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:
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.