Rev., Feb 12 12017
Note: author is a second-born identical twin. Meaning that all this is just in good fun, I mean none of this to be taken seriously. For entertainment purposes only.
When you encounter modern rationalists acting entirely by ego with confidence that nothing will ever happen to upset them, it challenges agentic theory, in that they seem to believe that by the rationalization of their ego power, they are immune from forces of agencies basic to all art and life. The fact that they are so confident, in overriding all, with an imperative (the egotistical version of exploitation) to make everything about themselves, means that anyone who reminds them of the basic agencies they are violating (in cult) would be cast as being “superstitious,” or thinking like an old woman, just like in a horror movie. But this is actually what I thought seeing Beyonce’s latest baby pregnant pics, taken by Awol Erizku, jeez, I would never trumpet the news like that, bad luck!, more so since it predicts TWINS!
Some poster-patterer at Hyper made a big deal of this picture representing the power of blackness in appropriating European portraiture traditions, and that was a good thing, because the photog is black, and mention was made of Dutch painting as possibly being a precedent of the flowers. But, and I have written of this, flowers in art are not at all an entirely positive thing, in fact, flowers in art, if too profuse, means decidedly not positive things. This is even more true in popular culture, ie movies, where flowers-only paintings usually represent depletedness of spirit. Which means, for me, this is a reckless, foolish picture, as it would seem to place a heavy burden on the pregnancy, and even curse it. Here is the writer’s google arthistory treatment of it as a race positive poster
but, now, I know that flowers in art are negative. In my treatment of Vertigo, the flowers are the problem, as indicated here.
And then, also, the flowers come up again in the restarant, where he first sees the wife
In both sequences, my argument is that Hitchcock made use of flowery excess in a formalistic way to indicate deceit, the hothouse atmosphere seduction and delusion. So, I carry over these ideas onto this analysis, which also means that the lack of flowers around the belly might also be a positive thing.
This is ostensibly simply a framing device, but it also suggests a flower-killing force coming from the belly, which erases flowers. Meaning, a troubled pregnancy, or a … troubled mother. Then, in the flowers, they seem to form into forms that are a bit too pareidolic, in bringing out imps or manon
While the above shot finds only individual flowers whose profuseness produces demons, in the manner of Goya, as if a meditation on the state of being in the womb of Beyoncé
And a reminder that this, apropos the article mentioned, also has been African-deconstructed, by Shonibare
This one above right, arranges the flowers and colors into the more fully seen image of homunculi
And then I noticed that above her head were two carefully placed flowers, both red, which seemed to me to be symbolic of something
This could just mean that each flower above her head represents one of her babies, and at present they are veiling her, as she worries about them, being two of them to get through a pregnancy.
But when I heard they were twins I was like, seeing the flowers, and people talking about this photograph like it was the artistic equivalent of the famous Sgt Pepper album cover, I hope she has two nice boys, William Campbell and Billy Shears (the former the person said to have replaced Paul-is-Dead, and then his nickname, mentioned on the song, on the album). So, the reference means that I should look for other ways to read the troubling implications of the flowers in this one, in that one.
Well, right away, the formed homunculus figure sticks out, if connected to a female star standing near flowers, here is Diana Dors and flowers
Of Diana Dors I knew nothing of at the time, and only got to know her when I began to review in earnest British horror movies, she had a robust sexpot career in the 50s and 60s
Since the doll is Shirley Temple, and shrouded in dangerous fronds, and is said, in the code, to, based on its praise of the Stones, represent a thought the Beatles would only have if they were dead, Dors blossoms flowers of evil against that innocence, curdling it into a thought of death, her body and its usurping beauty causes flowers to invert in meaning. Then, further down, there are forms of figures in the combinations of flowers that link directly to the previous
The fact that the red shoes dawdle over the flowers, not tiptoeing through the tulips, reminds me of the feet of the wicked witch of the East retracting against Oz’s munchkinland, so another image of death.
Then, below, an even closer correspondence of floral homuncular form
Which almost does seem to reproduce in a flower tableaux the blonde movie star dropping in purple furs into a flower bed evoking her death. The flowers here also spell out SO, as in So?
And then their counterpart at the front of it, is BE
This indicates, in general, and this too was played out in the code, where there is, apparently, an open grave in front, that the flowers on the Cover represent flowers laid at the feet of persons, at a funeral, that is, negative flowers, honorific, but only after something terrible has happened.
