seam n. 缝，线缝
gown n. 女长服
attendance n. 1.照看(照料 2.出席，到场
lace n. 花边，网眼织物
ornament n. 1.装饰品，饰物 2.装饰
abundance n. 丰富(充裕
vulgar a. 1.庸俗的，低俗的 2.粗野的
costume n. 服装
subtle a. 微妙的(难以捉摸的
signify vt. 表示……的意思(意味
obscure a. 不容易看清的(不分明的 vt. 遮蔽(使朦胧
unfold v. 1.逐渐呈现，展现 2.展开，打开
conspicuous a. 惹人注意的，易见的(明显的
boycott vt. 抵制，排斥
contempt n. 轻视，鄙视
siege n. 围攻
porch n. 门廊
segregate v. 分开，分割，隔离
overturn vt. 推翻
embed (also imbed) vt. 使……嵌入
rebellion n. 反叛，造反，反抗
explicit a. 清楚的，明确的
badge n. 1.象征，标志 2.徽章
texture n. 质地，手感
incorporate vt. 使并入(包括
aesthetic n. 美学标准(审美观 a. 美学的(审美的
defy vt. 1.使不可能，使落空 2.反对，违抗
coincide vi. 1.一致，相符 2.同时发生(巧合
parameter n. 1.特性，特点 2.参数 Phrases and Expressions
fit into ，使！适合
at best 充其量(至多
under siege 受到批评、围攻等
slip into 穿上
make sense of 理解，搞清……的意思
Catholic a. 天主教
chapel n. 小教堂
buck vt. 反对，反抗
prose n. 散文
flatter vt. 奉承，谄媚，吹捧
paradox n. 自相矛盾的人、事物或情况
indulge vt. 放任
curb vt. 防止(某事物)失控(约束
impulse n. 冲动
contradict vt. 与……矛盾(违背
cognitive a. 认知的
mobilize (also mobilise) v. 动员(准备行动
preach vi. 劝诫，说教
colonial a. 殖民地的
banquet n. 盛宴，宴会
composite a. 合成的
compliment n. 赞美，赞扬
reciprocal a. 相互的(互惠的
discrepancy n. 差异(不一致(不相符之处
dual a. 双重的
compartment n. 1.，人的心灵等的！部，分部 2.舱(隔间
commonwealth n. 国家，团体，集体
recite vt. 详述，列举
caption n. ，图片、报刊文章等的！题目，标题(说明文字
champagne n. 香槟酒
pearl n. 珍珠
stereo n. 立体声音响器材
relish vt. 享受(爱好，喜欢
junk n. 废旧物品
default vi. 不履行(拖欠债务
Phrases and Expressions
pay up 全部付清
send in 递送，呈送，提交
feed to 供应给
get through 使，某人！理解(把……讲清楚
sit around 无所事事
pick up 购买
be torn between 难于抉择，左右为难
suck in 将某人，通常是不情愿地！卷入某事之中
drag down 贬低(毁灭
be a recipe for sth. 引起，招致
Jeans: From Low Beginnings to High Fashion
A simple pair of pants may contain a multitude of meanings. In the 1850s, jeans were the unemotional, durable dress of those that came to California to labor in the gold fields. Seams were strengthened with metal pins to make them hold, a technology borrowed from the construction of horse blankets. Cloth for beasts of burden was translated to the needs of men of burden. These were the clothes of hard-laboring people, and these pants held little promise for the men who wore them, save the promise that they would be ready for the next day's labors.
During the same decade, in the court of one European queen, "the gown worn by a fashionable lady in attendance contained 1,100 yards of material not including lace and other ornaments." American women of wealth were also wrapped in an abundance of cloth. While makers of jeans worried over how many men could be fitted into a given amount of cloth, for women of wealth the concern was with how many yards of cloth could be attractively arranged upon a given individual. This was the mark of prosperity: to wear enough material on one's back to clothe many of more modest means. The fashionable rich could not imagine themselves wearing the vulgar canvas pants of workers and "peasants". Neither could working-class people reasonably imagine themselves in the costumes of wealth and power. The only fashion link between them — subtle at best — was the stern top hat of wealthy capitalists, a coal-black cylinder symbolizing the factory chimney pipes that brought profit to one, hardship to the other. Blue jeans only signified labor and sweat.
