Thursday, July 2, 2015

Shiny Shiny!

    I see it every day at my work.  People come into the shop, and their eyes get grabbed by the showcase on the lower right that has all the costume jewelry in it.  Dazzle, glitter, shine, and we're done.  The magpie within takes over.  What is it about the lure of shiny things?  Whether they are inexpensive, and often rather vulgar rhinestone pieces, or whether they are crafted from precious metals, and dearly gotten crystalline stones, we can't seem to resist.
    Clearly this is a mechanism that we carry deeply placed within our psyches.  Its also clear that its something we have had with us for as long as we've had eyes to see.  Perhaps its simply the brilliant stabs of reflected light, that rivet us.  Certainly those momentary bursts of brightness act like minute searchlights to make us swing our heads and wonder, what's that?
    I suppose you could even impute some sort of ancient survival skill to our attraction to shining things.  Finding water to drink is helped along by the ability to notice light moving over the surface of it, even when its partly hidden by plants or rock. 
    And the appearance of dew, hanging off the tips of leaves, bears such a strong resemblance to cabochon gem stones, that it really was inevitable that we would try to capture that evanescent light somehow.  So its an attraction that goes back to before we had languages with which to communicate our needs, and certainly long before we had the skills and technology to take shiny rocks from the ground, and refashion them to our liking.
    We have found nearly endless ways to bring that shiny to us.  Jewelry, sequins and glass beads, metallic textiles, shisha mirrors, polished metals, glossy plastics, and myriad combinations of all the above, work to give us what we crave.  We are currently going through a phase where ladling on the shiny is commonplace.  Shops all over are selling garments and accessories embellished with sequins, rhinestones and beads.  And we've all see those rhinestoned phone covers.  Ball caps, shoes, bags, hair clips, fingernails, and faces themselves, are all carrying little dabs of shiny.

    These days, with our interest in styles waxing and waning so quickly, I can imagine our getting a surfeit of glitz in the not too distant future.  But there is another motivator for the attraction of shimmer, that may keep it going a good while.  We live in a culture where there are increasing demands made on us day by day to divide our attention. We are asked to tend to multiple versions of social media through our smart phones, we listen to music being pumped into our ears non stop, and all that while we are trying to navigate through our work lives, and home lives.  The result is that getting, and holding someone's attention, is tougher than it was.  Upping the ante by slapping on some bling, makes you easier to notice in our overstimulated society.  So its entirely possible that this major trend towards glimmering things is going to go on a deal longer.

     We will, as we always have, let our attention wander on to something else for a while, but doubt it not, we will be beguiled by the look of reflective surfaces again.

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