The Price Of Everything And The Value Of Nothing


Historical correspondence destroyed in order to make wealthy fashionistas feel important.

The barbarians are truly at the gates. The Times today reports that handbag manufacturers Sekrè are engaged on a mission of historical destruction in search of profit, selling their worthless desecrations to idiots with more money than sense.

“Every woman needs a secret”, claims the marketing slogan for their appalling range of handbags that are aimed at the monied moron. The secret – one which anybody with a sense of decency would indeed keep as an extremely shameful one, never to be shared – is that squirrelled away in compartments of the £2,700 bag is an extract from an authenticated letter by a famous historical figure. Not even the full letter, which might at least have some redeeming feature, but a slice torn off. Not from a reproduction, but from the real thing.

Yes, you read correctly – these cultural vandals are destroying letters written by the likes of Charles Dickens, Queen Victoria, Giacomo Casanova, Charles Lindbergh, Grace Kelly, Marlene Dietrich and Brigitte Bardot, most of whom you will note are dead and so unable to supply any further correspondence. Their existing writing is, quite literally, all that is left.

You might argue that this rare and historical correspondence often ends up in the hands of private collectors, and so effectively lost to the public anyway, but they are not being destroyed to make cretins feel important. There is always the chance that these artefacts could either return to public ownership or at least appear in exhibitions – and as Leon Litvack of the Charles Dickens Letters Project points out, even the most trivial letters help build a picture of a historical figure. Think of any exhibition covering the life of an artist, and you’ll remember the seemingly insignificant letters and sketches that nevertheless took on new meaning as part of a wider story. No matter how throwaway a letter might be, it deserves a better fate than this.

It’s dubious enough when this sort of destruction takes place as an art project, though there is at least then the excuse of creativity, subversion, provocation and political statements being made. This is nothing more than a desire to make self-designated elites feel special.

This rare correspondence is now being destroyed in order to stroke the ego of some rich fuckwit who – like the people who wear Ramones T-shirts without even knowing that they were a band – probably has little idea of who the letter writer even was, instead simply revelling in the fact that they are so important that a piece of history has been destroyed on their behalf. Imagine the sort of person who would buy this and believe that it somehow makes them someone to envy rather than despise.  We might pity their empty lives – so much money yet so much need for validation – but’ s not pretend that this is anything more than ugly fashion for ugly people.


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