Agnes de Mille, Barbie, Byron Riggan, Clothes, Croton-on-Hudson, Edmund Stillman, GI Joe, Henry Drummond Wolff, Herman Kahn, Hudson Institute, J.C. Hurewitz, John Canaday, Koç University, Lord Dufferin, Luigi Corti, Matthew Brady, Mezzetino, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Nuclear war, Ottoman Empire, Sarah Bernhardt, The Scarlet Letter, Watteau, Wendy Buehr, Westchester County, William Pfaff, Youssouf Bey, Yusuf Franko Kusa
Also in this issue:
In ‘Whatever Has Become of Mommy?’, the dancer, choreographer and writer Agnes de Mille looks at how clothes for women – and men – have changed and what they say about us:
Dolls used to serve little girls for the training of maternal disciplines and habits, and for the learning of real household skills such as plain sewing. It was on her doll clothes that a girl learned to seam, French-seam, hem, gather, placket, buttonhole, hemstitch, featherstitch, bind, and French-roll. No more. Barbie and G.I. Joe come with machine-made wardrobes and need no mothering. They are substitute dream figures whom the child identifies only with the play (or fighting) aspects of adulthood, never with the basic parent-child functions. Here the infant is creating, not its own offspring, but its own parent. This is not surprising, since the parent has in many aspects become a child and joins gladly in the game of cross substitution.
The savage child wears the feathers and paints of a warrior because war is his father’s business; he acquires his weapons, his cicatrices, and his plumes formally under Daddy’s instruction. Does the son of a Madison Avenue executive sob and pine for a gray flannel suit and a brief case? No. He is given a suit young and he wears it for all family ceremonies, but for choice he dresses more frequently as an astronaut.
The truth is that boys previously wished to look like their fathers. Now they wish not to.
Horizon caption: ‘Boys and girls today, and even Mama, too, appear to have similar dreams…But what about Papa?’
What gives The Scarlet Letter its bite and terror is not the sexuality from which the action proceeds but the unremitting series of consequences that follow on adultery. Already, as the story opens and Hester Prynne steps from the prison with her bastard child in her arms and a fantastically embroidered gold-and-scarlet A on her breast, the circumstances of lust are in the shadows behind her. Nor will they be shown to the reader by flashback and recollection: ‘…the infant and the shame were real…all else had vanished.’
No American novel concludes more sternly or more strictly. This is lamentation, not tragedy, a wail of grief, not a prophecy of renewal. From the ‘dusty midst’ of his life Hawthorne saw a universal field of blackness ‘relieved only by one ever-glowing point of light gloomier then the shadow.’
Hawthorne was born to venerate and mistrust women above all other beings. A perfunctory glance at his biography will show how much of his life was lived within what he might call the ‘female sphere.’ Was it not from his own deepest experience with marriage – sweet-tempered monogamist though he was – that he glimpsed the echoing doubleness of woman, that he saw the shame inextricably involved in Hester Prynne’s nobility?`
…an organization dedicated, according to its motto, to national security and international order. The Institute is located – some say aptly – on an estate that had originally been built as a mental home just outside the Westchester County town of Croton-on-Hudson. Despite the reassuring sound of its purpose – for who, after all, doesn’t approve of national security and international order? – the Institute’s arrival has provoked apprehension, even dismay, in the area and indeed throughout the United States…
The reports they publish, which analyse all actual problems and even all possible ones, must take account of a world where all things are possible, and most of them are probably horrible…
Many people cannot quite believe that the way to avoid Armageddon is to plan for it, and the mere thought that someone is doing so makes them testy. The Hudson Institute’s director, Herman Kahn, a mathematician, physicist, and master strategist for the Defense Department, has come under particular fire because of his cool and terrifying pronouncements about the future. ‘Many people just don’t believe a nuclear war can take place,’ Kahn dispassionately remarks. ‘I do. I would judge it to be as likely as not that a thermonuclear device will be fired in anger before the year 2000.’
Kahn is said to have been the inspiration for the character of Groteschele in the novel Fail-safe – a bloodless defense analyst who calculates in megadeaths; and movie producer Stanley Kubrick, although a friend of Kahn’s, used him in part as a model for Dr. Strangelove in the film of that name. In spite of this – or perhaps because of it – Kahn is much in demand on the lecture circuits where people listen in fascination to his blunt thinking about the unthinkable.
I made my way over to the front door. At the reception desk a girl – Natalie Wood, it could have been – looked up from her copy of The Politics of Hysteria by Edmund Stillman and William Pfaff . She smiled as I introduced myself, and carefully scrutinized my credentials. ‘Oh, yes,’ she said, ‘Mr Kahn is expecting you. He’s out on the lawn’…
Our conversation came quickly to the point because Kahn seemed restive, almost poised for flight. This impression was heightened by his speech: a series of unexpected halts and spurts as if his brain outpaced his tongue. I asked him to explain the public criticism against him and he started speaking a mile a minute. ‘First let me say that few of my more virulent critics have read very much that I’ve written. They not only refuse to read me, but I’m told that some have refused to speak to me at cocktail parties. In part that is because they don’t like to think about thermonuclear war. They think it is a self-fulfilling prophecy. You know about sympathetic magic? That’s the belief that by discussing a problem you create it. If I sign an insurance policy, I spark my own death. If I go to be examined for cancer, I create cancer. That’s sympathetic magic. But we think the most rudimentary intelligence says if you feel cold, put on a coat. When it rains, come out of the wet. Well, nuclear bombs exist. War is possible. We must think about how to prevent it or plan what to do when the bombs start to fall.’
In ‘The World of Youssouf Bey’, Wendy Buehr (based on information provided by J.C. Hurewitz) describes a recently discovered album of caricatures by the 19th century Ottoman diplomat Yusuf Franko Kusa, or Youssouf Bey.
The album finally returned to Turkey and was the subject of an exhibition in 2017.