Politics

Virginia Postrel, Weekly Standard Cover Girl

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I find the word "the" resting on my head annoying

OK. Strictly speaking, the face on the cover is Grace Kelly. But the guts are pure Postrel.

Former Reason Editor in Chief Virginia Postrel takes up the question of glamour in a dead tree feature today after laying down a strong blogging base on the same subject. Some highlights:

As critics who denounce movies that "glamorize violence" or "glamorize smoking" understand, glamour is much more than style. It is a potent tool of persuasion, a form of nonverbal rhetoric that heightens and focuses desire, particularly the longing for transformation (an ideal self) and escape (in a new setting). Glamour is all about hope and change. It lifts us out of everyday experience and makes our desires seem attainable. Depending on the audience, that feeling may provide momentary pleasure or life-altering inspiration….

Glamour can, of course, sell evening gowns, vacation packages, and luxury kitchens. But it can also promote moon shots and "green jobs," urban renewal schemes and military action. (The "glamour of battle" long preceded the glamour of Hollywood.) Californians once found freeways glamorous; today they thrill to promises of high-speed rail. "Terror is glamour," said Salman Rushdie in a 2006 interview, identifying the inspiration of jihadi terrorists. New Soviet Man was a glamorous concept. So is the American Dream.

Glamour, in short, is serious stuff. It can alter life plans, even change history.

Postrel wrote about Obama's glamour in our election feature "Is There Any Hope for This Man?"