Ultimately, good taste is nothing more than the ability consistently to distinguish between beauty and the rest. It can be both a blessing and a curse, making our teeth itch when we see something wonky, and our hearts leap when we chance upon aesthetic excellence.
Beauty is a manifestation of secret natural laws, which otherwise would have been hidden from us forever.
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
Proper, the second volume from The Mod Project, and the follow-up to Mod Ghosts, explores the concept of objective beauty in clothing, food, automotive design, cinema and music through the lens of the Modernist subculture. The author argues that far from being in the eye of the beholder, beauty is either present in something or it isn’t.
The story of impeccable discernment begins on the fertile plains of Africa four million years ago, when a few stylish apes decided to stand on their own two feet. A modest beginning to the fascinating story of the uniquely human quality of impeccable good taste.
Conventional thinking dictates that heightened cultural discernment is somehow baked into the DNA of the most privileged among us. Only deep pockets, a good bloodline, a classical education and exposure, from birth, to the very best the world has to offer, can possibly pave the way to life membership of the exclusive guild of good taste.
Conventional thinking. The prefixing of one of the English language’s most attractive concepts with one of its least. The result is almost an oxymoron. Imagine how dispiriting conventional dressing might be. Or conventional eating, or listening to conventional music. Qualifying anything with ‘conventional’ strips away its value at a stroke. It induces an involuntary inward yawn of the kind we struggle to suppress when on the receiving end of particularly dull conversation.
It will come as no surprise to learn that conventional thinking on the correlation between aesthetic acuity and both financial and academic largesse is misguided. Mods turn the whole idea on its head. Mods have impeccably good taste.