Years later, the clothing of nineteenth-century laborers would assume new and different meanings. Humble beginnings became increasingly obscure within the unfolding of popular culture. In the movies, the horse riders of the early cattle industry were reborn as symbols of a noble, rural simplicity, and blue jeans became conspicuous within the landscape of the American media. On the screen these pants teased the imaginations of city folk, who longed for a simpler and less corrupt life. While laborers would continue to wear them at work, now the well-off might put on a pair at home or in the garden — an escape from the discipline of the business world.
In the 1950s, blue jeans became a statement by those who wished to boycott the values of a consumer-based society that was concerned only with acquisition. Blue-jeans-wearing rebels of popular movies were an expression of contempt towards the empty and obedient silence of Cold-War America; the positive images of American consumer society were under siege. What had been a piece of traditional American culture — blue jeans — became a rejection of traditional culture. These images found an eager audience among those for whom gray suits and formal dresses had been elevated as ideals of the age. In blue jeans, men and boys found relief from the priorities of the business world; women and girls found relief from the underlying harness required to fit into more formal wear. Even some among the middle class slipped into jeans for a sleepy afternoon on the porch.
By the mid-sixties, blue jeans were an essential part of the wardrobe of those
with a commitment to social struggle. In the American Deep South, black farmers and grandchildren of slaves still segregated from whites, continued to wear jeans in their mid-nineteenth-century sense; but now they were joined by college students — black
and white — in a battle to overturn deeply embedded race hatred. The clothes of the workers became a sacred bond between them. The clothing of toil came to signify the dignity of struggle.
In the student rebellion and the antiwar movement that followed, blue jeans and work shirts provided a contrast to the uniforms of the dominant culture. Jeans were the opposite of high fashion, the opposite of the suit or military uniform.
With the rise of the women's movement in the late 1960s, the political significance of dress became increasingly explicit. Rejecting orthodox sex roles, blue jeans were a woman's weapon against uncomfortable popular fashions and the view that women should be passive. This was the cloth of action; the cloth of labor became the badge of freedom.
If blue jeans were for rebels in the 1960s and early 1970s, by the 1980s they had become a foundation of fashion — available in a variety of colors, textures,
fabrics, and fit. These simple pants have made the long journey "from workers' clothes to cultural revolt to status symbol".
On television, in magazine advertising, on the sides of buildings and buses, jeans call out to us. Their humble past is obscured; practical roots are incorporated into a new aesthetic. Jeans are now the universal symbol of the individual. They are the costume of liberated women, with a fit tight enough to restrict like the harness of old — but with the look of freedom and motion.
In blue jeans, fashion reveals itself as a complex world of history and change. Yet looking at fashions, in and of themselves, reveals situations that often defy understanding. Our ability to understand a specific fashion — the current one of
jeans, for example — shows us that as we try to make sense of it, our confusion intensifies. It is a fashion whose very essence is contradiction and confusion.
To pursue the goal of understanding is to move beyond the actual cloth itself, toward the more general phenomenon of fashion and the world in which it has risen to importance. What events, what developments, what forces proceeded to make fashion a more important concern than function among increasing numbers of people? In what ways have fashion and society coincided, particularly in the context of changes in the structure, habits, and economy of the society?
Exploring the role of fashion within the social and political history of industrial America helps to reveal the parameters and possibilities of American society. The ultimate question is whether the development of images of rebellion into
mass-produced fashions has actually resulted in social change.
To Spend or Not to Spend
A week or so ago, a large sign appeared next to a Catholic chapel a few blocks from my home. It shows a giant dollar bill, so I thought it was going to be something about "buy American goods," but when I got close enough to see the writing, it said, "Buck the recession, spend a buck". On what? It didn't say. Just get out there and buy. I found this deeply confusing. Wasn't our problem that we didn't save enough? (It certainly is my problem!) What are we supposed to do? Spend? Save? Spend and save?
Here's another example that may be familiar to many of you: If I don't pay my credit card bill on time, I get one of those nasty messages from the credit card company saying, "You miserable thief, pay up or die." As soon as I send in the check, another letter comes back saying, in prose designed to flatter, "Ms. —, you are one of our
most valued customers. How would you like us to increase your credit limit by $2,000?" Well, which am I: valued customer or miserable thief?
