STANDING ON THE SHOULDER PADS OF GIANTS (Exetera Magazine)

Original post here

PullQuoteMarkFashion has been given a bad name. All too easily it can bring to mind unemployed rich kids, jewel-bedecked magazine editors with botoxed foreheads, exploited models living off almonds and cigarettes, hordes of sycophantic bloggers and freakish clothes which cost more than a five star trip to Dubai. Despite popular misconceptions, however, there’s more to the industry than trust funds, vanity and Devil-Wears-Prada archetypes.

I don’t need to tell you about the transformative power of clothing; you know that what you wear to a Friday morning lecture is going to differ from what you wear to a job interview, and you wouldn’t take the President so seriously if he delivered his speeches in a Juicy Couture tracksuit.

The word ‘fashion’ itself means to mould, to form, to shape. Just think of that overused metaphor which likens clothing to armour and makeup to war paint; it’s overused because it makes sense. Clothing can distinguish us, conform us, even change our shape and height. The effect which our clothing has on our mindset and behaviour is immeasurable. By dressing in any given way, we wield the power to change how we feel, how we are perceived and how we are treated.

In 1975, John T. Molloy published an instructive book titled ‘The Women’s Dress for Success Book’, and the concept of ‘power dressing’ was born. Towering shoulder pads and angular tailoring took over the womenswear scene into the ‘80s, with influential figures such as Princess Diana, Grace Jones, and the cast of the bitchiest television show of all time, Dynasty, leading the way. Masculine silhouettes expressed a sort of sartorial feminism, setting out to assert the authority of high-achieving women in a man’s world. In a time when women were paid considerably less than men (a pay gap which is yet to close entirely) it was important for women to be taken seriously in the workplace. By appropriating masculine imagery traditionally synonymous with authority, women exploited the patriarchal hierarchy in order to empower themselves and demand respect.

MARGARET-THATCHER-IRON-LADY-2-horz

Love her or hate her, we might see the late Margaret Thatcher as the mascot of ‘80s power dressing. As she climbed the career ladder, she acquired an exhaustive selection of suits and an increasingly voluminous helmet of hair. Like the colouring of a poisonous insect, her new look seemed to say ‘don’t mess with me,’ and put a firm middle finger up to the men who would sooner have her elbow-deep in Fairy liquid than running the country. Defence and attack were important in an environment as fiercely patriarchal as British Government. Thatcher once described her handbag as the only safe place in Downing Street, and to her credit, she fought her way right into its top seat.

While feminism became increasingly prevalent throughout the twentieth century, the power dressing phenomenon wasn’t limited to women. Its other proponents came from the world of popular music, with artists such as Boy George and David Bowie adopting drastically androgynous new styles, taking influence from previously underground trends and bringing them into the popular sphere, forging identities beyond the conventional.

However, fashion had political significance long before Ziggy Stardust descended from Mars. When Coco Chanel rid the world of the suffocating corset in the early 20th century, loose clothing became a symbol of the emancipation of women. They were no longer trussed up in whale-bone and dripping with heavy jewellery; they were free to move, to work, to think, and to possess a new, understated chic. Later on, in the ‘60s and ‘70s, clothing became an agent for the liberation of teenagers, with designers like Mary Quant bringing in the revolutionary mini-skirt, and far more drastically, with the opening of ‘SEX’, the avant-garde punk boutique conceived by Malcolm McLaren and Vivienne Westwood in 1974. The punk movement expressed an anarchist belligerence and appropriated fetish clothing, bringing it out of sex clubs and into the public eye.

Although they only gained exposure over recent decades, underground styles such as fetish-wear had existed long before they were brought to the fore. Drag culture, perhaps harnessing the power of clothing and make-up more potently than any other discipline, is an example of another such subculture, finding increasing popularity with the majority.

Jennie Livingston’s 1990 documentary Paris Is Burning, filmed during the 1980s, explores the rich culture of drag balls in Harlem, New York. A drag ball is a competition in which contestants ‘walk’ a runway in outfits corresponding to a number of categories, such as ‘Parisian high fashion’, ‘butch queen, first time in drag at a ball’, and ‘vogue femme’. Participating drag queens often belong to collectives called ‘houses’, becoming ‘children’ to a ‘drag mother’ after whom the house is named. By walking in balls, they could win trophies and highly regarded accolades such as the ‘legendary’ title, and eventually the chance to become house mothers themselves.

