Men’s clothing, and magic, and psychometry

dandies


Partner and I went recently to the Rhode Island School of Design Museum, to see a show about men’s clothing.

 

 

Shows likes this – fabric, clothing – usually bore the hell out of me. But this one was amusing, and really memorable. They had one of Mark Twain’s shirts. They had one of Andy Warhol’s terrible shaggy white wigs. They had a dapper trim little tux that had belonged to Fred Astaire, and a very small dress suit belonging to Truman Capote circa 1970. They had a Harris Tweed suit that might or might not have belonged to one of the British royals in the early 20th century.

 

 

I was amused and really gratified to see these things. These were garments worn by famous people, and –

 

 

Well, and what? Why does that make them special?

 

 

Not long ago, a scientist on television showed how people impute mystical properties to things owned by famous people. He showed a group of people a fountain pen that he said had belonged to Albert Einstein, and asked if they wanted to see and hold it, and they all handled it reverently. Then he showed them a sweatshirt and told them it had belonged to Jeffrey Dahmer the serial killer, and asked them if they’d like to handle it or try it on. No one wanted to touch it.

 

 

He lied in both cases. The pen didn’t belong to Einstein, and the shirt didn’t belong to Dahmer.

 

 

But I understand implicitly what those people felt. We feel instinctively that objects take on the properties and personalities of their possessors. There are even psychics who claim that they have the skill of psychometry: the ability to read the histories of objects and their owners.

 

 

I own a Jean Cocteau lithograph – a portrait of Erik Satie – which was once owned by the Russian composer Dmitri Shostakovich. I like to think that I can feel the personalities of all three when I look at it: Cocteau’s imagination and drive, Satie’s whimsy and purity, Shostakovich’s dark humor and power.

 

 

I probably can’t feel any such thing.

 

 

But I like to think I can.


 

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About Loren Williams
Gay, partnered, living in Providence, working at a local university. Loves: books, movies, TV. Comments and recriminations can be sent to futureworld@cox.net.

3 Responses to Men’s clothing, and magic, and psychometry

  1. starproms says:

    That’s a lot of interesting information to take in Loren. Fascinating stuff. I do believe we pick up the aura of a person from their clothing. Perhaps especially when they are alive but maybe afterwards as well. I once saw a pair of Queen Elizabeth 1st’s gloves and noticed how very tiny they were. They were in a glass case so no chance of touching them but interesting to see.

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