Why DO I Like It?

by Peter

This post led to questions about what I do with school uniforms, choir boy outfits, and pleasant uniformity generally.  I don’t want every street sign to receive individual typographic treatment, do I? & etc.

What I had said was, “I think that I don’t like the OC prettiness because it seems like it exists for the sake of an ordinance.  Houses become adorned in such and such a way not because a person likes the house, but because of some rule that tells them to,” and so on.  But (see the photo above) I do rather like some ordained stylings.  I like school uniforms and all that sort of thing.  So how to I systematize my dislike for some beautification systems and my love of others?

Here’s my best stab, so far.

Uniform stylings are suitable when the thing that is being adorned is a category.  A student wearing a uniform is not wearing their uniform insofar as they are an individual; they are wearing it insofar as they participate in “student.”  The problem I have with stock makeup or clothing and with uni-styled housing is that it takes something that ought to be eminently particular–a face, a home–and reduces it, visually, to a member of some category.  People who are students can take off their uniforms when it would be inappropriate to visually instantiate their role, but it’s nice that they can give that abstraction a form sometimes.  It’s almost mythic.

In sum, basically, as it were, it turns out that my distaste for over-ordained or inappropriately ordained styles comes down to their symbolic relationship to the things so styled.  It’s a concern that has more to do with truth than with beauty.