Friday, February 27, 2015

The Animals In Us

    Its so much more, really, than simply that the patterns of coloration on many animals fur are pretty or graphically interesting, though surely they are.  Its that we want and need, still, after all these millennia, to not just draw the animals of the world closer to us, but to in some manner adopt their attributes, to become them in some way.  And if we cannot actually manifest their natures ourselves, we take their visual expression to us, so that we can claim to carry some part of what they represent.  Speed, danger, strength, uncontrollability, whatever the quality we want, we find it in the animal kingdom, and we bring it onto our bodies.
    We have done so since the very beginning, when we actually imputed some mystical power to folding the hide of an animal around us, or wearing its teeth, or making its horns into a headdress.  That we have gone far from that essential place by now is undeniable, yet the resonance of it remains, and we hear its call still. 
     Over this long time of association, we have dedicated a profound sexiness to certain animal patterns, tiger and leopard prints are an instant indicator of unbridled sexual desire, and passion, barely contained.  To wear these things tells others that we are sexy, and a little dangerous.  Sure, for the majority of us now, the connection never comes to the surface, they are simply attractive patterns, but the subtext exists, nonetheless, and its effect on others is immediate.
    Other skins have their effect too, snake, alligator, crocodile, all carry a set of subliminal messages.  And furs of all sorts bring their subtle subtext along with them when we clap them on us.  Though it is obvious, to me anyway, that the easier it is to identify a animal by the pattern of its skin or fur, the stronger the subconscious associations become.
  Though we are losing our attachment to the wearing of real fur, we wear simulations of it.  If we will not wear fake fur, we wear woven or printed textiles that ape those self same patterns.  And we have even copied those things in beading and sequins, morphing the colors to our whim, so that we see hot pink leopard, and navy and cream zebra stripes.
     All this we do, and I mention it for one prime reason, as a reminder that we are not nearly as far from our ancient selves as we like to think.  That bit of us exists, layered over with our civilization, its true, but its there, just the same, peering out into the dangerous night, wondering.


  1. I don't know what it is, and I know I'm just a cry in the wilderness, but animal print - leopard, tiger, giraffe, etc. - is my biggest fashion loathing. I detest the exceedingly popular leopard print, especially; no matter how it's used, it always looks trashy to me. Honestly, I don't even like patterned - real - fur, except of the beautiful living animal. I don't like it on furnishings either. It's the pattern and the coloration I don't like, I guess. I certainly love the look of fur - lavishly applied, Hollywoodian fur - all kinds of unpatterned, mostly monochromatic fur - mink, sable, and especially fox - and am so glad that the fakes are getting better and better.

    (This comment was sort of off-topic, but it's hard for me to get to the psychology of all this, when I'm, right off, so icked-out visually. Hehe!)

  2. I don't feel its off topic. And you're certainly entitled to your feelings about animal prints. I fend to dislike them myself, because they are so rarely, (to me, at least,) well handled.