Published on The Doomstead Diner on December 19, 2016
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In the last few days Inside the Diner we have been pursuing a discussion regarding Archdruid John Michael Greer, who runs the Archdruid Report. It's a blog not that dissimilar from the Doomstead Diner, in that its main concern is with the Collapse of Industrial Civilization. However, as is with the case for all of us Kollapsnik Bloggers like Albert Bates, Ugo Bardi, Dmitry Orlov, James Howard Kunstler, Raul "Ilargi" Meijer, Guy McPherson, Gail Tverberg, Steve Ludlum, Allan Stromfeldt Christensen and innumerable others on this Bandwagon nowadays, everybody has a somewhat different spin on the situation. We all don't always get along with each other all too well either. lol. Egos tend to be large and get in the way quite often, and the different spins can cause conflict also.
JMG, or "Mr. Wizard" as I often refer to him is a bit different though, because in addition to being a Kollapsnik Doomer, he also served as a Religious Leader in the Druid camp, as Archdruid of the AODA, the Ancient Order of Druids in America (he has now begun a new sect though I am informed, the Golden Dawn Druids). He also costumed up for this role, with clothing straight out of the Middle Ages, and a massive and bushy beard as well to go with it for a real look of religious authority. He may very well have Sapient Crows Nesting in there that will take over from Homo Sap when we go extinct and nobody would ever know it.
As Religious Leaders go, this kind of dress and outfitting is not uncommon. His Popeness, Vicar of Christ on Earth, Pope Francis also has Official Clothing that is utterly removed from modern dress.
In the Russian Orthodox Church, the Bishops ALSO wear this kind of clothing. They ALSO sport the Big Beards!
The Muslim Imams ALSO have their distinctive dress! The Sheiks ALSO!
still more big beards!
These guys do occassionally trim the beard. The clothing however is not entirely practical these days.
Now, why do these people DO this? It's because of symbology mainly. It is "distinguishing" and makes them different than "normal" people. Do regular people walk around dressed in robes like this nowadays? No, nobody does really. For the Muslims, you gotta be a Saudi Prince to dress up in this type of getup. Most people in Saudi Arabia do not dress in this getup, they wear jeans and t-shirts like everybody else.
The curious thing about it is that in many cases, this type of clothing runs back to the Middle Ages at the very least, if not BCE. It was all Grand and Elegant for the Era, and set the Elite of the society apart from the Hoi Polloi, who were likely mostly dressed in rags. It lends a visual sense of AUTHORITY to their presence. They are someone who should be listened to and respected, because they are so well DRESSED! LOL.
The Religions haven't changed their dress code for success for their leaders all that much over the centuries, what worked to impress the hoi polloi in 500AD still seems to work pretty good today. On the secular level though, Fashion in Clothing for the successful and respected has morphed over the years.
Back in the court of Louis XIV this is the kind of clothing you wore to set yourself apart from the unwashed commoners:
What do our Secular Leaders all wear TODAY to Identify themselves as someone to be Respected and Listened to? SUITS! Very EXPENSIVE suits made by Armani and Brooks Brothers etc.
Penguins on Parade
Look at EVERY picture on the net of EVERY Western "leader" or bizman, and they always are in the full regalia with the Silk Tie and the Gold Cufflinks, etc.
Now, walking around in Walmart, how often do you see anyone who is even wearing a cheap suit and tie, much less one of these extraordinarily expensive outfits? About NEVER. I cannot remember the last time I saw anyone even wearing a TIE at Walmart! Well, except for the Manager, who wears the Tie as the Symbol of his power inside his own Walmart store. None of the Customers are ever wearing Ties.
In the Banking industry, center of all the power in this society, just about everyone down to Teller level is required to wear a Tie, at least the males anyhow.
While I worked on Wall Street, I also Dressed for Success. I also wore the Full Suit & Tie, in fact often the 3 Piece style including the Vest popular back then, and the requisite pocket watch with Gold chain to go with that. Vests aren't as popular these days amongst the Wall Street crowd though. Getting geared up in the morning to go to work was a freaking CHORE. Getting your Windsor Knot on your tie JUST right and balanced often would take 2 or 3 tries. Then after a day at work and riding the subway there and back with a lot of stinky commuters, your suit was all rumpled and you can't just throw a Brooks Brothers suit in the washer & dryer, it's gotta go to the Cleaners for Dry Cleaning. Your shirts all need to be pressed. If you have a maid or stay at home wife who is good at ironing, that is usually good enough but if you are a single Corporate Ladder Climber fucking Joffrey & Twyla Tharp Ballet Dancers after a day's work ripping people off and snorting Coke into the wee hours, you don't have time for this yourself so you gotta drop your shirts off at the cleaners too. Even back in the late 70s, my weekly Chinese Laundry bill was around $50 1970s dollars. Then there was the money spent on the minimum weekly Shoe Shines for the Italian Leather shoes. I will tell you, such shoes are really not all that comfortable even if you spend a fucking fortune on them (I did, custom made lasts, the whole 9 yards) and they positively suck if you get some NYC Slush on them in winter or even step in a fucking puddle in the spring. They're really only good going straight from the Limo into the Office Building, and then only if somebody carries you inside on a rainy day. Most of us lesser Korporate Klimbers who did not have our own Limos yet would wear a pair of sneakers to commute to work with the classy Italian Leather shoes in a backpack, then you would change shoes in the bathroom before going to your office. Talk about fucking stupid behavior! Cheap Chinese Sneakers beat the PANTS off Custom Italian Leather shoes in every area except FASHON.
