Excerpts from 'Neomania' by Anne Burdick

Style itself is the visual language of a culture: in fashion, in consumer goods, in art, in literature, in all media. Style is ephemeral; it is timely. To be "in style" is to embody the influences and values of your time.


Styles are assimilated overnight in the search for the "ever-evolving new." Not only is real history up for grabs, but also each and every new look as it originates, surfaces, and is instantly sucked-up, at which point it is deemed "history." Its very existence guarantees its death. "Style is something to be used up. Part of its significance is that it will lose its significance."

We live in an era of sound bytes and hyper-time. The immediacy of television, satellite connections, fax machines and phone modems has propelled our reality into hyperdrive. These technological advances when combined with the American values of freedom of consumptive choice, upward mobility, and progress through rapid turnover, in part a byproduct of consumerist growth strategies of 20th century commerce, create an insatiable appetite for the new. "Roland Barthes called this phenomenonneomania, a madness for perpetual novelty where 'the new' has become defined strictly as a 'purchased value,' something to buy."

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