Post # 380      BEHAVIOR AND ETHICAL RELATIVITY (Editorial)

We have been in the throes of a disturbing ethical conundrum. It has eternally been a necessary and appropriate assumption that, pursuant to the universal social contract, members of society are equally obliged to comply with its established rules of acceptable behavior; and that miscreants who are not in such compliance, be expelled therefrom. The existence and maintenance of a fixed and understandable set of societally determined standards, results in the equitable treatment of society members, and the security of uniform expectations.  The erratic and unpredictable behavior of Donald J. Trump, since occupying the highest office in the Nation, has regrettably, raised fundamental questions concerning American’s historic perception of the uniformity of application of America’s ethical and moral standards.

In a Nation emphatically and determinatively dedicated to the equal status of all of its citizens, this President has, in his demeanor, intentionally violated every conceivable societal rule; and continues to confidently do so. Should illustrations be necessary, he has earned, what we have termed, the title of practitioner of serial mendacity, which signifies constant prevarications (often inconsistent with each other) while, simultaneously, attacking the veracity of our institutional and respected media, has been a serial abuser of women (complaints persist from scores of traumatized women), has boasted about his lewd sexual practices on public television, has turned the Oval Office into a profitable Shopping Mall, for the members of his family, has befriended traditional enemies of the United States, like Kim, of North Korea who has murdered his half-brother and his uncle, while starving his own people,  in order to have money to carry on his xenophobic nuclear rocket program, and Putin, a KGB gangster, who has interfered in the American Election to help Trump, and who  has practiced international homicide. Trump  has been responsible for a Nazi-like immigration policy, ruining lives and separating babies and children from their families, placing them in wire cages without healthy sanitation and sustenance, has demeaned education and learning, has committed crimes of a planetary stature, in denying proven climate change and supporting polluter-industrialists, has made enemies of our historical friends, as he has befriended our historic enemies, has broken relations with NATO, an existential preventer of war, has withdrawn from the important Tokyo Climate Treaty, scrapped the Nuclear Agreement with Iran, with which they were judged to be in compliance by experts,  whose ignorant policies concerning tariffs has hurt our economy (especially farmers),  his numerous violations of the Emoluments proscription of the U.S. Constitution in greatly profiting from the Office of the Presidency and on and on, including an adolescent, public boast that he can shoot someone in Times Square and get away with it.

We are as frightened for the Nation, as we are appalled. What is the character of a Nation, which has to concern itself about beating such a villain in the 2020 election? Why are Democratic Candidates for nomination to the Presidency, advised to emphasize their traits, such as “toughness,” above platform principle, to assure the defeat of this neurotic degenerate?

What is especially intellectually disturbing and emotionally frightening, is the working assumption, that Trump supporters will again vote for Trump. It would appear that the moral expectations for this degenerate, are judged by his unique amoral criteria and expected behavior, as if behavior defines the rules and not the other way around. Because this miscreant is expected to violate societal standards, they are, somehow, waived, or redefined for him.  This especially includes the deluded and insincere Christian Evangelists.

Contrast this with the pathetic attitude of the Democratic Primary. The Democrats have declared that their primary concern is to select a candidate that can defeat Trump! Seriously! What kind of Nation are we? An upstanding American statesman and leader is soundly criticized (maybe decisively) for stating that, in former years, he was obliged to negotiate and deal (by necessity) with bigoted Senators, by another (black) Candidate who is roundly praised for such “devastating” criticism?  What is the necessity of action, to deal with bigoted Senators to get fair and non-bigoted legislation through, compared with Trump’s friendship with Kim and Putin? We have distain for that democratic Senator, for making such a cheap, pre-meditated, populist shot, and a greater disrespect for those who declared the winner of this round of debates, because of it.

Weighed against such compound criminality, unethical and disgustingly uncivil and uncivilized behavior of the President, Democratic Candidates, and the Media, should not conclusively transmogrify, every spontaneous word spoken, by other Candidates, without considering the context of the nightmarish behavior and the alternative of more Trump.

