Tuesday, February 24, 2009
BODY AND ORRERY
It’s always a shock these days (well, it always was) to face a photo of myself. My niece’s mother took these photos last summer and just now sent me copies. The above photo reveals what I always deny in spite of my doctor: my belly. It’s much too big to be called a “tummy.” After losing fifty pounds, I still weigh about two hundred, almost all of it in the “apple” shape they say will kill you. I don’t normally see it, since I look at my hands, my ankles and my neck, which is mostly where the weight sloughed off.
In fact, my arms are not so fat as they look: they just have the old skin bagging over much reduced flesh. That’s partly the reason my belly is still so round. I’ve read estimates that the extra skin and connective/capillary tissue necessary to support fat on that spot can weigh fifteen pounds, which some people choose to have surgically removed, since it won't leave with the fat. I don’t think Medicare will pay for that. Anyway, I don’t much care what I look like. I care about my mind, and going under any kind of general anesthetic is not good for minds.
Looking like this doesn’t matter on the Internet -- if I would just restrain myself from posting photos! One spam con announces “we have nude photos of you!” and such is the magical “feel” of the Internet that people are concerned enough to look, thus acquiring yettanother unwanted cookie on their hard drive. There are only two nude photos of me as an adult, I have firm control of them, and since they were taken when I weighed one-hundred-thirty-five pounds, had lots red curly hair (yes, everywhere), and was virtually wrinkle-free, I wouldn’t be much compromised by their publication.
Having rationalized all that, this is a photo of how some people age. I won’t be one of those crumpled thin old women with a sharp tongue. I will be (am) a round and rosy old woman with a sharp tongue and a shortened lifespan (maybe -- it’s all percentages, after all). Lots of them around here, so it’s an advantage if you want to be relatively camouflaged. The sharp tongue is necessary because everyone thinks women who look like this are motherly, nurturing and good bakers. NOT. Not any of it. Even my nurturing is a little hard-edged.
If you have access to images from “The Dark Crystal,” the Jim Henson un-muppet movie (try www.darkcrystalthemovie.com), take a look at Aughre, the ornery old one-eyed woman seer in her jumble of equipment, including an orrerory. (A word I can’t spell well enough to find in the dictionary -- it means a model of the cosmic entities capable of showing their orbits around each other by moving.). In his account of how the puppet character was developed, Henson shows how she was relatively conventional at first, but became more and more outrageous and Celtic as the creators thought more about the hormone changes of old age (women masculinize, men feminize) and stress (esp. cortisol). She ends up with that belly, thinning hair, wild eyebrows, jumbled teeth. I feel sure she was once red-headed. In this photo you see behind me my orrerory, my planets, which are ideas.
Over my shoulder are two of the earliest bronzes Bob sold: “Lone Cowboy” and “Prairie Buck,” which I bought with my first teaching money in 1962. The big books behind and above are about Western art and French Beaux Arts bronzes. The next section to the right is Native American literature, esp. Blackfeet. The next section to the left is Montana literature and the section after that is natural history. These are small wheels inside the large wheels of liberal progressive humanist thought, meshing deep ecology, autochthonous peoples, art and writing theory, religious systems, third force psychology and anthropology, transcendentalism, and so on. There’s a small wheel about interior decoration, another about acting, and a couple of shelves of poetry. Smaller wheels about time and history of thought. It would be interesting on some boring summer afternoon to make a mobile of my thought orrerory.
(Now I’ve gone to a better dictionary and see that it’s a simpler word than I thought: “orrery” named for Charles Boyle, 4th Earl of Orrery (1676-1731), which appears to be near Cork, but he’s buried in Westminster Abbey. His orrery was clockwork and about the solar system. One of those landed gentry naturalists.)
In the meantime, here I am with my niece, properly dressed up. She’s isn’t, but she doesn’t need to. She wears the glorious raiment of youth!