UK paperback

A thoughtful audience

There’s a brand new talk but it’s not very clear

World’s greatest philosopher Alain de Botton, fresh from explaining the meaning of airports dentists’ waiting rooms,1 is going into the rag trade. Vogue reports:

One half of the Rodnik design duo, Philip Colbert, is getting set to take his talent in a more cerebral direction; launching a collection with famous Swiss philosopher Alain de Botton. [...] The collection is named Smith & Rousseau, after a conversation between the Scottish philosopher Adam Smith and Swiss-born philiosopher Jean Jacques Rousseau; a reference to De Botton being Swiss and Colbert’s Scottish roots.

But away from all the theory

— yes please, my brain is already hurting from all this theory! —

what can we expect from the clothes?

Tell us!

“We are still very much in the development stages,” Colbert told us. “We’re looking at the pieces that are eternal in fashion — the perfect dress, the perfect jacket — pieces that define the perfect forms within contemporary clothing. It will be a capsule collection, mostly in black and white with a meaningful use of colour, for a thoughtful audience bored with the repetitive nature of fashion.”

It’s reassuring to know that de Botton and Colbert will be conceiving fashions for a thoughtful audience. Me, I have some of my best thoughts when I lend an ear to the bells of a jester’s cap delicately tinkling in the middle distance. What kind of clothes do you like to listen to, readers?

  1. Yes, yes, I have “an almost manic desire to bad-mouth and perversely depreciate anything of value”, but then again, who doesn’t?
26 comments
  1. 1  Colin  October 30, 2009, 7:56 am 

    Their clothes will be eternal but not repetitive?

  2. 2  organic cheeseboard  October 30, 2009, 9:05 am 

    I’m more interested in what a ‘meaningful use of colour’ might be… but maybe a ‘thoughful audience’ would know.

    and yes, how can there be an item of clothing which takes the ‘perfect form’ while also being ‘non-repetitive?

  3. 3  Sarah Ditum  October 30, 2009, 9:33 am 

    I mostly think that fash talk is crazy enough to earn an uncritical hearing, and I can scarf up whole pages of empty Vogue editorial without any irritable reaching after facts and reason. But palling up with de B crosses a line. I bet he ends up writing a bloody book about the Ineffabilities Of Dress or something.

  4. 4  HP Source  October 30, 2009, 9:55 am 

    In what sense is de Botton Swiss? He’s British. Calling him Swiss seems calculated to make him sound exotic, whereas of course he’s a metropolitan yawn of a man.

  5. 5  des von bladet  October 30, 2009, 10:06 am 

    This is certainly much less dignified than when Slavoj Žižek wrote the catalogue copy for Abercrombie and Fitch.

    (And the marvellous thing is it really is?)

  6. 6  Stiif  October 30, 2009, 10:10 am 

    Smith & Rousseau!? PAH!

    Just wait until I start my own ‘Diogenes & Pythagoras’-brand mathematically PERFECT clay jars to live in!

  7. 7  Steven  October 30, 2009, 10:14 am 

    Slavoj Žižek wrote the catalogue copy for Abercrombie and Fitch

    Oh wow, he really did? Thanks!

  8. 8  Gregor  October 30, 2009, 10:52 am 

    Is there a meaningless use of colour? Are the colours of clothes intrinsically meaningful or is it for the viewer to find meaning?

  9. 9  dsquared  October 30, 2009, 11:25 am 

    Speaking as an accountant-wannabe, more or less everything of value has to be depreciated, unless you can prove that it can be left on the balance sheet at acquisition cost subject to an impairment test. Unless de Boton can prove that his book will stay in print for ever or generate a sustainable long-term intangible asset like the Harry Potter brand, it will have to be depreciated. One day, “The Pleasures and Sorrows of Work” will be out of copyright, so de Botton’s life expectancy plus 70 years is the theoretical maximum depreciation life, and I strongly suspect that the unsold copies in the publisher’s inventory are actually written off over three years, straight line or reducing balance.

  10. 10  Richun  October 30, 2009, 1:05 pm 

    Aren’t we all missing the central point, cleverly disguised in a footnote, which is that though Alain de Botton may be a rubbish philosopher he has a far more important distinction. The man is obviously a total cock!

    I mean, after reading that, I’d rather go for a pint with David Cameron than him.

  11. 11  richard  October 30, 2009, 2:25 pm 

    Am I the only one who thinks there’s a historical joke in having a Colbert say he’s looking for “pieces that are eternal in fashion… the perfect jacket”? I imagine he’s all over an understated black.

  12. 12  Steven  October 30, 2009, 2:41 pm 

    I have learned more from dsquared’s #9 than I suspect I would even from a black jacket designed by the world’s greatest philosopher.

    Oh, Rousseau?

