Category: Special Features

What is Perception Management?

What is Perception Management?

Perception management is a type of strategy that is aimed at guiding the motives, emotions, and conclusions of another party by means of using different approaches to alter that party’s perception of past events and the projections of future events.

This particular type of strategy has been used in military operations in attempts to gain advantages over enemies, and has also found use in the business world among competitors. The goal is to alter the perception of the opposing party in a way that provides the manager with an advantage that can be used successfully to score a victory or otherwise defeat that opposing party.

There is some difference of opinion regarding whether the task of perception management must remain firmly rooted in the use of verifiable information that is presented in a manner that is likely to trigger the desired outcome, or if the strategy allows for the selective use of certain facts while ignoring others or even leaving room for the inclusion of data that is questionable.

What is Perception Management?

For those that focus on the use of verifiable data only, the task is to assess all the available information, then determine the best way to present those facts in a way that is likely to cause recipients to react in a certain manner. Sometimes referred to as spinning, here the focus is not on attempting to mislead per se, but instead to call more attention to certain bits of information while downplaying the importance of others. When successful, this approach has the benefit of having provided all the information, although in a format that definitely slanted the point of view in a specific direction.

At other times, the process of perception management includes the selective use of available data. In this scenario, certain facts are presented completely and concisely, while others are either presented only in part of are left out altogether. Doing so makes it easier to create a particular perception that can be sold to consumers, the citizens of a given country, or to a rival of some sort, assuming the opposing party is not privy to and does not discover the omissions.

The ethics of perception management are also a point of controversy. Proponents of the strategy in any of its forms note that this type of tool can be used to accomplish a greater good that might not be possible if a perception other than the one desired were to prevail. Opponents to perception management prefer that all relevant data be presented without prejudice in terms of assigning priority or value to any portion of the data, allowing the parties involved to engage in the prioritization as they see fit.

With this tool being effective in terms of business competition, reaching consumers, and even in the political arena, perception management is likely to remain a viable strategy in many walks of life.

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Byzantine Art and Architecture in Ancient Istanbul

Byzantine Art and Architecture in Ancient Istanbul

Byzantine art and architecture, works of art and structures works produced in the city of Byzantium after Constantine made it the capital of the Roman Empire (A.D. 330) and the work done under Byzantine influence, as in Venice, Ravenna, Norman Sicily, as well as in Syria, Greece, Russia, and other Eastern countries.

For more than a thousand years, until the conquest of Constantinople by the Turks in 1453, Byzantine art retained a remarkably conservative orientation; the major phases of its development emerge from a background marked by adherence to classical principles.

Artistic activity was temporarily disrupted by the Iconoclastic controversy (726–843), which resulted in the wholesale destruction of figurative works of art and the restriction of permissible content to ornamental forms or to symbols like the cross. The pillaging of Constantinople by the Frankish Crusaders in 1204 was perhaps a more serious blow; but it was followed by an impressive late flowering of Byzantine art under the Paleologus dynasty.

Byzantine Art and Architecture in Ancient Istanbul

Byzantine Art


Byzantine achievements in mosaic decoration brought this art to an unprecedented level of monumentality and expressive power. Mosaics were applied to the domes, half-domes, and other available surfaces of Byzantine churches in an established hierarchical order. The center of the dome was reserved for the representation of the Pantocrator, or Jesus as the ruler of the universe, whereas other sacred personages occupied lower spaces in descending order of importance.

The entire church thus served as a tangible evocation of the celestial order; this conception was further enhanced by the stylized poses and gestures of the figures, their hieratic gaze, and the luminous shimmer of the gold backgrounds. Because of the destruction of many major monuments in Constantinople proper, large ensembles of mosaic decoration have survived chiefly outside the capital, in such places as Salonica, Nicaea, and Daphni in Greece and Ravenna in Italy.

Byzantine Art and Architecture in Ancient Istanbul


An important aspect of Byzantine artistic activity was the painting of devotional panels, since the cult of icons played a leading part in both religious and secular life. Icon painting usually employed the encaustic technique. Little scope was afforded individuality; the effectiveness of the religious image as a vehicle of divine presence was held to depend on its fidelity to an established prototype. A large group of devotional images has been preserved in the monastery of St. Catherine on Mt. Sinai.

