Sunday, February 17, 2008

POSHLOST




***WARNING***INTENTIONAL OVEREXAGGERATED NEGATIVITY****

I warned Corey that if he ever got me anything for Valentine's Day, I would kill him. OK, so maybe that is an embellishment. In reality I did tell them that I would be happy to receive gifts and expressions of love on any other day of the year...but please leave me alone on Valentine's Day. I recognize that the antipathy toward Valentines Day is getting almost as overcommercialized and capitalistic as the holiday itself, and so I have oft tried to remain neutral on the whole occasion, especially since the kids are still gleaning some of its "magic and romance". But I still find it difficult to not want to gouge out my eyeballs with an old pair of rusty scissors every time I see a lace-ridden heart or watch a cheesy jewelry commercial declaring, "If you truly love her, you will give her only the very best." What fools we are to buy into this money-making scheme of unabashed transparant nothingness thickly disguised as a day to show our loved ones how much we really love them while at the same time leaving so many others feeling rejected, unloved, and inadequate. I really can't help hating Valentine's Day. I find Valentine's day to be reeking of poshlost.

I have had the book, Reading Lolita in Tehran, in my collection for a few years now and only just this week finally began reading it when one of my sisters seemed anxious for a discussion. I found it strangely coincidental that I happened upon this word,POSHLUST, while reading on Valentine's Day Night. The book discusses a group of women in Tehran and how their lives are changed and enriched through illegal book discussions with a former professor. The first author they discuss is Vladimir Nabokov. Poshlost is a Russian word which Nabokov likes to transliterate as poshlust. It's sort of an untranslatable word but basically indicates something that is in bad taste or is trashy or cheap. Often poshlust disguises itself as something great, true or beautiful. Nabokov says that 'poshlust is not only the obviously trashy but also the falsely important, the falsely beautiful, the falsely attractive.' ... So is this why I hate Valentine's Day so much, because it quantifies, commercializes, and cheapens something that is too valuable to be treated in such a manner? Unfortunately I think that my distaste of the day is not rooted in altruistic ground. I believe its tendrils lead back to,yes, my own stubbornness, pride, fear, and
insecurity. Again, after self-effacing soul-searching, I have come up with 3 not so shining examples of how my own weaknesses have destroyed any chance of my liking Valentine's Day.

1. I hate people telling me what to do. As a child, I remember starting to clean my room and then hearing my mother call up the stairs to please clean my room. My desire to clean my room would vanish and I would deliberately bore myself to death in order to avoid doing what I was originally voluntarily doing, just to avoid doing what my mother told me to do. Likewise, I think on V-day, I despise the fact that I feel forced to tell people that I like them on this day, as if I couldn't think of the idea myself. It is patronizing. We are all, ok mostly, smart enough people to know how to tell the special people in our life that we love them.

2. I told my first big fat lie on Valentine's Day. It was 1981. I was in the 4th grade. I went to school and found a huge box of chocolates and a silver necklace on my desk. It was from the curly haired boy named Howard, who had on more than one occasion, expressed his deep and abiding longing for me. Feeling as if I had committed some unpardonable sin, I told my mother that the teacher had given it to me. I am still ashamed, possibly more at my lousy attempt at a good lie. I have since learned to lie much more effectively(jk) And I suppose I am a little perplexed as to why my mother didn't call me on it. There is no possible way that a 4th grade teacher would buy a huge box of chocolates and a necklace for a student in her class. Maybe she was just a little preoccupied with being 8 months pregnant and having 7 other children to worry about. In fact, she probably didn't even hear me.

3. I committed my first hate crime on Valentine's Day. 1989. 11th grade. Victims....Orem High Cheerleaders. I am having a really hard time disclosing this, but feel it an important step in my progression as a real person. Besides, I am almost sure that I will have scared most of my readers away with my initial ranting. I agree that ranting is at times truly obnoxious. I doubt any of you will have made it this far into my blog. Anyway, some nameless, yet not blameless, friends and I decided that it would be hilarious to make cookies that with the words, "Die" and "hate"and leave them on the doorsteps of the cheerleaders in the school. I am hoping that they just laughed and shook their luscious hair and I fully recognize that it was my own teen insecurity that led me to such behavior.