    The love of fashion is contrary to good taste, for faces do not change with the fashion, and while the person remains unchanged, what suits it at one time will suit it always.

  13. 13  Steven  October 30, 2009, 3:02 pm 

    (Perhaps “Smith & Rousseau” is to be understood as “Smith vs Rousseau”.)

  14. 14  John Fallhammer  October 30, 2009, 3:05 pm 

    Surely the only “eternal” fashion would be the costume also known as “the emperor’s new clothes”. It certainly makes me thoughtful, on the right model.

  15. 15  Steven  October 30, 2009, 3:07 pm 

    I thoughtfully think Schopenhauer would agree?

    all animals go about in their natural state; this largely accounts for the happy impression they make on us when we look at them; and as far as I myself am concerned, my heart always goes out to them, particularly if they are free animals. Man, on the other hand, by his silly dress becomes a monster; his very appearance is objectionable, enhanced by the unnatural paleness of his complexion,—the nauseating effect of his eating meat, of his drinking alcohol, his smoking, dissoluteness, and ailments. He stands out as a blot on Nature. And it was because the Greeks were conscious of this that they restricted themselves as far as possible in the matter of dress.

  16. 16  redpesto  November 1, 2009, 3:30 pm 

    Maybe de Botton misread Calvin Klein and thought: ‘I could do that’

  17. 17  Freshly Squeezed Cynic  November 1, 2009, 4:42 pm 

    (Perhaps “Smith & Rousseau” is to be understood as “Smith vs Rousseau”.)

    Next time, on Philosophy Deathmatch…

  18. 18  Steven  November 2, 2009, 11:29 am 

    The man is obviously a total cock!

    But is it right to judge a man on a single episode of appalling cockishness? This is a question that has literally never been asked before in the entire history of philosophy, except by all the philosophers whose quotations on this question I have assembled for my book. Montaigne was a man, and also French, and he wrote an interesting thing… (cont. p.763)

  19. 19  roger migently  November 2, 2009, 12:03 pm 

    I think the problem is in thinking de Botton is a “philosopher”. Wikipedia <a href="

    “>makes it clear:

    His books and television programmes discuss various subjects in a philosophical style

    much in the way, perhaps, that Zizek describes himself as having been “in theoretical despair” [as opposed to empirical misery?].

    What exercises me, though, is that if they are indeed already “looking at the pieces that are eternal in fashion — the perfect dress, the perfect jacket,” then it is impossible to improve upon what they can already see, what has already been realised, and they are doomed to produce only less than perfect designs. They are setting themselves up for certain failure. So why try? Unless, of course, they are simply being unbearably, fart-sniffingly pretentious.

  20. 20  nick  November 3, 2009, 11:24 am 

    I think this sounds like a great idea. How come you guys are getting your knickers in such a twist.

  21. 21  dsquared  November 3, 2009, 11:44 am 

    topologically speaking, a pair of knickers are a genus-2 torus, and thus I don’t think that they can truly be twisted without cutting them apart and reattaching. Although look out for the new range of mathematics-and-architecture-inspired lingerie that Alain de Boton is going to be launching this spring with Elle MacPherson, entitled Möbius and Gropius

  22. 22  Someone satirically pretending to be Alain de Botton  November 4, 2009, 11:22 pm 

    your a cunt

  23. 23  roger migently  November 5, 2009, 7:08 am 

    I suppose, Steven, you have checked the bona fides of this contributor? If it is indeed Alain I imagine that, in his cups, his fingers have slipped and he has inadvertently deleted important letters and words. Perhaps he intended, “Your account, Sir, of my current co-project with the Scot, Wossname, is lacking in certain important detail. You may have the chalk marks of the creative “suit” but you have left off the shiny buttons…” and various philosophically-styled metaphors that might follow. Or it is him and he has taken advantage of the psychotherapy service at his own School of Life “in a completely stigma-free way” along with his haircut and pedicure. But no. Such a transformational outburst might be expected of the “normally reserved British”.and he is not British but Swiss … although the Swiss in contrast might be thought so abnormally reserved that in such an outburst he could perceivably have even mislaid the contraction, “you’re”.
    Or it is one of your approved contributors who has altered his name in order to slander a public intellectual.

  24. 24  Steven  November 5, 2009, 7:53 am 

    It’s obviously not the real Alain de Botton: the message is too pithy and philosophical.

  25. 25  roger migently  November 5, 2009, 11:07 am 

    You Kant!

  26. 26  Steven  November 5, 2009, 6:52 pm 

    I certainly Caan. But I have changed the name of the rogue commenter in order to assuage a troubled audience, and I apologize to whomever was confused or distressed by the impostor.



stevenpoole.net

hit parade

guardian articles


older posts

archives



blogroll