The development of Byzantine painting may also be seen in manuscript illumination. Among notable examples of Byzantine illumination are a lavishly illustrated 9th-century copy of the Homilies of Gregory Nazianzus and two works believed to date from a 10th-century revival of classicism, the Joshua Rotulus (or Roll) and the Paris Psalter.

Other Arts

Enamel, ivory, and metalwork objects of Byzantine workmanship were highly prized throughout the Middle Ages; many such works are found in the treasuries of Western churches. Most of these objects were reliquaries or devotional panels, although an important series of ivory caskets with pagan subjects has also been preserved. Byzantine silks, the manufacture of which was a state monopoly, were also eagerly sought and treasured as goods of utmost luxury.

Byzantine Art and Architecture in Ancient Istanbul

Byzantine Architecture

The architecture of the Byzantine Empire was based on the great legacy of Roman formal and technical achievements. Constantinople had been purposely founded as the Christian counterpart and successor to the leadership of the old pagan city of Rome. The new capital was in close contact with the Hellenized East, and the contribution of Eastern culture, though sometimes overstressed, was an important element in the development of its architectural style. The 5th-century basilica of St. John of the Studion, the oldest surviving church in Constantinople, is an early example of Byzantine reliance upon traditional Roman models.

The most imposing achievement of Byzantine architecture is the Church of Holy Wisdom or Hagia Sophia. It was constructed in a short span of five years (532–37) during the reign of Justinian. Hagia Sophia is without a clear antecedent in the architecture of late antiquity, yet it must be accounted as culminating several centuries of experimentation toward the realization of a unified space of monumental dimensions.

Throughout the history of Byzantine religious architecture, the centrally planned structure continued in favor. Such structures, which may show considerable variation in plan, have in common the predominance of a central domed space, flanked and partly sustained by smaller domes and half-domes spanning peripheral spaces.

Although many of the important buildings of Constantinople have been destroyed, impressive examples are still extant throughout the provinces and on the outer fringes of the empire, notably in Bulgaria, Russia, Armenia, and Sicily. A great Byzantine architectural achievement is the octagonal church of San Vitale (consecrated 547) in Ravenna. The church of St. Mark’s in Venice was based on a Byzantine prototype, and Byzantine workmen were employed by Arab rulers in the Holy Land and in Ottonian Germany during the 11th cent.

Secular architecture in the Byzantine Empire has left fewer traces. Foremost among these are the ruins of the 5th-century walls of the city of Constantinople, consisting of an outer and an inner wall, each originally studded with 96 towers. Some of these can still be seen.

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McDonald’s can’t keep up with demand for new Garlic Fries

McDonald’s can’t keep up with demand for new Garlic Fries

McDonald’s next menu sensation may be garlic fries—at least if you ask residents in Northern California.

That’s because the fast food chain can’t keep pace with demand for the Gilroy Garlic Fries it’s testing at four South Bay locations. McDonald’s representatives told SFGATE they will be out of the specialty fries, which are made from locally-sourced garlic, for the next few weeks.

“In less than two weeks, our small, four restaurant test of Gilroy Garlic Fries has been a huge success, and we are now experiencing a temporary shortage of supplies,” they said in a statement. “We are excited about how many people have visited our restaurants to try the fries, and we apologize for any inconvenience to our customers.”

It might be a further testament to the tastiness of the fries that McDonald’s ran out of supplies at locations near Gilroy, which is known as the Garlic Capital of the World and hosts the Gilroy Garlic Festival every July.

McDonald’s can’t keep up with demand for new Garlic FriesMcDonald’s can’t keep up with demand for new Garlic Fries

The news might actually be a blessing in disguise for garlic aficionados. The chain previously said if the trial run goes well, Gilroy Garlic Fries will be made available to all 250 Bay Area McDonald’s locations.

McDonald’s said it will resume selling garlic fries in several weeks. Bay Area aficionados should stay tuned to its local Twitter account, @McD_Bay Area, for news of the fries’ return.