The legendary queens of Paris is Burning

The drag lexicon, which was popularised by the documentary and, more recently, by the televised talent show RuPaul’s Drag Race, is particularly colourful. The best queens are ‘fierce’; the art of delivering scathing, witty insults is ‘reading’; to ‘beat one’s face’ is to apply immaculate make-up; to look good is to look ‘sickening’. A ‘kiki’ is a party, and a ‘kai kai’ is sexual encounter between drag queens – try not to confuse those two.

For a group of people who found it difficult to fit in with popular society and were often disowned by their families for their sexuality or transgender status, drag ball culture was an opportunity to be accepted, adored and rewarded. Still, it has never been without its perils.

Venus Xtravaganza, a regular on the ball circuit and one of Paris is Burning’s most celebrated subjects, was a transgendered woman saving up for sex-reassignment surgery. Like many drag queens, she resorted to prostitution as a means of income, devoid of other options due to the prejudice which had affected her upbringing. In 1988, her strangled body was discovered under the bed of a New York hotel room. The tragedy is relayed by Venus’ house mother in Paris is Burning, providing a startling reminder that, beyond the underground community which accepted people like her with open arms, the world isn’t always kind to those who refuse to conform to convention.

In her seminal 1990 work Gender Trouble, influential theorist Judith Butler wrote: “In imitating gender, drag implicitly reveals the imitative structure of gender itself – as well as its contingency”. She argues that the performance of drag exposes gender for just that; a performance. It calls into question the relationship between sex and gender, a relationship ‘regularly assumed to be natural and necessary’, a ‘fabricated unity’. Typical transphobic polemic condemns cross-dressing as ‘unnatural’; Butler replies by asserting that no gendered behaviour is natural at all. It is, in fact, performance. In drag culture, a successful imitation is given the accolade of ‘realness’. It might at first seem paradoxical to call imitation ‘real’; however, the notion suggests that displaying an awareness of the construction of our outward façades – and the affectations which comprise them – is in fact more authentic than believing such façades to be natural.

Furthermore, drag can be seen to transcend the realm of gender. In the competitions documented by Paris is Burning, categories such as ‘executive realness’ entail dressing as successful, straight men, fulfilling a fantasy of acceptance, conformity and respect of the sort the LGBTQ population were rarely granted in the wider world.

Drag queen superstar RuPaul has said: ‘we’re born naked, and the rest is drag’, perhaps unwittingly recalling Simone de Beauvoir, who wrote: ‘One is not born a woman, but rather becomes one’. The same is true for all of us; our identities are constructed by experience, as well as prescribed by society. Although biological sex has become entangled with gendered behaviour, theorists such as Butler unsettle the bonds between them.

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When we dress, we are making a plethora of references to every sartorial decision which has been made before us, all of which influence how we are perceived. Team a pair of jeans with a white t-shirt and a cigarette and you’re channelling James Dean macho; don a white halter-neck sundress and you’re referencing the voluptuous femininity of Marilyn Monroe; kitten heels with a circle skirt will take you straight to Stepford; a black dress and a cigarette holder will take you to Tiffany’s for breakfast. The lofty, glass-walled skyscrapers of the financial district will smile upon a Savile Row suit, and a glittering drag club in the centre of Harlem will have you however you are, sequins or not. Just be sure to keep it real.

All dressing is power dressing; clothing not only sits on our skin, but changes us from the inside out, shaping us into something beyond the corporeal – into signifiers of a long socio-political history and carriers of infinite connotations. So, if you’re ever tempted to disregard fashion as a shallow industry, remember that every sartorial decision you make is quietly monumental, entering you into an age-old cultural dialogue which is lodged into the very fabric of your Versace bomber jacket, or, more realistically, your cotton-blend t-shirt. You are standing on the shoulder pads of giants.

AN EMBARRASSING STORY / TOILET HUMOUR

Usually, when somebody asks to tell them the most embarassing thing I’ve ever done, I’m stumped for answers. As of this week, however, that’s all changed. I’m about to tell you why — but first, let it be known that it’s taken me four days to decide whether to make this information public. Well, I decided that I will. My name is Mark, and this is my story.

My house is currently a building site. The entire kitchen has been knocked down to make way for a new one inside an extension, so I’m surviving on  food stored inside a tiny fridge in the middle of a living room covered entirely with dust sheets. Being woken up by power tools at 7.30am every day and having to live in just two fusty rooms has resulted in a constant desire to eat, so our crude temporary kitchen isn’t working out so well for me.

