The world is going up in flames and all the old orders are collapsing. Yet, elegantly stepping over the wreckage, immaculately turned out, here comes the Dandy. As Baudelaire wrote "dandyism appears especially in periods of transition."
This great little book examines the history of the dandy, from the 18th century British style icon George Brummell, to Oscar Wilde, Lord Byron and beyond. In our time of crisis and transition, this book explores the tactical camp decadence of the dandy, and the possibility they may lead us towards a more self-determined future.
Total disdain for a terminally corrupt system, of serious politics so un-seriously managed, the dismal conformity and passivity of the middle classes, the romantic dandy abandons it all to seek beauty, passion, sensory pleasure and intellectual, imaginative flights. The existence and presence of the dandy represents an existential reprimand to the conformists and the morally compromised.
He does not defend property or privileges. He finds conflicts over the distribution of goods distasteful. To the dandy, any kind of war, even a war of liberation, seems an affair of the benighted, of those who don't realise that the only point of putting on a uniform is to look good in it. The dandy doesn't ask how he wants to live; he lives, albeit with a sad countenance. He proposes no solutions, and denounces nothing as false - since he makes no declarations of any kind. He simply plays a different game.
The essay follows the traces of this masquerade ball, moving among accounts of lives as they were lived, literary sketches and performances in the visual arts down to the present day.