We live in one of the weirdest-if not the weirdest-historical epochs to date. We spend the bulk of our time and attention span talking to people indirectly on little phones stored in our pocket or Prada bag. With each subconscious swipe, we open ourselves up to the possibility of connecting with strangers who we may never meet, or may meet once and never see again, or worst of all, strangers who may-through thousands of texts and hundreds of Facetime minutes-excavate away the facade of who we pretend to be (xoxo, Vonnegut), and extract from us our most secret selves, only to have it ultimately backfire in the end.
[One interpretation of ~modern love~, courtesy of a gallery in West Chelsea which I visited last weekend]
To be a single and ~semi-trendy~ twenty something is to sit down daily to an endless smörgåsbord of sex appeal; of tight abs and witty banter and Katsuya reservations and petit morts, none of which manage to fully satisfy.
[Balmain F/W 16-17. Photo Credit: HERE]
I was reading a review of the Balmain show this week, and it referenced how Olivier Rousteing is often accused being a “maximalist”, or “excessive to the point of nauseousness”. He invites us to binge on chic, to maximally mange at a Parisian parade of ruffles, corsets, golden hardware, wigs, A-List models wearing aforementioned wigs, and naturally, raw sex appeal.
What’s wrong with that? I thought to myself. I am a maximalist too.
The theme reared its glossy, @jenatkinhair-inspired head again this morning, as I heard the sad news regarding the passing of Pat Conroy. The Prince of Tides was one of my favorite novels in high school, chiefly because of the verbose nature of his prose, sweeping you deeply and darkly into the sensuous imaginings of Conroy’s South Carolina. However, his obituary notes how critics said that, “the characters do too much, feel too much, suffer too much, eat too much, signify too much and, above all, talk too much.”
Too much for some, but just right for me.
What is the danger then, of taking it to the max?
[The original MAXimalist, Queen Cine]
Putting literature and fashion aside, in the context of human relationships, it seems as though we lack accountability to anyone anymore. We are saturated with the maximum amount of options, which prompts us to do just the minimum, if that.
Other than the people who pay us/gave birth to us/survived childhood alongside us-and even then, not always-no one is owed an explanation, no one is worthy of eye contact, of an apology, of a second chance, of authenticity. We have too many opportunities, and not enough reason to continue to cultivate existing relationships the second that they become difficult or inconvenient.
Why forgive, why compromise, when you have 500 other strangers in the palm of your hand, clamoring to take you to SLS? Certainly, I’ve been guilty of embracing that rhetoric. It is typically much easier to forget, than forgive.
We just need a face to face, you can pick the time and the place. That’s what Drake pleads to Rihanna for, in their chart topping hit, “Work”. But if even the 6 God cannot be fulfilled by the contemporary state of interpersonal communications, how can the hoi polloi find hope?
Last night, I was lucky enough to have been invited to Shabbat dinner at my ex-boyfriend’s sister’s new apartment in Brickell (see, not all of my exes hate me!!!!111!!) Although I spent the first decade of my life living in an ultra-Jewish suburban enclave of New York City, I myself am not Jewish. However, I have always been attracted more toward the Reform Judaism practices of my friends than my own Catholic upbringing. This is likely due to the emphasis which Reform Judaism places on family, arts/culture, and education, values which far more align with my own than the punitive, conservative, Catholicism of my youth.
It was so different and refreshing to witness a committed couple around my age dedicate their Friday to making an elaborate dinner for their family and a few friends. It was maximalist in the best way possible; the gorgeous redone apartment festooned with imported Italian marble and tiles from Israel, the Hebrew prayers and kippa-wearing, the carefully curated courses and courses of food, the fresh flowers, the unceasing sharing of stories and laughs, to the point where I hadn’t checked my phone for almost 4 hours straight. Religious beliefs aside, maybe this is the type of maximalism we should all be embracing.
[My new Dolce & Gabbana shoes, in case there were any questions re: my decidedly anti-minimalist wardrobe]
Personally, I will never be a minimalist. I will never be able to distill my Instagram to one perfectly cropped photo per month, or live in an all white, bonsai filled apartment, or have a pared down (and Balmain-free) capsule wardrobe of practical neutrals.
But maybe being a maximalist today, in the context of relationships at least, doesn’t always have to mean endless options and pointless seeking. What if, instead, it channeled itself to be more face to face dinners, more family interactions, more traditions, more forgiveness, more accountability?
It seems a little scary, in a world conditioned to be so impersonal. But maybe we need to feast on fear too, in order to find what is truly satisfying.