Anyway, culinary digressions aside, my embarrassing day began with a bedroom pilates session. I was enjoying some fat-busting, leg-pumping ab exercises to full volume CSS, partying like it was 2006, when there was some shouting and a knock on the door. I jumped up and opened it to greet a gigantic builder who pleaded me not to flush the toilet. At this point, I was flustered, sweaty, scantily-clad, and my Youtube pilates instructor was screaming ‘PUMP, PUMP, PUMP, OH MY GOD THAT’S HARD!’ from the laptop on the floor. I doubt my builder friend thought to himself, ‘oh, this young lad is enjoying a short exercise routine before sipping on his daily green smoothie!’. I looked considerably less wholesome.

But oh no, that’s not even the embarrassing part. Stick with me.

I finished my little workout, showered, dressed, and headed for the toilet. I’m not sure how to communicate this, or indeed any of the remainder of my story, without vulgarity, so I’ll just come out and say it: I defecated in the toilet. Phew. Ok. So, forgetting the message carried to me by the aforementioned amiable contractor, I hit the flush button. That’s when a shout came from outside.

“DON’T FLUSH THE TOILET! OH FUCK! YOU’VE GOT THAT ALL OVER MY £1100 POWER TOOL! I SAID DON’T FLUSH THE TOILET!”

In short, the toilet’s  pipe was disconnected and I poured the contents of my bowels onto a very unfortunate, totally innocent builder. That, most definitely, was the embarrassing part. And that’s when, being someone who likes to maintain the illusion that they don’t require normal bodily functions, I went into a panicked frenzy, grabbed my bag and ran out of the house, leaving the door open, too scared to go back and close it lest I encounter a very angry and very wet builder wielding a £1100 power tool which may or may not be capable of decapitating me.

HOUSE OF ZEMBLA

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If you’ve visited this blog at any point during the past few months, you’ll be familiar with my increasingly monomaniacal obsession with drag and Paris is Burning ball culture. Please refer to this video of Friday night’s debauchery. Yes, I was that cunt wearing sunglasses in a dark corner of the club. I couldn’t see a thing, but boy oh boy, if you could have seen me you’d be all “who’s that beguiling, enigmatic, beshaded boy!? How do I penetrate his chic, expressionless exterior and get to know him?!”.

You might also be familiar with Exetera, the magazine which I will officially edit come September, taking over from the great and often late Max Benwell.

Are you enjoying all the links?

For the upcoming edition of Exetera, I finally managed to indulge my drag aspirations and lady myself up in front of the lens of the talented Felix McCabe. My botched attempt at makeup, involving budget high-street buys and an excessive amount of pink glue in my eyebrows, shaped me into a perverse hybrid of Marlene Dietrich, Marylin Monroe, Myra Hindley and one of Toulouse-Lautrec’s syphilitic prostitute muses. So, I decided to name my creation Myra Le Monstra, obviously.

REALNESS

#FISH

The photographs accompanied an article about the legacy of power dressing, called ‘Standing on the Shoulder Pads of Giants’, into which a managed to weave quotations from RuPaul, Simone de Beauvoir, and, every english student’s wet dream, Judith Butler. They were, respectively, ‘We are born naked and the rest is drag’, ‘One is not born a woman but rather becomes one’, and ‘In imitating gender, drag implicitly reveals the imitative structure of gender itself’. See, being fierce and vaguely intelligent are in no way mutually exclusive.

The Political Issue of Exetera is currently being printed and will be available for free in Exeter, and shortly afterwards online. Myra Le Monstra is unavailable for bookings; she broke a nail.

OBSESSIONS

Before you begin, like The Zemblan on facebook, yeah? 

Like a lot of people, I am prone to obsession. I always have been, and I always will be. Past fixations have included dinosaurs, cucumber with mashed potato, typewriters, looking up at the ceiling four times upon entering a room (oops) and watching every single video of Bjork on youtube (I think I actually succeeded). When I was a tweenager I had a pretty arbitrary selection of favourite DVDs, each of which I would watch at least once a week, much to the concern of my mother, who probably couldn’t understand how she’d raised a boy who liked nothing better than recreating scenes from the remake of Stepford Wives and could quote along to the whole of Notes on a Scandal. Incidentally, I once had an English teacher who looked exactly like Cate Blanchett, so she probably thought a student/teacher affair was on the cards. Combine all this with two very noticeable facial ticks (a left eye wink and a kind of extreme one-sided grimace), and I must have seemed like a fairly unstable kid. I’d like to think that my awkward childhood was indication of a future genius, but then I realise that I can’t remember how to do long division and I spend most of my time walking into things.

