Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Krishna and Costumes

There was a piece in the New Yorker by Jonathan Franzen called The End of the End of The World. It’s two stories really; a story about his relationship with his uncle is beautifully melded with a story about a luxury cruise to Antarctica with his brother.
I love the brevity of New Yorker articles but a couple of years ago I quit reading novels after completing two that were just too good (At Swim, Two Boys; Angle of Repose). I lost interest in anything but “perfect” writing but I didn’t know how to find more. Literary tste is such a personal thing.
Mr. Franzen’s piece has whetted my appetite for reading again because his writing — in this article and to me, anyway — is insanely good.
I happened on the annual Hare Krishna celebration in Stanley Park. I arrived just as the parade was concluding and the party was beginning and I was immediately overcome with a tremendous love of, my country. I am so proud that Canada is so accepting of differences. I love our multi-cultural policies that encourage our immigrants to retain and celebrate their traditions.
I thanked God I am not American like Donald Trump.
Amongst the revelers were some Caucasians fully engaged in the fervor of the chanting and I was struck by their clothing.
At some point, somehow, growing up in West Vancouver, I saw the West Vancouver Boys and Girls Band and I immediately wanted to be part of it. Why? Not because I loved music, but because of their uniforms. I wanted to belong; I wanted the uniform and I got one.
Uniforms are pride made manifest. They are talismans of membership and when I saw those White guys and gals dancing in their beads, flowing diaphanous robes, face make up and headbands I realized I no longer have that overwhelming desire to belong.  
Already been thinking about costuming because of the specific clothing for various sports at the Olympics: The women’s uniforms for beach volleyball, gymnastics and synchronized swimming made me gag.

We put so much into the construction of appearance; we use our clothing and accessories to affect perception. But as Ryan Lochte showed us, no matter what you wear, it’s your actions that truly define you.

I wrapped myself in a Gunera leaf.
Above and below: the Hare Krishna Festival.
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