Aesthetics and Good Taste: Dandyism in Tophet

In the USA, I look around, and every so often I can’t tell who’s homeless and who’s not. Today’s garments, including the footwear, look surreally and utterly swollen, blockish, occasionally baggy, sometimes skintight, and mostly drab; most of the rabble are not wearing flattering attire. This country has no sense of good taste nor fashion; hence, this article will attempt to pay attention to taste and manners, especially in the way they relate to our society and what we wear. Therefore, in this composition, I’ll be sharing my opinions on three vital topics all related to the United States of America and American society: decadence, fashion, and restaurants. It is my hope, by the end of this piece, that I will have persuasively advocated for the embrace of dandyish aestheticism to liberate us from the ennui and malaise of our time.  

Allow me to express, before I actually begin, ladies and gentlemen, if there are any with us here tonight who should rightly call themselves as such these days, the United States of America has reached an age of decadence, granted this nation has been in a period of deterioration for some time now, though it is not in whole a decadence as some ancient Roman philosophers thought of decadence, nor is our condition fully the same type as various thinkers of the Middle Ages considered decadence to be, and this sickness is not exactly decadence in the sort those of the 19th century regarded the term; nevertheless, our current illness certainly is related to all those dissimilar perspectives on decadence, but what makes our decline so unique is its tone of banality and barbarism. Dire resounds the din like apocalypse trumpets, martial shofroth, and Viking horns of Ragnarok.  

Debauched excesses aplenty to be found are there today, and they’re all wrapped up in consumerism, since we are in a time where everything—fear and outrage, dating and lust—is surveilled, marketed, and manufactured. Artifice and entertainment have never had things as good as they have it in today’s gynocentric hypergamous hookup-culture, this antisocial society which objectifies men into drones and, more often than not, views males as naturally disposable and/or typically irrelevant.  

Genuine hardships and miseries go ignored by the common-folk, and most of us toil in our own pits of Tophet, alas, each of us laboring a private hell.  

Spiritual decay is mounting among hoi polloi in a plague of obesity, drunkenness, addiction, and groupthink hedonism. Our civilization is in a deluge of vice, frustration, and difficulties. The multitude are consumed by a storm of absurdities, contradictions, and dualities: a hypnotic tempest whirling with famine and fast food, tech- and car-dependency, globalism and illegal immigration, misinformation and disinformation, doublethink and division, mass surveillance, injustice and inequality, social media, geekdom, cartoons, anime, manga, video games, virtual reality and artificial intelligence, censorship, transhumanism and humanitarianism, starvation, inflation, gun violence, and epidemics; moreover, there has developed in American society a monotonous overabundance of thriftless pleasure-seeking, shallow and narcissistic personalities, hollow relationships, skank-worship, and one-night stands; on the other hand, a great number struggle with crippling loneliness, and there are a significant number of outcasts.  

Rotted away are our rights and freedoms, the lingering illusions of which are ill and gaunt. American society has become a weird melting pot of discordance, repressive laws, state-sanctioned degeneracy, bread and circuses, puritanical dogma, ironhanded political correctness, and police-state tyranny. This fiery, roaring scrapheap, i.e., the United States’ present state of affairs, is in part a consequence of betrayers and bleeding hearts, who indeed have, since the 1900s, voted away our freedom, humanity, and exquisiteness; such traitors have replaced Romantic freedom with big government and corporate control. Cultural saboteurs they are, like a barbarian invasion—grim huns and Gothic hordes!—like mesmerizing automatons, like mimic changelings, like doppelgängers haunting.  

Misandrist schoolmarms, woke iconoclasts, they run this pandemonium freakshow, like lunatics directing their own asylum, like a mad audience directing a cursed burlesque in a nightclub crawling with uncanny forms; though, the whole circus encompassing everything is still controlled by wealthy corporations. Those lucky few, the societal and/or political elites, debauched and indifferent, hold all the keys and are allowed to have anything and do anything they want.   

For all this nation’s wealth, martial power, and abundance, amidst the rising taxes (e.g., property tax), food prices, and civil unrest, everything in our society, at all degrees, has either grown corrupted or fallen low—legislation, music, linguistics, infrastructure, cuisine, fashion, drama, etiquette, medicine, health, aesthetics, architecture, armed forces, and astronautics; even if any of these areas may appear powerful and/or dominant, they’re warped. Nobody can do their jobs right. The helpfulness is dismal. Many either don’t want to work or can’t find work, for any number of reasons. On every single level, from tradespeople to doctors to politicians, it’s as if, despite any training and degrees, few have proper knowledge. Normally, when one is looking to hire or purchase something from someone who does have even a decent amount of skill and wisdom, their services or products are outrageously expensive—yet another contributing factor in the widening of the yawning rift between the classes.  

Psychopaths and double-dealing usurpers, with them are the corrupt courts and the dangerous streets of America seething, a hostile desert of cabals, conspiracies, anarchy, and oligarchy: the American cultural inheritance. From inception, this country has been festering, like a maggoty corpse, with cold-blooded legislators and lawyers, outlaws, mountebanks, merciless judges, tramps, remorseless law enforcement officers, gangs, usurers, extortionists, witch-hunting, lynching, bullies, lobbyists, the taxman, vigilantism, and prostitution. Always here it has been, the Wild West, as if things never changed. It’s rare to find good people, anywhere really, but I reckon there’s a few. Negligence, facetiousness, and rudeness oft prevail. 

