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Weekly Reader 12.12.11

Stuck on Repeat?

I missed my train the other day so I passed time with a favorite activity: people watching.  One thing I noticed was how many of the commuters—at least the business types–were similarly attired.  Men, of course, have their uniform of dress pants and shirt or suit and tie. The women too—ranging of the 20-somethings to the well-preserved 60-somethings all wore a variation on a theme: a puffer or wool black coat, black boots and a long scarf entwined several times around their necks.  Had someone instituted a dress code?

A fascinating piece in Vanity Fair “You Say You Want a Devolution” examines why “popular style has been stuck on repeat.”  Kurt Andersen writes:

Why is this happening? In some large measure, I think, it’s an unconscious collective reaction to all the profound nonstop newness we’re experiencing on the tech and geopolitical and economic fronts. People have a limited capacity to embrace flux and strangeness and dissatisfaction, and right now we’re maxed out. So as the Web and artificially intelligent smartphones and the rise of China and 9/11 and the winners-take-all American economy and the Great Recession disrupt and transform our lives and hopes and dreams, we are clinging as never before to the familiar in matters of style and culture.

A worthwhile read.

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