Columns » Penny Post by Andrei Codrescu

Corinthian Column


In the world of style, which I track regularly for fear of being out of it, the Internet has now become a common but indispensible part of our wardrobe, like a belt and a watch. There is no reason to philosophize about it anymore and, indeed, it is probably dangerous to do so, in light of the deflated beignet of our information economy. Better than allowing oneself to dream about the "unlimited potential" of the medium (I am quoting the air), one could speculate reasonably about ways in which to wear the Internet. Cell phones, bar codes and tattoos with chips in them are all legitimate concerns of our new body architecture, and one can't go wrong trying to guess just how "wired" a person is, even at the beach where a bikini might have the potential of a 1950s supercomputer. People who talk to themselves can no longer be considered crazy because they are in fact wirelessly communicating with others from invisible outputs. Telecommunication is now a kind of underwear, an infrastructure, or a high base.

The pedestal set on this base is a sense of social election, the feeling that wiring sets one higher than one's unwired fellows. People who wear expensive underwear feel the same. Nobody can see it, but they know it and it is enough to raise their self-esteem and put them on a smug pedestal. From this pedestal rises a slender fluted shaft with fillets, meaning that one's sense of social importance travels upward through the economy, ever-hopeful, thrifty and forward-looking, a work of willful erection fed by the best fillets of the most-kindly animals on this earth hand-fed in their turn with beer and airline peanuts. It is true that the stock market has caused a number of these slender flutes to wilt like sunflowers past their prime, but this is a temporary condition. Greenspan has drugs for it.

The flutes have ornate capitals. These capitals are: New York, San Francisco, Paris, London and Seattle. What makes these capitals ornate is too complex to pack here, suffice it to say that people wired for total communication produce spontaneously all kinds of ornate businesses that stimulate their imagination and reinforce their smugness. The non-ornate provinces, still mired in the ionic or uncertain neo-classical cement, benefit from the ornate capitals, eventually, when broken Corinthians are shipped to them for storage. That's another matter altogether.

The ornate capitals use stylized acanthus leaves and an elaborate cornice, which gets us to the heart of the matter -- which is style, not philosophy. The best electronics are embedded in the acanthus leaves and the cornice, which is to say in hats and hair. If until now you were wondering just what part of Wired Man carries the brunt of the chips, you have my opinion. The future will be full of extraordinary hats and sophisticated big hair, extensions, and the like. The future will be Corinthian, if at all.

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