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All about appearances

published: 2010-03-09

I am in a village called Paraty. It is one of the oldest colonial villages in Brazil. It was preserved because people forgot all about it when a new port for the export of gold was built. Now, it is predominantly home to holidaying couples and guest-houses. The historical city center is full of galleries and restaurants. Indeed, it is very pretty. But somehow, I never really warmed up to the artsy, cultural villages in the world. Like Ubud in Bali, Bergen in Holland or Eze in France, I feel strangely uncomfortable walking past ateliers after ateliers and artisan shops. The owners all wear long, flowy dresses, big bracelets, necklaces and colourful hair bands. Some will sport dreads. The particularly wild ones may have shaven their heads in a stylish Sinead O’Connor kind of way. I can’t quite put my finger on what bothers me about it. Perhaps it’s the way creativity is portrayed and subsequently exploited. This is how people like to see their artists. Similarly, people like to see their writers present themselves a particular way: ernest and in black. Preferably a writer should wear glasses and speak in an anti-everything modus when drinking.
I suppose being a diplomat’s daughter has made me a little too sensitive for this kind of outwardly show. Or perhaps I am just frustrated. As my significant other would say: “you simply hate the confrontation with yourself.” True. But isn’t in essence writing (or any art-form for that matter) exactly that?

4 Responses to “All about appearances”

  1. Mooi.
    Was getekend

  2. alief says:

    @Van de Pot Gerukt, Merçi!

  3. dansicle says:

    I share your distrust for this sort of thing, for sure. Why dress yourself and everything up that way? What does it signify? Why is it *such* a widespread look/feel? Has a cheap kind of imposter-perfume smell about it; but the observation about facing oneself is a very good one. We all get our idea of what it means to be an artist from somewhere. Few are beyond playing to it in some way. Do you think the process of writing, confronting oneself, can/should mitigate this sort of drive to be ‘artsy’? (and that was a clumsy way for me to ask the question.. Sorry. Should have figured out how to send email from this thing.)

  4. alief says:

    @dansicle I suppose sometimes, it’s comfortable to see that things appear as you’d expect them to: ie that the guys driving the old-timer Citroen are of course unshaven and fun-loving (or at least: they look fun-loving). Can the process of writing mitigate this sort of drive to be artsy, you ask? Yes, in the sense that to be engaged in the actual act of writing is in itself an nternal/hermetic action. But there’s always a moment when one stops writing and becomes aware of his/her appearance, or at least that of his/her tekst.

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