The garlic fries are another effort on the part of the chain to ramp up its to efforts compete with deals offered by other fast food chains. It launched its popular all-day breakfast menu in October 2015 and tested new items like the Chicken McGriddle sandwich in certain locations.

If that’s not enough to bring you into your local Mickey D’s, the chain is also planning a new loyalty program, which in many markets would give customers a free McCafé drink after they purchase five.

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Welcome to Seoul, Asia’s fourth richest city

Welcome to Seoul, Asia’s fourth richest city

So you know your kimchi from your k-pop – time, then, to check out this cool Asian outpost.

‘Even if you have to crawl on your knees,’ states a historical Asian proverb, ‘get yourself to Seoul.’ South Korea’s dynamic capital city is a mash-up of mountains and markets, teahouses and temples. It’s a global hub for technology and fashion, and it’s also one of the world’s most intriguing foodie destinations.

Base yourself in well-positioned Insadong and explore Asia’s fourth richest city on foot. Spoken English is thin on the ground, but remember please (chusayo) and thank you (kamsahamnida), and you’ll receive warm welcomes wherever you go. Because if there’s one thing Koreans love more than shitty pop music, it’s manners.


The standout star of Seoul’s museum scene is the Leeum Samsung Museum of Art, housing a stellar collection of Korean and contemporary international works (Damien Hirst has a permanent exhibition). For arts more martial, check out Kukkiwon, Taekwondo’s world headquarters, where you can watch a bout or have a lesson. And for those who get their kicks in greener surrounds, cycle round Seoul Forest, south of the river.


Myeong-dong is the best area for shopping, with Namdaemun Market a major highlight. At the other end of the spectrum, Shinsegae is Seoul’s Harrods equivalent, with local menswear labels like Eastlogue by Dongki Lee and Diafvine for leather jackets. And hit Ohkoos in Sinsa-dong and level five on the Noon Square Mall for next season’s trends.

Welcome to Seoul, Asia’s fourth richest city


Look no further than ShinShin – a sleek boutique hotel in the heart of downtown. Elsewhere, The Shilla in Dasan Dong – the young, lively district uphill from Itaewon – offers cutting-edge cool and five-star luxury.


Seoul food is incredible, with infinite options and a massive range of delicacies to sample – from galbi (barbecue ribs) to bulgogi (literally ‘fire meat’). For barbecue cuisine, look no further than Tuppul Deungshim, specialists in the highest quality hanwoo (Korean beef). If you fancy dumplings, eat at Koong. Gwangjang night market has vendors selling street food from stewed pig trotters and snouts to gimbap (veg, rice and ham rolled in sheets of seaweed). And for a treat, head to stylish basement restaurant, Gogung, and order a spicy Korean hotpot.


South Koreans down the most spirits, per capita, of any nation in the world – fact. Usually this is soju, a rice liquor, or makgeolli – a carbonated, milky rice wine. Intent on an evening out? Don’t miss the quintessential Seoul nightlife experience at any one of the pojenmacha (street tent bars) lining the Han River. For up-market, hit up luxe wine bar Naos Nova, or popular cafe-bar Comfort Zone. Then, there’s the Gangnam area (made famous by PSY), home to Seoul’s best clubs, including Ellui and Eden.



Make a beeline for N Seoul Tower (236m above sea-level) to get some initial bearings. Go at sunset for the most striking views then have dinner at n.GRILL, atop the tower. If karaoke (noraebang) is more your bag, head to the bar-lined streets of hipster-friendly Hongdae, where upmarket ‘Luxury Su’ should strike the perfect note.


Feel the chill of the Cold War on a guided tour of the infamous Demilitarised Zone, a 1.5-hour drive from Seoul. You’ll also be able to see the Third Infiltration Tunnel – part of a (failed) attempt by the North to invade in the ’70s

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All About May Day – International Workers’ Day

All About May Day - International Workers' Day

International Workers’ Day, also known as Labour Day in some places, is a celebration of labourers and the working classes that is promoted by the international labour movement, socialists, communists and anarchists and occurs every year on May Day, 1 May, an ancient European spring holiday.

