Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Costume paradox

The costume paradox, that mantle of tribal acquiescence and willed expression on which fashion is able to indulge mass production, is especially prevalently observed in that gender which is the more empowered to present itself in many occupations. Genet was a thief and he was a poet. The rôle of the urban spectator is far from being this fellow's only one. Time, occasion may be fleeting; he may yield to such contradiction in his costuming that his artifice is defeated. He will be fashionable. As Cocteau pled at Genet's trial, He is Rimbaud. One cannot condemn Rimbaud. On aime le flâneur.

He looked at me with his inconsolably woeful eyes, from which flowed an insidious intoxication, and he said to me in a singsong voice, 

If you want, if you want, I will make you the lord of souls, and you will be the master of living matter, even more than the sculptor masters clay. And you will experience the pleasure, ceaselessly reborn, of leaving yourself so as to forget yourself in others, and of attracting other souls until you absorb them into yours. 

Baudelaire, 1862

Graham Robb
  An Adventure History
  of Paris
Norton, 2010©

Edmund White 
The Flâneur
  A Stroll through the
  Paradoxes of Paris
Bloomsbury/St Martin's Press, 2001©

Charles Baudelaire
Le spleen de Paris
  Petits poèmes en prose
Edward K. Kaplan, translation
  The Parisian Prowler
University of Georgia Press, 1989©


  1. Of course one cannot condemn the enlightened! Rimbaud was one of the few.

  2. A 4-candle fellow if ever there were one.