-p.

Post # 379 COMPARATIVE GEOLOGY

The employment of a creative analogy, would seem to be the most effective of all available tools, in making a possibly, controversial presentation. Accordingly, we have chosen to use two separate and distinct minerals, for the analogous expression of our desired distinction, between avowed religionists and those who aspire to agnosticism and free thought. For this distinctive difference, we have electively chosen the minerals “adamantine” and “marble.”  The first, adamantine, is, in actuality, a fictional mineral, often used in action novels, purportedly so constituted as to be resistant to any penetration or change. The second chosen geological specimen is Marble, an authentic metamorphic, rock, whose properties are such, that it is capable of having its form altered, or shaped, for the purposes of art or architecture (examples, Michelangelo, Bernini, the White House).

We have, in the past, diplomatically refrained from writing on the topic of organized religion, except to observe that one’s particular ethnic and religious affiliation, are merely the result of the simple accident of birth; and that early childhood lessons taught in the (accidentally acquired) family religion, often produce the seeds of future religious discord, resulting, ultimately, in warfare and related atrocities, examples, Sunni v. Shia, The Thirty year’s War, Tutsi v. Hutu, Hindu v, Muslim, Northern Ireland v. Dublin, and so many other such travesties, far too much, as a practical matter, to recount.

The present post, however, is an attempt to understand the mindset of moral religionists, [whose inner direction, founded on the Bible, or some other applicable, “Good Book”, and/ or congregational and Ministerial criteria and seem, generationally, is enclosed in unalterable Adamantine beliefs], and by bright contrast, the population of moral freethinkers, whose positions have been remarkably altered, as can the properties of Marble, far from their former religionist Adamantine intractability.

Any student of the founding of our Nation, will have learned that the origin of our country, was the establishment of the first secular Nation, in the entire course of World History. The founders were of the unanimous opinion that, to put God in the Constitution, would be to put man out. Those who adamantly (“Adamantine”) persist in declaring that the United States was, originally, founded as a “Christian Nation” are ignorantly and self-servingly wrong. We would recommend to such Adamantine person, especially, the readings of Tom Paine, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, or the 20th Century scholar, Robert Ingersoll.

Despite the more enlightened Marble-like alterations as the creation of the Protestant Church and of Reform Judaism, the Adamantine nature of atavistic superstition, persisted. The spirited outcry against Darwin’s theory of Evolution, the 1925 Scopes Trial (wherein a teacher was arrested for the “felony” of teaching evolution), and the present, misbranded, “Right to Life” movement, are but a few of the best known, of a myriad of examples of the persistence of superstitious prejudice. Religious belief should play no part in the administration of the law or the operation of our democratic government. The few examples cited, show the foresight and wisdom of the Founders, who, wisely and unanimously agreed, that, as cited above, to put God in the Constitution (government), would have the effect of keeping man (reason) out.

We had the recent experience of being confronted by a “Seventh Day Adventist,” an authentically, pure specimen of Adamantine, who persisted in asking us if we have read the Bible. Thinking that we could conclude the interview, we then responded, “Yes, for its value as cultural literature.” He appeared to be taken aback, and stated angrily, don’t you know that it is the holy word of God?” I succumbed to the challenge, and stated, “But it was written by several men, at different historical periods”. He replied, in true adamantine spirit,” Maybe so, but the words were all inspired by God.” I abruptly left, in order to avoid telling him, that the “divinely inspired” words in the Bible stated that the Sun traveled around the Earth (rather than the other way around), provided for stoning and capital punishment, permitted slavery and xenophobia, placed women in the position of men’s servants, provided for a caste system and indentured servants, condoned “just” war, and severely punished non-belief. With regard to the belief that the sun travelled around the Earth, many good people were put to the torch, for believing otherwise, until the European, 19th Century Period of Enlightenment which witnessed the approval of the heliocentric theory of Copernicus. We could also have accurately informed him, that every religion has its own respective, “good book” several of which, we are advised, are mutually inconsistent with each other, in many of their “inspired messages.”

