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So I am beyond grateful to the women who helped me.
Lisa Wilkinson Down the hall from Marina and me at Dolly was our editor-in-chief, Lisa, who also edited the glossy womens magazine Cleo. But she was the editor of Dolly when I was its target reader. She became my No1 career idol when she rose from secretary to editor, thanks to her amazing editorial instincts. Printed by Prinovis Nrnberg, Breslauer Str.
Printed in Germany. Order at www. Subscriptions queries and enquiries to glamour subscription. The appeal of glamour is the appeal of upward mobility, of becoming a better self that is implicit in the bourgeois imitation of aristocratic luxury.
Postrel attributes much of the economic innovation of the last two centuries to this use of the power of glamour. The role of glamour in self-improvement is not limited to material improvement. It could also include moral improvement. Postrel points out that innovation and improvement in any sphere requires the imagination of something different and better.
Even simple improvement in character requires a goal of what one ought to be, an image of a morally improved self. An image of a better self need not be a model with finer and more expensive clothes. Saints and heroes have their place as glamorous icons as well.
There is a sense of escape and transformation of the self, of grace, and of mystery in religious imagery. Martyrdom too has a glamorous allure. Certainly real martyrdoms do not possess such effortless grace; surely they are less dignified and peaceful. However, such a glamorous portrayal of martyrdom serves as inspiration to believers to acquire the dignity and grace depicted in the image even while being aware that, if the time of martyrdom comes, it will indeed be a trying experience.
The glamorous image of martyrdom is an abbreviation, but its essential glamorous elements provide something for aspiration. The danger of glamour emerges when the perceiver is endowed with an idyllic imagination, when he yearns for transformation to an impossible ideal. When a vision ceases to be a means of inspiration by providing an image of the end goal that one can achieve and when it becomes a vision for transformation to a perfect ideal, then it is destructive of the real good that actually exists in the real world.
At the heart of the idyllic vision is the self-flattering ego. Disillusion results when the ego realizes that the vision of escape cannot be realized in the real world. The idyllic imagination creates an ideal world and inspires action to transform the world into that image. Disillusion does not dispose of the idyllic image but either drives one to seek radical transformation, which requires radical destruction, or to bitterly withdraw from the imperfect world. Even if the individual does not pursue radical transformation, the presence of disillusion leads to disengagement with the world and precludes both the sort of gradual transformation necessary for real improvement and any self-examination necessary for self-improvement.
The world around the idyllic dreamer is at fault and not the dream itself nor the character of the dreamer. For example, in the idyllic imagination, advertisements for sports cars and healthy physiques cause binge spending and destructively intense, and unsustainable, exercise regimens. Disillusion with the actual effort to acquire the means to download a sports car responsibly or to craft a stellar physique leads to bitter envy and to sulking cynicism.
Glamour is essential in politics as it is in much else. The elements discussed above apply with equal force in the political realm. There can be no doubt that President Barack Obama was elected in large part because of his glamorous appeal. He exuded the mystery of complexity and claimed transcendent grace.
As with the individual, so with political society at large: the most dangerous aspect of glamour in the political realm is when a people is endowed with the idyllic imagination.
In politics, as in all else, the devil is in the details. The type of people who use glamour as an escape, and not a respite, are the type of people who find such visions appealing.
They are the type who will be inspired by idyllic rhetoric and the type who will take radical political action. In the final analysis, it is the character, the imaginative orientation, of a people that will determine whether glamour is destructive, both in politics and in advertising, both socially and personally.
Those episodes of escape will contribute to disillusion and cynicism regarding potentialities in the real world, even if destructive action is not ultimately taken. This applies to an attraction to idyllic political schemes as well.
A person endowed with the idyllic imagination will seek escape from the struggles of real politics in the fantasies of abstract political schemes. There is an inherent abstraction to glamour that makes the eradication of idyllic dreaming impossible. The moral imaginative character will perceive the sort of abstraction that serves as inspiration to salutary action as an image of concrete improvement, albeit unrealized concrete improvement.
And the sorts of glamorous images inspired by the moral imagination will be concrete in some way. However, the nature of an image that does not yet concretely exist—even if it can concretely exist—because of its abstraction, opens itself to idyllic dreaming of the destructive sort, both in terms of escapist imagining and of inspiration for radical action.
A soldier endowed with the idyllic imagination serving under Henry V certainly could have been disillusioned and cynical after the battle of Agincourt. He would remember his wounds with bitterness rather than pride.
The image of concrete fellowship was a yet unrealized image when Henry spoke, and the idyllic imagination could have interpreted it in an idyllic manner, glossing over the suffering implicit within the ensuing celebration, leading only to disappointment and disillusion.
This potential for abstraction and idyllic dreaming is an ineradicable condition of glamour.
This danger in glamour does not mean that glamour can be avoided. Simply to condemn glamour as a lie is to damn imagination. Civilization itself can be understood as a product of glamour, a product of selection and salutary disguise. Postrel cites a scene from the movie Queen Christina in which the characters are discussing courtship.
One character complains that the trappings of courtship are a deception of its real center, which is a primitive sexual drive.
But, he declares, civilization itself is defined by such illusions—by art and artifice, customs and manners.
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