which admittedly, I can still get on board with) or organizing your books by color (the horror, says this bibliophile!). It's an interesting read.

Hila said...

Kate: I asked myself why too, and so I just stopped buying them. And I feel a whole lot better.

Mariella: I was flicking through a fashion magazine a few months ago and feeling so bored and irritated by it. I guess that was a sign that I'm no longer into them.

Sally: we all do dorky things - I also cringe when I think back to what I wore in high school!

Aubrey: I also find all those blogs filled with outfit after outfit, street style shot after street style shot, overwhelming. I no longer have the energy or willingness to engage with them like I used to.

Chuck: yeah, there are plenty of good fashion magazines, and I'm not knocking them. My focus has simply shifted, and I'm more confident now in what I want to consume in my spare time.

Denise: That's interesting, I didn't know about that - sounds like I should read up on it.

Sasha: I've occasionally encountered some great articles in fashion magazines. However, not enough to keep me interested. I also don't want to read another cosmetic surgery or 'beautiful at any age' cosmetics guide ever again in my life :)

Odessa: hello! No need to apologise, I'm so busy too, it takes me time to comment and respond to comments as well. I didn't know he was on facebook! I've deleted my facebook account, but I wish I could read his status updates.

Joanna: A lot of home design blogs also make me feel this way. I also don't recognise much of a sense of reality about them, which is off-putting. However, I don't want to completely generalise, there are some great design and style blogs out there, and I do realise that many people love these blogs and there's nothing wrong with that. My taste has shifted, as has my energy, and I think that's natural. I am tired of the sameness though, it feels like blogs are being cloned from one another, and I find it hard to distinguish between them. I'm going to look up that New York Times piece, thanks!