So in regard to the idea of conversation, According to scientific studies, this is actually true! How about that?? I think that it does help to explain why some people don’t like others much, and don’t bother to talk to them and are therefore what I would refer to as “Non People”. So it becomes a vicious cycle.. As they become increasingly disconnected due to their dislike of most people caused by a refusal to put themselves out, they speak in more and more one syllable responses, or else just stare into space in your company:)
Here is an excerpt from the article. The full article is taken from here: A great blog by the way. http://youarenotsosmart.com/2011/10/05/the-benjamin-franklin-effect/
It is called the Benjamin Franklin Effect
“Benjamin Franklin’s hater came to like Franklin after doing him a favor, but what if he had done him harm instead? In 1971, at the University of North Carolina, psychologists John Schopler and John Compere asked students to help with an experiment. They had their subjects administer learning tests to accomplices pretending to be other students. The subjects were told the learners would watch as the teachers used sticks to tap out long patters on a series of wooden cubes. The learners would then be asked to repeat the patterns. Each teacher was to try out two different methods on two different people, one at a time. In one run, the teachers would offer encouragement when the learner got the patterns correct. In the other run of the experiment, the teacher would insult and criticize the learner when they messed up. Afterward, the teachers filled out a debriefing questionnaire which included questions about how attractive (as a human being, not romantically) and likable the learners were. Across the board, the subjects who received the insults were rated as less attractive than the ones who got encouragement. The teachers’ behavior created their perception. You tend to like the people to whom you are kind and dislike the people to whom you are rude. From the Stanford Prison Experiment to Abu Ghraib, to concentration camps and the attitudes of soldiers spilling blood, mountains of evidence suggest behaviors create attitudes when harming just as they do when helping. Jailers come to look down on inmates; camp guards come to dehumanize their captives; soldiers create derogatory terms for their enemies. It’s difficult to hurt someone you admire. It’s even more difficult to kill a fellow human being. Seeing the casualties you create as something less than you, something deserving of damage, makes it possible to continue seeing yourself as a good and honest person, to continue being sane.”
This post relates to Object number 2. The Strand of Conversation in the What the Hell is Your Problem Kit. A Kit for Uptight White People.
“Dress You Up in My Love”:
Honoring the Spacetime-Consciousness Conjunction through Style
by Jasmine Melvin-Koushki
Getting dressed is one of my favorite ways to be in communion with my environment and talk beauty with my fellow sentient beings. When I get dressed in the morning, part of what I try to communicate, and thereby honor, is my story. This story is in some ways the cosmic story of a girl growing up in the universe – wild, and inscribed into culture, a female body in a timespace of buildings and black holes and shoes and rosebushes and memory. And in important ways it is a historically-conditioned story: of being the culturally hybrid daughter of East-meets-West academic nomads, and of how our journey was both facilitated and hamstrung by the geopolitical networks and tensions of the Oil Age. I would not exist as I am but for the Shah’s scholarship that brought my father from Iran to NYU in 1968, the tribal ties and swinging, neocolonial Mideast economy that brought him (with my adventurous, beautiful, Bostonian mother) back to Iran, the revolution that brought a halt to their glamorous early married life in Tehran – but which ushered in a deep experience and love of the rest of the world, and the 1980s oil boom that drew us, along with millions other educators and academics, engineers and infrastructure consultants, migrant workers, business people, tastemakers, and their families, to the cities of the Arabian Peninsula and the Gulf.
Growing up between cultures, in a highly conservative yet hugely cosmopolitan, international context, self-presentation was an essential – and sometimes sensitive – part of communicating who you were to the outside world. Beyond this, it was creatively a very rewarding part of my day. Perhaps too rewarding! Thank God we had uniforms in our all-girls, Islamic grade school, because according to a reliable source, I once spent two and a half hours getting dressed for kindergarten. (This was when we still lived in a small university town in upstate New York; apparently, after a saucy tantrum, which had ensued when my mother tried to intervene in my outfit creation, I proudly walked into my classroom of fellow 4-year olds wearing a dramatic deconstruction of my entire wardrobe – think John Galliano meets Raggedy Ann.) I like to think I’ve learned a thing or two about editing since then, though to look at my closet today – chromatically coded and orderly but bursting with bright color and stuffed to the gills – one would be forgiven for branding me still a shameless maximalist.