A classic example of flowers laid at the feet of, but more in the form of a funeral bouquet, is Sonny Liston on the left side, front row, a wax figure, also in the fronds, that is, an alibi figure, raising fear, then flowers (possibly saying 15, the round he did NOT last until, with Cassius Clay)
And though it’s possible the Beatles wouldn’t have known the reference, it is clear to me his upright inclusion here was meant to clash with the image of him that was already by then, since 1964, fixated in the public mind, the giant of the ring, knocked out, laying in the flowers
This, of course, brings race into it, too, and it has to be noticed that most of the peripheral or service persons in the assemblage are people of color (there is also a good deal of orientalism in this setup, years before that critique was devised by Edward Said), and the only people of color, and that therefore this is a classic Eurocentric, white-based modernist trope (though it is also true the Beatles were working class blokes). In this regard, it is also true that the blackamoors manage the flowers, offer the flowers, tend to the rite, while the whites mourn, Liston is the lightbearer, usher, butler, forever welcoming
(here again I won’t go into the debate over if the Beatles were threatened by race politics, but simply to note they appreciated American black music, brought it to Liverpool, then mainstreamed it, and that then created a larger public taste for it in the States, then, too, in action, they refused to perform at segregated stadiums in the South, and gladly clowned around with African American stars and sports figures of the time, all of which was appreciated at the time as breaking down barriers.
While it is true that, for a moment, the British Invasion caused the MoTown sound serious difficulties, in the long term the Beatles served, by a loop of cultural influence, to enrich the general public’s appreciation of black rhythm and blues and many careers, Chuck Berry, BB King, etc, were enhanced by a spin off effect from the “appropriation” of the Beatles, whose songs were they covering. I would think the Beatles’ views of black musicians was entirely benign, if not devotional, but, the times were the times, with a hint of Maileresque “white negro” art appreciation in it too).
In this regard, thinking of race, BE also reminds us that BEyonce is a generation Beyond that, but still BEing in a way that still subordinates her (even her benign role of “representing black people” is still a pressure placed on her by a subordinate role, white performers have no such pressure to “represent white people”), and maybe even in a moment, culturally, given more devisive race politics in the last few years, where her worries are exacerbated, on behalf of her children of color
Adding to the problems of bad omens, and evil tidings, is that there are some pretty fierce fern houseplants in attendance, and as in all movies, a houseplant of that sort is an alibi formation giving a start in fear that a person with bad intentions is lurking about, in effect, by symbolic substitute, giving a presence to a dark absence (there is no question that Blake knew, from so many movies of the time, that by 1960, the benign houseplant had also curdled into a signifier of reclusive mania and madness, a sickness). And is it a coincidence that when that wheel of frond, that four pointed spin of frond touches the assemblage, it does so by way of the only ANONYMOUS figure in the whole crowd, a dresser’s dummy with a strange hat
Relative to Diana Dors directly below her, exposed in her full sexiness in stardom, but also as a kind of lurking warning figure for all those who are there, in fame (and there is a general drift of death at a young age in the group), she represents the extinguishing a fame, the oblivion that awaits one, after tempus fugit, and memento mori. She could also be said, as mannequins often are, also in movies, to represent any figures in the assemblage who were candidates for inclusion, but left out. Much was made earlier in the devisement of the code that the hand held out over Paul’s head was a Norwegian sign of death coming to that person, or that he is already dead.
And here I point out that while Paul is disguised doubly, both as an oompah band leader, and as “Paul” when this is no longer Paul (according to the code), Beyonce is veiled, and not in any way to sanctify her, but simply to efface her, to indicate that she is not all quite there (here could follow a long study of the use of veils in movies, and in fashion, but prior to 1950, why an appearance in 2017 AD?)
Much less mentioned is the fact that directly to Paul’s left is Johnny Weismuller, Tarzan
Why would he be given such a prominent position if not to indicate that all of this is a jungle, and the path of fame and fortune, and enduring fame, is a jungle, and a struggle, and you need to be a Tarzan to get through it (and of the irony is that while I watched all of Johnny Weismuller’s movies as a kid, they are likely forgotten now—I might also add that the device of the Elephant’s graveyard is attached in my associative memory with him (from Tarzan the Ape Man (1939)
so maybe he is at the center of the cover to place him atop the elephant of fame and lead all the fading famous to this garden party elephant’s graveyard (elephant ivory of course also signifying the gate of ivory through which, as opposed to horn, according to the Greeks, deceitful and lying dreams escaped). But, even less noticed, is that there is a figure above or between Ringo and John too.
