1. You behold, therefore I am.
In Toronto if you ever have eye contact with a stranger on the street, the common logical ensuing action would be looking away. Unless you’re trying something, it’s just rude and uncalled for to stare. Flying back to Hong Kong for the first time in seven years last summer, it suddenly occurred to me that the whole city was in fact a mega fashion walkway. Where a brief and casual glance would simply be the beginning and end in random human encounters here, in Hong Kong you have just initiated a grueling fashion showdown. Of the seven million peeps scampering through the megatropolis, you have been chosen. It’s on, bitch. The contending stranger promptly and eagerly halts all preoccupations in order to completely realize your externalized being from head to toe.
(Canto-Brito, if you will)
“Your entire existence and consciousness and identity is (un)fathomed by me”, he says.
“I now look away”, he says, “ for I am unimpressed”, he says.
“I am the victorious today.”
Most common known and reported side effects of having your identity misinterpreted:
Paranoia, tachycardia, decreased libido, elevation of blood pressure, dizziness, pupil dilation, teeth grinding, athetosis, psychomotor restlessness, and in extreme cases, a fatal event
My Canadian instincts made me a champion in these showdowns, leaving a couple dozen fashionistas profoundly bemused. People in Hong Kong spend so much time on their appearance, they will stop at nothing for their 15 seconds of fame. Their materialistic tendencies are hard to abide, but Jean-Paul Sartre once said that we are social creatures and that our external self is akin to our internal self. To be gazed upon is therefore akin to being perceived and prescribed an identity, albeit without consent. Fashionistas feel out of control and therefore attempt to buy what they cannot attain.
Beauty is in the eye of the Beholdian, Beholdians with handfed ideas from their tellys and zines and friends who watch their tellys. Beholdians love to judge and categorize based on what they presumably know. Beholdians love to tell you what is acceptable and what isn’t. They will stare you down. They are everywhere. You are what they see you as. Fashionistas believe they can alter how they are seen; they wish to be well received.
Sartre’s “bad faith”, is the conscious and/or subconscious decision to take on prescribed identity as your own and behaving accordingly as such identity should; an identity formed based on preexisting conventions and impressions. Bad faith is finally the desire to fix an identity to one and do what it means to be that identity. Prescription is therefore for the purpose of mass appeal. As one seemingly continues to view oneself and the world through a Beholdian point of view, one ultimately becomes a Beholdian of both oneself and other Beholdians.
“I’m fucking hardcore,” one says.
A high dosage of bad faith, the Beholdian beholds him/herself as a character of hardcoreness. Upon determining whether or not a dangerous feat should be attempted, amidst a crowd of voluptuous beasts, the individual under the influence of bad faith will be reminded that he/she is in fact hardcore, thus effectively ensuing in the Leap of … Faith. To the dogs.
Most common known and reported side effects of bad faith:
Predictability, one-dimensionality, robotic monotone speech, sheep-like appearance
2. I am choosing, therefore I am-ing.
Sheepism. Let us try elsething. “Existence precedes essence”, also by Sartre, meaning bad faith is bad, and instead of being something, we should be nothing (no-thing). We must create and recreate the self through our decisions and our decisions alone, forevermore. If at any moment do we discontinue self re-creation, we are effectively engaging in bad faith, announcing the completeness of identity and the self. To the dogs.
Okay let’s do this.
The surplus of possibilities has never been so clear and laid out as it is now in our pomo-globo-info-mego-capitalisto societio. All the better, no? After completing the course Existentialism, I noticed it became increasingly more difficult for me to make up my mind, even over stupid shit like over which can of pop to buy. Was I the only one to walk in circles in HMV going at it in my own head over what’s good and what’s even better and why in how many ways? Barry Schwartz’s Paradox of Choice told me why these mundane everyday decisions became such a hassle. In conjunction with existential philosophy, I was enlightened for the worse. Everything became a matter of life, death, and the universe. Why, you ask? Because this is it, it’s your call, the decisions you make define who you are: what you buy, what you eat, what you listen to, what you watch, what you do, what you don’t do. Make them choices and make them good, otherwise you’re nobody and everybody. And when you’re done, don’t forget to think it over, and over, and over andover andover. Choice is freedom, but an ultra-abundance of choice is instead the very opposite, paralysis. We cannot get ourselves to get the decision made because we can’t be certain it’s best, and we can’t afford to regret. Second-thoughts. Existpotentialism.
