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Individuality: The Art of Being Different (Part 2)

The third part (of six) of my infamous manifesto on Individuality.


Point of Entry

So welcome to the ground floor my darlings, where the sediment dilutes before the passages that lead toward the opulent halls of nitroglycerin floor tiles and padded walls. The pebbles are still rugged, aboriginal, and yet to be shaped. Some never make it down the stream, and are fully content with their dimensions; because the salted waters of the sapphire oceans aren’t for all.

But this is not an exhibition of submission - the bondage of the neon latex fences is quite comforting, and is the essence of a satisfying distinction amongst the stale, yellowing gowns of is the dance in the midst of a scornful sect. This is in fact an observation of society through the looking glass of individuality and, an attempt at a new breath by the injection of a fresh stream upon a field of platitudes.

What I am looking to present through these elaborate verbal alchemies is the importance of individuality within a social sphere, a notion once endorsed by the likes of Emmerson, Theroux, Armand, and others. And whilst this is a modern presentation of a vintage, it could not be more appropriate. In a dwindling economy of originality and sycophantic trends, we ache for a collection of bright images and daring views. Alas, attempts at such developments are vastly frowned upon.

Allow me to use this text to motivate and inspire - certainly not to reach for pitchforks and spit in the faces of the bejeweled nobles, but to become a stone and send ripples upon that gated lake. This is not an attack on the socially content but a peaceful observation without an inclination to mount a soapbox and lead a herd of disciples in a Celtic dance and sanctimonious incantations.

I am aware that this might be just a spoiled caprice to some, or perhaps The Catcher in the Rye to others, but by the end you shall either walk away in accord or at least feel entertained. The somewhat puzzling narrative of the tale at hand is merely a visual example of the subject’s nature and its manifestations, and the characters are the ones that reflect the reality of its development; for individuality is an eclectic concept, one not without contradictions and complex obscurities.

Thus gather around a campfire of a satiated ashtray and take a look around. What you may see is an amalgam of people, all present in this space but manifold in the most illustrious of fashions. With different agendas and appearances, there are some who slide down the lines of a page and diligently check the multiple choices of the curriculum, while there are those who sketch lurid visuals in the open margins or scribble their story on the blank page at the end of the quiz. Regardless of their motives...they’re all here.

The Spread

Loneliness is a burden of revolutionaries. An avarice for positive affection can deprive of independent thought. However, this is not in any way an incentive to leave a mark of anarchy wherever you tread - though a healthy dash of nihilism has never hurt a visionary approach.

I have always considered myself a person of timid character and somewhat of a coward within a social environment; but I guess that my valiance shows elsewhere. Take it as arrogance or valor, but I never really cared much for public opinion; the innuendo of 'whatever gets you off' has become somewhat of a motto. Courage is an intrinsic part of individualism, for when you choose to throw off the shackled support of a group dynamic, all you have left to carry you forth is your own convictions; regardless of how bizarre.

We are raised to become members of a pack. This gregarious nature of most stems from the logic that survival is much more likely among a herd of contemporaries. The verisimilitude of success that is associated with compliant integration is what motivates this desire to become a fellow - and amalgamate the bodies to preserve the heat. Consistent pressures of social disproportions lead to tempting cliques - more appropriately ‘cults’ - that offer sanctuary in return for conformity and it just seems as the easier route to survival; alleviating the painful withdrawal of approval.

And as the cycle continues it becomes stale with monotony, a noun synonymous with the notions of normality and social obedience - safe, tranquil, stagnant; a varnished world where the idea of progressive individual behavior brings about chaotic images of corybantic dinner parties with plastic spoons, Elizabethan snack food, LSD vocabulary, and Lizzie Borden as the host. However, I shall agree that present day society is far more understanding – or at least it appears to be – ergo I can wear lipstick to a gathering without being tied to a stake.

Nevertheless, I must slightly omit my previous statement regarding the isolated nature of insurgency. Unusual individuals tend to find solace in similar company, which is why back at my table you could see a concoction of characters that were either about to explode like magnetic oppositions that are pushed together, or fuse with one another and create a new element.

