Sunday, September 26, 2021

Tadzio


As I was walking home from work on Friday I found this flower lying in the street. I think it must have fallen out of someone's cut flower arrangement. Miraculously it hadn't been run over or trod upon, so I brought it home. I have no idea what it is -- the leaves look a bit like alstroemeria (Peruvian lily), which is a common cut flower, but the blossoms look more like poppies. My plant identifier app first tried to tell me it was a snapdragon (not) and then a China rose (also not). It's a mystery.

Yesterday was indeed a very restorative day. I spent the morning reading "Johnny Tremain," one of the better Newbery-winning novels. I remember reading it as a kid and loving it, and I'm happy to say it has withstood the test of time, at least for me.

I did nothing in the garden. I did no housework. In the afternoon I walked Olga to the cemetery, and she was downright energetic, chasing squirrels and her tennis ball. (In fact, she not only carried her own ball, she found more -- we left the house with one and came home with three, making up for some of the ones she's lost in the past! In fact, some of those found balls could conceivably have been hers.)

I talked to a woman at the cemetery who was there with her dog. She was enthusing over Olga and said she had a staffy that lived to be 16! That made me feel better about Olga, a comparatively youthful 11 or so.

I found this on the sidewalk on Finchley Road:


It's on a very delicate square of tissue paper. I'm surprised it was intact. What year is that by the signature -- 1996, or 2016? Anyway, it's kind of meh, but I couldn't resist picking it up.

Last night Dave and I watched an intriguing movie called "The Most Beautiful Boy in the World," a documentary about Björn Andrésen, who was plucked from obscurity as a teenager to play the role of Tadzio in Luchino Visconti's 1971 movie "A Death in Venice." The documentary examines how that experience transformed Andrésen's life, in many ways for the worse. He didn't really want fame and wasn't even chosen for his acting ability -- he was chosen purely for his physical beauty, after a rather creepy audition that required him to walk around the room and remove his shirt. (He was fifteen at the time.)

Andrésen now bears no resemblance to his earlier self -- with long gray hair and a full beard, he looks like Gandalf in "The Lord of the Rings," as one of the reviewers said. Talk about the ravages of time! Even by the end of the film he remains a bit of a cypher, and you can't help but contemplate the ways that physical attractiveness can transform a person's life.

Everyone, especially when they're young, wants to be attractive. But I've often thought that being physically average was a blessing in disguise. I wouldn't say I'm unattractive, but I've never been conventionally handsome, with my big teeth and premature baldness. As a result, people mostly left me alone -- I didn't have to fend off a lot of advances, and I didn't have people imposing their expectations or desires upon me. I got hit on just enough to make me feel appreciated. In the age of AIDS, being of average appearance may have even helped save my life. Who knows? At any rate, living as an object of others' desire is taxing, and the movie conveys that.

53 comments:

  1. Could your lovely flower be a Lisianthus? Never heard of them ....just been looking things up!

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    1. YES! I think you're right! Bravo for solving the mystery!

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  2. You are right that living as an object of others' desire can be very tiresome as I have repeatedly found to my cost. Fortunately, at almost 68 years old, I find that my female fan club is at last diminishing in size. In the past, it could be awful. They wouldn't leave me alone with their screaming and protestations of love.

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  3. The movie and your insights are fascinating. Will have to check it out.

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  4. The better they are when they are young, the harder the fall as they age. I saw that film and Andresen was luscious. It is hard to understand his problem.

    Hey, isn't it so good that both of us were never that hot when we were young but have turned into hot daddies now. I've never noticed your teeth.

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    1. That's true -- I think people who were considered attractive in their youth often have a much more difficult time with aging. I'll definitely settle for being a hot daddy! LOL

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  5. It's sad that filmmakers did that to a child, and also that his parents allowed it.

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    1. Apparently it was really his grandmother who pushed him to do it. He says she wanted to be related to a celebrity!

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  6. I never considered myself conventionally pretty when I was young but when I look back at pictures of me then I'm surprised. I think I was better looking than I thought I was then. I think it's hard for pretty or 'beautiful' women to grow old gracefully especially if they think their self worth is wrapped up in their looks.

    I'm glad Francis identified the flower, I had no idea. White and pink on the same stem.

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    1. Yeah, I think many of us looked better than we gave ourselves credit for!

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  7. I grew up a brown-skinned brown-eyed girl in the age of blonde hair and blue-eyed beauty. In some ways it probably saved me from even more disasters than I had. The documentary sounds really interesting. I'm going to see where and how I can stream it.

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    1. We rented it through Amazon. I assume it's available in the states too.

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  8. I'd much rather an interesting face than a beautiful face. I find beauty (the standardized, American film type) boring. The joy of getting older (probably the only joy) is not giving a damn what anyone thinks of you - how you look, dress, act. It's so freeing!

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    1. There is a SAMENESS to a lot of allegedly "beautiful" people, it's true. I have a terrible time telling many of the girls at our school apart, because they all have a similar look -- slim, long hair -- dictated by standards of "beauty."

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  9. I just love your finds, keep em coming, lol
    Briony
    x

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    1. Never a dull moment on the sidewalks of London!

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  10. There is something peaceful about being ordinary. Whether it's because of extreme beauty or wealth, some are never sure of the motivations of any of their friends or loved ones. It destroys relationships and confidence in one's worth. Luckily, I don't have to worry about that!

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    1. Yes, that's exactly true. I do think there's a huge degree of freedom in not having to worry about that.

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  11. I've always thought of being beautiful in youth as the cheerleader syndrome. They're pretty, popular, and then they flame out young and the background people continue on with stable lives.

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    1. Definitely -- and as others have said, so much of their self-worth gets wrapped up in their appearance, which inevitably fades.

