blarg?

Even A Change Of Hats

Bloor Station

Sufficiently advanced fashion is indistinguishable from cosplay.

The obvious corollary to that is: fashion that is easily distinguished from cosplay is insufficiently advanced.

I mentioned this to somebody in passing the other day; today, my goodness, the Internet Provides:

If you wear a white coat that you believe belongs to a doctor, your ability to pay attention increases sharply. But if you wear the same white coat believing it belongs to a painter, you will show no such improvement.

So scientists report after studying a phenomenon they call enclothed cognition: the effects of clothing on cognitive processes.

It is not enough to see a doctor’s coat hanging in your doorway, said Adam D. Galinsky, a professor at the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University, who led the study. The effect occurs only if you actually wear the coat and know its symbolic meaning — that physicians tend to be careful, rigorous and good at paying attention.

The findings, on the Web site of The Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, are a twist on a growing scientific field called embodied cognition. We think not just with our brains but with our bodies, Dr. Galinsky said, and our thought processes are based on physical experiences that set off associated abstract concepts. Now it appears that those experiences include the clothes we wear.

See also, of course:

“It is a well known psychological fact that people’s behavior is strongly affected by the way they dress.”

But here, I’m going to do you one better: Have you heard of Endosymbiotic theory? It’s the idea that the internal structures in bacterium – and not just the bacteria in your gut, but the cells that make up a You – have evolved partly by absorbing other organisms and hosting their processes internally, a symbiosis that eventually makes them functionally indistinguishable from a single organism. Sort of the way you, looking through your eyes at this screen, feel like you’re functionally a single organism.

But you’re not. You’re colonies of symbiotic colonies all the way down. The consciousness you think of as you is an emergent pattern on the outside edge of fractal stack of organic Matryoshka dolls. A consciousness you can arbitrarily game with cosplay, letting you temporarily absorb the psychological practices of a different stack of Matryoshka colonies symbiotically into your own.

There’s no you. You don’t exist. It’s cosplay all the way up and colonies all the way down.

Dress up a little.

3 Comments | Skip to comment form

  1. Graydon

    I agree with most of this except the beginning. Cosplay seems to me like a very specific fashion niche, not the general category. It’s very reference and genre driven, prides itself on overdone cliche. It’s certainly not the only way to embody or elicit psychological states through clothing; I’d argue not even a particularly effective one. Too preoccupied with signalling self awareness, unable to take itself seriously. Cf. Actors who are new and nervous, so constantly yell.

  2. mhoye

    It’s very reference and genre driven, prides itself on overdone cliche.

    While what you are saying is true of Cosplay in the kids-dressed-as-Anime-characters sense, I think that everything you’ve just said applies equally to Savile Row suits.

  3. Graydon

    Not quite as extreme a form, but yeah. Fashion is a literature, has lots of room for cliche.