Living in accordance with the tenets of reason, science and lessons of empirical experience, is the mature, healthy responsibility of man. If religious beliefs are found comforting, and there are no untoward attempts to enforce the beliefs on others, it should not be the subject of disapproval; but any falsely claimed, arrogated superiority of superstitious, or “religious” belief, over empirical science and reason, if permitted, would be an atavistic, adamantine, regression, and would impose needless roadblocks, in the continuing journey of homo sapiens, towards maximal progress, to the full extent of his natural capability.

-p.

 

Post # 378 RELIANCE (Redux)

As a matter of precedential policy, we have been reluctant to publish our mini-essays, on subjects, regarding which we have previously written.  Our explanation is that we have already expressed what we thought was appropriate, and possibly of interest to readers. We have seldom varied from such policy, and have done so, only sparingly, on subjects felt to be warranted by their perceived intrinsic importance, especially where we have seen no progress, in the issue, but rather, a worsening, or exacerbation.

We would suggest that there is an acceptable analogy between our blood stream, which circulates throughout the systemic human anatomy, delivering where needed, nutrients and vital chemistry, on the one hand, and the phenomenon of language, on the other, which serves as the epoxy of societal structure, and facilitates the systemic interactive transmission of information.

In the previous post, we observed the virtue of truth and accuracy, largely from an anthropological – sociological point of view.  As societies developed, there evolved a practical dependence upon mutual assistance and joint enterprise, for the improvement of the quality of life and the maintenance of peace and safety. Interdependent members of society relied on the necessary credibility of reports, regarding food and water sources, reports of danger from the elements, or hostile tribes, as a necessary matter of basic survival. In daily cultural interaction, there were social developments for discussion, the transmission of skills, trade, impending marriages, births, religious subjects, deaths and the significant subject of leadership and control. It is inarguable that veracity and accuracy were assumed, and relied upon by reason of necessity, and that such proper exercise of veracity had significant, practical import.

In the modern era, truth and veracity, of course, still retains its eternal moral imperative, despite the manifold differences in specific subject matter (viz., more complex and technological), yet the reliance on the virtue of truth, remains an existential necessity. As an empirical matter, inaccurate, or unreliably false information will, necessarily, at some point, be revealed, as will the lack of dependable reliance, of its errant source.

In this second writing, we would like additionally and specifically, to concentrate on truth and reliance, from a moral, and psychological direction, as opposed to the practical, view. The daily, unprecedented and shocking assault on truth, by none other than, America’s leading role model, its President, was the motivating impetus for this additional comment on the subject.  Mr. Trump’s confident, intentional misquotations of data and public polls are delivered with regularity to the public, on broadcast television, together with a smirk and a variety of hand gestures, not the least of which, is a thumbs up signal to his loyal, uninformed, “flat- earth,” poorly educated, base. The intentional, [perhaps, on occasion, simply, ignorant], misstatements are seldom consistent or believable and seem to be impulsively motivated by his self-serving fantasies, or wishes. Mr. Trump has uniquely achieved, our rarely conferred and august diagnosis, of “serial mendacity;” and, apparently, is to be personally credited for exponentially increasing, media fact-checking enterprises, which consistently award him dismally, low scores.

We have often responsibly written, on the subject of man’s life-long, experiential acquisition, of a valued, personal self-image. The solicitude of each of us for the maintenance of our private persona, as one of consistent honesty, rectitude, and deserved reliance, provides the regular impetus for doing the right thing, for our appropriate responses to stimuli, and to the point, for our reliable veracity. Those of us, who aspire to mature and healthy perspectives, value our privately held, moral, persona, when applicably necessary, on a higher plane than, what various others, may arbitrarily, prescribe.

Our present concerns, are not of an impending, general decline in societal virtue, nor consequent effect on properly socialized, mature and sophisticated citizens. It is an odd admixture of confusion and dismay, as to the shameful public persona of an elected American President, and its possible effect upon the public’s future perception of the Office. It is also, a felt embarrassment towards our younger generation, as well as respecting our long time, international friends.

