Friday, September 7, 2012

Passion As An Additive

They talk about passion like they speak about other desirables like love, fame, happiness, youth and romantic appeal – like it can be infused into anything as a plus, as something you can buy and sell.... all you have to add to your life is a quick spray or a sip or a taste and the world will become one fairly large orgasmic experience. The world of fashion has doused itself liberally in the word since the silk road toward the west was opened by the Chinese in the 2nd century CE*. Somehow we are both soothed and excited by the idea that the addition of passion in the form of products or services is assured and even possible. A quick hit of passion, like all impossible things, would be an enticing purchase.

Others write of the word as an attribute and include it in descriptions on web sites, résumés and online profiles like it is something that was learned and can be hung with pride on their wall like a certification. The very words "We're passionate about what we do" supposedly acts as a condemnation of competitors as apathetic, sadly lacking, or barren. Better yet, void of. Incapable of drumming up even a trickle. Dull even. Worse, flaccid.

These people, bless them, would like us to seek passion. To embrace it. To buy it. To give it to us. To speak to it. But imagine if passion were something you could speak to, it would be a very intense but one-dimensional conversation. There are only so many responses to Ohhhhhhhh! or Ahhhhhh!

Truth is, we all know passion is a very personal moment in time. We almost happen across it. We open ourselves to it. We can only predispose ourselves to it and hope it will happen. One can't buy it or sell it or hope to be passionate at will. It happens naturally, rarely and sometimes not at all. Even if one could drum up constant passion you'd think it would probably become painful after a while. It would be like a prolonged energy peak that trips circuit breakers, an over-boiled kettle that burns the bottom out of the pot and would probably involve some nasty messes.

Let us leave these promises to the promise makers.


*Not long after the conquest of Egypt in 30 BCE the Roman Senate tried in vain to prohibit the wearing of silk, for economic reasons as well as moral ones. Silk clothing was perceived as a sign of decadence and immorality.

I can see clothes of silk, if materials that do not hide the body, nor even one's decency, can be called clothes. ... Wretched flocks of maids labour so that the adulteress may be visible through her thin dress, so that her husband has no more acquaintance than any outsider or foreigner with his wife's body.
—Seneca the Younger, Declamations Vol. I.


  1. I recall hearing a fellow designer speak about how passionate she is about her work, with vocal emphasis on pashhhh-on-net. I wanted to puke. Now I have to go remove it from all my materials. Thanks Rand, I think.

  2. I think I'm going to stay passionate, but I don't have the energy to be passionate in all ways all the time any more. It wears out your adrenal glands or something.