Maybe I can redeem myself and be extra sweet on Valentine's Day from now on. Or then again, maybe not.
So I will end and begin this post with some pictures of something in my life that is not at all POSHLOST.
















7 comments:

Joal said...

Good thoughts here (Elizabeth agrees with me). Your thoughts are not irrationally negative toward the "holiday." In fact, in her and me you have two readers who agree with your conclusions. Valentines Day seems to have been mutated by corporations wanting us to go into debt buying useless junk to convince people we love them. It is similar to how DeBeers somehow convinced people that a very expensive stone (a diamond) is somehow synonymous with true love. What a load of crap. We have been fed a fallacious comparison and have allowed ourselves to be convinced of its truthfulness (by "us" and "we," I of course do not mean us or we).

EJ said...

Amen! I have a similar dislike for the holiday. If there wasn't so much focus placed on a false day of showing love through gifts I would not have been emotionally scarred by the following story. On more than one Valentine's Day I experienced heart wrenching break-ups. Mind you I'm better off without chubby Jeff from the 8th grade, who didn't talk to me anyway, and OCD Danny, whose hair was much to perfect, who once told me maybe I shouldn't wear what I was wearing to meet his Aunt, (I know) and who sent me purple roses to say sorry for breaking up with me (yuck). These thoughtful boys did give me a story to tell. If they would have broken up with me on Presidents Day I wouldn't be the cold hearted girl I am today.

Johndeere said...

Wow! I didn't realize that two of my daughter in laws had such negative feelings about Valentines Day. Actually, I agree with both of you. I hear of horror stories about husbands or boyfriends that don't measure up to preconceived expectations of Valentine gifts for the wife/girlfriend. The wife/girlfreind then goes ballistic, and the poor guy is in the doghouse for days, if not weeks...

Lucy said...

With three "I agree"s, I feel safe putting out my "nay". Only because I hope you know how much I respect and value your well thought out opinions. I do realize this is your blog, and you get to say whatever you want to say or feel without fear of debate. This is no debate. Just my defense of Valentine's.

I love Valentine's Day! Yes, like any holiday, attempts have been made to commercialize it and manipulate the feeble minded into thinking that in order to observe a holiday, one must buy something...anything. But, I think the basic idea of it, to set aside a day of "love", is touching.

Along that line of reasoning, I appreciate setting aside a day to honor mothers and fathers, celebrate our nationality, remember our many blessings and memorialize our dead. I love Christmas, although the same commercialism has mutilated its meaning, and will continue to celebrate it because its concept is pure and sincere. More than any holiday, we shouldn't "need" a day to honor Him. And yet, we do.

As far as your memories are concerned....hilarious! I love that you wrote them down. Every detail only adds to the quality of my sketch of you.:) I love knowing about your blog! I hope you don't mind my reading.

Lucy said...

Man...nothing like reading over one's own comment. WAY too frequent use of the quotation marks. I'm like a bad caricature of myself.

Sorry about that. Maybe I shouldn't have pointed them out. But, you're a discerning reader...no doubt you noticed the finger curls in my "speech";-)

Sijbrich said...

Amen, sista. Mr. P and I went shopping for new mats and a dust mop for the new floor on Valentine's Day night and found it a perfect time to go shopping since everyone else was crammed into all the restaurants or movie theatres or wherever people go on that night. And I absolutely eschew red roses and Mr. P knows it.
From the perspective of someone that works at a school I find it a little disturbing how every holiday is turning into an opportunity to give kids serious sugar rushes. Seriously, every two months there is something to celebrate and what better way to celebrate than with a huge pile of candy and cupcakes? I don't remember Valentine celebrations when I was a kid being near as big as they are now. It definitely goes back to the whole commercialization crap. I was still recovering from all the junk I ate at Christmas and then I was bombarded with a bunch more chocolate and candy last week. And now all the Easter candy is out in the stores ready to be consumed next month. Ick. It makes me all a little sick.

P.S. I never considered the advantage of having hardwood floors for dance parties. Maybe we'll have to have one this weekend...;-)

Camille (of the wind) said...

Here's my shout out to V-day. Unfortunately many of us get caught up in the day to day drudgery and overlook all the love in our lives, so why not take a day to celebrate, remember and focus on it. Screw the commercialization of it, but embrace whatever deeper meaning you can find. And if you can live like it's Valentines Day every day of the year, all the better.