The date was chosen for International Workers’ Day by the Second International, a pan-national organization of socialist and communist political parties, to commemorate the Haymarket affair, which occurred in Chicago on 4 May 1886. The 1904 International Socialist Conference in Amsterdam, the Sixth Conference of the Second International, called on “all Social Democratic Party organisations and trade unions of all countries to demonstrate energetically on the First of May for the legal establishment of the 8-hour day, for the class demands of the proletariat, and for universal peace.”

Being a traditional European spring celebration, May Day is a national public holiday in many countries, but in only some of those countries is it celebrated specifically as “Labour Day” or “International Workers’ Day”. Some countries celebrate a Labour Day on other dates significant to them, such as the United States, which celebrates Labor Day on the first Monday of September.

All About May Day - International Workers' Day

History of May Day

Beginning in the late 19th century, as the trade union and labour movements grew, a variety of days were chosen by trade unionists as a day to celebrate labour. In the United States and Canada, a September holiday, called Labor or Labour Day, was first proposed in the 1880s. In 1882, Matthew Maguire, a machinist, first proposed a Labor Day holiday while serving as secretary of the Central Labor Union (CLU) of New York.

Others argue that it was first proposed by Peter J. McGuire of the American Federation of Labor in May 1882, after witnessing the annual labour festival held in Toronto, Canada. In 1887, Oregon was the first state of the United States to make it an official public holiday. By the time it became an official federal holiday in 1894, thirty U.S. states officially celebrated Labor Day. Thus by 1887 in North America, Labor Day was an established, official holiday but in September, not on 1 May.

1 May was chosen to be International Workers’ Day in order to commemorate the 4 May 1886 Haymarket affair in Chicago. The police were trying to disperse a public assembly during a general strike for the eight-hour workday, when an unidentified person threw a bomb at the police. The police responded by firing on the workers, killing four demonstrators.

In 1889, a meeting in Paris was held by the first congress of the Second International, following a proposal by Raymond Lavigne which called for international demonstrations on the 1890 anniversary of the Chicago protests. May Day was formally recognised as an annual event at the International’s second congress in 1891.

Subsequently, the May Day Riots of 1894 occurred. The 1904 International Socialist Conference in Amsterdam called on “all Social Democratic Party organisations and trade unions of all countries to demonstrate energetically on the First of May for the legal establishment of the 8-hour day, for the class demands of the proletariat, and for universal peace.” The congress made it “mandatory upon the proletarian organisations of all countries to stop work on 1 May, wherever it is possible without injury to the workers.”

May Day has long been a focal point for demonstrations by various socialist, communist and anarchist groups. May Day has been an important official holiday in countries such as the People’s Republic of China, North Korea, Cuba and the former Soviet Union. May Day celebrations in these countries typically feature elaborate parades including military hardware.

In 1955, the Catholic Church dedicated 1 May to “Saint Joseph the Worker”. Saint Joseph is for the Church the patron saint of workers and craftsmen (among others).

During the Cold War, May Day became the occasion for large military parades in Red Square by the Soviet Union and attended by the top leaders of the Kremlin, especially the Politburo, atop Lenin’s Tomb. It became an enduring symbol of that period.

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Screening Room: Is the death or future of the cinema?

Screening Room: Is the death or future of the cinema?

Every time you torrent, God kills a cinema.

A new home cinema proposal has Hollywood’s greatest directors at war with each other. Would you pay £35 to watch an Easter blockbuster at home with your family and friends?

How’s this for an idea? Instead of hiring babysitters, trekking to a multiplex, and buying a pair of tickets for Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice on the Friday night it opens, you could watch it at home. Or you could watch Zootropolis at home (it’s a thousand times better, by the way) and nod sagely through it about your correct decision. Or you could watch them both. Legally.

To enable this, you would need to be in possession of a set-top box (proposed cost: $150, or £105) and would pay a fee ($50, or £35) to hire each film for a 48-hour period. Get the neighbours or your best friends round. Order in pizza. Not worry about who has to drive.

