This and That
‘This and That’ is a miscellany of musings on whatever strikes my fancy at a given moment, a potpourri of ruminations in the spirit of Lennon’s ‘I read the news today, oh boy’, a grab bag of epiphanies akin to ‘life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans’ (Lennon again).
MODELS AND DOGS: ONLY LOVE, NO BULLSHIT
In his short story, ‘Investigations of a Dog’, Kafka’s hero (a dog of unspecified breed) conducts a philosophical investigation into food and eating. In the course of his research he reflects on his place among his fellows, raising questions such as ‘What kind of attempts do they make to manage to go on living in spite of everything?’. In this blog post I will not be so ambitious (therefore not so funny). Instead, I will explore a question that has given me much food for thought during the course of my research for Xenia (my next novel—heroine: a fashion model—story: top secret). And that question is: Why do fashion models seem to have a particular affinity with dogs? Indeed, check out the Instagram of just about any model and chances are you won’t have to scroll down very far to find the model out walking her dog or snuggling up next to it on her couch. I am not a dog-lover. I like animals in the wild, not the domestic kind. Still, I’d like to explore this question: Just what is it with models and dogs?
First, credit where credit is due: If I have chosen to put an image of Daria Strokous at the head of this post, it is because she, in speaking of Hank, has given me its subtitle: ‘Only Love, No Bullshit’. For that, and because her intelligence matches her beauty, her humour her acumen, her eloquence her elegance. She also has distance (which is but a component, of course, of both beauty and intelligence), and that might explain why she knows not only how to be looked at, but also how to look. One only has to peruse her photographs—the ones she makes, as photographer—to see the excellence of her eye. And that is where I shall begin my investigation: with the eye, with looking and being looked at.
Kazimir Malevich, Girl with a Comb in her Hair, c. 1933
John Berger continues:
Men act and women appear. Men look at women. Women watch themselves being looked at. This determines not only most relations between men and women but also the relation of women to themselves. The woman turns herself into an object—and most particularly an object of vision: a sight.
Times have changed, you assert? I grant you that, but they haven’t in all dimensions: society has changed, but the psyche is stubborn. Consider this, from English psychoanalyst Darian Leader (for the reference, see the book cover image and the link lower down in this post):
A man is sitting in a café and sees a couple walk past. He finds the female attractive and watches her. Now, a woman in the same situation might well do something different. She may be attracted to the man, but will nonetheless spend more time looking at the woman who is with him. In other words, what interests her is less the man or the woman than the relation between them. What does the woman have that has made this man her partner?
Now why, you may wonder, would the woman do this?
Daria Strokous: ‘Saturday date with Hank’
Daria Strokous, Cannes 2018
If, one can argue, these dog-human dynamics apply to everyone, not just models, there is one domain where the dog-model relation is unique: models work in the beauty business and dogs, unlike the humans who interact with models, are not subject to the terror of beauty (cf. Rilke, the first of the Duino Elegies, of which the two opening stanzas are given below). To Hank, Daria would be just as beautiful sick-abed in her pajamas as she is on the red carpet at Cannes. And that, to a model, must come as a relief. Woof woof!
RILKE: DUINO ELEGIES, I
Who, if I shouted, among the hierarchy of angels
would hear me? And supposing one of them
took me suddenly to his heart, I would perish
before his stronger existence. For beauty is nothing
but the beginning of terror we can just barely endure,
and we admire it so because it calmly disdains
to destroy us. Every angel is terrible.
And so I restrain myself and swallow the luring call
of dark sobbing. Ah, whom can we use then?
Not angels, not men, and the shrewd animals
notice that we’re not very much at home
in the world we’ve expounded. Maybe on the hill-slope
some tree or other remains for us, so that
we see it every day; yesterday’s street is left us,
and the gnarled fidelity of an old habit
that was comfortable with us and never wanted to leave.
Oh, and the night, the night, when the wind full of welkin
feeds on our faces—for whom wouldn’t it stay,
yearned-for, gently disappointing night
that wearily confronts the solitary heart?
Is night more easy on lovers? Ah, they only
hide their fate from themselves by using each other.
Don’t you know that yet? Throw the emptiness from your arms
into the spaces we breathe, so maybe the birds
can feel the expanded air, more ardently flying.
These are the first two of the Elegy’s six stanzas. From Rainer Maria Rilke, Duino Elegies, tr. C.F. MacIntyre (University of California Press, 1961)
SEVEN WITH THEIR DOGS, ONE WITH A GUEST DOG, ONE WITH HER DESIRE FOR A DOG
Carolyn Murphy and her ‘boys’
Daria Strokous hosting Duke, Ginta Lapina’s dog
Francesca Summers and her Yorkshire terrier
Melissa Tamerijn, ‘Me and my buddy, happy home’
Iris van Bern, ‘My brother from another mother’
Vanessa Axente with Mr. Wilson
Ginta Lapina and Duke
Josephine Skriver, ‘Can’t wait to come back again’
Kris Krikaite: ‘I love dogs. One day I’ll have a four-footed friend.’
The amber eyes of the hell hound.
Richard Jonathan, Mara, Marietta
The wanderings of the dead my tracks depict, I devour the stars and regurgitate the dawn: Four of day and four of night, alternating in both warp and weft, around my soul my throw interweaves intuition and reason. Woof, woof!
I know the way through the forest, I can see in the dark: I am wrapped in the outward show of my inner being. Woof, woof!
I am the haunter of cross-roads and graveyards, I am the initiator who sustains desire: Earthy, intuitive, maternal, the colour of death on my throw grounds the colour of passage. Woof, woof!
REFERENCES: FIVE BOOKS AND A FILM
THREE FINE MODELLING & FASHION BOOKS FROM AN EARLIER ERA AND THREE EXCELLENT DOG DVDs
FOUR WORKS OF FICTION AND TWO MEMOIRS THAT FINELY ECHO A DOG TONE
THREE MODEL SONGS
Fascination | David Bowie
David Bowie, Young Americans, 1975
Mother of Pearl | Bryan Ferry, Roxy Music
Walk on the Wild Side | Lou Reed
Lou Reed, Lou Reed Live, 1975
THREE DOG SONGS
Diamond Dogs | David Bowie
David Bowie, Diamond Dogs, 1974
Fall Dog Bombs the Moon | David Bowie
David Bowie, Reality, 2003
I Can’t See Your Face in My Mind | The Doors
The Doors, Strange Days, 1967
By Richard Jonathan | © Mara Marietta Culture Blog, 2017 | All rights reserved