The brilliant Shakespearean scholar Kristin McDermott moderated a conversation at the last Mythic Journeys about a project, Second Skins, that Dahna Barnett has been leading with me in tow, for years now. Appearances are so important because they are elaborate signaling devices, intentional or no, that we navigate by. Clothing, jewelry, hair and headdresses are symbol systems that are so powerful, no one moves completely past them. They are built on the more long-lasting base of the texture of our hair, the color of our skin, subtleties of nose shape that bring with them almost inescapable assumptions. As Yeats said,
could love you for yourself alone
And not your golden hair
It is the discipline, the crucial discipline, of modern life, of multi-cultural nations, of our gigantic global DNA playground, that we notice and hold the appearances lightly, aware of signaling, aware we may not read clearly, aware someone may be screwing with us, aware that meaning is slippery and that we are being asked at this time, to be a little more like God.
Which doesn’t mean we cannot play and enjoy. Here Dolce and Gabbana have had a marvelous time, and me too, with old fairy tales. As Dahna pointed out, there are clever, and meaningful jokes in this collection, Red Riding Hood wearing the wolf’s tail for instance.
This whole issue of Mythic Imagination Magazine, The Subject Is Roses, explores God’s view and our own.