Saturday, December 4, 2010

A note from The Polyglot

I originally started The Polyglot four years ago as a reaction to a comment made by Condé Nast’s Jonathan Newhouse, concerning why the Middle East would never have its own Vogue. The magazine itself wasn’t so important at that moment, as the reasons behind not publishing it.

At the time I couldn’t berate Mr. Newhouse for his point of view, because we all come with certain pre-conceived notions about a place or people. So much of what we choose to believe in is based on perception and our immediate reality. It’s also the product of what we are exposed to and what surrounds us in terms of opinion. When you understand that, it becomes much harder to point a finger at someone. It also makes one realize that we do have the power to change perceptions through dialogue and media.

As a writer, editor, educator and cultural/fashion historian, I’ve made it my mission to bridge cultures and break stereotypes through a shared appreciation for art, fashion and design. In the last two years I’ve been busy with writing/editing for various publications, lecturing, and curating exhibits, so much so that I’ve had little time to be The Polyglot.

As I thought about re-launching this site, I’ve been asking myself what is the purpose of a blog and what am I trying to achieve with it. I came to the conclusion that it is foremost about changing perceptions. In the coming months I will be posting stories I have written for various publications, as well as original material that sheds light on the region in a contemporary and modern way. The Middle East in this case isn’t a specific geographic region so much as a state of mind. A place so diverse that it defies our notions of identity, race, religion and even creativity. This is by no means a Middle-East-centric site, but a place for everyone. Approaching design and culture in this way provides me with a healthy challenge as a writer.

Over the years I have interviewed many inspiring individuals who will be featured on this site. My hope is to establish a venue, where a creative community of like-minded individuals can come together and exchange ideas. At the end of the day we share a lot more in common than may be apparent at first.

If Mr. Newhouse were to stumble on this site, he would find a vibrant Middle East (as well as Diaspora) made up of a diverse and creative mix of designers, writers, poets, architects and artists not only contributing to the region but also the world. I’ve had the fortune of reading every issue of Vogue from 1960-79; the key years when Diana Vreeland was at its helm. There were many lessons to be learnt there. Vogue at its best was always a jewel box of ideas; a cosmopolitan world, where the Middle East also made a frequent appearance in fashion stories and profiles on individuals. In the spirit of D.V., The Polyglot will continue to “Giv’em what they never knew they wanted.”

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