Fashion (Georg Simmel)

“The tendency towards imitation characterizes a stage of development in which the desire for expedient personal activity is present, but from which the capacity for possessing the individual acquirements is absent. It is interesting to note the exactness with which children insist upon the repetition of facts, how they constantly clamor for a repetition of the same games and pastimes, how they will object to the slightest variation in the telling of a story they have heard twenty times. In this imitation and in exact adaptation to the past the child first rises above its momentary existence; the immediate content of life reaches into the past, it expands the present for the child, likewise for primitive man; and the pedantic exactness of this adaptation to the given formula need not be regarded offhand as a token of poverty or narrowness. At this stage every deviation from imitation of the given facts breaks the connection which alone can now unite the present with something that is more than the present, something that tends to expand existence as a mere creature of the moment. The advance beyond this stage is reflected in the circumstance that our thoughts, actions, and feelings are determined by the future as well as by fixed, past, and traditional factors: the teleological individual represents the counterpole of the imitative mortal. The imitator is the passive individual, who believes in social similarity and adapts himself to existing elements; the teleological individual, on the other hand, is ever experimenting, always restlessly striving, and he relies on his own personal conviction.” (from Georg Simmel’s Fashion)

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