-p.

Post # 377 DOING TIME

It may be revelatory, to take particular notice of the usual responses to one’s routine social greetings. One is often met with tiresome and wearisome, responses such as, “hanging in,” “same old, same old,” “the usual,” “nothing special,” “could be worse,” or some such similar remark, articulating, at least some measure, of malaise or disappointment, with life. Occasionally, one is rewarded with marginally positive responses such as, “OK,” (tolerable) or, “not bad” as if “good” was the absence of bad, rather than the presence of good; viz., that the absence of negative events is the aspirational standard].  Such unpromising statements of personal status quo, are depressing; happiness is the positive presence of happiness, and not the noted absence of misery.  Another popular response, “Getting through the day,” evinces a shamefully inappropriate commentary on the marvelous gift of life, when used by people who are not, contemporaneously, in the throes of constant pain, suffering the recent loss of a loved one, or possibly, confronted with a hopeless medical diagnosis.

The popular observation that man’s span of life is a relatively short one, is inarguably true; our allotted time seems to, unaccountably and inexorably, slip away. As one grows older, frequently, his attempts to remember past events, results in the predictable recognition of the substantial human shortfall in personal recollection. As we have quoted in an earlier writing, “The days are long, but the years are short.” Man’s short allotment of time is best lived by him, as fruitfully as possible.

One is morally and appropriately obliged to recognize, at least a modicum of gratitude, for nature’s grant to him of the franchise of life, the most miraculous extant planetary phenomenon. In addition, man has, been generously, favored, by natural evolution, with the potential ability for advanced thought, creativity and the acquisition of knowledge; and thereby, for the capability for happiness through self-fulfillment, should he but aspire to it.

It is unfortunate, that so many individuals seem to, simply, visit life, in the manner of unschooled and uneducated tourists, as mere spectators, lacking suitable knowledge or motivation for development of the understanding of themselves and others, as well as of their environment. These people are merely “inhabiting lives”, or serving out their allotted time on Earth; we have referred to them, above, as merely, “doing time.”

Man, as a practical matter, is obliged to pursue gainful employment, in order to acquire life’s necessities for himself, and responsibly, for his family. A substantial number of weekly hours are, mandatorily, sold to an employer, or dedicated to an employment, in that endeavor. In his non-employment hours, caring for family is his primary responsibility, supplemental to the pleasant necessity of maintaining a social life. But does he, electively, expend his remaining (private) hours, pleasantly engrossed in an interest, or just “doing time?” One would conclude that those humdrum responses to morning greetings, referred to above, are probative evidence of just serving, or doing time, and regrettably and ungratefully, wasting that limited and irreplaceable resource.

There is an intangible, personal luxury, in the reservation of some completely private, personal time, during which, one can retain his own persona and truly be his acknowledged self. Such time also provides a venue where he can choose to utilize his natural aptitudes, or pursue personal interests, such as, art, reading, crafts, gardening, cooking, engagement in sports, or volunteering in hospitals, parks and institutions. These are but a sampling of the plethora of possibilities, all of which have the promise of affording pleasure to the participant, and of offering to him valuable dividends in the nature of personal growth, empirical experience and deeper understanding.

The languid avoidance of the chance to explore the potential of life enhancement and emotional satisfaction, by non-participation in any such interest or activity, amounts to an unrewarding rejection of one’s opportunity for his own advancement of life and self- realization, which inevitably, results in a lack of contentment and predictable ennui, such as are expressed in responses such as, “same old, same old.”

Simply existing, or “doing time,” is, indeed, more than a tragic waste of one’s own most precious and limited resource; it amounts, in reality, to shameless and unprincipled ingratitude, for the many generous gifts bestowed upon our species, by natural evolution.

-p.

Post # 376 WEATHER FORECASTING

It should not require a bold leap of faith, to declare that, in the determination of reality, there is a material difference between optics and perception. All thoughtful human beings, understand that our respective, individualized “reality,” is affected by our past personal experience, nuanced pre-judgments, concerning certain subjects and often, the felt presence of contemporaneous stress. Mutually shared perception is the essential, route to a shared reality, and shared reality is the fundamental requirement for successful, societal living.

