That is, in periods when dress isnbut a minor concern, thinking isnrude and shabby. When care andndeliberation are applied tonpersonal raiment, then the ideasnproduced are finer. One mightnthrow up any nimiber of fops as anchallenge to the concept, butnthen it should become quitenclear that their choice of ribbonsnand silks was motivated by forcesnsimilar to those that orient sheep.nTrue dandies like Disraeli andnWilde are proofs that there is annintersection between fashionnand intellect. Consider thenslovenly hippies of the 1960’s:ndid any one of them ever formulatena thought beyond a grunt fornsex and drugs? Gaze at a photographnof the like-suited Politburo;nit takes a great leap ofnimagination or a fall into delusionnto figure that anything noble isngoing on beneath the chintzyngrey facades.nIn contemporary Americanfashion is mass-produced; designernlabels, ranging from surnamesnto animal images, arenstamped out like fenders forndownsized Chevys. Thanks tonthe proliferation of brand-namenclothes, people think that theynare fashionable by tugging themnon, but that is only an indicationnof how far thinking has deteriorated.nOne doesn’t have to spendnan inordinate amount of timenpicking out his or her daily wear;ngetting “dressed-up” is a similarlyneasy task: Calvin’s on top, below,nand beneath is a safe bet. In effect,nthen, feshion—or what passes tornit on the ready-to-wear racks at 1.nMagnin and K-mart—is packagednlike the foods in a TV dinner.nSimilarly, thinking—or whatnpasses for it in virtually all socialnsettings—is fitted into little tinnyntrays. One can pick up a copy ofnPeople and not only know who’snwho but also what’s what (andnvice versa in both cases)—untilnthe next glossy issue hits thenbookstore or grocery market.nAnother of Time Inc.’s progeny isnWalter Isaacson, who is an as­nSOm^^mm^m^^nChronicles of Culturensociate editor of the brand-namenmagazine—the one that offersnthe mirrors that permit a personnto become the man or woman ofnthe year, every year. Isaacson’snPro and Con is the ultimate (ofnthis year’s model, anyway) innpseudofashionable thinking: itnprovides facts and opinions bothnfor and against 54 items listed innalphabetical order fi’om abortionnto voluntary euthanasia, withnmatters of signal concern like thendesignated hitter rule in baseballnand returning pop bottles innbetween. Each item is a bitesizednchunk (sort of like one ofnthose greasy little frozen eggnrolls in both form and substance )n—just right for reading whilentrying to determine whethernRalph Lauren jeans are morensuitable than Stanley Blackerndenims for the evening’s nosh.nThose who have exhausted thenpyrite in The People’s Book ofnLists and similar collections ofntrivia (now, in our dislightenednage, known as Signiflca) will benthrilled to the furthest reaches ofntheir walnut-sized brains by Pronand Con •n(Comment cont. from page 5)nHeilbroner surveys our prospects and advises us that the futurenis, at best, authoritarian; the world can no longer afford, letnalone emulate, the American experiment in democracy.nB. •ut this form of decadence is not new. Henry Adamsnbelieved that history moves in stages, from instinct throughnreligion, through science, and finally to this century of thensupersensual which is decadent to the core. Like others ofnsimilar sensibility, Adams would have returned to the religionnof the Middle Ages but realized that that was not a programnlikely to commend itself to the modern mind. Writing to hisnbrother he asked, “How can we hope to see a new world, a newncivilization, or life? To my mind we are at the end; and the onenthing I thank God for is that we have no children.” In the viewnof tragic decadence, the dream, no matter how worthy it maynhave been, is wasted. “HURRY UP PLEASE IT’S TIME.”nThese are the three faces, or the three masks, of decadence.nThey do not disturb most of our fellow citizens. Decadence isnnot an entry in the minds of most Americans. Those who arendisturbed by it try variously to construct a counterculture tondecadence. From the bully pulpit there issues old-fashionednAmerican boosterism, and that may help. Moral majoritariansncall America back to the Bible, and that may help more than itnhurts. Intellectuals who once espoused secular solutions nownspeak of the need for a spiritual revival and a renewed sense ofnprivate and public virtue, and that is greatly to be desired.nBut however we counter it, decadence must be addressednin its several manifestations. There is an appropriate word forneach type of decadence. Liberationist decadence is adolescent;nhermetic decadence is precious; tragic decadence is resigned.nThe first face scowls with fury at the reality that refuses tonconform to the self. The second smiles, sometimes smirks, andnfrequently quivers at a world that denies its own. The thfrd isnall fortitude, or tears.nThe antidote to decadence is not nature but hope. Notnsimplistic optimism, but hope well grounded in reason andnexperience. Such hope, if it is to be credible, must havencomprehended all the reasons for denying the world, escapingnfrom the world, despafring of the world. It must not signifyncontempt for the adolescent, the precious, and the resigned.nAfter all, they are participants in the culture that we would helpnrenew; they have their reasons which we can understand andneven respect. We have other reasons of which we wouldnpersuade them. Alfred North Whitehead said that the onlynsimplicity that is to be trusted is that which is on the far side ofncomplexity. The only hope that will be trusted is the hope thatnis on the far side of decadence.n—Richardjohn NeuhausnThe Rev. Neuhaus is the director of The Rockford Institute-nNew York, The Center on Religion and Society.nnn