This is the concept of Screening Room, a new start-up rental proposal backed by Napster’s co-founder, Sean Parker. Hollywood is rapidly taking sides on it. Peter Jackson, Steven Spielberg, Ron Howard, JJ Abrams and Martin Scorsese are already shareholders, while Christopher Nolan and James Cameron have positioned themselves firmly in the “anti” camp.

Screening Room: Is the death or future of the cinema?

You can expect the arguments for and against to rumble on for some time. The scheme’s fans, like Jackson, argue that it will “expand the audience for a movie”, rather than shifting it from cinema to living room. Parents of young children, for instance, who would never customarily manage the trip out, would find themselves in a position to watch new releases. Jackson sees a “critical point of difference” with earlier attempts to collapse the window between theatrical and home viewing debuts.

“It does not play off studio against theatre owner,” he says of Screening Room. “Instead it respects both and is structured to support the long-term health of both exhibitors and distributors – resulting in greater sustainability for the wider film industry itself.”

The anti brigade are wary of a paradigm shift, though, away from what Avatar producer Jon Landau calls “the in-theater communal experience”. Cinema owners obviously fear a reduction in the all-important selling of popcorn and soft drinks – the markup on these, often an exorbitant 85%, makes a critical difference to their overall profit margins, since studios can receive as much as 90-95% of the gross tickets sales in the first week.

Cinemas are already fighting to hold on to their footfall, with the proliferation of home viewing platforms, blockbuster TV series, and the narrowing of the window between theatrical release and rental. Isn’t this yet another reason to stay at home? Theatre owners such as Art House Convergence (AHC), a speciality cinema organisation comprising 600 different businesses, certainly think so. They issued a stern open letter about the potential economic impact of Parker’s proposal.

“[The] loss of revenue through box office decline and piracy will result in a loss of jobs, both entry level and long-term, from part time concessions and ticket-takers to full time projectionists and programmers, and will negatively impact local establishments in the restaurant industry and other nearby businesses,” the letter said. The UK’s Cinema Association has also weighed in, calling it “a massive risk”.

Parker and his co-backer, the music executive Prem Akkaraju, have nonetheless been canny about recruiting support, partly by proposing to cut in cinema chains on as much as $20 out of the $50 for each rental, and sweetening the deal for cash-strapped consumers with free cinema tickets thrown in.

This would offset what may sound like a steep rental cost, but some analysts actually view the price point as too low, pointing out that it would be possible for 10 teenage girls to hold a sleepover screening of Frozen 2 at a cost of just $5 each: good value as far as families are concerned, but “cannibalisation” in industry parlance.

Previously, the only device which studios would permit to download (rather than streaming) first-run films was a monster of a thing called PRIMA, an ultra-high-end service you had to get installed in a closet, which cost a pretty $35,000 (£24,750) and required individual rental fees of $500 (£350) – making it singularly unlikely to threaten the mass-market dollars the cinema industry depends on.

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People likes to buy vinyl. Who listens?

People likes to buy vinyl but don't listen to them

New research suggests that streaming is boosting vinyl sales – but a lot of records being bought aren’t actually getting played.

This Saturday is the annual Record Store Day extravaganza, once again set to be marked with a slew of limited edition records, live performances and in-store events. But new research suggests that while more people, notably young people, are buying into vinyl, a lot of them aren’t actually playing the records.

An ICM poll, shared with the BBC, says 48% of people who bought vinyl last month have yet to play the record. Some 7% of those surveyed said they didn’t even own a turntable, while a further 41% said they have one but don’t use it. We humbly suggest people could rectify this situation with one of our recommended turntables.

Jordan Katende, a student, told BBC News: “I have vinyls [sic] in my room but it’s more for decor. I don’t actually play them.”

People likes to buy vinyl but don't listen to them

Meanwhile, while the record resurgence was driven by a desire to own something physical, nearly half of vinyl buyers (45%) said they had listened to the record on a streaming service before buying the physical copy, proving people still buy after they try – great news for Spotify and co.

As for where people are spending their money, despite the popularity of Record Store Day, which last year saw sales up 742% compared to the previous Saturday, only 7% of music is actually bought from a high street record shop. ICM reports 73% of music is bought online, with Amazon accounting for 27% of all music sales.