These groups are always a spectrum of madness; tranquil or inflamed. There is always a character like Neal Cassady, whose insanity just can't help but attract as his rant goes on, inspiring and petrifying. Then there is the beauty in her own dimension, coagulating an eroticized power throughout any social sphere with a concrete conviction - like a Zelda Fitzgerald in knee-high leather boots. And somewhere within this motley crew there is also someone calm but with his own design and flair for a flavorful, extraordinary existence; one who would partake but also document the ongoing slaughter of normality. These were the Wolfes, the Kerouacs and - without sounding too presumptions - me. They swarm with schemes and rapports of their own accord, and hold a wisdom that is considered crazed - only because they lack a uniform of Milky Way pearls and ironed starch, and shun unnecessary affiliations of monetary gain; because their ways of thought are free.


I had to settle. Upon investing a coin into something that resembled melody – much to the dismay of a vast majority of patrons – I made my way over to the bar to get some more perspective, and at the same time to get a larger scope of the scene.

The tables were like islands in the surprisingly placid seas of a Friday night crowd. The ‘stability’ that I was observing must have been a product of a solidary tedium; a result of the requirement to stay within the frame. We were all peers, but that company of mine seemed to radiate a peculiar euphoria in contrast to the two previously mentioned groups of strangers. All of them seemed to enjoy the night and basked away in the murky temerity of a late night outing, but only one circle of the three could decipher its essence.

Individuality draws attention; that is a given. A day-glow dot on a plain of grey cannot go unnoticed in the vigilant eyes of order, but that is the point isn’t it? Yet heed may be of various degrees. In a world of benchmarks and levelled truisms, a deviation from the standard can posses a cathartic thrill, which in turn many strive for, but with often-vacant attempts at separation and an egocentric need for approval of the self. A craving for the light of assent, and the merit due to be received upon achieving the previously laden ideals can also be a potent motivator for the many superficial adaptations that draw empty, unnecessary curiosities - as you strut your best behaviour for acceptance.

Such acts of vivid sycophancy very much resemble a scene from Gogol’s classic “Dead Souls”, when upon the entrance to the Governor’s house on the eve of a party, Chichikov observers an overenthusiastic commotion of ‘black coats’ that swerved across the room like flies around a sugar loaf on a hot summer’s day. (A simply ingenious visual concept.

We have all witnessed this parade before, and I could very much observe it that night, as the infamous gentlemen were joined by their colleagues and began to spread their feathers in sign of domination over the surroundings, often ridiculing the unorthodox appearance of the individuals in our party.

But I didn’t pout. To have the confidence for the expression of disconnected belief a person must be willing to face the public bare and uncompromised. Nudity can be a heady cure for vanity; a characteristic produced by the commiseration of mutual understanding. If all are in agreement there is no room on the table for fresh thought, and that is how any apparent social progressions route their way into a dirge.

The dancing diva had separated herself from a circle of synonyms and thus laid her gentle neck under the guillotine of ridicule - but to acquire the comfort of your own skin requires sacrifices. Her acquaintances were wrapped in Kevlar togas of the latest fashions, adorned by labels that underlined class distinction and slimmed down all remaining insecurities - “essential accessories”. If they did decide to laugh, the contractions died before becoming too raucous, and they would then return to the preoccupation of evaluating their “other” friend.

At this point my observations might seems biased and rather petty - and I surely do not contend for the possession of any telepathic gifts – and perhaps these accusations are indeed pure misjudgements on my part, but even the history of modern culture can in fact justify the assumptions made, for even artists, writers, and composers of our time – ones that have deviated from the standards of approval - have frequently stared into the blank faces of derision.

This is not an exercise in misanthropy, but rather an investment in overlooked ideals. The lack of socially recognized promotion renders an individual with a quiet voice, and it is then when his visual comportment has to become a vessel that carries forth a message that would raise the sound of alarm.

It is a start. Josiah Warren spoke of a peaceful revolution, so it is possible that the lonely, gyrating figure on the dance floor, shaking up a vascular cocktail of liberation to the vibrations of nickel strings, is the modern manifestation of such a notion; one who is just searching for a gap in the concrete walls of habitual moderation, with an aim to modulate the stifled rhythm of social circulation.

(To Be Continued)

© 2019 Anton Sanatov

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