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Theorizing the Sartorial

Dear Tara,
I want to get a new wardrobe, but I can't, I just can't. Oh, it's not that I can't afford one, I have plenty of money, but the thing is, I'm a sociopath and do not want to commit myself to just ONE style of dress. I need to be free to present myself in as many different ways as possible in order to best seduce and/or manipulate all the various people I come into contact with. Any fashion advice for a guy with more roles than Daniel Day-Lewis? I'll be your best friend.
Sincerely, Karma Chameleon

Dear Karma,
The first thing that I want you to know is that you are not alone. I can hear how much pain you're in, Karma, and I want you to know that right now, even as you read this, there are millions of postmodern individuals all over the world suffering like you. No other crisis so clearly defines our time as the one a man or woman faces when s/he stands in front of his or her wardrobe in the morning and asks, "Who do I want to be today?" Trendy theorists who get paid lots of money have PROVEN to all of us that categories once considered immutable essences, like race and gender, are in fact nothing but performances, complete with appropriate apparel. In some circles, you can consider yourself transgendered if you even think thoughts that are at odds with those traditional to your biological gender, let alone actually cross-dressing or having surgery. Karma, you're trying to dupe others with realistic-seeming identities when the truth is, the whole world is hip to the fact that identities are nothing more than always/already phantasmatizing iterations. No wonder you can't accessorize.

Karma, the only way for you to break free of the anxiety of influence, this global condition of helpless irony, is to come right out and say it: "I am a sociopath." Knit the letters into your sweater; wear a placard around your neck. Your candor will mystify everyone as thoroughly as your old fictions used to.

"I'm a sociopath?" people will wonder. "Hmm, how does he mean that? Is this a witty Tarantino homage, a coy quip at the expense of the 'society of confession,' or perhaps a metonymic assertion of late-capitalist corrosion? Hmm ..."

Meanwhile, pick their pockets.
Sealed with a kiss, Tara

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From the June 7, 1999 issue of the Metropolitan.

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