How old are vinyl buyers? The research reports around 33% of vinyl consumers fall in the 25-34 age bracket, while 22% of buyers are aged 35-44. 16% of vinyl buyers are aged 18-24. The poll also suggests – set face to ‘stunned’ – that more men than women are buying vinyl, but only just. Around 8% of men surveyed had bought vinyl in the last month, compared to around 5% of women.

In case there was any doubt, Andrew Wiseman, head of ICM Unlimited, told the BBC that vinyl remained relatively niche: “It is still the case that less than 1 in 10 people are buying vinyl, and we shouldn’t forget that it’s still a relatively small part of the market.”

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Here’s Microsoft’s new look Start menu for Windows 10

Here's Microsoft's new look Start menu for Windows 10

Microsoft has changed the look of the Start menu in Windows 10.

The revamped Start menu is due to be added to Windows 10 this summer, as part of a major update coined the ‘Windows 10 Anniversary Edition’.

Microsoft revealed the updated appearance in an early build of the OS, which it released to testers in the Windows 10 Insider program on Friday.

The new look Start menu makes the ‘All Apps’ list visible by default on the left-hand side. In another new addition, a selection of the user’s ‘Most-used’ apps are shown at the top of this permanently visible ‘All Apps’ list. Microsoft says the change should reduce the clicking and scrolling needed to access apps.

The Power, Settings and File Explorer icons are also always visible in the left rail of the Start menu and the ‘Recently added’ section will display three entries, instead of one. Any folders that users have added to the Start menu are now immediately accessible without having to click the hamburger icon.

The look of the Start menu in tablet mode has also been overhauled, turning the ‘All App’ list into a fullscreen menu, reminiscent of the Windows 8.1 Start screen. Gabe Aul, VP for Microsoft’s engineering systems team, says the switch to fullscreen was a ‘top request from Windows Insiders’, adding that ‘the grid-like implementation of the full-screen ‘All Apps’ list aims to provide efficiency while taking advantage of the additional real estate on the Start screen on a tablet’.

Here's Microsoft's new look Start menu for Windows 10

The final Start menu change is designed to make it easier to toggle between pinned tiles and the ‘All Apps’ list, by providing the option to do so in the menu’s left rail.

The latest Windows Insider build, 14328, also includes a raft of features that will be available to all users following the Anniversary Update.

These new components include Windows Ink, which allows users to more easily write notes on touchscreen PCs and tablets using a digital pen. The addition of Windows Ink to Windows 10 allows users to write on digital sticky notes, draw on digital whiteboards and annotate content in a variety of apps, including Maps, Microsoft Edge, and Office. Microsoft wants support for drawing and writing using a digital pen to be present in many Windows 10 apps and says that adding support for Windows Ink only requires developers to write two lines of code.

Windows 10’s digital assistant Cortana has also been tweaked. Users will no longer have to log into Windows to use Cortana and instead will be able to use voice commands to get Cortana to make notes, play music or set a reminder from the lock screen.

Cortana can now also be used to set photo reminders, for example the user could take a picture of a cheese they want to buy next time they’re in a store, and add reminders based on content from another Windows 10 app, for example telling a user to read an article they flagged as interesting in the Edge browser. Cortana is now also accessible to all users, with Windows 10 no longer requiring users to sign-in before they can ask simple questions of the digital assistant.

Other changes include the ability to search files on OneDrive cloud storage that aren’t synced locally, tweaks to the look of and what is displayed in the Action Center and via notifications, various changes to the Taskbar — including easier access to the calendar and the removal of the File Explorer icon, as well as updates to the Settings app and lock screen.

As this is an early build of Windows 10, some of these features may change before reaching the general public, based on feedback from testers in the Windows Insider program.

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Fashion Styles and Modernity in 1920s

Fashion Styles and Modernity in 1920s

Chanel’s collaboration with the Parisian artistic avant garde had been much more successful. As early as 1922 she worked with Jean Codeau, Picasso and the composer Arthur Honegger on a production of the classical Greek play Antigone; and from 1923 to 1927 she worked with Sergei Diaghilev and Codeau on ballet designs.

