Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Petite bourgeoisie and other stuff related to class.

Just some thoughts for a rainy day.
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Class distinctions - aren't they funny? I spent much of my high times trying to analyze it. Nearly every one I knew came from the lower middle class, later several people I knew came out of the upper middle class, and a very few friends were actually upper class. It was believed that such distinctions were more or less repudiated by the '60's and '70's avant garde revolution... I always knew differently. And today, as the recession/depression threatens every one's standard of living, the class and status boundaries resurrected in the 1980's just might be abolished by a more sober revolution which could possibly do away with the middle class all together.
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Kinda, sorta on this topic , I want to mention an email I received from a friend concerning something a mutual friend I once worked with, once told him. He had asked this guy if he found it uncomfortable working with homosexuals, the man replied, "When you're confident in your own sexuality, what is there to be uncomfortable about?" Typical response from my friend who is married with children, and was a former director for a major department store, as well as an accomplished artist.
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Many years ago now, my friend found himself in store design with a local major department store company shortly after leaving college. That was in the days when gay people were quietly out but didn't march in the streets demanding equal rights or the right to marry one another - indeed, lasting relationships were nearly unheard of in those days. Back then, gays had their bars and the baths, the parks and men's rooms, and sex clubs; if they were caught having sex in public, they were arrested - just like anyone else would be. Certainly there was harassment by the police - mostly because the conduct was against the law; of course straight people who didn't like queers did their share as well. (Gays in the military also suffered some pretty harsh treatment before dishonorable discharge.) If a victim of gay bashing wasn't too afraid to come out, he could go to the police and have the perpetrator arrested. That would have been rare however. The freedoms gays enjoy today were unthinkable in the 1960's. But I digress.
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My store friend, like myself, would have been accustomed to being around homosexuals - at least since art school in his case - with me it was much earlier - when one works in retail or the arts, one is going to be working with gay people. In fact department stores and the fashion industry were pretty much saturated with gay people, including the presidents of our local department store - at least in those days. Anyway, my friend was quite comfortable with it.
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As I said, since the 20th century the arts have been pretty much dominated by homosexuals, and in the 1960's their presence became particularly evident: In the film industry, theater, fashion, design, literature, fine art, and so on. The avant garde along with the growing affluence and subsequent permissiveness of society, tolerated and more or less encouraged such diversity. I think as the economy grew and media developed, the arts achieved an even greater cultural dominance, influencing and re-forming public morality to a great extent. Hence the growing tolerance and acceptance of the alternative life styles of the talents who created what we wore, lived in, watched on TV, read, hung on our walls, and so on. The designer, actor, dancer, director, artist, entertainer, writer, media mogul set the trends.
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Back in the '60's it was very cool and exciting to be working in such an avant garde milieu - it didn't matter if you were gay or straight - it was cool. needless to say, everything militated against the confines of organized religion - especially Christianity, Catholicism in particular. The Church opposed birth control and homosexuality and so on, while imposing too many restrictions which stifled creativity. Foreign cinema zeroed in on the Catholic Church, mocking its structure and the art world loved it - as we know it hasn't stopped. My point is in those days religion wasn't important, unless of course one was into Buddhism, something Middle Eastern, Oriental, or more popularly, the occult.
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In fact at the department store we worked for, many of the directors were deeply into the occult or Wicca - possibly even my friend. Outsiders thought it was nothing - just a trend or a novel diversion - indeed that is how those involved described their participation in it. (I assure you, it was more than that.) Like I said, in those days traditional religion was not important - if you heard that someone in the department actually did go to church, they were mocked. Gay people especially simply were not interested in religion - too many rules. And that is why I'm so surprised today that some gay activists make such a fuss about Church teaching on homosexuality - perhaps they just want to break the rules - which is like going back to having no religion again. Actually, I think it has more to do with the desire for "normality". The new normal isn't like the petite bourgeoisie normal everyone feared in the '60's, today the old cool or avant garde is normal - and gays now want to have their behavior not simply tolerated or accepted, but normalized.
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C'est le nouveau charme discret de la bourgeoisie!
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I suppose I could be mistaken however.

6 comments:

  1. I made it back to God by the skin of my teeth after a long absence due in large part to the attitudes of most Christians in my childhood. I had sworn off Christianity for good.

    Do you think, perhaps, that it has less to do with rules, and more to do with mental and spiritual abuse at the hands of God's purported ministers?

    I'm not speaking of any brand of Christianity specifically here, so don't get all Donohue on me. ;-)

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  2. A special way to be different that is not open to us?

    Well done, Terry. That is marketable.

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  3. I used to think that men in retail, unless commission sales, were all gay but have been told that was only true at Dayton's.

    There are tons of practitioners of alternative religions around here, especially in St. Paul. I think one of them cuts my hair.

    My sister, whose friend is in a new gay relationship and doesn't want to feel guilty about it, is outraged on his behalf because Pope Benedict refuses to roll over and change church teaching.

    "Normalizing" sinful behavior doesn't make the guilt recede.

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  4. There were straight guys there too - which might explain why Dayton's failed. LOL!

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  5. Thom - that could be one excuse - but everyone I knew just thought Christianity was over, un-cool, God is dead, that sort of thing.

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  6. Obviously your experience was different- my mom was born in the era you were coming of age.

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