Violent anachronism

April 1, 2004 at 12:37 am | In yulelogStories | 9 Comments

Since I just wrote something about houses and bodies and frightening transformations and medieval fairy tales and classical myths, I have to add that I found David Weinberger’s link, offered on March 29 in his posting Hyenas on Leashes, beyond bizarre. (N.B.: I’ve never gotten the hang of doing trackbacks, sorry if this one doesn’t work, and that particular permalink doesn’t seem to want to work either, but at any rate, David’s entry is March 29 1:23pm.)

He links to this, which comes via a Dutch site that offers 2 additional pictures. Take a look.

These particular combinations of man and animal looked to me like some kind of awesome (and really scary) medieval bestiary, or an illustrated mythology: griffons, centaurs, that sort of thing. Not that medieval bestiaries scare me, but these photos looked scary the way some medieval peasant might have been awed by a bestiary. They looked fantastic and unnatural somehow, and I’ve been trying to jog the old brain to come up with why they should appear as such (to me, anyway). Is it the implied violence? But then, why would a Darth Vadar style futuristic get-up inspire less fear …? And the latter does inspire less fear in me: pictures of guys in uniforms with big weaponry don’t have the power to frighten me in the same way. Why? Because we’ve become used to our technologies, which are packaged largely as consumer goods, to be the purveyors of a violence and disruption we believe we can tame economically, but when faced with an image that reaches back in time, a whole new frisson makes its way up the spine? Shouldn’t the guy with the automatic weapon be scarier? Do we think that the guy with the automatic weapon is somehow “nicer” or saner than the guy with the hyena on a leash — just as we think the guy with the pitbull is probably unbalanced? But why think anyone with an automatic weapon can be trusted?

Theme: Pool by Borja Fernandez.
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