For the first of their joint works, Le Train Bleu, a fantasy about the Riviera, the dancers were costumed in bathing suits, pullovers and tennis or golf shoes, and the leading female role was a tennis player. So fashion, sport and the artistic avant-garde united to celebrate the modernity of modem life, and Chanel’s little black dress (American Vogue called it the “Ford of fashion”) became the epitome of modernist style.

The modernist movement in art transcended both national boundaries and those of artistic form, influencing all the arts from architecture to the novel. Visually, it was the embodiment of the ideal of speed, science and the machine. It was a love affair with a rationalist, utopian future, and in architecture and design this led to an ascetic functionalism that considered houses and flats as machines for living, fumiture and household artefacts as items for use, not ornament, and even human beings as machines.

More than almost any other aspect of mass culture, high fashion acted as a conduit for this esthetic, translating it into a popular language of pared-down design and understated chic. In architecture, the Bauhaus movement created buildings that used glass to reveal the inner workings of the design. They stripped away the superfluous ornament that had cluttered 19th-century architecture with what was now regarded as the sentimental idealization of a past recreated in pastiche.

Fashion Styles and Modernity in 1920s

In dress, too, the watchword was now functionalism; clothing was simply an envelope for the body, which it impeded as little as possible. If there was to be adornment of any kind, it was to be of the art deco variety. Art deco was so called after the Exhibition des Arts Decoratifs, held in Paris in 1925. This exhibition had in a sense inaugurated the idea of a lifestyle, though the expression was not then used. It included a Pavilion of Elegance, in which the fashion designs of Chanel and Poiret, among others, were displayed. They complemented the furniture, ceramics and architecture – throughout, the few ornamental motifs and bright colors permitted were definite, clean-cut and jazzy.

In literature and painting, part of the modernism of modem art had been that the work of art interrogated its own intentions and questioned its own form. Perhaps what Cecil Beaton was to describe as the “nihilism” of the Chanel look was modernist too: it not only mocked the vulgarity of conspicuous consumption but, in inventing a look that was universal, international and reduced to the minimum, it almost sought to abolish fashion itself, creating instead a classic look that defied the one essential of fashion – change. At the same time the geometric, angular design of women’s clothing imitated the clean, spare lines of modern abstract art and design. Woman was no longer treated as a voluptuous animal; she had become a futurist machine.

Fashion thus disseminated the new esthetic of the modernist avant garde across two continents, and radically altered the way in which erotic beauty was conceived. Fashion became, superfiicially at least, classIess, and the great thing for a woman was no longer to look grand, but simply to look modem.

For the first time the New World and the Old engaged in a mutual cultural exchange of style and imagery. Although Paris stillled the way, the vamps and innocents of Hollywood – Theda Bara, Gloria Swanson, Mary Pickford, Louise Brooks constructed new tastes in beauty, while the “lost generation” of American expatriates settled in Paris and the south of France. Some of these hoped to create a new art and a literature that would reflect the often excessive and even tragic pleasure-seeking of the postwar generation.

Emest Hemingway, Scott Fitzgerald and many others tried to be as well as to describe a modern breed of sexually free beings, women and men whose minds, hearts and bodies were as untrammeled by traditional nations of morality as their bodies were by constricting clothes. Fitzgerald’s characters “discovered” the Riviera in summer until then it had been only a winter resort – and the suntan became another sign of working-class toil to migrate up the social scale. It became the status symbol of the globetrotter, who need never work and whose wealth permitted this inversion of established tastes. Society ladies took care to become brown as navvies, and Fitzgerald’ s heroine wore only pearls and a low-backed white bathing suit to set off her iodine-colored skin as she lay on the Mediterranean sands.

Related Link: View more Popular Culture stories

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Remembering Wall Street Crash in 1929

Remembering Wall Street Crash in 1929

In the autumn of 1929 came the catastrophe which so few had anticipated but which in retrospect seems inevitable–prices broke on the New York Stock Exchange, dragging down with them in their fall, first the economy of the United States itself, subsequently that of Europe and the rest of the world. Financial losses of such magnitude had never before been known in the history of capitalist society, and the ensuing depression was also unprecedented in scope.

