Weekend Update:
Sudden Death


What happened to The Aesthete — the author of The Aesthete’s Lament? Out of the blue, she bid a grateful sayonara to her readers on Thursday — and then proceeded to take her site down, so that there’s nothing to link to now for those who weren’t following The Aesthete’s Lament‘s feeds. People get tired of blogging all the time, but they don’t, as a rule, dismantle their sites right away.

Was The Aesthete a man or a woman? The real question, of course, is why anybody cared. The importance of The Aesthete’s Lament is, at least at the moment, best captured by the difficulty of summarizing its mission. To say that it was devoted to “traditional” interior design would be awfully wrong-footed, because one of the things that the site’s series of white-on-white interiors demonstrated was a yearning for the modern, but on terms of comfort that Modernism disdained. The Aesthete had a view of household decor that was every bit as personally seasoned as those of the famous designers whose work she covered.

But The Aesthete did not stop there. There were pictures of her home, of a dining room in progress, of prettily -laid tables in holiday candlelight. We thought that these entries, combined with The Aesthete’s anonymity, were a mistake. They excited a perhaps lamentable but utterly inevitable curiosity about the author’s gender. Word filtered down, from authoritative sources, that The Aesthete was a woman, but the intensity of interest in clarifying this matter was a itself sign of sensed instability. Certainly, The Aesthete’s references to her husband, and even those to her daughter, supported the leaked wisdom. On the other hand, there were confusing images, such as the following celebration of a birthday. It is possible that the child in the photograph is a girl, but it’s a possibility that demands a lot of explanation. It’s possible that The Aesthete was once upon a time the toddler on the floor alongside this little fellow (not shown). But the entry is a frigate of ambiguity.


What difference it makes, whether The Aesthete is a man or woman, is a matter for discussion some other time; for the moment, we’ll content ourselves with stating what seems to be obvious, which is that, for better or worse, human beings want to know whether they’re listening to men or women: it does make a difference. More particularly, readers interested in interior design, a subject that most men dismiss (to their detriment) as womanly, but also one that few women write about, understand that the observations that men make are seasoned by a struggle that simply doesn’t present itself to women. What a woman has to say about a white-on-white drawing room is not, in the end, equivalent to a man’s judgment of the matter. Neither opinion is inherently superior — superiority is not the point — but both have been shaped by very different pains and struggles. And that gives what The Aesthete has to say about, exempla gratia, the wit and wisdom of Van Day Truex a gender-specific point that is baffled rather than muffled by anonymity.

It’s impossible to dissociate this identity murk from the hunch that the sudden shutdown (more than a mere abandonment) of the site was somehow related to a short-circuit in the expectations that The Aesthete had allowed anonymous blogging to mourish.

One Response to “Weekend Update:
Sudden Death”

  1. Dear Daily Blague, The shutting down of my blog was a decision made purely for personal reasons—it was exhausting, quite honestly, and had gone from being fun to being a burden. I have a full-time job, a husband and a child, a garden that needs weeding, floors that require painting, walls awaiting wallpaper, a library that needs arranging, a puppy with housebreaking issues, as well as book projects to complete. When the blog was launched, it was meant to be a non-commercial personal outlet, a way for me to explore the history of design (with the occasional, sometimes incomprehensible detour), something I believed could be done in my free time. Basically, I created it to have fun. But in recent months it became increasingly obvious AAL was devouring all my free time. When I wasn’t actually writing the blog, I was thinking about what I would write next for the blog. Ultimately the strongest statement in favor of shutting down came from my daughter, who last week asked, when I was in mid keystroke, “Are you going to be done typing soon?” She wanted to ride her scooter and had been patiently waiting for me to join her. Her question caught up me short: indeed, when would I be done typing? In closing An Aesthete’s Lament—a decision that was taken swiftly but not lightly—I will be able to read other blogs (including yours) for sheer pleasure and, to my daughter’s delight, have more time to spend accompanying her on scooter trips up and down the street.