Thursday, 30 June 2011

Wordplay - mystique

Mystique is a probing word, a word to lay bare the spurious spirit of things, to highlight that which isn’t really there, the complex, subtle surface of the masquerade. The paint we apply to the outside world, a false gloss that betrays our history, culture and conditioning, betrays too the strength of these things, their freedom to mould our lives.

Mystique is superstition, charisma, culture and charm. It is the image of anything from politics to cars, from the sanctity of holy places to the bouquet of fine wine to the iconic status of celebrities. It is tradition. National, religious, cultural or scientific - even the tradition of football clubs.

Mystique is the authority of doctors, the gravitas of bishops and the pompous airs of dodgy scientists. It is patriotic and partisan and gives a warm cosy glow to a sense of belonging. Mystique is chic. It is funky clothes, a famous friend or modish points of view. It thrives on the fear of exclusion, the raised eyebrow and endless veiled subtleties of the need to belong.

Mystique is shared values where one must never quite say what those values really are, what they imply. It is the culture of profession and trade, religion, science and political party, teenage gang and multinational company. Mystique is the brand and the packaging, the word and the phrase and anything to do with status. Without mystique we confront things as they are. Within mystique we confront nothing. We merely give our consent to a coercive and corrupt call to cast aside our right to disbelief.

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