Who that is, is unimportant. More important is that Ringo is all but Weissmullerized, to counter some presence around him. Also, that space between Ringo and John is large, it seems that some much more important figure was intended for it, and, indeed, that is so. In that space, in the original plan, was Adolf Hitler, as depicted here, but removed because it was feared it would be too controversial
And it is also to be noticed in this photo that the POV gives prominence to the large fronds on the far end as a kind of backstop of the whole deal, and this reminds us that the shot of that plant in the cover is four-pointed, almost twirling, almost with an implication of swastika
And this in Saigon, so this is a prenazi benign solar wheel of life,
but it relates and swastikas did make good coffin covers
and now if you place Johnny Weismuller as the Tarzan swinging away spirit of that part of the Beatles that was sick of fame, or, at least, the screaming mania
and then replace in place Hitler as the nemesis away from which he swings, to escape the negative side of fame, the mania and the madness, and then you take that vignette and expand it out to the whole array, with the four them in their new metamorphosis stepping aside and away from their old persona as the Fab Four, you have the idea that the whole thing is a meditation on fame and mortality and immortality, and a critique of all of that too. And, then, rattle it all back, Hitler chases Weismuller, weighs on Paul, gets him, in fact, hand over head indicating he is dead, and the mannequin at the side represents too the absented Hitler to by way of swastikated palm frond convey a fear of the consequences of fame onto Diana Dors whose confrontation with mortality is expressed by way of homuncular patterns in the flowering, these patterns repeat in the flower arrangements of the Beyonce picture, they conjure up figures, haunting, they make a sign of death over her dead, she is veiled, the space around her belly has become poisonous to flowers, the whole thing, presenting itself as a benign announcement, in fact brings up a lot of bad omens and vibes, suggesting that deep down, underneath all that exposure of skin, the exposure of which is made to make us idolize her, in the cult, there is considerable worry over the health of the babies given that they are twins, and the fear that when born and raised they will be spoiled and any child, really, can end up as a Hitler someday, as he had a mother too. It is also true that a mother of twins can have no conception of how this conception will turn out, she is flummoxed, and putting a good face on it, but that second one is freaking her out. He, then, the second twin, the surprise twin, is the surprise guest at the party, and, as such, he is the hidden, secret figure, the secret thing, that upsets the balance of regular births. From Hitler to him, comes the strange vibe of a hidden something, lurking, even, possibly, to give birth to the proverbial evil twin.
But, the punchline is, if all these things are in there, then that means that the code of the picture is primarily apotropaic, it is a spellcasting, by way of distance reference to Sgt. Pepper, against all the threats of death against her unborn children. I have said often, three words you will never hear a human being utter are, “Let’s have twins.” Having twins is an extra-ordinary experience, it puts everything in another zone. Therefore, rather than a silly African American poster of appropriating European royalist visual traditions, an idea which is a mere rationalization, this picture turns out, if unconsciously, to be a caring, real, “I’m worried” picture, a “what have I got myself into?” picture, an “I’m freaking out” picture, a visual rosary, as it were, as it should be, for all mothers who hear those terrible magic words, “you’ve got twins”.
Flowers in the 60s were doubly troubled because of the emergence of the flower children as hippies, but, up to this point, 1967, it might’ve been hard not to think back on LBJ’s ad against Goldwater in which a daisy picking girl
Sets the world on fire.
Postscript 2, I actually had a very rare sex dream last night, woke up thinking that its orgasm had gone off like a bomb, I could not get out of bed, then when I came to work I saw that a Thanksgiving honeycomb decoration turkey on its side, still left out, make a mushroom cloud of yellow honeycomb too).
Postscript 3: Again, all this for fun, in consideration of it being a twin picture, in truth I offer all positive blessings and best of luck to Beyonce, her family and her children, current and to be, and by this wish erase any negative vibes created by the above dark humor.
Postscript 4: June 18, 2017. Though the date of the birth is not yet clear, due to security, it is also true that the birth of the twins, which now allows me to release this information, was made on June 18, which is Paul McCartney’s birthday! (This news also revealed that the twins are fraternal, not identical, which means, never mind…as, amongst us identicals, fraternals are not “real twins,” it’s an insider twin joke).
Postscript 5: December 29, 2017, BD of Artnet names this the most viewed work of art in the world in 2017, so I feel better about playing with it.
Postscript 6: in VOGUE magazine, August, 2018, Beyoncé informed the world that it was, in fact, a difficult pregnancy requiring an emergency C section, that during it she found out that she is descended from a slave owner who fell in love with and married a slave, and that she hoped that carrying the male and female spirits of her (fraternal) twins in her would neutralize this “curse,” or, in any case, problem, and lead to a better life for them and all her descendants thereafter. So, this is strange.