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  12. I think a lot of us are beautiful in our youth, which gets us to our station in life. Then we become rather ordinary while we fulfill our lot in life. That's an interesting self portrait that you found. I wonder how close it resembles the artist. Enjoy your day, hugs, Edna B.

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    1. I wonder if it's a self-portrait or just a portrait? Who knows?

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  13. Beauty truly is in the eyes of the beholder. That applies to dogs as well as people. (meaning I don't always find all dogs attractive. Of course my dogs think I'm outstanding!)

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  14. I love your onion and apple sauce jars. Those blooms look a bit like tulips but they seem more delicate than a tulip. I'm glad you brought them home. I'm sure they would have been squished if you hadn't.

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    1. I think Frances is right about the identity (above) -- Lisianthus.

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  15. I think that the most beautiful boy grew up to a really beautiful older dude. I love his appearance. And you , sir, are strikingly handsome- you don't even know how stunning you are and that is probably a good thing.
    I love the flower that you found and the drawing. Olga's tennis balls take the good- find- of- the- day to another level! A most practical pooch. I just found out that you can sew tennis balls in the back of a t-shirt, sleep wearing it- prevents snoring.
    Good Info!

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    1. I may be a lot of things but I doubt I am "stunning" -- thanks for the vote of confidence, though. Olga is usually wildly impractical, but she came through on this particular day. :)

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  16. I looked up the guy and this is a quote from him. "I was just 16 and Visconti and the team took me to a gay nightclub. Almost all the crew were gay. The waiters at the club made me feel very uncomfortable. They looked at me uncompromisingly as if I was a nice meaty dish...it was the first of many such encounters."

    I think that is the reason straight men often feel uncomfortable with gay men. They're not used to being looked at like that, women are. We learn at a young age that we are meat or prey. That's just my opinion though:) Also the reason I like gay men, they aren't looking at me like a piece of meat which is a nice change. Even old guys do this, although not nearly as much.

    I also wanted to be beautiful when I was young but I was not thank goodness. I would have been such a bitch. I know this about myself.

    And that poor young man. It doesn't sound like it was a good experience for him.

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    1. I think it's true that some straight men feel threatened by gay men -- but I suspect it's more because of their own reactions to being seen as attractive by another man. They might secretly like it, at least a little bit, and that freaks them out!

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  17. Ich weiß leider nicht um welche Blume es sich handelt, sie ist aber sehr hübsch. Ähnelt einer Lilie. LG Romy

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    1. For the benefit of my English readers, via Google translate: "Unfortunately I don't know which flower it is, but it is very pretty. Resembles a lily."

      It's Lisianthus, apparently. To me it looks poppy-like, but yes, the stalk and leaves do resemble a lily.

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  18. My guess on the date is '96 although there does appear to be a period or decimal between the digits, so maybe it's not a year at all. It would be interesting to know! It's an interesting sketch.

    I recall the name Johnny Tremain so I assume I read something about him when I was young, but I can't remember if it was this book or not. I'm glad you enjoyed this Newbery since you've slogged through so many lesser ones!

    I was 25 when I realized I was never going to be beautiful. Naive? A little. But after I hit 40 I realized the beauties from high school and university were fading and I was glad I didn't have to deal with losing that part of my identity. Now that I'm almost 65, people are surprised at my age. I suppose that's some consolation. lol

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    1. Maybe it's 9.6, which could just mean Sept. 6? That's probably much more likely, in terms of how long such a fragile thing could survive.

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  19. Interesting idea for a movie. I've never seen it.

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    1. I think I saw the original many, many years ago, but I'm not sure.

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  20. Strange! Northsider just picked up an applesauce pot at a carboot sale, and I just spent a time wandering around in google land. I saw celery pots, and now I see you have an onion pot. I guess I am still trying to figure out their purpose. The applesauce one, sort of explains itself, but is your pot for cooked onions, or for storing raw onions?

    I have seen women fret terribly about losing their looks. For me, it's a non-issue, since there was so little to lose. But I think that's what happens to girls who are so beautiful that this is what they hear for all of their lives. They begin to see their beauty as their value, and the idea of aging brings a lot of insecurity and fear because they see their value diminishing. Now I am off to read about Bjorn Andresen

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    1. We have a celery pot too, just to the left of the onion pot! I have no idea what that container was really meant to hold, if anything. I think they're all mostly decorative.

      I think you're right about some people's fear of aging.

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  21. Those are lovely, sweet blossoms - glad you brought them home to share with us!

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  22. One of the reasons so many actresses and models wreck their faces with surgeries when they get older is because they have always been judged by their beauty and it is unthinkable to them to lose it. So very sad.

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    1. And some of them go to such extremes! I once read that there's an entirely different standard of beauty among wealthy women (including, I assume, the Hollywood crowd) and that includes an expectation of plastic surgery in later life. In other words, what we see as freakish -- a "wrecked face" -- they see as perfectly normal and even expected.

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  23. Thats Right, Olga Girl Is Just A Pup - Walk On Brother Reed

    Cheers

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    1. She's got a lot of puppy in her still, for sure!

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  24. I was a lot cuter than I thought I was at the time, but I was also VERY OBLIVIOUS and spent a lot of time reading. Was I hit on? Who knows! Ha!

    I'm glad you had a restorative day - it makes me feel better about not doing much myself.

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  25. I still have a copy of Johnny Tremain and read it every decade or so I'm guessing. I never have pegged why I like it that much.

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  26. Death in Venice was required reading in my final year at secondary school (aged 17) and I remember the teacher concentrating with all his energy on the language and desperately trying to distract from any suggestion that the great Thomas Mann could be gay. We gave him hell, the teacher. In the end, we watched the movie and even then found it boring. It was the mid 70s, too much real life to get lost in.

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