Tuesday, March 15, 2011

"Books are well written or badly written. That is all."

Don't these images from HomeDesigning of an expanded man cave look just like a Tim Burton-directed Picture of Dorian Gray? (Are you reading, Tim? You should do that!)

If you're not familiar with the book, it is a bizarre parable of art about some dandy aesthetes in Victorian London who convince the stunning, and youthful, Dorian Gray to become so obsessed with his own image that he sells his soul for a gorgeous portrait of himself. Lol.

I always think of Oscar Wilde around St. Patrick's Day. Not because he was Irish (he was), but because sometimes you see some sloppy, unattractive, anti-dandy sporting one of these:

So ironic! So Oscar Wilde! The green carnation was the symbol of the dandy that Oscar Wilde and his crew would wear on their lapels.

My favorite story about Oscar Wilde is not the depressing end of his life in which he was jailed for sodomy and indecency, exiled to France, and eventually died at only 46, destitute and alone, as it is often told.

My favorite part of his life is the time he spent touring the US. Wilde's trip started as a lecture series scheduled to last four months, to coincide with the American premiere of the Gilbert and Sullivan show, Patience, which satirized effeminate men. It was meant to introduce America to the prototype in question, in the flesh, at a time when effeminacy was sorely lacking in the serious states.

Leadville, Colorado in 1904

Due to the popular success of Oscar Wilde's lecture series, his tour was extended to last a year and resulted in a hilarious essay documenting his uproarious travels. His tour took him around the wild west, where he not only amused but genuinely charmed his audiences. In Leadville, Colorado he saw what he said in the essay was (I'm paraphrasing) the greatest piece of art criticism he had ever come across. It was a sign on the piano in an old time saloon that read:


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