The paradox is that we get two sets of messages coming at us every day. One is the "enjoy yourself" message, saying, "buy, spend, get it now, indulge yourself", because your wants are also your needs — and you have plenty of needs that you don't
even know about because our consumer culture hasn't told you about them yet! The other we could call, for lack of a better word, a "discipline" message, which says, " work hard, save, postpone pleasure, curb your impulses. " What are the psychological and social consequences of getting messages that so totally contradict each other? I think this is what you would call "cognitive disagreement", and the psychological consequence is a deep anxiety, upon which political conservatives have been very skillful at mobilizing and building.
The "discipline" message comes to us from a variety of sources: from school, from church, often from parents, and every so often from political figures when they preach about "traditional values". Hard work, family loyalty, the capacity to wait for reward — these are supposed to be core American values that have existed since colonial times, the traits that made our country great.
But the "enjoy yourself" message, as I said, comes to us mostly in the form of advertising. Advertising is impossible to avoid; it is fed to us in a never-ending banquet, being served in dozens of forms and in more and more settings:
? on TV, in movie theaters, and in movies themselves;
? in the print media (including ads disguised as articles, which are so common in the fashion magazines);
? over the phone;
? and now there is even advertising in the schools.
Someone has calculated that by the time an American reaches the age of 40, he or she has been exposed to one million ads. Another estimate is that we have encountered more than 600,000 ads by the time we reach the age of only 18. Now, of course, we don't remember what exactly they said or even what the product was, but a composite message gets through: that you deserve the best, that you should have it now, and that it's okay to indulge yourself, because you deserve the compliments, sex appeal, or adventure you are going to get as a result of buying this car or those cigarettes.
Our consumer-based economy makes two absolutely reciprocal psychological demands on its members. On the one hand, you need the "discipline" values to ensure that people will be good workers and lead orderly, law-abiding lives. On the other hand, you need the "enjoy yourself" messages to get people to be good consumers. One author was disturbed about the "enjoy yourself" side, but acknowledged that "without a means of stimulating mass consumption, the very structure of our business enterprise would collapse."
The interesting question has to do with the psychological consequences of the discrepancy between the dual messages. The "discipline" or "traditional values" theme demands that one compartment of the personality have a will strong enough to keep the individual doing unpleasant work at low wages, or to stay in an unhappy marriage, and, in general, to do things for the good of the commonwealth.
The "enjoy yourself" message, on the other hand, tends to encourage a very different kind of personality — one that is self-centered, based on impulse, and
is unwilling to delay rewards. As an illustration, I can't resist reciting one of my favorite ads of all time, an ad from a psychology magazine. The caption says, in large type, "I love me. I'm just a good friend to myself. And I like to do what makes me feel good. I used to sit around, putting things off till tomorrow. Tomorrow I'll drink champagne, and buy a set of pearls, and pick up that new stereo. But now I live my dreams today, not tomorrow."
So what happens to us as we take in these opposing messages, as we are, in fact, torn between the opposite personality types that our society seems to require of us? The result is anxiety, fear, and a mysterious dread. We want more things, we want to indulge ourselves, and not just because advertising tells us to — who wouldn't
relish owning a new stereo?
But at the same time, a little voice inside us echoes all those traditional messages and says, "watch out, don't buy that junk, you'll get into debt — worse
still, you'll lose your edge, you'll get soft, you won't be able to succeed anymore."
The fear of being sucked in and dragged down by our consumer culture is real: the credit card company is not friendly when you default on your bills. And we all know that the path of pleasure-seeking and blind acquisition is a recipe for financial ruin — for most of us, anyway — and that, in American society, there isn't much
of a safety net to catch you if you fall.
Materialism: Economic Engine, Worker's Prison
Materialism and its attendant dissatisfaction is taken for granted. It is widely believed that our never-ending quest for material goods is part of the basic character of human beings. According to the popular belief, we may not like it, but there's little we can do about it.