Right now, I have several obsessions, which I thought I’d list here. Because, awesome! The first one is drag queens, but I’ve already posted way too much about that, so I’ll offer some alternatives.

1. GREEN SMOOTHIES

In truly irritating Gwenyth Paltrow style (a woman most accurately described as a ‘hollowed-out avocado husk’ by Bullett) I now wake up to a glassful of spinach, banana, flaxseed, coconut water and carrot.

Now that my shopping basket is a veritable cornucopia of green leaves, nuts, seeds, fruits and vegetables, my regular trip to Tesco feels exactly like this:

2. LE ROCHE POSAY: EFFACLAR DUO

£13 at Boots

It just clears you skin. It just clears it. Without Parabens. Without nasty chemical fragrances. Without grease.

Well, that’s the opinion of numerous bloggers and beauty critics, so naturally I’ve absorbed the facts which they regurgitate and taken on their views as my own. Luckily, though, it seems to be working so far, and I just can’t resist the lure that sophisticated little tube anyway.

3. MANUKA HONEY HAIR CARE

Available at Holland and Barrett

I used to scoff at beauty trends and celebrity-endorsed vegan/organic products, but now I find myself totally sold on every single one. Dr. Organic’s Manuka Honey shampoo smells so good that it makes your shower feel like a tropical monsoon in a rose garden (where all the roses happen to smell like honey).

4. TINNED TUNA

Get it with spring water, because oil is fatty, and, like, ew, you obese slob

It’s cheap, it’s versatile, it looks flaky, grey and slimy but it’s delicious. Serve in a salad with avocado, cucumber and coriander and you’re sorted. Chase with mouthwash and perfume so that you don’t smell like a dead fish for the following few hours.

5. HOUSE OF CARDS

Nobody can resist a sociopathic protagonist in the pursuit of power — just ask Mr Ripley and Richard III. Frank Underwood is no exception, and his ruthless, Machiavellian path towards the top seat in the White House is televisual gold dust. Throw in the unfaltering poise of Robin Wright playing his wife and Kate Mara as a terrifyingly determined journalist with a daddy complex and you’ve got yourself quiiiiite a show.

B E Y O N C E

I’m seeing Beyoncé live this week, and I’m really, really, really excited. I don’t care if she makes questionable styling choices, relates every single conversation topic back to ‘God’s plan’ like she’s reading from a script written by a mormon PR team, and sings ridiculously contradictory pseudo-feminist lyrics which may or may not have Simone De Beauvoir rolling in her grave (“Who run the world? Girls” vs. “I’d rather not live at all than live my life without you”). I love her anyway, along with most of the planet. I don’t even care if I’m subconsciously conforming to the worldwide hysteria just to feel part of something and fill a loveless void in my hardened soul. I LOVE HER AND I’M SEEING HER LIVE AND YOU’RE (probably) NOT SO I WIN.

I was initially a little dejected when I read that Queen Bey had joined Taylor Swift in the ranks of pop stars who reject the term ‘feminist’. I thought that the days in which feminists were considered hairy-legged, monobrowed, birkenstock-fetishizing man haters were long gone. That made me and my English student feminist credentials really mad. But then I realised that Beyonce isn’t an academic or a philosopher or a politician or any kind of lofty thinker. She’s a singer, and I love nothing more than shutting my bedroom door and dancing like a coked-up pond skater to her music. So, I decided to ignore the fact that her views on feminism will strongly influence millions of young children who don’t even know what academics, philosophers or politicians are, and decided to enjoy her for what she is. As with most problematic things in life, genocide and Miley Cyrus’ short hair aside, laughter is the best form of combat. And remember, God has a glorious and beautiful plan for you in the promised— Okay, no, I can’t even do that shit ironically.

Why don’t you just sit back and enjoy these prime Bey moments.

What’s better than Beyoncé? Multiple Beyoncés!

INSTAGLAM

Originally posted on the blog I run for Exeter Fashion Society

Instagram has quickly become one of the most popular forms of social media out there, and there’s more to it than gratuitous photos of salad and cups of coffee. We’ve become shamelessly addicted to stalking models on Instagram, so if you’re looking for some procrastination material and the chance to imagine a life lived through a succession of luxury hotel rooms and big-name parties, look no further than this list by the Fashion Spot, which provides you with every important model’s Instagram screen name. First, though, check out some of our favourites below:

CARA DELEVINGNE (caradelevingne)
Cara Delevingne is undoubtedly the model of the moment, as well as several prior moments, and many more moments to come. Check out her instagram for irreverent humour and notably non-model-like poses. She’s also the only model to Instagram a photo of herself with bird s**t on her forehead.

