Sunday, 25 March 2007

Loved ones

I was reading an LRB review of what appears to be an extremely interesting book by Alice Kuzniar, dealing with the dog-human relationship and called Melancholia's Dog, and this image, seen in the Guardian round-up of readers' pictures for 2006, came into my head.

This is the caption that accompanies it:

This is a special image for me of my dog Charlie, who passed away this August. I used the clippings from a trim he had during the summer heatwave to create the image, which reminds me of the mischief he regularly got into.

Kuzniar talks about mourning in her book, and refers to a photograph by Sally Mann showing a piece of skin taken from the corpse of her beloved greyhound, Eva, on which ribs and other bones from Eva have been lined up. The photograph is entitled 'What Remains, 2003'. She comments:

Although Sally Mann might be accused of uncovering and publicly displaying what is intensely personal, namely the remains of a loved one, by representing finitude and loss she militates against how grief over a pet is socially foreclosed.

If this is true of Sally Mann, it's even truer of Charlie's owner.


Chancelucky said...

It's very primal. My other immediate action was also that it's a little weird.
On the other hand, I think the modern world could use more primal and weird rather than less, so what the heck.

My personal line was I kept my dog's collar and tags once, but I don't think I'd keep hair, severed paws, or teeth. I have seen people take their dead pet to the taxidermist, also one case of the critter being turned into a rug. I haven't stayed friends with any of those people though. My wife has threatened to turn me into a stuffed animal after I die or was it that she was going to kill me and turn me into a stuffed animal? I guess the two are different concepts.

Charles Lambert said...

I like the idea of using hair clippings because they work on a level that's so non-carnal; hair's like nail clippings. It has the kind of power you can use in voodoo, but it's not really the body itself. I think I may be heading into some dangerous area like transubstantiation here, so I'd better stop. But I definitely would not want to stuff my partner after death. In any meaningful sense of the word stuff.