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Writer’s Block ~ Designer’s Block

July 1, 2012

By Morgan O.Neill

Lately, I have had writers block.  It has been hard.  The words just have not flowed.  Not that they ever flowed with a fluency that made much sense to those who take time to read them, but at least I could get something reasonably coherent out.  But not right now.  I feel somewhat out-of-sorts.  And I wonder why sometimes it seems easy and sometimes it requires umpteen drafts and sometimes it is just impossible to begin at all.

 I have heard all sorts of stories about writing disciplines.  They run the gamut from no discipline at all to writing every day.   Write a thousand words no matter what, even if you are lying in bed with influenza. Take a break, put the pen down, travel somewhere and forget about the idea entirely.   One sage counsels aspiring authors to find a comfortable place, a familiar nook.  Another advises go to someplace new that will inspire you.  Write in a quiet place alone.  Write in a crowded place where the din of voices acts as white noise creating a cocoon around you.

I don’t know how journalists do it.   I need 800 words on City Hall by 3 p.m. every day their editor roars!  And it better be good!  Clark Kent can do that.  Not me.  Granted he has an advantage given that he can wait until the last minute and do the two-finger two-step across the keyboard at blinding speed. But I digress. And then there are the tome torturers.  The ones that can sustain a single storyline for so long that their words are measured in pounds like Dostoyevsky and Tolstoy; must be the Russian DNA or endless winters or vodka. Okay they write great short stories too, but I had to counterpoint the first idea in this paragraph so give me a break.

I do know that my personal experiences often unleash a flood of ideas to write about and it seems easy to understand how one’s own life can stimulate those ideas, but, even then, writing coherently about those experiences can be challenging.  A mentor of mine, a terrific writer, once said to me, “Just write!  You will be amazed by what happens, even if what you think you are writing is trash.  Write, but don’t publish.  Save the draft.  Leave it alone for a day, a week, even a year.  One day you will come back to it and voila the dam will break.” He obviously doesn’t have to write in order to feed himself.

So, by now you’re asking what the heck does this blog have to do with Lingerie?  Obviously you have not been listening.  I told you I have writer’s block!  So, I decided to write about the idea that I have no idea.  And voila!  Suddenly I know what it is that I wanted to say that was buried beneath the first 400 plus words of this blog B.S.

How come so much lingerie looks alike?  I mean how come you can look at dozens of bras from dozens of designers and except for the color they all look the same.  Is it because designers suffer from a sort of designer block too?  Is it because they just cannot find that spark of creativity to create something new?  Is it because every conceivable material, engineering and manufacturing technique has already been developed?  I expect that anyone facing this creative process can be faced by this dilemma.

Yes, I know that the size and fit is critical, particularly for bras, but lay that aspect aside for the moment and consider the idea.  Designing new product and delivering it on the seasonal fashion rhythm year in and year out is unbelievably challenging. Sure, most will agree that there will always be new materials.  Some engineering Einstein will conceive of a new way to improve comfort.  Manufacturers worth their salt will always pursue continuous improvement.  But for great designers the creative process is wholly unique. What inspires them?  How do they circumvent designer’s block?  How do they do what they do?

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The Horican ~ Nature’s Lingerie

June 17, 2012

By Morgan O’Neill

Summer is here and with the long languid days, ever warm, I think of Lake George east of the Adirondacks in upstate New York.  It is not hard.  My parents, both deceased for many years are buried there.  I don’t mean in a cemetery landed and occupied by strange neighbors on a hillside somewhere.   I mean their cremated remains are scattered on the lake.  Morbid?  No.  Far from it.  Since I was three, more than 50 plus years ago they started taking me there and the memories of their joy at being isolated on the islands away from civilization remains indelibly etched in my mind.  The fact that their remains are resting in the lake only means to me that they are still joyfully there.

I am not talking about the honky tonk southern end defaced by motels, big homes and the worst sort of commercialism.  I am talking about The Narrows midway up this 28 mile glacial valley of crystal clear water where the islands freckle the lake unadorned with nothing but camp sites accessible only by boat.  It was there that my parents, lawyer and nurse, decompressed and shared their love of the lake with their children.  I could not forget even if I wanted to.  It is there, sitting on the granite rocks in some rickety folding chair they would idle away the hours reading.  I am fairly certain that is where I discovered reading as a pleasure, not schoolwork.  Kinda funny how we learn.

James Fennimore Cooper’s Last of the Mohicans is set there.  The natives named the lake The Horicon.  The English blasphemously usurped it to honor King George, but, of course, they did that everywhere back then.   The story vividly recalls The Narrows in a chase sequence that I actually can retrace.  I know the lake that well.  To say that I have an obsession for this place is not unkind.  A few years ago a few friends dropped me off on one of the islands where they left me alone for several days and as expected all I did was sit in a rickety old chair on those granite rocks reading.  I spent the time reading one 76 page poem, Walt Whitman’s Song of Myself, one of his most loved and greatest poems that is heralded as an optimistic and inspirational look at the world.