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JOURDAN DUNN (officialjdunn)
She’s Cara Delevingne’s best friend, the first woman of colour to be the face of Burberry, and she’s one of the most in-demand models in the world. Therefore, she’s an absolute must follow. Also, she was scouted in Primark, which evokes a perfect rags-to-riches story.

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JOAN SMALLS (joansmalls)
We love Joan Smalls, and so does the fashion industry. She’s been ranked the #1 model in the world since September 2012, and it’s no surprise why. We’ve been hooked since she became the first Latino face of Estee Lauder cosmetics.

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COCO ROCHA (cocorocha)
Coco Rocha’s parents are both in the airline industry — her mother is a flight attendant and her father is a ticket manager — and she’s living the life of a real high-flyer. See what I did there? Thanks, Wikipedia, for the fascinating facts.

6

DREE HEMINGWAY (dreelouise)
Dree Hemingway is the image of health, and admittedly, we really enjoy her gratuitous images of salad and other wholesome delights. It’s inspirational when all you really want is a tower of indulgent brownies dripping with steaming melted chocolate…. and ice cream… and chopped nuts… and… okay, maybe just go for those brownies anyway.

4

SASHA LUSS (sashaluss)
Sasha Luss is a slightly lesser known model, but her Instagram account is one of the best. If it’s anything to go by, she really loves food, champagne and TV shows. Don’t we all?

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MARK IZATT (mrizatt)
This rare beauty can be spotted around the Exeter campus sipping on black coffee and eating hun cal salads, wishing they were carbs. (Just to confirm, he also wrote this article and is featured ironically / in a desperate bid for more followers).

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Happy instastalking!

THE GOLDEN AGE OF JOURNALISM (Exetera Magazine)

Truman Capote werrrking

Read the original post here

“I read the newspapers with lively interest. It is seldom that they are absolutely, point-blank wrong. That is the popular belief, but those who are in the know can usually discern an embryo of truth, a little grit of fact, like the core of a pearl, round which have been deposited the delicate layers of ornament.” 

– Evelyn Waugh, ‘Scoop’

When we (or at least I) think of journalism in the former half of the twentieth century, it’s all marble floors and stiff black coffees in lofty New York high-rises. It’s brassy young writers tapping furiously on their typewriters in a cloud of cigarette smoke and cologne, pausing occasionally to wipe the sweat from their brow with an impeccably tailored jacket sleeve. “I’ve got it!” they shout, stubbing out that cigarette and tearing the final page of a story from their typewriter. “This one’s really gonna shake ’em up.”

Okay, so that’s probably a fantasy exclusive to myself, and it’s easy to ignore the undercurrent of misogyny and racism which was a symptom of the entire era – easily discernible in the Capote excerpt included in a couple of paragraphs’ time – but there’s still a literary elegance in earlier journalism which is easy to miss today, when quoting a single sentence from the Mail Online that will probably require several insertions of ‘[sic]’. An article about Girls Aloud singer Nadine Coyle, for example, enjoyed the following errors:

Sarah and Kimberly ventured into acting, with the later starring as Princess Fiona on the West End production of Shrek.

[…]

Nadine’s has been keeping a low profile in the U.S. since her debut album bombed.

Journalism wasn’t always about celebrity weight-loss, Kardashian break-ups and Shrek. There was a time when the ‘little grit of fact’ around which an entire article is based could never be Emma Watson saying that her next movie ‘will not be Fifty Shades of Grey.’ There was a time when Vogue mixed fashion photography with academic articles by writers such as Joan Didion and Virginia Woolf, Hunter S. Thompson wrote for Rolling Stone, and Truman Capote, the man who brought us Breakfast at Tiffany’s (and, indirectly, that nasty mass-produced Audrey Hepburn canvas which adorns tween bedroom walls the world over), interviewed Marlon Brando for The New Yorker:

