Hairdressers Will Inherit the Economy

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Former Reason editor–and author of the forthcoming The Substance of StyleVirginia Postrel explains "The Aesthetic Imperative" (and why we'd rather be hairdressers than machinists!) in a nifty piece from the July issue of Wired. A snippet:

Creative individuals no longer need to be isolated, romantic souls who've given up worldly success for the sake of their art.

And all of us must give up the cultural baggage we've inherited from the romantics, who set art against tech, and feeling against reason; from the modernists, who treated ornament as crime and commerce as corruption; and from the efficiency experts, who valued function while disdaining form.

We must abandon our prejudices regarding the sources of economic value. The production of wealth comes not simply from labor or raw materials or even intellectual brilliance. It comes from new ways to give people what they want. By matching creativity and desire, the economy will renew itself.

Read the whole thing here.

And look for an excerpt from The Substance of Style in the October issue of Reason (one more reason to subscribe already, dammit).

[Link via Arts & Letters Daily]

NEXT: Gentlemen, Start Your Machinations

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  1. Only if you find new ways to give people what they want.

    I’m definately getting the book, because it is actually the same conclusion I’ve come to independently; I love when that happens, because then I can examine their laid-out reasoning far more easily than I can examine the reasoning I’ve used bit-by-bit over many years. Cooool.

  2. Does this mean I can quit my day job?

  3. “The typical hairdresser isn’t much of an artist, judging from the people I see. Even the best typically is just doing their best to reproduce the popular hairstyles of the period, and making the person look like everyone else.”

    Sounds _exactly_ like art to me, according to my perception brought about by The History of Art I’ve been reading. Art is like everything else humans do – mostly just the same techniques and processes applied occassionally to different things, with minor variations eventually growing into or sparking a revolution that brings about new styles, techniques, and objects.

    Remember: for every revolutionary there were countless copiers, minor evolutions, downfalls, and screw-ups. It’s just the nature of history and record keeping that makes it seem like evolution and progression (from art to technology, etc) occurs in a straight line.

    Furthermore, someone has to invent the new hair styles and techniques we see everyday, and often the greatest and most creative and productive in the industry spent many years copying (learning) from other people, techniques, and styles to develop their craft. And they don’t keep pictures of their failures on their Wall of Fame 🙂

  4. I’d rather be a machinist than a hairdresser. I’d rather be a either of those than, say, a phlebotomist.

    I dunno, though. The typical hairdresser isn’t much of an artist, judging from the people I see. Even the best typically is just doing their best to reproduce the popular hairstyles of the period, and making the person look like everyone else. Not much artistry or originality there.

    When it comes to making art, I’d say the machinist has a sizable advantage. She makes lasting objects, not ephemeral bodily modifications.

    The machinist who spends his days making flanged whatsits can spend a weekend making sculpture or jewelry, applying his skills on a larger or smaller scale as necessary.

  5. Long-term, the hairdressers will not inherit the economy.

    Once all the “thinking” jobs and manufacturing jobs have been sent to India and China, the people who remain in America will resort to shaving their heads in order to cut down on lice and vermin due to having no clean water for bathing in their bark-roofed lean-to.

  6. That reminds me …

    Whatever happened to Preparations A,B,C,D,E,F, and G?

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