In Praise of the Artificial

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In an email to a friend I expressed my pleasure in artifice. Artifice in the context of presentation of physical appearance.

I like the willful manipulation of surface qualities. I’ve alluded before to an evening I spent watching a boy apply makeup before he went out for a night at the bars. And how deeply my first sight of a boy in eyeliner struck me.

As I’ve aged I think my bias towards stylization has increased. That might have contributed to my appreciation of gay crossdressers. Taking androgyny to a step I couldn’t have imagined as a youth.

The friend I wrote to is a master at manipulation of image. He sometimes feels a bit of doubt, fearing falling into dishonesty. He’s really too ethical to ever play anyone false. And the variety of selves he’s created is a treat.

That deliberate act of self-recreation is one of my delights in transgendered people. It is selfish. But anyone whose read my earlier words knows I’m sensitive to the inner strife and daily struggles. Hopefully there is no shame in admiring their art.

Naturalness is an overrated quality. A virtue of the unimaginative. I know that is unfair. Some of the finest people I know are everything they seem to be. Since I’ve had to make myself up as I go along their transparency often baffles me.

And many seemingly natural people are anything but honest. Hypocrisy is so subtle a vice even the hypocrite may be unaware of it.

Like a gifted musician achieving seemingly effortless honesty for some may require steady application. Exhausting.

But I’m getting carried away. With people who evoke affection in me I can be as effortlessly honest as is appropriate to their understanding.

Not that I’m a fan of my own artifice.

I was sitting back in my chair thinking of the British TV show, Metrosexuality. At the beginning one of the boys had blue highlights to his hair and eyelashes. Now, that is my idea of someone who inspires lust.


Have you perchance come across this new movie “Breakfast on Pluto?” You can read about it on or google the title on google images for pictures of Cillian Murphy, who I always thought had a wonderful androgyny ever since I first saw him on “28 days later”, and then “Girl with the Golden Earring.” The voice mail on my phone has been maxing out with calls from friends urging me to go see it. Even my sister was knocking on my door last night asking me to go to the movies with her.

I’d never heard of Cillian Murphy until I saw him in Batman Begins a couple of weeks ago.

I was instantly smitten.

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In Praise of the Artificial
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