Lake George is not a place for lingerie.  Far from it.  But it is inspiring just like lingerie.  She, the lake, is a lady, not a George, so I could stretch reality here and try to make a farfetched connection.  An aerial view will show you its hourglass figure, small shouldered and big bottomed.  The freckled islands spot her naval enticing a closer look. The sloping shoreline deeply wooded shrouds her beauty.  The morning calm, the placid dawns often gives way to white caps, sometimes scary, sometimes violent just like a woman.  And it is deep.  Very deep.  Just like a woman.  Nature is her lingerie and she is beautiful.

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The Literary Woman ~ Intelligent Lingerie

May 26, 2012

By Morgan O’Neill

It may be strange to say this, but to me, a woman lounging somewhere – on a couch reading near the fire on a blustery winter night or perhaps, early in the evening while the light is still good under a tree on a breezy late spring day is sexy.  Maybe she is squirreled away in a library nook, alone, open book in hand, intently focused, oblivious to all else around her; legs akimbo.  Maybe she is there with tortoise shell eyeglasses on the bridge of her nose, or dangling by their stem between her teeth.  It is just plain sexy.  It’s a problem I have.  I know.  I admit it.

Thank God I don’t live in a time where the only media of consequence was the written word.  Wouldn’t that be ironic?   That would have been devastating! Everywhere I would turn there would be some woman reading or writing something.  It would have been too much for a young man to take.

You may argue  with me (that’s your issue), but if you do agree that a literary woman is sexy, just think how sexy a literary woman might be if you knew that beneath the erudite veneer is an intelligent beauty in provocative lingerie.  Shoot me now.  Even worse, put me out of my misery!  I couldn’t take it.  Think about it.

There she is legs askew and all that stuff, on the sofa reading about some sensitive macho, much too handsome swashbuckling hero about to sweep her off her feet.  She’s oblivious of you.  There you are, the nerd, fantasizing absurdly about how you chose what to wear before sitting down with Keats, Herrick, Walter Scott or Whitman.  Or what she slipped on to read Dr. Zhivago, Beach Music, Her Eyes Were Watching God or Sons and Lovers.  Imagine what you must cloak yourself in to face James Bond, Jack Reacher, Travis McGee, Achilles or Odysseus. We won’t even begin to try to imagine what a beautiful woman in love with literature would don to meet any King, evil or not, in any Shakespeare.

The long pervasive myth that the girls will make passes at men who wear glasses is no less appropriate than a woman reading a book is always worth a second look. Don’t know that one?  Cause, I made it up.  But, it’s true.

 

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Ophelia ~ Simone Perele

May 16, 2012

By Morgan O’Neill

Act IV. Scene 7, the body count is rising in what many consider Shakespeare’s greatest tragedy.  Hamlet’s turn is coming, but not before Ophelia, unable to cope any longer… succumbs.  Her brother, Laertes listens as Gertrude describes the scene:

There is a willow grows askant the brook
That shows his (hoar) leaves in the glassy stream.
Therewith fantastic garlands did she make
Of crowflowers, nettles, daisies, and long purples,
That liberal shepherds give a grosser name,
But our cold maids do “dead men’s fingers” call
Them….
Her clothes spread wide,
And mermaid-like awhile they bore her up, …
But long it could not be
Til her garments, heavy with the drink,
Pulled the poor wretch from her melodious lay
To muddy death.

Beauty in tragedy is hard to fathom, yet Shakespeare does not dismiss it. Evocative, feminine Ophelia even in death is startling beautiful, even if, on the inside, darkness has enveloped her as she slips beneath her watery grave.  What is this feminine mystique that appeals so much to me all the while knowing the loss of this life epitomizes the tragic doom seemingly inevitable by the play’s end?  Might it be her attention to her intimate apparel, albeit of nature’s design?  I think so, even if I am eminently aware that more lies beneath.

I have yet to see intimate apparel of last design, the final statement as beauty awaits the grave.  Part of me never wishes to experience what must be such painful beauty.  But I have seen intimate apparel that evokes the opposite, the same simple, natural beauty, full of life’s promise that is evident in the exquisite lingerie that is the Simone Perele brand.

It could be the evocative chantilly lace that defines the romantic Celeste designs . . . .

Or perhaps it is unbelievable softness that imbues the Caressence collection so much like the  the softness inherent in the image of Ophelia. . .

Perhaps it is morbid to see in the essence of beauty of death’s final veil the same beauty in life’s future promise.  I have always been confused by the feminine mystique.  I expect that will never change.

