“Queer, in the usage we know today, took on a new life during the Revolutionary period (1789-94). It is instructive to see how the historical evolution of the relationship between wastefulness and artificiality and queer style.
During the Revolution, suspicion shifted from the private body to that of the political body. Any fashion and dress that smack of the old extravagant ways, any suggestion of frippery was dealt a cold hand. William Hogarth did an engraving, which is now quite well-known, of the five orders of wigs, from ‘Episcopal or Parsonic’ to ‘Queerinthian’— the latter in this case less macaroni-like as it did not feature a ridiculous amount of hair dangling from a bow. Wearing big hair was not just denigrated because of its obvious ostentation; it was also something that demanded a large amount of time to make. When big hair reached its zenith in the late eighteenth century, it constituted what Margaret Powell and Joseph Roach call ‘the performance of waste’; time that, to the sternest Revolutionary middle-class mind, could be spent more sensibly. Any form of overwrought fastidiousness of appearance smacked of the same: it was an uneconomical use of time that could serve better ends. Even Robespierre, known for his immaculate clothing and insistence on maintaining a wit, came in for criticism.
In sum, all aristocrats were ‘pansies’: aristocratic values and fashions were all relegated to the status of effeminacy, a male effeminacy that linked to fecklessness, insincerity and improvidence.”
“L'étouffement des désirs par la satisfaction des besoins, telle est la police parcimonieuse, l'économie sordide, découlant des facilités dont nous accablent les machines, qui viendra à bout de nos races. L'homme n'a de génie qu'à vingt ans et s'il a faim. Mais l'abondance de l'épicerie tue les passions. Bourrée de conserves, il se fait dans la bouche de l'homme une mauvaise chimie qui corrompt les vocables. Plus de religions, plus d'arts, plus de langages. Assommé, l'homme n'exprime plus rien.”