To Hell With Vox’s Victorian-Living Idiots
September 11, 2015 - table lamp
Yesterday, Vox published a first-person letter detailing a anachronistic existence of dual insufferably twee hipsters who live as if they were insufferably twee 19th-century civic gentry. Fuck these people.
Please review a essay first, though in summary: Two assholes motionless to live like extras in The Knick, and urge themselves opposite their haters by espousing a elementary pleasures and reliable supremacy of wearing a corset and not carrying electricity. The couple, Sarah A. Chrisman and her partner Gabriel, live in a “Victorian pier town” in Washington state, and have solemnly divested themselves of complicated amenities like refrigerators, heating, and any amicable awareness. By stripping divided complicated amenities—they support this as “study” of “history”—they have turn “mindful” of bland life, and they “increase their recognition of their vicinity and a approach things they use each day impact them.” Chrisman writes of how wearing 19th-century garments creates her wakeful of things like “posture, movement, [and] balance,” sounding like ad duplicate for Shape-Ups, that are likewise formed on 19th-century systematic principles.
To interpretation a essay in a many tone-deaf approach possible, Chrisman writes of their hazardous existence that “[they] know a universe is a vicious place for anyone who doesn’t fit into a widespread culture.” Yes, truly, a sign of society’s cruelty is a predicament of wealthy, intentionally self-marginalized whites. Fuck these people.
Perhaps they’re right. Maybe they’d be happier in an epoch when they could some-more simply develop in a “dominant culture,” like a 19th century. Since they courtesy themselves as such students of a time, I’m certain they’re prepared to rivet with a full spectrum of a “dominant culture” of a Victorian era, including such renouned contemporary pastimes as widespread disease, famine, slavery, lynchings, majestic aggression, and anti-Semitic pogroms.
Then again, maybe not. Neither of these dual nitwits indeed engages with a enlightenment of a time. (Chrisman posted an essay on fucking Vox, for Chrissakes; she’s not staying in and study her phrenology textbook.) Almost all of Chrisman’s rendezvous with a past is by her knowledge with a “authentic” element products and accoutrements of a period: She and her partner float foolish aged big-wheel bikes, wear foolish nap garments (EVEN TO THE FUCKING GYM, GOD, FUCK YOU GABRIEL), review by a glow of a foolish oil flare that I’m certain isn’t during all a glow hazard, and hand-hew list legs to consider about complicated disposable culture, or something.
Which is fine. There’s a lot to be pronounced about a nonsense and disposability of complicated consumerism. But these arguments championing a materiality of a past are flattering sickening when they willfully omit a context in that those materials were created. (“Those Hugo Boss uniforms a Germans had were so stylish!”) Were she an actual ancient of 19-century Victorian culture, a string for those covers Chrisman writes about painstakingly stuffing would have been farmed on worker plantations and woven by fingerless children in sweatshops. The rubber for a tires on her and (fuck Gabriel) Gabriel’s foolish bikes would have been sole by genocidal rubber barons in a Putumayo who shot Indians for sport. The entirety of high Victorian enlightenment was formed on a grounds that British enlightenment was exceptional, and British enlightenment was well-developed since it cowed and dominated most of a famous world; Victorian enlightenment was colonial culture, and there is no separating a two. If we wish your icebox fridge, we have to accept that it would be stocked with food taken from starving Indian peasants churned in with a Lithuanian’s severed thumb.
Victorian enlightenment didn’t emerge from a vacuum; it was a accumulative product of centuries of imperialism expressing, brutally, a idea that a white British elite were a usually people who mattered, and that everybody else could be dejected underneath a circle of their foolish bikes. For that matter, a couple’s old-fashioned naïveté about a epoch is, itself, definitely Victorian—in most of a same approach that a 19th-century British favourite to consider they’d usually tripped and depressed dick-first into a tellurian empire.
There is no value of lived knowledge generated from this exercise, that is so abandoned of a tangible context for a Victorian-period accoutrements it fetishizes that these dual would have been equally served privilege-LARPing a life of a dampness rancher on Tatooine. There is no flawlessness in of any of this. Have they been checked for typhoid lately? Has Gabriel (fuck Gabriel!) been drafted to quarrel in a Boer War? Does Sarah come from a family of landed nobleness to live such a life of leisure? Did Gabriel (fuck Gabriel) get his arm ripped off in a shuttle-loom collision when he was 14? These people are a anti-vaxxers of modernity, solely they indeed have vaccinations, so they don’t have to worry about failing from polio. They are anti-tech Silicon Valley libertarians who trust temperament is subsequent from what foolish shit we approximate yourself with, regardless of what horrors brought it to you.
This isn’t usually ignorant, or revolting; it’s also bad history. Studying a source but contextualizing it means inventing a context for it—in this case, a rose-colored idea of a easier and some-more “proper” time—that will fundamentally be wrong. As we’ve seen, this arrange of idealizing of an illusory past … well, it tends not to work out so well.
I wish to send these people a hundred years into destiny to accommodate another integrate who fetishize a prior century like they do, and to see them discover, with horror, that yesterday’s Victorian sophists are tomorrow’s teen Vine stars and Dan Bilzerians. The past is garbage. More to a point, Sarah Chrisman and Gabriel (fuck Gabriel!) do not need to cosplay 1874 to knowledge a pleasures of a life absolved with abounding space for mindfulness; one endangered with bicycle rides and dress-making and blossoming into one’s “true self”; one in that a universe visits no larger cruelty on them than a occasional snarl during an oddity sartorial choice. They already have that life—it has already been means to them by centuries of compounded payoff bought by a genocide and onslaught and hardship of others, and they emphatically are not rejecting it. They suppose that they found it in a accoutrements of a past; probably everybody else who has ever lived—nearly everybody alive now—has had to settle for anticipating their descendants competence arrive during it in a future.
Fuck these people.
Follow Adam Prosk on Twitter @adprock.