As I have embarked on this journey of all things beauty, it boggles my mind as to how enraptured I've become with tutorials, blogs, reviews, and hauls. When, literally, only a year or so ago I seemed to get by with just a couple of Smashbox trios and a Colorstay quartet. I couldn't understand why they wouldn't stay for more than a few hours (thanks UDPP et al.). Now, I am completely and utterly enthralled. The funny bit is that I worked in the fashion/make-up industry for a good decade and had the stuff shellacked on my face nearly every day, yet I couldn't begin to tell you how to reproduce those looks...until now...well, still trying to learn through all of the gurus.
I am reminded of a Victorianish french term called the flaneur. I feel a bit like the flaneur as I stroll the department stores, MAC counters, and drugstores. The sheer enormity of products, colors, and items on display can leave me wanting, tempting, and wishing I had a blackberry to look up a Make-up Alley review and make purchases.
Here is a very high brow description of the flaneur:
"Flâneur" is a word understood intuitively by the French to mean "stroller, idler, walker." He has been portrayed in the past as a well-dressed man, strolling leisurely through the Parisian arcades of the nineteenth century--a shopper with no intention to buy, an intellectual parasite of the arcade. Traditionally the traits that mark the flâneur are wealth, education, and idleness. He strolls to pass the time that his wealth affords him, treating the people who pass and the objects he sees as texts for his own pleasure. An anonymous face in the multitude, the flâneur is free to probe his surroundings for clues and hints that may go unnoticed by the others.
As a member of the crowd that populates the streets, the flâneur participates physically in the text that he observes while performing a transient and aloof autonomy with a "cool but curious eye" that studies the constantly changing spectacle that parades before him (Rignall 112). As an observer, the flâneur exists as both "active and intellectual" (Burton 1). As a literary device, one may understand him as a narrator who is fluent in the hieroglyphic vocabulary of visual culture. When he assumes the form of narrator, he plays both protagonist and audience--like a commentator who stands outside of the action, of whom only the reader is aware, "float[ing] freely in the present tense" (Mellencamp 60).
The flâneur has no specific relationship with any individual, yet he establishes a temporary, yet deeply empathetic and intimate relationship with all that he sees--an intimacy bordering on the conjugal--writing a bit of himself into the margins of the text in which he is immersed, a text devised by selective disjunction.
Walter Benjamin posits in his description of the flâneur that "Empathy is the nature of the intoxication to which the flâneur abandons himself in the crowd. He . . . enjoys the incomparable privilege of being himself and someone else as he sees fit. Like a roving soul in search of a body, he enters another person whenever he wishes" (Baudelaire 55). In this way the flâneur parasite, dragging the crowd for intellectual food--or material for his latest novel (Ponikwer 139-140). In so doing, he wanders through a wonderland of his own construction, imposing himself upon a shop window here, a vagrant here, and an advertisement here. He flows like thought through his physical surroundings, walking in a meditative trance, (Lopate 88), gazing into the passing scene as others have gazed into campfires, yet "remain[ing] alert and vigilant" all the while (Missac 61) .
The flâneur is the link between routine perambulation, in which a person is only half-awake, making his way from point A to point B, and the moments of chiasmic epiphany that one reads of in Wordsworth or Joyce. Like Poe’s narrators, he is acutely aware, a potent intellectual force of keen observation--a detective without a lead. If he were cast a character in the "drama of the world," he would be its consciousness.
The rest of the article can be found here: http://http//www.thelemming.com/lemming/dissertation-web/home/flaneur.html
If we take this lens and turn the gaze on on the youtubers, blogs, and ourselves, I think there might be an interesting relationship to be explored. Not every aspect of the flaneur can be equally transposed, but I believe a kinship becomes established though I would err more on the positive aspects of the flaneur. We are not all "educated," "well off," or "intellectuals." I realize that I'm getting awfully Lit Crit here, but I'd be interested in what you think on the subject.
Do we become flaneur like at times? If so, when and how?