Disturbing Image Of The Day
Thanks, Vanity Fair! As I think about it, I suppose in a magazine that distributes images of willowy, scantily-clad women between its often-excellent articles, this kind of turnabout is fair play, and I can work up a bit of admiration for Hitchens' willingness to display and mock his out-of-shape body; it's certainly funnier and more interesting than much of his recent writing. So, is what disturbs me in this photo the naked, smoking, soaped-up Hitchens, or my knowledge of what his real body, his textual body, has been up to in the last few years? Is the breakdown in the physical or in the stylistic, in Hitchens' move from a pleasingly contrary dandy persona to a neocon? Does this photo then function as a kind of public cleansing? Something more ambiguous ("I'm getting healthy, but I still have the cigarette in my hand"? And why is the cigarette the most enjoyable, sensual element for me, when I don't even smoke)? The shampoo water flattens his best attribute-- his floppy, Hugh-Grant-like hair--and his closed left eye makes him look like Ugarte, Peter Lorre's scheming opportunist in Casablanca-- just a coincidence? An accident of the moment, the light streaming in from the lower right window both revealing and fogging the scene?