четверг, 9 августа 2007 г.

From Gramsci to Boden

I'm currently trying to teach myself Marxist Critical Theory for an exam on the 22nd. Arrgh! I missed half the course last semester so was unable to sit the exam at the right time. Now I'm down for the re-sit and have an essay to do too. It's the last thing I need to complete in order to get my degree and it's hard. Trying to discern the subtle differences between hegemony and ideology; what is 'post' about certain post-Marxist theories; the difference between Marxist, post-Marxist and Marxian and how Marcuse's approach to technology differs from, and is similar to, Benjamin's. Imagine my glee then when, yesterday, the Boden autumn catalogue flipped through the letter box.

The Boden catalogue is full of healthy, cheery people wearing slightly off-trend clothes. Some people might call them classics. Some might call them preppy. I tend to think of them as allotment meets Sunday lunch with the in-laws. There are cheery coloured cardigans with big buttons, flippy skirts and useful jackets. Wide-legged trousers, stripy shirts and sensible boots. Oddly ageing print dresses, an awful lot of applique and things with velvet trim. But the best thing about the Boden catalogue is the questions they ask the models. Here is a selection of questions and answers:

Best place to be in autumn? Somewhere where it's summer; London; Stamford Bridge.

I'm always told off for: talking too much; biting my nails.

Last meal ever would be: Borsch; Roast lamb; Pasta al Forno; Lobster; Sunday roast.

Never have a quiet night in without: Popcorn; a Martini; a good stiff drink.

Best present ever recieved: tickets to Dolly Parton; white roses; my children; land.

Who would you be for a day? A monkey; Demi Moore; Daisy Duke; a rockstar; Bob Marley; Pablo Neruda.

Dreading: turning into my parents; giving birth.

I shouldn't like to but I do: gossip; rubbish t.v.; cheeseburgers; licking stamps.

My two favourite answers are 'a monkey' and 'licking stamps'. The first because of the stretch from who to what, it makes me wonder if there is a particular monkey that she would like to be, which could just about come under 'who', or is it any old monkey? This would really be a what. Here is a girl who thinks nothing of breaking the rules. I'm so glad there are still some people like that around.

The second throws up more questions than it answers: Why does she feel that licking stamps is something she shouldn't like to do? Is there some tacit proscription against such a seemingly innocent pleasure? Is the glue on stamps considered, somehow, dangerous? Or ghastly? Or is it the stamps themselves? Perhaps it has something to do with tongueing the Queen.

I can't think of anyone, or anything, I'd like to be for a day. Except, perhaps, for me on my death-bed. According to Martin Heidegger (early 20th century German existentialist philosopher) one can't become truly authentic until one knows one is going to die. That is until one becomes fully aware of one's own mortality. Which is more than just knowing in theory that we all die eventually. I'd quite like to reach that state of authenticity sooner rather than later, so being my dying self for a day now might help.

I won't bore you, dear readers, by giving my answers to all the questions but I would be jolly interested if you answered one or two of them. And I will tell you this: the thing I'm always being told off for is overcomplicating things. I don't know why this is though.

Well it's back to Marxist critical theory for me now, briefly, and then I'm off to get all my hair cut off.