Taking into consideration the amplitude of social-cultural influences, genetic make-up, natural and inexplicable impulses, even our honestest choices should be doubted. “Is this really me?” An honest man asking himself the honest question whether his choice is honestly his, bravo! Going backwards through the infinite wormhole of causality to bring us finally to the front door of God Manor. Let’s not.
Most common known and reported side effects of not making any decisions:
Transformation into a steel banana
3. Fuck all, therefore I am.
INTRODUCING: MEDIA! TELEVISION! INTERNET! ALL YOU MUST KNOW KNOWN AND MORE! MORE THAN YOU NEED, ALL YOU CAN READ!
“Everyday everything I see and hear and feel
the abundance of "beliefs" (yours, his, hers, theirs, ours, and mine)
the result is a multiplex of infinitely-looped chaos and the complete absence of order
which in itself becomes a mirror of the world and humanity
looking into the mirror you recognize your FACE
Sheepism. Existpotentialism. Fuck it. To announce the complete devastation of the self, for heaping hopes of total freedom. To say you just doesn’t give a fuck any more, it’s too much and there’s too much, and all them Beholdians and Starbucks and businessmen and Wal-Marts and cars and hot/ugly people and magazines and newspapers and rebellious youths and doctors and dentists and McDonald’s and teachers and artists and religions and choices and people and (add/remove whatever you want here) and reflective surfaces fuck off and fuck off. To dress and act in any way desired, because everything is permissible and anyone’s judgment means fuck all.
Most common known and reported side effects of having your identity all messed up:
Personality change, psychotic break, mania, dissociation of self, externalized intrapersonal communication, visual and auditory hallucinations, unhinged behavior, and in austere cases, a second fatal event.
4. I am, therefore you’re not.
Sheepism: existence in accordance to prescription
Existpotentialism: the possibility of individualism
Amoralism: self-destruction, capricious innovation
The passerby comes to a halt and pauses in contemplation, assessing the possibility of transcendence. Sheepism is imitation, but how can art be possible if reproduction itself is not permitted? Amoralism is perilous freedom, but how can art be possible if experimentation and risk is condemned? Existpotentialism is the constant evisceration of the self, but how can art be possible if the canvas is thoroughly rinsed ad infinitum?
“Brilliant!” the onlooker shouts, before pacing onwards towards eternal awesomeness.
Achieving The Ultimate Divine, it is required that the individual observe both Beholdian sheep tastes and amoralist attitudes. BEHOLD, both that which is fashionable and that which is unorthodox. Being relevant, informed, and up to date in both respective spectrums of personality, at which point the individual may finally and appropriately utilize his/her existpotentialist skill: the ability to choose. At the apex of both extremes, the individual amalgamates elements he/she sees fit to conjure an identity so ultimately divine, elucidation is futile. The Ultimate Divine is necessarily a step beyond the pre-identified Sheep, and a tad before the unidentifiable Amoralist.
Vivienne Westwood and Malcolm McLaren for example, at the inception of her fashion opened the shop Let It Rock, which eventually became SEX. At the time, circa 1971, their clothing was highly unfashionable and seemingly unwearable. Westwood said, “All the clothes I wore people would regard as shocking, I wore them because I just thought that I looked like a princess from another planet.” Their fashion was therefore highly Amoralist and not nearly Sheep enough. Within four years however, the Sex Pistols were born and soon punk was everywhere. THE ULTIMATE DIVINE. One’s task then, is to appropriately observe the trends at a constant basis in order to achieve and maintain Ultimate Divine status (starting off Amoralist reminiscent of Westwood is only recommended to individuals immune to ridicule and mockery). Friends and companions are necessarily disregarded, for Ultimate Divineness is not to be shared amongst petty Beholdians. This is rightfully the only path towards emancipation and awesomeness. No longer will you be recognized as Sheep, Amoral, or Existpotential. You have transcended the status of trifling boors and achieved what is known as EGO IN BOLD AND CAPITAL LETTERS. At this point in time, you may initiate/participate in as many fashion showdowns as you wish in all corners of our beloved Planet Earth.
Most common known and reported side effects of achieving Ultimate Divine:
I do not talk about her Majesty’s prowess.
For individuals who wish to partake in intergalactic showdowns, please refer to Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey.