Monday, August 09, 2004


   What an idea.

   Of the skin (or hide) but not the skin. Able to transmit, sometimes with a shivering sense of reality, sensations, but not possessed of sensation in itself. Able to protect and assist the skin in becoming the buffer between the out-there and the in-side. But so much more. Critters with fur usually are at peace with this hairy envelope, but as for humans, it is not so simple. As a statement about one's appearance, there is probably not another human feature so manipulated and contrived, and in some instances, denied as human hair. Fur. The absence of it distinguishes us from the other primates, yet we still have plenty. In most women of the western world, any hair outside of the scalp is viewed with suspicion. Facial hair was considered unfeminine, but that has now been extended to include bushy eyebrows. Underarm hair? Long a virtual taboo in the U.S., it seems to be on the retreat elsewhere. Shaving leg hair? What woman doesn't dread this chore? But most do it. (Becoming more popular with men too, and not just cyclists). And the formerly hidden temple of Venus? First trimmed to a "treasure trail", followed by the "bikini line", and so on. With men, the beard and its variations are more of a statement of what kind of man you are. But perhaps as a backlash to the excesses of the sixties and seventies, even a mustache is suspect these days.

   But common to this whole thread is the idea of fur. The reality of fur is that it grows. The idea of fur is colored by its primal element. We live with an idea so powerful that few are able to challenge it. Maybe, as with all trends, this will change. But there will remain a fear of fur, a fear of the beast that lives within us, a beast with fur.

By Professor Batty


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