How do you use clothing to communicate with and honor your world? Half my philosophy of dressing, as you may have been able to gather, revolves around my fascination with color. Color cooks on all my creative burners all the time, and it’s all the reason I need to put an outfit together. Grey clouds in they sky? Answer: tomato red sweater, royal blue wool skirt, tall mahogany equestrian boots, topaz and amethyst ring. Crisp and sunny out? Answer: Spring green cotton shift with lightly embroidered gold neckline, champagne slip-on heels, diamond earrings, toffee lipstick. Out dancing of a fall evening? Navy blue v-neck dress over ballerina-length, fluorescent salmon skirt, gold tango shoes, warm turquoise pendant. Color is the first order of my day and the sine qua non of my inspiration. Along with the languages of proportion and silhouette and, less so, print and texture, color allows me to articulate a creative as well as a logistical response to the weather, to sieze the day – or merely shake hands with it; to embrace the season – or slap it in the face; to uphold the status quo – or push the envelope. All in all, color and clothing make up the verse-and-stanza transcript of the daily call and response I have with my environment.
Impromptu Fashion Shoots
When I’m feeling extra ambitious, I like to take this honoring business one step further by creating a picture as well as an outfit. I call this sartorial-spiritual habit an “impromptu fashion shoot.” Though there are times when the meeting of outfit, light, and perfect spot is planned over the span of a few hours or days, and times when the elements of an outfit find each other months before the photograph is taken, most of these shoots truly are spur-of-the-moment endeavors. They necessarily involve a collaborator, which can be half the fun – I’ve had the honor of having my mother, husband, and best friends as partner-in-crime photographers. And I’ve also enjoyed the assistance of perfect strangers, from taxi drivers to street vendors to fellow students or tourists, some of whom really get into it! Sometimes I will feature something I’ve designed, and rarely, I will feature off-the-rack retail items, but for the most part I stick with what what I do best, which is to find things that already exist – things outside the sphere of commercial fashion and its cult of the new, bring them artfully together on my person, reunite them with – or début them to – their architectural or art historical soulmates, and snap!: new life for all. Rescued gems from East coast Salvation Armies, one-of-a-kind vintage and antique treasures, singularly wacked out Bedouin fashion, and hand-me-downs from my mother’s killer closet – I like my fashion to come with, and be capable of telling, a story.
The Eternal City
Often, a place will cause me to “discover” a new color or family of colors – colors whose beauty and personality were as yet in part unknown to me. Damascus caused me to deepen my already fervent worship of green. On a short jaunt through Rome last September, I instantly became obsessed with: marigold-spiced butterscotch. In fact, I was smitten by this rich and (seemingly) distinctively Roman color before we even touched down at Fiumicino; as the plane made its descent, mustards and ochers lively and wise colored the stucco villas on the outskirts of the city. Once in the city, I saw it everywhere – on buildings, men’s belts, women’s handbags, marble panelling, coats, cars. I theorized about local soil content and native Italian clays and the effect of climate on collective palette. I mentally noted a high fashion, visual merchandising Renaissance of camel and scotch and amber. The clincher in all this, and the true star of my first impromptu fashion shoot in la città eterna – was a recently rediscovered vintage skirt the perfect buttery shade of mandarin to honor my new chromatic friends. (Happily, in the process of paring down the stuff in storage at my grandmother’s last summer, I’d had the instinct to reclaim the remarkably colored skirt from the basement box where it had been beaming in darkness for the better part of a decade, and pack it.) And so, on the morning of my second day in Rome, in collaboration with the Romanian receptionist at my hostel (out for her cigarette break), I shot “Sogno di mandarino” (Italian for “Dream of Mandarin”), a dreamy ode to the colors of Rome – and a nod to the Hollywood image of the stylish mid-century American traveler in Europe.
Fashion and Architecture
The aesthetic dialogue between clothing and architecture can be particularly rich and fun. To honor my visit to the Piazza del Popolo, I posed in the busy square in front of the Basilica of St. Peter’s wearing a painstakingly refined piece of 1957 American custom couture. I wanted to juxtapose the strong sense of classicism and structure that unite the two, the aesthetic idealism and technical mastery represented by St. Peter’s – that emblem of classical Renaissance architecture, and the well-contained sex and precise tailoring of the cocktail dress – a high classic of American fashion in navy blue crepe wool. With its demurely suggestive boat neckline, perfectly fitted mermaid-style sheath, and rhinestone buckle at the knee, it’s the kind of dress Kim Novak would have worn to confession – and then out to drinks. This called for my gold Manolo Blahniks. I channeled the packaging of 1950s Vogue and Butterick patterns – alternate universe of high-heeled, perfectly angled feet – and tilted my head to the 10am Roman sun. At the last minute, the kiosk vendor taking the picture reached over to his wares, selected a fan, and suggested I hold it.
