Thursday, October 19, 2017

Collection of GOULS

Tis the season, after all ... let's have some gruesome collections for October!

You can't buy a doll in rigor mortis.

Starting off, we have Frances Glessner Lee, a nice little old lady who created meticulous, scientific dioramic recreations of murder scenes - still used today by police departments, and now in conservation and on display for their many interests even beyond those of justice.

Hallowe'en vacation trip ideas? We got 'em - how does the Cornell library sound? Well, honestly, pretty good to me any time of year - libraries are churches, for readers and writers. But right now, they are putting on The World Bewitch'd, a display of witch trial writings, spooky drawings and manuscripts - interestingly, exploring the gendered portrayal of witches in (European/American, I suspect) history. Didn't we just do this? Yes. Yes, we did. And I, for one, don't mind one bit doing it again: “It’s a time of year when people are thinking about the subject …"


Oh, the library isn't scary enough for you? How about a trip to Tokyo, where the headlining photo alone might make you yelp? Or, if you're feeling oldschool: Transylvania? The catacombs of Paris are a classic ghastly destination. London offers an ever-so-British tea celebration, featuring Night of the Living Tarts. (Which describes all to many American prefab costumes aimed mostly at women.) Keep scrolling for some surprisingly disturbing smiling bananas, or start your planning for a trip to Croatia ...

Okay, and the next story I am not going to link, because it has stuck with me, and its presence in my thoughts is the point of interest. I'd be curious what others think. The Anne Frank (or "refugee girl") costumes that came out this year, and were rapidly yanked. Objections point to the extreme insensitivity of co-opting the identity of a tragic victim of war for trick-or-treats, and I cannot say this is not a terribly ill-considered product ...

... but, the fact is, I keep coming back to "because little girls have to be princesses and witches." And I don't like the implications there. As poor a route as it may appear, at least the idea of an Anne Frank costume brings with it the possibility of discussing who she was and what she went through with a child - and what the elements of the costume MEAN. So many costumes *are* appropriations - and exoticizations/sexualizations of cultures to which a given child doesn't belong ... and the inevitability of that sexualization part - well, see my "joke" above regarding Night of the Living Tart, and don't kid yourself it waits for legal age.

A part of me is not sure I want to simply mute the subject of Anne Frank, because ... a part of me actually thinks this COULD be done without the heartless indifference shown by this offering. Minus mass-production. Definitely minus the cutesy-attitude pose of the poor child who modeled this monstrosity.

Is it trivialization to make of Anne a mass-produced costume? Yes. But was it trivilization when my brother went as Nathan Hale, and isn't the entire holiday predicated in many aspects on the trivialization of death - a defiant raspberry in the face of mortality? The core of Hallowe'en in its original costumes was to elude the specter of Death by aping someone already dead. Of course, that has "evolved" (eroded, changed, become subject to market concerns), but at the end of the day it's all about remembering those who *have* passed, and the line is sometimes difficult for some people to see or frankly even to think about. It's a gross-out holiday, it's a time for scares and ENJOYING morbidity, it's a festival.

It hasn't been so long since I found the idea of friends dressing up as dead-John Jr. and dead-Bissette-Kennedy pretty funny, even though they decided against it because it was "too soon." Nor since I dressed up as Sarah Palin and found out *I* was the one scared and grossed out all night, thanks to the utterly disgusting reactions of men who apparently felt there was no human in the suit, and it was okay to explain every last thing they'd like to do to the costume. Aieee.

We know (I hope) that I am not a costume. We may know it's "too soon" for, ahem, the Dead Kennedys, or 9/11 "joke" costumes, or disgusting would-be-but-not-actually commentaries on the volatile political climate of the day (are you bracing yourself for all the khakis, white shirts, and torches this year? or people dressed as toppled Confederate statues? because you need to). But we don't flinch at a ghost soldier from some bygone war, or the purely grotesque. Poe is literature, not cruelty ... and yet, the imagery in his stories is genuinely harrowing.

Oh my. That got long. And in a collection post, no less - one I started in hopes of lighthearted Hallowe'en fare. Oh, dear.

Hey, who still uses the apostrophe in Hallowe'en?

Ahem. And on we move ...

Maybe you need something to read. John Davis Frain always has splendid flash fiction on tap, and this Hallowe'en season is no exception. This is a guy well schooled in ways to die!

My online writing pal Colin Smith was recently published, and I failed to observe the occasion in a timely way, but I am so rarely timely it is to be hoped he'll consider "belated" (as we do in my family) only prologation of the celebration. It's a GREAT, creeping-atmospheric tale - not specific to Hallowe'en, but appropriate to it nonetheless.

Say the travel ideas I threw out above aren't on your menu - staying close to home this year? Well, then, how will you decorate? An AT-AT of your own (the caption on the headline photo here is worth the click all by itself)?

Or you could just find something that might be interesting and paint it black. Here is a little history of the color for inspiration. The click beyond this time? In fact is the article where I found this link - and well worth a look, for the history of the Little Black Dress. Above average research and depth for a fashion article.



John Davis Frain said...

Nice collection of spooky stuff, Diane. Glad I came to your door--you always have nice candy inside!

DLM said...

YOU tend to have good treats at your blog as well!

The Frances Glessner Lee story literally enchants me. I want to see that exhibit, get lost in the detail of her work.

And then go shopping for a LBD.

John Davis Frain said...

That stuff in the Lee exhibits is amazing. Such detail. I certainly admire her--but holy ravioli, I'd never want to work for her. (Too late for that, of course.) I can be thorough myself, but I imagine nothing was ever good enough for her. Such exacting specifications.

DLM said...

Hee. I never thought about that ... But, you know, my boss's boss is someone I expect might be capable of such work if that were his direction. I suspect he hasn't missed a trick since he was like eight - brilliant, brilliant man. But one of his geniuses is social; he can create a collegial situation no matter what is going on.

We also occasionally work with small classes of special needs kids at my employer; I've had one with eidetic memory and one nearly-so, but they both had other issues. Details could hang them up, there can be obsessive issues. But given the right work, these kids are great to work with. (Looking forward to a new class starting in November - yaaay!) So it's all in finding the right fit. Maybe you would fit just between the to-scale rocking chair that actually rocked, and the drapes with real curtain rods ...