 

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Moby Dick ~ And The Seductive Siren

May 2, 2012

By Morgan O’Neill

Call me Ishmael, or….

Call me Insane. Recently, I cannot recall how long ago, being the pauper I am, I was perusing old books at an ancient book store.  Call it the pre-Kindle, pre-e-book era.  I thought I would go on a trip, but having no income to outlay for such a venture I imagined I might escape in a story.  Then I saw, on the shelf, Moby Dick, and I decided to go to sea.  It was not without some trepidation.

The forced march through the classics in High School did little to endear me to this blubbering tale (no pun intended).  It is long and often feels as if Melville, himself, is that stiff backed and stern teacher with ruler in hand, one imagines pacing the hand-hewn wooden planks of the isolated one room school house, long ago, on the American frontier.  Why would a teenager like anything forced upon him by such a taskmaster?  Alas, I have grown up (just a little), so I decided to read one of the most intimidating novels ever written.

One hundred and thirty five chapters, plus an epilogue!  Chapters dedicated to Cetology that would leave Jonah speechless. A world devoid of women save two who appear briefly without consequence and two who are memorialized in memories but little else.  There is a homoeroticism that pervades the novel, a camaraderie that unites men as only a small ship at sea under harsh conditions in the whaling world of the nineteenth century can.  So, you ask, what does this have to do with lingerie?  Because one thing all of these men have in common is the immutable sea.

The sea!  It mesmerizes all.  Vengeful Ahab is subdued by it.  Ismael ruminates over its godlike qualities.  The crew is held in her merciless grip on one day, seduced by it translucent, ephemeral nature the next.  The sea is not sexless, at least, not to me.  It is the most feminine of all things.  Pulsing with life.  Coursing beneath with the threat and promise of what I can not see. Calm one moment.  Raving the next.  Soft and seductive.  Terrifying and deadly.  Unknown and all-knowing at the same time.  Compelling always.  Its siren’s song always calling.  So, when a man sees a woman, for example, adorned in silk or chiffon, charmeuse and Chantilly lace and little else, like the ocean it evokes sensations akin to how I feel gazing in reverie over the open sea. It buoys you up, frightens at its prospects and can turn your stomach inside out.  The sea’s siren calls never ceases to seduce.  Neither does lingerie.

It is hard to equate a great American novel like Moby Dick with the seductive nature of lingerie.  But, when I focus on the water that engulfs the story like the lingerie that envelops a woman, it seems less a leap of faith than one might think.

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Epithalamion ~ The Glorious Bride

April 24, 2012

by Morgan O’Neill

Though it cannot be confirmed, Edmund Spenser is thought to be born in 1552 in London, twelve years before Shakespeare.  He is most recognized as the author of The Faerie Queene, yet many would argue that his shorter poems alone would rank him among the greatest English poets.  One of those shorter works, Epithalamion, epitomizes his skill and brilliance.

In the Epithalamion, Spenser constructs a tightly wrought love poem that elevates and transforms a single twenty-four hour day into an expose of the cyclical nature of life. The poem is focused on Spenser’s approaching matrimonial day of June 11, 1594.   As one begins the journey to the altar with Spenser and then beyond to the matrimonial evening of consummation with his bride, it is clear that the content, stanza by stanza, takes the reader beyond this single event into another realm that resonates with the richness of the natural world coming into alignment with the mystical.  Spenser purposefully manipulates time, nature and the supernatural to carve out an eternal place for his poetry and for himself, along with his bride, Elizabeth Boyle and their offspring in a cosmic universe.

So, what is it about a bridal gown that seemingly elevates and separates the bride from her temporal self into a sphere beyond?  How is it that a ritual dress can alter perception and place the bride in an unassailable, beautiful and ephemeral place?  The event itself surely has an impact, but few would argue that the dress becomes a focal point and represents both the departure from one world and entrance into another more blessed place.  It is as if the dress, like Spenser’s poem unites the lushness of the natural world with the celestial.

Can a wedding dress make one appear angelic?  Yes.

  Can a wedding dress evoke imagery of the nightingale in the garden on a warm summer’s eve? Yes.

Can a wedding dress seduce you all the while claiming virginal purity?  Yes.

Does the wedding dress have supernatural powers, the power to transform the human form; the transcendent power to alter one’s view of the world, natural, supernatural or cosmic?  I think so.

 

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Morgan O’Neill

Literary Lingerie

 

Morgan O’Neill is a closet academic, who like many others, was sidelined by life to earn a living and raise his family. His love of the written word came later, but continues now, unabated. When the opportunity materialized to use his creative perspective and connect the real world of intimate apparel with his passion for literature, he unassumingly said, “That would be fun.” So, Literary Lingerie was born.