Faced with the events in Germany of thatnepoch, would Stein also maintain thenabsence of “one seamless, intact truth”?nI think not. As for her insistence that thisnbook was never, never, never written tonglamorize Edie or the period she incarnated,nWWD ran a cover picture ofna model squatting in front of a mirrornapplying makeup in exactly the samenpose as Edie Sedgwick in a photo publishednwith the aforementioned interviewnwith Jean Stein. The picture isncaptioned: “The Edie Dress.” The copynreads, in part:nFor a brief moment she was thendazzling embodiment of the fast,nglittering, underground art scene ofnthe Sixties. Now—with a biographynof her short life a best seller—EdienSedgwick is in the limelight again.n. . . Now, [fashion designer Betsey]nJohnson resurrects the look fornspring. Here her black cotton knitnhalter-back, Edie mini.nWouldn’ t many young girls be temptednto emulate Edie, if only to have a booknwritten about their lives or a dress namednafter them? Not only is this glamorization,nbut the now-fashionable “secondncoming” of Edie is also a trivializationnof her life and death. It simultaneouslyncleanses and banalizes the wholenphenomenon of the epoch itself. Andnthis isn’t the first time that fashion hasnzeroed in on past cultural or historicalnevents and heedlessly or even arrogantlynexploited them for its own ends. The currentnobsession with the trappings ofnnazism comes to mind: Hell’s Angelsnand punkers playfully adorning themselvesnwith swastikas and storm-troopernuniforms to race their bikes and gyrate tontheir own particular sound.nIf anything, Edie is an inadvertent exposenof the fashion establishment and itsnpernicious influence on our culture.nFrom the vantage point of the 80’s, thenfashion leaders and their groupies cannpoint back to the 60’s and shake theirnheads with resigned disapproval. Today,nEdie represents to them a self-destruc­ntive, drug-addicted anorectic, when atnthe moment the cult of the body is wherenit’s at. “Hey, man, I’m into the Eightiesnnow,” one former participant in thenscene asserts in Edie. The economicnrealities of the present preclude the excessesnof the 60’s; fashion adapts to thenEditor’s NotenWhy American?nWhy should this life story be epitomizednby the adjective “American”? Whyncouldn’ t it be a Faitfield County or a HotelnChelsea inhabitant’s biography? What arenthe idiosyncratically American earmarks ofnthe protagonists? Membership in an oldnfamily, or citizenship in New York’s gildednsewers docs not certify anything as particularlynAmerican. Wc have become accustomednto seeing in American biographiesnthe road from Ellis Island to a Harvardnprofessorship, from an Oklahomanhomestead to the U.S. Senate. A Vermontngrocer, a Mormon teacher, a Texas oilnworker, a North Carolina unionizednseamstress, an Amish farmer all may haventheir curriculum vitae legitimatelyncharacterized as A merican. But the wretchednobject of this book about vile andnfoolish people—told and written by wicked,nself-serving, obtuse people—is anmiserable human protozoan, quite identicalnwith countless other particles ofnsubhumanness that can be found in thengutters of Paris, London, Valparaiso.nDoes the central character, an uglybeautifulnperson incarnate, symbolizenanything American? Yes she does, even ifnin a very marginal way: her persona and hernlot in life encapsulate a peculiar brand ofndecadence that will be associated with thisnjuncture of American history. The beginningnof this disgusting volume features anteproduction of John Singer Sargent’s portraitnof Edie Sedgwick’s grandparents; atnthe end, we see pictutes of the naked andndrugged heroine done in Andy Warhol’snvisual media. The path from att to “art” isnneatly traced, and it .somehow reflects thendescent from American culture to thenliberal culture. And this is the onlynrelevance to the endemic that Ms. Sedgwick’snpaltry life—and her apologists’nnnchanges and then creates a new and desirablenstyle of being. Ten years fromnnow, these same victims of fashion willnbe into whatever is fashionable at thatnpoint in time. That which is most distinctivenof those who were enmeshed in thenfashionable lifestyles of the 1960’s, how-ncheap and reprehensible exertions—have.nAs such, the book can be termed The Fallnof an American Archetype. Another of itsn”heroes,” commercial “artist” Warhol,npersonifies the ultimate effluvium of thenliberal culture: a nullity who has beenndeclared an arrist by the supreme reign ofnthe sleazy fashion subculture.nThe decadence and decay of persons,nfamilies, standards, traditions are nothingnnew: theit documentation ranges fromnsensationalism to literary masterpieces.nAmerica has certainly entered a stage of hernhistory when the speed of her unprecedentednfortunes is accelerating some proce.ssesnthat usually affect nations at a slowernpace. But the fight for America’s civilizationalnhealth is fat from over. That’s whynwe attach importance to this book—whichnis actually just another shoddy publishingnhappening. Those who are responsible fornit are mthless, snobbish propagandists fornthe ugly-beautiful people (a pop-cultutalnentrepreneur, a daughtet of a corporate tycoonnwith ties to the Kennedy family), andnthey obviously deem their work an etude ofncontemporary compassion. As a mie, nationsnare ashamed of their Edies; the implicationnof this awful book is that wenshould be gratified, or even proud, that wenhave them.nAll in all, it’s a piece of modish, purple,nadvocacy journalism, an epiphenomenonnthat is given a fraudulent “depth” and anpseudohumanistic significance. Its cosmeticizednversion of murder smells curiouslynlike totalitarian methods of dealing withntruth and exactitude. After all, Edie is annedict of the Imperial Parry of Fashion, of itsnunsavory establishment and its impeccablensway over the realm of chic sin, of its neverendingnstruggle for domination over thisnsociety by means of the Pravdas andnSturmers published by Conde Nast. Andnto create legend out of refuse is a timehonorednfascist. Of communist, practice.n(LT) nnFebruary 1983n