‘My guide tapped at Brando’s door, shrieked “Marron!,” and fled away along the corridor, her kimono sleeves fluttering like the wings of a parakeet. The door was opened by another doll-delicate Miyako maid, who at once succumbed to her own fit of quaint hysteria. From an inner room, Brando called, “What is it, honey?” But the girl, her eyes squeezed shut with mirth and her fat little hands jammed into her mouth, like a bawling baby’s, was incapable of reply. “Hey, honey, what is it?” Brando again inquired, and appeared in the doorway. “Oh, hi,” he said when he saw me. “It’s seven, huh?” We’d made a seven-o’clock date for dinner; I was nearly twenty minutes late. “Well, take off your shoes and come on in. I’m just finishing up here. And, hey, honey,” he told the maid, “bring us some ice.” Then, looking after the girl as she scurried off, he cocked his hands on his hips and, grinning, declared, “They kill me. They really kill me. The kids, too. Don’t you think they’re wonderful, don’t you love them—Japanese kids?”‘

In the early 1930s Virginia Woolf wrote a series of essays, collectively titled London Scenes, for Good Housekeeping magazine (a publication whose recent cover stars have included Gwenyth Paltrow in a mauve turtleneck and a grinning Julie Walters beside the headline ‘Financially fabulous at every age’). On the subject of the filthy banks of the Thames, Woolf wrote:

‘Barges heaped with old buckets, razor blades, fish tails, newspapers and ashes-whatever we leave on our plates and throw into our dust bins-are discharging their cargoes upon the most desolate land in the world. The long mounds have been fuming and smoking and harbouring innumerable rats and growing a rank coarse grass and giving off a gritty, acrid air for fifty years. The dumps get higher and higher, and thicker and thicker, their sides more precipitous with tin cans, their pinnacles more angular with ashes year by year.’

As brilliant as this stuff is, there’s always a problem with gilding any past era as a ‘golden age’. Every generation in the history of the Western world has done it, thinking that they’re the first. Perhaps it provides us with the comforting belief that life was once better, and the hope that it might be again, someday. Even Homer’s epics were set a thousand or two years before his lifetime, nostalgic for a time when rape and murder were social norms and a host of bisexual deities rushed down from the heavens to give us a hand at warfare. Needless to say, he based everything on reliable factual research – just like all those Daily Mail articles about cancer causes.

Nicole Kidman as Woolf in The Hours, with a prosthetic nose which should have won best supporting actress (or not, because she looked suspiciously like a stretched out Dobby the house elf)

In light of all this, I’m now going to completely disprove everything which I’ve written so far – probably a symptom of my lazy 21st century journalistic skills, or lack thereof.

Firstly, there’s always been a thirst for the gritty details of public figures’ private lives. Celebrity culture rose from the ashes of high society culture, in which debutante balls, socialite weddings and party outfits were top news. The entertainment news of today is similar material, but the rise of television, the internet and instant communication has spawned a new generation of public figures; the socialites have become the celebrities.

And, amongst the splurge of inane paparazzi shots and rapper feuds which make the headlines, there’s still great journalism being published. Take Exetera, for example, a magazine of uncompromising quality and ambitious scope, changing the face of the creative and intellectual world one page at a… just kidding. But you need only skim the pages of the more respected magazines and newspapers to see, nestled between paraphrased press releases and photoshop-skinny models, big names with big ideas. To mention just a few examples, Pop magazine recently published an interview by art critic and curator Hans Ulrich Obrist, the New York Times published a sports piece by David Foster Wallace in 2006, and McSweeney’s magazine brings us a satirical monologue by novelist Teddy Wayne, ‘I’m an English Professor in a Movie’:

‘Good morning, and welcome to Advanced English Literature—I’m Professor Anglosoundingname. As you can see, I have a mane of silver hair and wear a corduroy blazer with leather elbow patches stitched with corduroy threads that have their own leather thread-patches, and pace briskly into this lecture hall from the New England autumn just as class starts.

I’m waiting sternly as the laggards straggle in like Leopold Bloom wearily climbing into his bed in the “Penelope” episode ofUlysses… yes, I expected you all to laugh at that impromptu erudite quip, with the exception of one newcomer, that Midwestern freshman in the middle row looking around anxiously with her neatly arranged panoply of multicolored pens, wondering if she’s out of her depth because she can’t understand an offhand literary joke at this elite institution which is, once again, in New England—take a quick, establishing gander at the outside foliage.’

When faced with writing like this, it’s hard to believe that the golden age ever really ended. Sure, there’s a lot more rushed, grammatically-flawed hack journalism to sift through – and if we’re to tie the various strands of this article together into a satisfying conclusion, we might compare it to the acrid detritus of Woolf’s Thames – but there’s also plenty of quality writing which can easily go unnoticed. The golden age is a permanent fixture; it’s happening right under our noses (and now I’m going to really blow your mind by looping all the way back to that opening quotation from Evelyn Waugh), but you need to open a lot of oysters before you can find a pearl.