Tuesday, July 26, 2011
Day 3: Other Temples, Other Gods
Among the copious ways in which I am similar to Truman Capote is that I have both a side that has seen some of the truly horrible things that happen on this little blue rock in cold, uncaring space, and a side which is dazzled by the beautiful, the lovely, what others sometimes call the frivolous. Having a strong inclination (if not talent) toward the visual arts, I enjoy stuffing my eyes, as it were, with things that are lovely in hopes that the lovely is what will come spilling out of me.
Also, try as I might, I am incapable of not loving beautiful things. It is in my hard-wiring, deep in my imprinting, woven into my fabric.
There is a place in Costa Mesa called South Coast Plaza. It used to be structured in such a way that, while no one was physically prohibited from going anywhere in the shopping area, one half of the building was designed and occupied in such a way that people without a consistent disposable $500,000 would likely feel more comfortable avoiding that side of the plaza. I assume it's my Quaker "don't doff your hat to any fellow human" streak that gives me the mutant ability to travel freely in that area in spite of my economic handicap. On this visit I noticed that the high end fashion has creeped around the corner of the plaza from where it used to be relegated. At first I chalked this up to the poor economy and conditions where the middle is erased but high discount items and high luxury items continue to thrive (just as the middle-class disappears). But then I realized that South Coast Plaza has actually built a separate building to house the more "baseball cap" stores. It has become a capsule for that insulated world of la belle vie.
Personally, the haute couture section of the plaza is a bit of a comfort place for me. In times of high stress, I literally have dreams about the Chanel store. I think it's because my times visiting that place have been much like visiting a museum.
When I go to the Getty Museum on Thursday, I do not expect someone to give me a Toulouse-Lautrec because some curator sees how much I am able to appreciate the work. Nor do I expect for someone buying an Armani suit to instead decide to use the money to pay off one of my mortgages. Of course, I understand the arguments against the avaricious culture of conspicuous consumption. However, I think I also understand deep in the dark parts of my brain that thinking something shouldn't exist just because I cannot have it is another form of avarice, wrapped in envy, and painted like righteous indignation.
We also enjoyed dinner with my grandmother at a splendid Cuban restaurant.
And that was the third day of our vacation.