"The Altar Of Bling"
You’re not immune; you’ve seen the advertisements. We will always find you. Our sultry eyes examine you from within the paint jobs of shiny BMWs, imported lobster tail, and the thousand dazzling facets of the most luxurious diamonds. Call it what you will - a lifestyle, an addiction, a glittering modus operandi – but be sure that you understand it for what it truly is. We are all of us, devoted members of The Cult of Self.1 Come one, come all, and hear our testament. Let our word lap your ears with its velvety Veuve Clicquot-soaked tongue. Cashmere crusted fingers long to stroke away your worries. Settle thy weary feet into the softened leathers, heated and plied to caress your skin with each confident stride. We are your brothers and sisters in combat against this progressively dull and off-brand world.
Do not be so quick to judge, oh heathen unbeliever. The love of self requires a concentrated devotion. Your sense of self must be entirely intact, and not many on this planet can claim such an achievement. Your self must be firing all synapses in unison. There must be complete synergy between all senses. We fully support the Buddhist concept of Āyatana, which progressively includes the “mind sense” as a one of the fundamental human senses. This mind sense is the most powerful weapon for members who seek to free themselves from the chains of the ordinary. The mind is the part of the body that needs the most maintenance, and which longs for the gentlest care. So, is not the shimmer of an emerald the most soothing balm for the mind? Is not the bristle of a worn mink the panacea of all woes? We always advise that our devotees seek out shelter in the edifices of our dear Brother F. L. Wright, so that all senses are taken care of with a single step through the threshold.2 Oh, you have heard that it is wrong to lust for opulence. Who told you this? Because we are certain that fulfillment is one of life’s chief aims.
We are your champions of luxurious decadence. We exist to bolster your belief in the beautiful, and the precious, and we chase away any whispers that such a conviction could ever be wrong.
Decadence pushes the meaning of language and experience, and you do not want to come down on the wrong side of history. We have always been here, us, the believers. Who do you think you should thank for the speed of evolution? You cannot seriously believe that the need for mere sustenance drove our species for all of these centuries. What is a life that you cannot drape in diamonds? Do Brother G. Verdi’s arias cause thine eardrums to pulse with pain?3 Over centuries we have sought to beautify all things, even those that may bring sorrow. And you think this makes us vapid monsters? What of the jewel encrusted sword hilts clutched by men who freed a nation? What of the gold-accented pen that signed wage equality bills? Do you think these objects to be symbols of depraved and lethargic opulence?
Tell us how we hurt you, we pious believers who are so constant in our adoration. We would love yet another chance to defend the tenets of our faith. All we do each hour of the day is love ourselves, and challenge ourselves, and encrust ourselves with glamour. Tell us exactly how we offend your ascetic sensibilities, and we will push back with the force of a thousand revving Jaguars. Love thyself. Tell us, what is so wrong with that? Is not our global economic system built on “goods and services?” The word “good” is there for a reason; you do not see us working and bargaining for “bads and services.”4 Please refer to our seminal text, “The Many Merits of Luxury,” where we expound on the belief that in our material culture, the unnecessary is overwhelmingly essential. Real luxury is not established by the glitz, but by dogma. We are purchasing not a stunning new string of pearls, but a ticket that shows we understand community meaning. We are not driven by impulse, or jealousy, but by thoughtful consideration of the mental well being of greater mankind. Brother J. Gatsby lived it up in all the right ways, and it is certainly not our fault that he lost the self that he constantly tried to placate. The point is, luxury is peace, it is balm, it is a responsibility.
The very word “glamour” stems from its original use to describe spells and enchantments in occult practice. Thus, glamour has had spiritual connotations since the inception of this wondrous concept. Just because Brother F. Bacon’s triptych cost $$$, you think that it is less beautiful, less wondrous?5 It is a crime that the spiritual that clothe themselves in home-spun wool and drink only water are considered the only legitimate facet of holiness. We too seek a higher state of being. So, we ask, what is wrong with a dash of gold here, and a lining of silk there? We are here to say nothing, nothing at all. Free yourself to accept all of the loveliness that your soul deserves. Come, let us baptize you in the finest French reds, and blow the incense of our Cubans over your well-oiled heads. Fold your cashmere carefully and join us to kneel to worship at The Altar of Bling.
1 The Cult of the Self
is a trilogy by French author Maurice Barrès, whose works are commonly associated with the Symbolism movement. This work exalts the humanistic love of the self and indulgence of the senses. In popular culture, the “cult of the self” is derided as honoring narcissism and selfishness.