Wednesday, May 27, 2009

I Would Prefer To Not Be Disfigured

Penelope Tree, From Wiki:
"John Lennon, asked to encapsulate Tree in three words, called her, "Hot, Hot, Hot, Smart, Smart, Smart!" She has been extensively compared to The Beatles for inspiring the swinging 60's movement and for galvanizing a generation of young American females. Scars from late-onset acne ended her career in the early 1970s: "I went from being sought-after to being shunned because nobody could bear to talk about the way I looked."[2]"

Penelope Tree is kind of a decent starter gun for this topic. At least as good as any. Relevant in as much as she was the muse for my Fashion Pirate piece of artwork. In a lot of ways, she sort of incapuslates in her biography, why I am personally so drawn to beauty in my work. It's something I think about from time to time, beyond my comics and into my life, because it does come up. Both in terms of how I feel about myself, and how I feel about others-- And really how I sort of asymetrically stack my weirdo queerdo values.

What stands out to me about Tree, beyond her otherworldy beauty, is the fleeting nature of that beauty. There's a horror in her story that mixes with the intoxicating high of her aesthetics, that fully reasonates with me. This notion of disfigurement leading to isolation and abandonment, and almost a horrific loss of status--is definitely a leading phobia in my life, and in some ways my work. I feel like beauty is intrinsically horrific, mean-spirited, and destructive. But it's also defiant. It struggles up against time and incidence, and tries to latch on for as long as possible. But it does leave. Even if nothing happens. One minute you're Farah Fawcett, the next minute you look like my grandma. And with that comes a resignation and re-evaluation of worth. A delusion that comes by way of survival.

I think it's no shock that when you see someone beautiful, you're reaction is the same as if you bumped into a frankenstein monster. You gasp. You lose some measure of courage. And the part of you that wants to keep moving is losing the battle to the part of you that keeps looking back. I think this is one of the reasons why more often than in any genre, horror relies on an attractive lead. It's also no suprise that the Italians knew this best in their Giallo films. I don't know if that's a simplistic read on it or not. But it probably works okayish for this point.

As for me personally, in my work, I think my views on beauty also are influenced by the aesthetics of beauty that most appeal to me, which do tend to be largely eccentric alien looking actors or models. Or it's vice versa, and the aesthetics I'm drawn to have to do with an overarching sense of detatchment and weirdness. I'm kind of rambling now, because I'm hungry on food. So I might come back to this and try to tease out what I'm talking about.

This all came from some thought I had in a car about beauty being horrifying, and how I fear getting old or disfigured, or ugly, and being shunned, and that the Penelope Tree bio sort of has a lot of elements of my worst fears in it. And I think a lot of my conceptions of beauty, and projections of it, have to do with those fears. Beauty that is either internally or externally disfiguring into isolation. Yeah. I'd say that's a decently large theme in most of my comic work I've been doing the last several years.

So yeah.