What Is Mine Is Yours

-In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Style Icon.”

I really like his style. His rolled up jeans and striped shirt exudes casual cool.

Your style is really unique. I love it!

My style is a tasteful mix of different trends. It isn’t singular.

His. Yours. Mine.

Style is possessed by him, you, and me. We were not given style. Rather we invented our individual styles of dressing, speaking, eating, reading, and a handful of other gerunds. We are styling ourselves.

But is style actually created?

I can already hear the collective sigh arising from the weary mouths of those who identify as non-conformists. I’m sure you’ve heard of the tirelessly repeated argument about the paradoxical nature of nonconformity.

To not conform is to conform. Conformity is inescapable.

As much fun as it is to talk myself into circles about conformity, I’d much rather focus on a different question.

Since we’re past the point of creating something new from nothing (e.g. airplanes, pants, guacamole, and any other man made invention), does that mean our entire existences are echoes of the past?

I say yes for many reasons, but the biggest reason is that the aforementioned question is not mine. It’s his, Mikhail Bakhtin’s.

He is a Russian philosopher who introduced the theory of the utterance (or maybe he was just the first person to publish the idea that was previously only verbalized, but never solidified into scholarly research.)

He claims “voices always exist in a social milieu; there is no such thing as a voice that exists in total isolation from other voices.”

His claim brings to mind George Santayana who wrote, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it” (The Life of Reason, 1905).

Before I move on, let me explain how my chaotic and jumbled up mind made the connection between Bakhtin and Santayana.

No voice exists alone / Therefore, they interact / How? / Through life / But life begins and ends for people. There is a definite beginning and end for humans / Not for history. The beginning can change depending on who or what and the end can be the same for different beginnings / So if voices cannot exist alone then they must be either echoes, replies, or evolved forms / And these are recorded in history / What’s the point of being aware that our voices can interact with those of the past, present, and future / The notion of learning from history so we avoid mistakes / To become better than before / But the -er suffix suggests improvement, as in there is a basis / What is the pure base / Well that depends on the person and their God(s) / But in the end, happiness is sought after / Voices join together for collective purposes / And thus, we must recognize the traces of past utterances in our current utterances in order for our future utterances to reflect thought and change, instead of shoddy variations of former failed attempts.

Now, if I totally lost you in my above train of thought do not fret, I lost myself too.

512 words later, my realization is simple.

Style is not created anew, but patched together. Borrowed, mended, altered, and embroidered pieces come together to declare a “new” design.

Voice cannot be caught. It’s like trying to feel light or darkness. Inexplicable, but once explored it possesses incredible depth. There is no definite shape, only infinite avenues to explore.

History is a record of the new, but mostly of the old.

His. Yours. Mine.

It is ours.

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