Decoding Glamour

Former Reason editor Virginia Postrel's book The Power of Glamour has just been published, and the reviews I've seen so far have been very favorable. Here is Kirkus, for example:

Glamour to the people.Glamour, she argues, is not equivalent to luxury and cannot be bought; instead, it depends on the object in question and its audience's imagination and desire. "It is not a product or style but a form of communication and persuasion,” she writes. “It depends on maintaining exactly the right relationship between object and audience, imagination and desire. Glamour is fragile because perceptions change.” In two- to three-page sections, Postrel unpacks so-called icons and archetypes, including princesses, superheroes, makeovers and cities like Shanghai, and judges each on its illusory powers and pitfalls.

You can read the rest of that piece here, and you can read a feminist take on the text in The New Inquiry here. We'll be publishing an excerpt from the book in the January Reason, so keep an eye out for that.

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  • anon||

    TL;DR, is this something about vampires?

  • WTF||

    I don't know, but I do know things were better when Virginia Postrel was the editor.

  • Tim||

    Fromer Reason editor Virginia Postrel...

    She'll be excited to read that she is the fromer editor.

  • Eduard van Haalen||

    She would have defenestrated anyone who made a mistake like that when *she* was editor!

  • np||

    About how pale-faced boys with sharp teeth cast their glamor on teh girls.

    I think the secret is in the eyeliner.

  • ||

    Who cares?

  • Lord Humungus||

    Glamour can't be bought, but having money sure does help. I've never met many glamorous women who live in trailer parks.

  • Almanian!||

    Ah - you've never met Epi's mom.

  • ||

    She's like the Grace Kelly of the double wide!

  • Almanian!||

    Only MOAR glamorous. She puts the "Grand" in "Grand Plaza Estates" [Trailer Park]

  • Almanian!||

    For a magazine called "Reason", Virginia Postrel was a lot better when people understood that all libertarians are members of the Libertarian Party. Also, fried chicken.

  • Almanian!||

    Also - you know who else published a book...

  • Libertymike||

    A vagabond formerly of Vienna?

  • Austrian Anarchy||

    A short, fat, bald Italian guy who used to edit Socialist newspapers?

  • Ted S.||

  • Eduard van Haalen||

    If it's "published" rather than "wrote," I'd say John F. Kennedy.

  • John||

    The problem with glamor is that it can never be real. It is always a veneer. Reality just isn't glamorous. It can't be because the nature of glamor is its contrast to reality. Once something becomes common place and reflective of reality, it is by definition no longer glamorous.

    Whatever its uses, glamor is always about image and marketing and never about making anything work.

  • ||

    I agree with John to a certain extent, but I would add that "glamour" has far less to do with the person who is perceived as glamorous, and much more to do with those perceiving them. Glamour is in the eye of the beholder.

  • John||

    I agree. In the late 70s, some model with Farah hair and an earth toned outfit was glamorous. Today, while we still may find her physically attractive, we would consider her anything but "glamorous". She didn't change, our tastes did.

  • Libertymike||

    In 1976-77, how many boys / young men / hung that famous Farrah swimsuit poster on their bedroom / dorm walls?

    My point? You are right, that which is common place is rarely glamorous.

  • Libertymike||

    John, now that I think of it, the studio bosses in the 30s and 40s would agree with you and me. There's a reason why they didn't want Ingrid Bergman showing up in the fold-out section of a girlie mag.

  • John||

    Bergman was much more "glamorous" than say Betty Grable. Grable may have been more sexy, but she wasn't glamorous.

  • Almanian!||

    Fashion!
    Turn to the left!
    Fashion!
    Right!
    Fa-fa-fa-fa-fashion.
    We are the goon squad and we're comin' to town.
    Beep Beep!

  • ||

    There are still only two comments under the Gizmodo interview with her.

  • Bam!||

    That said, we do have a lot of glamour still around technology. We don’t have as much glamour of the universal setting of "the future" as being glamorous. But there’s a glamour around self-driving cars, there’s a glamour around high-speed rail, if you consider that futuristic — some people consider that a 19th century technology. Even cloud computing has a certain kind of glamour.

    No, there isn't, on all counts.

  • ||

    Self-driving cars COULD be glamorous, but Google sucks at glamour. Were Samsung making self-driving cars they would be. While I'd never buy a Samsung Galaxy Gear, they managed to hit the right nostalgia buttons for it in their ad campaign.

    I like trains, I think of them as a luxury item though. I took a train to NOLA for NYE last year and felt a little special drinking tea in the observation car and playing cards with friends while the country slipped by. But I don't think that appeals universally.

    I'm totally failing to see how cloud computing could be glamorous.

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