Monday, November 18, 2013

Euvoluntary Glamour?

Virginia Postrel has a new book out on glamour.


In lieu of (or, better yet, in addition to) that, watch this interview she did with Nick "The Jacket" Gillespie.

The bit in there about politics should sound familiar to regular readers here. I've flogged the idea of political kayfabe, which is a calculated attempt to bamboozle the constituency with glamorous talk. It's also unsustainable. As fairy dust evaporates on dawn's touch, political flimflammery sours in the second term. Note especially which presidents had comparatively decent lame duck administrations (Clinton, eg) and the lack of glamour they engendered.

Private glamour is a categorically different matter than public. The glamour of statecraft ensorcells children to don the vestments of war and bear arms abroad in a bid to encrease the dominions of the sovereign. That seems to me somewhat different than My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic LARP.

Private glamour can be weird, particularly for those uninvolved in the scene. For me, I find fashion baffling. I also find quite a bit of the paraphernalia of professional sports mystifying. But seldom do I second-guess anyone else's fandom peccadilloes, given my sentimental attachment to monochrome samurai epics, the early Herzog work, and the modern iterations of hybrid FPS-RPG titles. Private glamour strikes me as euvoluntary, at least until it isn't. Until it causes harm.

There's the rub. Glamour is necessarily deceptive. That is its nature. It's escapism. And sometimes what folks want to escape is things like family responsibility, or social obligations, or the basic responsibility to be a decent human being. And perhaps in moderation, that's fine. Perhaps it's not all that bad once in a while to dress up like Fluttershy and make bad equine puns. The difficult puzzle is to second-guess someone else's optimal amount of self-deception. Is it reasonable to deploy paternalistic instincts when someone's WOW penchant starts to interfere with their regular bathing regimen? More to the point, is it wise to grant the coercive authority of state-sanctioned bureaucrats to make those sorts of decisions on the behalf of citizens?

The answer is probably, "maybe". But when it comes to questions of voluntary deception, it seems to me that the precautionary principle argues in favor of self-determination. The burden of proof is on the censor. Any ideas about how to ensure the censoring authority regularly shoulders that burden would be greatly appreciated.

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Do you have suggestions on where we could find more examples of this phenomenon?