There had always been business crises; economists had come to take them as normal and even to chart a certain regularity in their occurrence. But this one dwarfed all its predecessors: no previous depression had remotely approached it in length, in depth, and in the universality of impact. Small wonder that countless people were led to speculate whether the final collapse of capitalism itself, so long predicted by the Marxists, was not at last in sight.

On October 24, “Black Thursday,” nearly thirteen million dollars worth of stocks were sold in panic, and in the next three weeks the general industrial index of the New York Stock Exchange fell by more than half. Nevertheless, it was by no means clear at first, how severe the depression was going to be. Previous crises had originated in the United States–this was not the great novelty.

What was unprecedented was the extent of European economic dependence on America which the crash of 1929 revealed. This dependence varied greatly from country to country. Central Europe was involved first, as American financiers began to call in their short-term loans in Germany and Austria. Throughout 1930 these withdrawals of capital continued, until in May, 1931, the Austrian Creditanstalt suspended payments entirely. Thereafter, panic swept the Central European exchanges as bank after bank closed down and one industry after another began to reduce production and lay off workers.

Meantime the crisis had reached Great Britain. In September, 1931, the country went off the gold standard, to be followed two years later by the United States and nearly all the other financial powers of the world. The great exception was France: with a balanced economy and relative selfsufficiency, the French held off the crisis longer than anyone else–not until 1932 did its effects become really severe. But late involvement did not help the country in the long run: for France was the slowest and the least successful of the major powers in pulling itself out of the Depression, which left a wound in French society that was far from healed when the Second World War broke out.

The fall in production and the fall in prices everywhere reached unprecedented depths. In Germany–which was hit worst of all–production had fallen by 39 per cent, at the bottom of the Depression in 1932, and prices by only slightly less. In France, which was stubbornly holding to the gold standard, the price level in 1935 was just over half what it had been in 1930. But of all the manifestations of the Depression, unemployment was most grievous and most clearly left its mark on the whole era.

In this respect, France was the least seriously affected: the number of those out of work never rose above 850,000. But here as in Italy and in the agricultural nations in general, there was much semiemployment and concealed unemployment in the countryside. In Britain, the jobless numbered nearly three million–between a fifth and a quarter of the whole labor force. And in Germany unemployment mounted to the horrifying total of six million; trade-union executives estimated that more than two-fifths of their members were out of work entirely and another fifth employed only part time. With roughly half the population in desperation and want, it was no wonder that the Germans turned to the extremist leadership that they had so narrowly avoided in the crisis of 1923.

Elsewhere social unrest never reached such grave proportions, but throughout Europe governments and peoples felt themselves on the edge of a precipice, as the turbulent and questioning mood of the immediate postwar years returned with redoubled intensity. As had occurred during the war, a crisis situation evoked state intervention in the economy on a massive scale. Governments found themselves forced to resort to all sorts of measures of which the conservative disapproved.

These measure gradually came to follow a common pattern: most countries turned inward, trying to save their own economies without reference to, or regards for, their neighbors, through raising tariffs and setting up schemes for currency pooling and block buying abroad; they sought to relieve the sufferings of the unemployed through extended subsistence payments, on the model of the British dole, and to provide new jobs through vast programs of public works and, eventually, through rearmament.

Most of these measures were mere palliatives, however, undertaken in skeptical and hesitant fashion, and only after years of delay had robbed them of maximum effect. Furthermore, a number of them were of doubtful merit. The turn toward economic nationalism probably did as much harm as good–constricting the volume of world trade and still further reducing Europe’s share in it. In Europe, as in the United States, the only policy that brought much lasting benefit was direct provision of new employment by the government. Even this was far less effective in its original form of public works than in its subsequent guise of war production.

On both sides of the Atlantic, only rearmament proved a sufficiently powerful antidote to the Great Depression. It is sobering to note that the great power which was the most successful in pulling itself out of the slump–Nazi Germany–was also the one which plunged most whole-heartedly into preparation for war. Thus, by the mid- 1930’s, the economic and social struggles of the decade were blending imperceptibly into the origins of the Second World War itself.

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