We all stop at red traffic lights; and all agree on the general, visual definition of “red.” What is not known, is how each of us, optically, sees (and interprets, the color, known as “red”). A necessarily universal consensus, however, as to what constitutes “red,” governs, and defines that specific item of reality.

The easily accessible public media, affords ample opportunity to discover the official weather reports and predictions of future meteorological events. Experts and trained technicians, observe the situational trends and, with the aid of specialized instruments, previous training and experience, reach scientifically determined decisions, as to present and future weather; and broadcast those decisions to the interested public.

For the intended purposes of this note, we would take the unusual liberty to distinguish between the ostensibly scientific determinations of the professional meteorologists (re: prevailing external weather conditions), and what we, who breathe the esoteric air at plinyblog, would humbly innovate, namely, the concept of the “inner weather report” with respect to which, we promise to furnish, needed elucidation, below.

In order to avoid any misunderstanding of our intended theme, it would seem appropriate, to clearly and affirmatively acknowledge, the essential importance of public (“external”) weather reports. Choices of action, from military campaigns to the family picnic, are all necessarily impacted by meteorological reports and officially made, weather forecasts. Air and sea travel, agricultural decisions, public events, sporting and recreational decisions among very many other activities, rely upon the findings of National and Local Weather Services.

However, we at plinyblog, have eternally stressed the importance of man’s inner life; his life-long inner conversation with himself, his established self-image, his personal growth and development, all hopefully leading to an ultimate recognition of self-fulfillment and happiness. This preoccupation with man’s internal life, has led to subjects like perception (as well as factual accuracy), self-image, the latter, as the basis of morality (as opposed to rewards and punishments), happiness and success as being the product of a private realization of self-fulfillment, together with virtually every subject of experience, from the point of view of its empirical impact on feelings and perception.

One is obliged to be consciously aware of others in our society (especially family members), and to sensitively consider the potential impact on others, of our statements and actions. We must be aware that every human feeling is real and, effectively, colors every, otherwise, objective, experience. This, of course, includes our own feelings, which have a personal impact upon our own perception of reality.

We will return, at long last, (with profuse apologies) to the indicated subject of weather reports. Official weather prognostications, are, as stated, inarguably significant and useful; but the personal evaluation of the weather, like virtually, every one of the myriad things that we experience in our lives, is also subject to contemporary perception. Thus, if the outside weather is sunny with mild temperatures and blue skies, yet, one is anxious or troubled, as far as he is concerned, it is not a “nice day.”  By contrast, if all is going well and one is feeling relaxed, it is a “great day,” despite the existence of intemperate weather.

All meaningful weather reports are internal, and are not, necessarily, dependent upon outdoor conditions.

-p.

Post # 375   POST- FATHER’S DAY REFLECTIONS (Looking Back)

An emotional sea change, or perhaps, more accurately, a tsunami, of unpredictable lifestyle and a vitally needed reset of perspective, are the immediate concerns, upon learning that one is about to become a father; and, perforce, legally and societally, a parent, of another human being. The initial feelings of happiness and disbelief, at the birth of the first child, however, (at least of disbelief) are soon dissipated, following a few successive nights of sleep deprivation. The evident necessity of the acceptance of new responsibilities, soon displaces incredulity, as intense love develops, and grows, for the cute, helpless, and totally dependent new little earthling.

There is a noticeable sea change, as well, in the parent’s marital relationship. The primary and overriding dependency of the newborn, soon transfigures the mutually routine and elective activities of a young husband and wife, to a (loving) preoccupation with the health and comfort of the newborn child. Life becomes busier and quite tiring, because of the constancy of attendance upon the child, and the empirical absence of respite. Care, regarding later children, is considerably easier and less stressful, due to the recently acquired experience.