It was a little better when I went into Teaching, you didn't have to wear the full Penguin Suit, but they still "suggested" a collar shirt and tie at the time. It was a very SERIOUS suggestion, as in if you didn't take it you were snubbed and not going to get plum teaching assignments. Far as I know, nobody ever got fired for wearing a T-Shirt, but all the old time Top Teachers who got the AP & Honors classes wore the Shirt & Tie and dress pants, not jeans.
Believe it or not, this Dress Code bizness even extended into my career as a competitive gymnastics coach, although the dress code was a LOT more comfortable. In that profession to gain respect and status you had to wear an expensive Track Suit made by Adidas or Alpha Factor and a collared Polo Shirt with your gym name embroidered on it at the very least to all the Local, State & National Meets you went to if not every day in the gym. Don't wear jeans and a t-shirt, it's not "Professional" looking enough!
All of this Dress Up bizness is symbology about setting yourself apart as an Authority Figure and/or RICH. The Middle Ages style clothing worn by religious authority figures are all made of fine cloth which was not available to most commoners of the time. They also are often dyed with colors that weren't available to most people. Hats are bejeweled to further up the status symbolism of the outfit.
For the modern era, the Suits have to be customed tailored to really look & fit right, The Ties gotta be the finest Chinese Silk and the shoes STILL have to be the stupid Italian Leather ones!
I do grasp the psychology of this and why these folks all dress this way, but I find it ridiculous. Whether it is Religious Leaders in Robes, Saudi Sheiks in Robes, Walmart Managers wearing Shirt & Tie or Banksters in Armani Suits, they all look like clowns to me and I LOSE respect for them because of this. They're all utilizing dress to try and BUY respect. But the psychology still exists in just about all cultures, even First Nations people Chiefs all had fancy headgear and beadwork on ceremonial clothing.
Nowadays, I no longer need to Dress for Success in anything, I can schlep around all day in sweats and a t-shirt or my pajamas if I want to, nobody is around to care or give a shit. This is one of the greatest benefits of retirement.
When I walk about the society, I look at the way people dress, and what kind of statement they are trying to make with this dress up. Women have their own dress up codes to signal who they are, depending on the style of the day. Religious Outfits of all varieties are quite peculiar in their symbolism, from the extreme parsimoniousness of the Calvinists in the All Black outfits to the extravagance of the Roman Catholics with the flowing robes and jeweled headgear.
I have my own style of dress and motif these days also, the "Indiana Jones" motif complete with the Fedora and the leather jacket. It's not meant to impress anyone with my authority though, it's more of a joke on authority. The motif also is pretty functional clothing, as opposed to the silly gowns or the Armani suits. My sneakers and boots also work just fine in rain or snow or slush, I don't gotta switch them out for doing my daily bizness anymore.
For Mr. Wizard with his Druid outfit, this makes him REALLY special. Not too many Druids wandering the streets these days in such getups. Then the huge and bushy beard also sets him apart in this culture. About the only people here in the FSoA who routinely let their facial hair grow exceedingly long are the Amish, and there aren't too many of them around. For them, this is also a symbol of Authority & Power, in fact "Beard Cutting" is a means of shaming men in the Amish culture.
In order to divest myself of giving anyone credence based on how they dress up, if they are attractive looking I just picture them in my mind's eye as NAKED when I talk to them. If they are fat, old and ugly, I imagine them with a big paper bag over most of the meat package, with just the head sticking out. If they have a lot of facial hair, I imagine them with a fresh shave. I am not interested in people's clothing statement or hair statement all that much. It's fucking stupid cultural bullshit. People who dress these ways are using their clothing to exert authority in a certain way. The religious folks do it one way with one motif, the bizness leaders and politicians do it with another motif, but it is all the same thing, defining yourself as a leader of a particular cult in the society. Our biggest cult here these days is the Capitalista Cult, and the leaders all wear the Armani Suits. Over in Saudi Arabia, the leaders of that cult all wear the Bedouin style robes from the days they still rode on Camels. The Catholic bigwigs still wear the gear from the heady days after the fall of the Roman Empire when they took over the bankstering bizness. Mr. Wizard is a Wannabee Druid Cult leader and has the outfit to prove it.
I strive to be the Indiana Jones cult leader. I want everyone to be Adventurous Archaeologists.