Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Roots and Origins

    Most of us, whether we are consciously aware of it or not maintain a connection or two to our dimly perceived human past through our clothing and accessories.
    To this day, we wear objects of bone, hide, fur, bark, feathers, shells and reed.  Sure, we can say that it is because these are plentiful, adaptable, and beautiful materials that fully deserve to remain in use. That is observably true. There is though, another layer; a deeper more profound one that causes these things we use to have a resonance they might otherwise not.

    When we were a young species, clinging tenaciously to life, and fighting hard each day to survive in a dangerous, seemingly unconcerned reality, we took the magic of the animals we hunted successfully directly onto us; hoping somehow to gain some of their strengths. From that time to this, the wearing of fur has been a signifier of power and status. It is only in the latter 20th century with the rise of the animal rights movement, that this deeply held feeling has been challenged.  It has not, however, been supplanted entirely.

    Similarly, we took the teeth and bones of those animals we conquered and used them to adorn our bodies, and help make our clothes. The use of plant fibers, seeds and shells all became quite early a part of what we used, and still use to decorate ourselves.  Our shirt buttons are made from sea shells and wood, our hats are made from woven reeds; and seeds have stood in to create color for our textiles.  All these things that exist in our modern society as a daily part of it, are actually connections back across time to our very origins.

     What makes this realization more significant is that on some subliminal level we know this.  The animal prints we use commonly create an instant sub-textual connection to the primal. The straw hat we wear evokes a simpler agrarian history. Whether we understand it consciously or not, that  perception is undeniably there, and it surfaces in intriguing ways, all the time.
    Significantly, a lot of these primary materials have been subtly fetishized in our group mind into having sexual connotations, that hark back to the power and control we hoped to gain from those very things, when we captured and utilized our prey.
     Indisputably, leather has taken the front row center seat in this row of proto materials we still use, and have fetishized.  So ubiquitous has this become, that a whole sub-culture involved in the wearing of leather has grown up around the identification with this animalistic part of us.
    So, give it a little thought.  When and how does this impact your life and day?  Do you like and wear animal prints?  Have a fondness for bone jewelry?  Wear a leather thing or two?  Or is our primate past a more vaguely perceived part of your world? I know for myself, as I muse on this, that the number and variety of these things that inform and occupy my world grows, the longer I think on it.

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