Despite its popularity, this view of human nature is wrong. While human beings may have a basic desire to strive towards something, there is nothing inevitable about material goods. There are numerous examples of societies in which things have played a highly restricted role. In medieval Europe, the acquisition of goods was relatively unimportant. The common people, whose lives were surely poor by modern standards, showed strong preferences for leisure rather than money. In the nineteenth — and
early twentieth-century United States, there is also considerable evidence that many working people also exhibited a restricted appetite for material goods.
Materialism is not a basic trait of human nature, but a specific product of capitalism. With the development of the market system, materialism "spilled over", for the first time, beyond the circles of the rich. The growth of the middle class created a large group of potential buyers and the possibility that mass culture could be oriented around material goods. This process can be seen not only in historical experiences but is now going on in some parts of the developing world, where the growth of a large middle class has contributed to extensive materialism and the breakdown of traditional values.
In the United States, the turning point was the 1920s — the point at which the
"psychology of shortage" gave way to the "psychology of abundance". This was a crucial period for the development of modern materialism. Economy and discipline were out; waste and excess were in. Materialism flourished — both as a social ideology and
in terms of high rates of real spending. In the midst of all this buying, we can detect the origins of modern consumer discontent.
This was the decade during which the American dream, or what was then called "the American standard of living", captured the nation's imagination. But it was always something of an illusion. Americans complained about items they could not afford —
despite the fact that in the 1920s most families had telephones, virtually all had purchased life insurance, two-thirds owned their own homes and took vacations, and over half had motor cars.
The discontent expressed by many Americans was promoted — and to a certain
extent even created — by manufacturers. The explosion of consumer credit made the task easier, as automobiles, radios, electric refrigerators, washing machines —
even jewelry and foreign travel — could be paid for in installments. By the end of
the 1920s, 60 percent of cars, radios, and furniture were being purchased this way. The ability to buy without actually having money helped encourage a climate of instant satisfaction, expanding expectations, and ultimately, materialism.
The 1920s was also the decade of advertising. The advertising men went wild: everything from salt to household coal was being nationally advertised. Of course, ads had been around for a long time. But something new was happening, in terms of both scale and strategy. For the first time, business began to use advertising as a psychological weapon against consumers. Without their product, the consumer would be left unmarried, fall victim to a terrible disease, or be passed over for a promotion. Ads developed an association between the product and one's very identity. Eventually they came to promise everything and anything — from self-esteem to status,
friendship, and love.
This psychological approach was a response to the economic dilemma business faced. Americans in the middle classes and above (to whom virtually all advertising was targeted) were no longer buying to satisfy basic needs — such as food, clothing and
shelter. These had been met. Advertisers had to persuade consumers to acquire things they most certainly did not need. In other words, production would have to "create the wants it sought to satisfy". This is exactly what manufacturers tried to do. The normally conservative telephone company attempted to transform the plain telephone into a luxury, urging families to buy "all the telephones that they can conveniently use, rather than the smallest amount they can get along with". One ad campaign targeted fifteen phones as the style for a wealthy home.
Business clearly understood the nature of the problem. According to one historian: "Business had learned as never before the importance of the final consumer. Unless he or she could be persuaded to buy, and buy extravagantly, the whole stream of new cars, cigarettes, women's make-up, and electric refrigerators would be dammed up at its outlets."
But would the consumer be equal to her task as the foundation of private enterprise?
A top executive of one American car manufacturer stated the matter bluntly: business needs to create a dissatisfied consumer; its mission is "the organized creation of dissatisfaction". This executive led the way by introducing annual model changes for his company's cars, designed to make the consumer unhappy with what he or she already had. Other companies followed his lead. Economic success now depended on the promotion of qualities like waste and self-indulgence.
The campaign to create new and unlimited wants did not go unchallenged. Trade unions and those working for social reform understood the long-term consequences of materialism for most Americans: it would keep them locked in capitalism's trap. The consumption of luxuries required long hours at work. Business was explicit in its resistance to increases in free time, preferring consumption as the alternative to taking economic progress in the form of leisure. In effect, business offered up the cycle of work-and-spend. In response, many trade union leaders rejected what they regarded as an evil bargain of time for money: "Workers have declared that their lives are not to be sacrificed at any price. The worker is not the slave of fifty years ago; he reads, goes to the theater and has established his own libraries, his own educational institutions. And he wants time, time, time, for all these things."