The child’s gradual development toward maturity, is customarily accompanied by occasional phenomena, such as moodiness, behavioral episodes and changes in temperament, which will, at times tax the parents’ capabilities. Additionally, there are the inevitable, and worrisome childhood illnesses to deal with.  Loving one’s children is a special blessing but is, unquestionably, hard work.

As the child attains school age, the need for early nurturance evolves to a need for parental guidance. The child has become less vulnerable physically, but now, ethical and moral choices become relevant, as the child is challenged by newly experienced adolescent feelings and emotions. Guidance needs to be gently delivered, with empathetic regard to the child’s new emotionally vulnerable, and somewhat self -conscious, stage of development.

At the same time, it seems, resemblances to parents or relatives, are arguably, perceived. In some families, there is a “family face,” which seems to be generationally repetitive. As an applicable aside, and as a matter of fairness, one should avoid the irrational inclination, to project traits of personality of a similar looking, older relative, upon the youngster, who blamelessly shares similar physiognomy.

Parental relationships with the adult child, continue to aspire to mature and objective societal behavior, but are still spiced with the flavor of the remembered past. Parents should be unselfishly aware that their children now, have the desire to be recognized as adults, and that, at an appropriate time, will deliver to them the cue for the reenactment of desired past childish interaction. In addition to basic assumptions of continued love, the developing child wants, as a part of his assertion of independent persona, at least a modicum of recognition of maturity and capability.

When the child is old enough to leave home for college, his emotional adjustment, to living on his own will, predictably, be quicker and easier, than the period of the parents’ feelings of “empty nest” or lonesomeness. Parents now need to adjust to the child’s new assertions of independence and freedom from their nurturance.

After the last child moves out, the parents experience the dynamics of readjustment to a style of life, as possible, which existed prior to the birth of children. But, the parents are older now, and the degree of difficulty of adjustment will depend upon the depth of their personal relationship and their respective personal resources. In the easiest of cases, this new re- adjustment remains a significant one. Communication, and visits with the children are greatly prized, as parents begin to eventually take pride in the self-dependence of their children.

The parent will learn, at some point in time, that the child, or the children, respectfully, desire(s) to marry and, as traditional, set up independent households, in which they intend to live, and as possible, raise children. The wheel of life has now, fully revolved on its immutably predictable orbit, and life eternally proceeds in its bizarrely similar fashion, to replicate itself.

The sharp feelings of loss of opportunity to nurture their (now independent, mature) children, is more than compensated, in relatively short time, by the miraculous appearance of those children’s babies. There are no descriptive adjectives in the English-American lexicon, adequate to describe the degree of pleasure in having grandchildren. If parenting had been hard work, the birth of grandchildren affords more than adequate compensation; in fact, grandchildren are Nature’s generous remuneration to mankind, for growing old.

-p.

Post # 374    JEANEOLOGY (Redux) or (From Gold Rush to Gaga)

We are in awe at the seemingly infinite number of subjects, which one might deem, worthy of comment. As this note’s number will indicate, we have written on a plethora of separate topics thought to be of interest. In rare cases, for various reasons, which we judged material, we have written on topics previously dealt with; these are all signified by the word, “Redux.” Our compendium of short essays, will indicate very few, perhaps, three, instances of such revisits; in each case, we have offered a rationale. The following note, is such a redux of a much earlier short essay ”JEANEOLOGY.” Before we proceed, we will explain the basic motivation or, rationale.

Recently, we were passengers on a New York City Bus, heading East, on Fifth Avenue, to the 42nd Street Library, with the intent to verify a questionable item of research. We, as usual, had our head submerged in a novel, only glancing up, from time to time to ascertain the location. When the bus reached 59th Street, we looked up, as we often do at such point, to see the south end of Central Park, and the Plaza Hotel. It is an interesting area, normally containing many well -dressed New Yorkers and out of towners. We observed, entering the bus, a rather attractive woman, probably late thirties, well put together, sporting an attractive striped blazer, expensive accessories, and costly looking jeans; the latter, to our amazement, revealed torn areas at both knees, and a partially torn area, showing at her left leg, above the ankle. We are absolutely certain, considering her elegant hairstyle and costly outfit, that her motivation was to dress, stylishly, and au courant. The apparently intentional and outlandish (to us) choice to accompany such a beautiful outfit with “stylishly” (?) ragged jeans, is this note’s promised motivation.