Courteous behavior, that sacred societal cohesion, has fallen into drought and swaggering, boorish idiocy. The way a society dresses is the way it respects and understands its citizens. Our current society, which is occupied by robotic slaves to petty comforts and casualness, dresses as it is inside: hollow, vain, slothful, and assembly-line. Such a deficiency is an omen of impending Götterdämmerung for the United States.  

One thing, at least, such decadence can teach us is how important beauty is and how beautiful decay can be. Despite objective beauty’s absence in our modern lives, there are, nonetheless, hints of sublimeness for us to shadow like ghosts. Today’s society should encourage splendor. Let us embrace the chaos and our animal desires with sophistication and compassion. 

Men’s clothing used to have much more to it. Study the apparel of the nineteenth century and before then. Men deserve the chance to feel beautiful and noble. At the moment, men’s clothing is banal, dull, and mediocre. Vis-à-vis men’s suits, even the correct peaked lapels can be arduous to find. Oh, bien sûr, the beau monde has an entrée to the well-made, classy garments, but when it comes to regular male fashion nowadays, especially in the mainstream, there is a grave want of ferocity, edge, flourish, risk, and variety.     

By stating there’s an absence of risk and variety in fashion these days, what I largely mean to indicate, as it relates to the topic of this article, is the reality of how obnoxious and uninteresting clothing has now become: this gray shapeless mass of sandpapered suits, ridiculous trends, subversion, deconstruction, bad colors, rips, slogans, fandoms, jokes, brand names, irony, and degradation. Pajamas and lingerie of the tackiest kind are being worn brazenly exposed out in public. Everything popular is either skimpy, grunge, punk, yuppie über-plainness, or the ludicrously bizarre. Mamma mia! Additionally, subcultures blend in repetition. All around nowadays it’s yoga pants, sweatpants, hoodies, blue jeans, and such unoriginal mediocrity. Everywhere do populate the same no-frills shapes, minimal styles, and clinical cuts ad nauseam. Some items are more machine than clothing, by Jove! Fashion appears to be stuck in a 1920s–2020s web, but only the ugliest features of each decade seem to have been kept. I weary of the monotony, the minimalism, the high-tech, and the poor-quality materials. Mainstream and haute designers seem to be doing nothing to alter the absence of good taste. The dernier cri is always something more stupid-looking than the last: that’s not originality. There’s edge, and there’s cringe, capisce? The people making clothes should take a real artistic risk by leaping in faith up towards the mysteries of beauty instead of ruining everything. 

Maturing one’s inner personality, not merely brandishing it like a broken stick, is one small part to acquiring taste, and to do so, the new dandy must cultivate a palette of individual ideals, pennons of tailored moods, an armory of personal colors, a particular phalanx of symbols, a panoply of aesthetic tones, and a regalia of Romantic poses. 

Fine clothing is good manners, good taste; it is more than hope, it is both resistance and compassion; dressing well is a transformation of life into art, art into life. Pre-twentieth century clothing styles must be made readily accessible and actually affordable even to the commoners; it must become the standard. Thank the gods for the sartorial-minded dudes out there, and for those appreciators of ancient times and all things antiquated. Time to reject the contemporary postmodernism, to refuse the present-day modernity! Open the floodgates, to a great revival of the past, from costumes of antiquity to garments of the fin de siècle!  

Mainstream clothing and sartorial etiquette are not the only parts that have deteriorated like the wasted limb of a leper. Nightlife and restaurant scenes have lost their sophistication and grace. Salons, now wraiths of fallen grandeur. In-your-face vulgarity is matriarch, and anywhere may one see her sprawled like a syphilitic harlot, even where one goes out to eat.   

Although I continue to go, from time to time, to restaurants, I have lost my love for them. There was a period in this country when restaurants were special, quiet places where food was divine; sometimes they were loud, but they were comfortable and atmospheric. Now, generally speaking, clubs, eateries, and cafés are overcrowded, sneezing, coughing, screaming; each one a crying saloon in bad lighting, congested with pets, and hanging with hideous things that pass for art today, with no privacy (unduly expensive for what privacy you can get).   

Every restaurant practically looks the same, like I’m eating in some big open corporate industrial depot or some gaping gulag cafeteria slithering with pipes and ducts. No interior walls! When I do eat outside among others, the general experience is cold and unwelcoming—more isolating. 

Noise, rude service, selfish customers, confusion and mess, lack of hospitality, shortages, absence of many old-style dishes and archaic fares, new fees, new surcharges, and all the crazy rules and protocols: I mean, every aspect of the American restaurant experience, for the most part, is dismal and dehumanizing. With few exceptions, American food has lost that clever taste and luxurious presentation that once made it magnificent. For the rest of us, all is jaundice and thirst, but the crème de la crème are dining swell.    

Vulgarity without the beauty: this is the fall of our age. Perchance the New World was fated from the start to be an Acheronian tragedy, a cursed opera, a return to the dark ages.  

Hark! Innumerable are they, the woke-frenzied philistines, devotees to a technocratic religion of finance, science, and victimhood. Sanctimonious shrieks of yon in the billowing smoke and stretching blackness of the next world war swift approaching.  

Doom, ultimately, strides the earth. Dreams foretell Gehenna and of the countless damned boiling in napalm rivers. Adieu wave the nymphs of taste, and although I pray, I descend into Weltschmerz twilight, ash in my mouth and sepulchral chill in my bones.  

Shadows doth grim.  

Dogs baying, ’neath moon.  

Absinthe overbrim.  

Sands entomb. 

Matthew Pungitore’s author-page:  

Painting: “The Destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah” by François de Nomé 

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