As much as the pictures honor specific works of art or architecture, color, or dress, they are also, then, a kind of homage to chance. Allow me to illustrate this further. On a warm dusty evening last spring, my mother, her friend, Lydia, and I found ourselves approaching “Fast Times,” a popular shisha café along the sidewalk of a busy metropolitan street in Kuwait, for dinner. Glory be, how could I not honor this moment, this meeting of my and the restaurant’s red-and-black themed souls? I swiped a box of the restaurant’s branded, red/black Kleenex boxes for a clutch, propositioned an Egyptian waiter to commit impromptu fashion shoot with me, and positioned my red and white polka dot pumps on the staircase. Only later did I see that my Betty Boop shoes reified, like fantastical punctuation marks, the picture’s tongue-in-cheek humor. Everything could have turned out differently. Impromptu fashion shoots, far from being a simple record of what I happen to be wearing, allow me to both interpret my environment and celebrate my relationship to it. They allow me to showcase material, conceptual, and chromatic harmonies. They allow me to honor my status as a witness and a member of this great experiment called existing. And they allow me to weave together in artful ways the diverse strands of culture, experience, and visual memory that affect how I see and experience the world.
Finally, impromptu fashion shoots are about performance, persona, and fantasy. This is where the posing comes in! It was Veronica who made this clear to me when she directed my attention to the theatrical dancer Ruth St. Denis (1879-1968), who created hundreds of incredible personas in her dance work and in photographs, and the Italian fashion writer and avant garde style icon Anna Piaggi (1931-), well into her 80s now and still dressing to the nines. Giving yourself the freedom to act out your imagination honors your inner child as well as your inner archive – think of all the literary figures, film stills, religious images, magazine pages and paintings that are integrated into your sense of emotion, your ideals of beauty, your notions of what it means to be female. Gesture can bring a welcome layer of narrative and symbolism to the images. In “The Rose of Beiteddine Palace”, for instance, I was a princess on the cusp of the late medieval and early modern worlds, one especially enamored of roses. I thought of Persian book paintings, with their adoration of detail, and of heroines of Persian poetry, who represent life’s plenitude and intoxication. I recalled the women in Waterhouse, Rosetti, and other Pre-Raphaelite and symbolist paintings of the Victorian era, and lit a candle to the Dove girl – that barefoot virgin of early 20th century American soap advertisements. I gave myself over to innocence, to wonder at nature’s abundance and mystery.
Persona references range from important icons of cinematic, art, literary and cultural history to mere concepts and imaginary types. At Fast Times, I fancied myself a kind of Arabized Dorothy from The Wizard of Oz, a restless, buxom heroine in a girlish but sexy dress, magic red shoes journeying her down a mysterious road the color of red apples and carob, lipstick and crude oil. When I later contemplated the picture, my dress — and the haughty posture — took me into Queen of Hearts territory (that walking ego in a red-and-black dress from the animated Disney film Alice in Wonderland; as Alice discovers to her great disturbance, the Queen loves the color red so much that she has all the white roses in her dominions painted it!). And at the anonymous and imaginary end of the spectrum, I could also see myself as some diplomat’s wife in the 80’s, arriving just a tad over-fluffed to a night-time garden party in British Bombay and being photographed for the country club’s quarterly newsletter. The caption might have read something like this: “The colorful print on Mrs. Svetlana Richardson’s dress reminds one of mandhalas and the circus; these, along with her polka dot pumps, lend just the right hint of Moulin Rouge burlesque to her ensemble.” (Given that I was in a public place in Kuwait, it’s a very good thing that this particular association wasn’t strong enough to make me launch into the cancan.)
The Aesthetic Garden (In Which You Are One of the Flowers)
By cultivating an elevated relationship between clothing and material culture, I try to communicate fresh combinations of historical reference, contemporary environment, and individual style. Call it an impromptu fashion shoot, call it putting your clothing where your consciousness is. It means that any moment can be an aesthetic garden, a noble puzzle of time, space, color, form, soul, light, and gaze, just waiting to be honored by artistic intention. The only downside to this talent for piecing together existential jigsaws from the quotidian? Well, as the 4-year old Jasmine might have put it the day she flamboyantly deconstructed her wardrobe, “When you’re an artist whose medium includes your own person, it can take a while to get out the door in the morning.”