Our amazement was founded upon the obvious and fundamental incongruity, evident, as between the stylish hairdo, expensive looking accessories, comprising an attractive handbag, sunglasses, jewelry, attractively striped blazer, and the selection of torn jeans; by an adult consumer who appeared to have sufficient means to dress in any manner desired. As explained, below, we experienced an unusual combination of amazement and sadness.

It would seem useful to our theme, to revisit the historical background, relating to the subject, mutating item of apparel, lately referred to as “jeans,” most especially with reference to its exotic butterfly-like metamorphosis, since its first appearance, in the mid -19th century as (merely) durable work pants.

Schoolbooks recount that, in 1848, gold was discovered at John Sutter’s farm in California. “Get rich” prospectors from all over the country, as well as abroad, abandoned their former lives, for the desperate dream of finding gold and becoming rich. The epoch was, as known, was called “The California Gold Rush.” Ironically, while there were some successes, in discovering gold, research shows that, in general, the only financially successful people were the merchants who sold the tents, tools, lanterns, blankets, clothing and other necessaries, to the feverishly driven prospectors.

Prospectors required the usual necessaries of life, including, shelter, warmth, food and clothing. The equipment purchased by them, in addition to the implements required for digging or panning, was, the practical need for durable work clothes. In the hard rock wasteland, clothing, especially pants, tore quickly and constituted a serious problem. An ingenious, inventive, entrepreneur, the Austrian- born, American, Levi-Strauss, succeeded in developing a durable material, called denim, and attaching to it, at the places most prone to tear, metal discs, which reinforced the stronger material, resulting in durable work pants. These stronger workpants, originally called, “waist trousers,” later, “dungarees,” and “Levi’s” fit the bill and were universally sold as work trousers for workmen, cowboys, farmers, wherever hard labor called for durable clothing.

The durable trousers, also known as “blue jeans,” were commonly worn by farmers and cowboys, and later, children and teenagers. Reportedly, Vogue Magazine, in the 1930’s, initiated the idea of the use of denim pants as a fashion item, and not just a practical fabric for workmen and cowboys. Since that time, the category of “designer jeans” was, acceptably created. Jeans began to be tailored in a different manner and evolved into status symbols, with designer names on the back of the pants, or on the front pocket. They have since then, apparently, become a fashion essential, and, reportedly, are in the closets of fashion conscious women and men. We have been advised that some designer jeans sell for slightly less than $1,000.

Returning to our critical observation on the bus, and the expensively and stylishly dressed female passenger, with the torn jeans, we would like to offer a few, personal observations. We should, in fairness, note that we are aware of the accepted practice of the marketing and sale of distressed and torn “designer” jeans, at observably, high prices, especially to young girls and women.

When we were young, holes in one’s dungarees meant damage from use or accidental ripping; it also meant, certain reprimand from economically challenged parents. With this rather modest background, we have great difficulty in apprehending torn dungarees, as a purported fashion statement. It boggles the mind to contemplate the apparently exorbitant prices, willingly paid for such “damaged” pants (even if they are dubbed with the elegant name of “designer jeans”). The beautiful woman on the bus, honestly, appeared to us, freakish and possibly schizophrenic.

We can hardly imagine the extent of frustration and confusion on the part of M. Levi Strauss, (if he were alive) whose universally lauded, lifetime achievement, was the useful development of durable, non-tear, dungarees.

We also mentioned, that in addition to the subtle ironic humor of the situation, it also made us sad. We have always prized, the examined and secure, sense of self-identity and mature human perspective. The acceptance of torn and distressed clothing as the “ne plus ultra” of fashion, appears to us, to be a disappointing commentary on individual insecurity, not dissimilar to the children’s (instructive) tale of the “Emperor’s New Clothes.”

-p.