The anonymity and replaceability of the beautiful woman

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Take a look at the woman on the right of the above cover of one of the seminal books on the “beat” movement. That is a beautiful woman. But who is she? I am not sure who the man is either. Maybe a young Seymour Krim? This is Seymour Krim, the writer, with another “unidentified woman”:


I have previously remarked here and in a comment here on how difficult it can be to discover the identity of women in even quite famous cultural imagery:

“It is strange that the women in classic music videos so often remain anonymous, because there seems to be a general tendency for a successful film or TV show to enhance the careers of – or at least increase interest in – all the participants, no matter what their role. Part of the reason must simply be that music videos do not normally have credits, which contrasts with the very comprehensive credits seen with full-length movies. There are exceptions, such as [some] music videos, for which credits are readily available. It is also possible that there was a deliberate policy of keeping the girls anonymous. Men are quite capable of romanticising a nameless girl and projecting their fantasies onto her. As one of the girls herself says here, “I think men are [prone] to fantasize over the girl in videos who is sought out, pined over by singers…the focus of their love or lust. Men were hard-wired to like these women in videos — especially in the beginning of the MTV craze. The women didn’t talk, didn’t have names, but were desired … the “it girl” — gotta have her.””

I don’t imagine that the woman on the cover of the book above is one of the beat writers in the book. So, who was she? Somebody’s girlfriend? A model used for the cover of the book by the publisher?

Beautiful woman are a strange commodity. Exceptional – but also replaceable.


6 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Aram Saroyan on August 11, 2015 at 5:37 am

    The people on cover of The Beats anthology are Joel Oppenheimer and Meg Randall, both poets.


  2. Beautiful women are all beautiful in the same way, while ugly women are each ugly in their own special way. I think Leo Tolstoy wrote that.


    • Posted by Julian O'Dea on August 11, 2015 at 7:27 am

      Well, almost. As I am sure you know, he actually wrote this in Anna Karenina:

      “All happy families are alike; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.”

      As for beautiful women all being beautiful in the same way, you may be just kidding. But I do agree that there is a generic “attractive blonde” and “attractive brunette”. One sees them on the cover of supermarket magazines. But many beautiful women are distinctive.

      I also distinguish between beautiful and pretty. To my eye, a beautiful woman looks best with her face in repose, whereas a pretty girl is often pretty because of her expressive and animated face.


      • I was just kidding 🙂 Although it’s true that averaging faces leads to a result that’s prettier than the input faces. And deviating too much from that average can make you look ugly. It can also make you look beautiful, if you deviate in just the right way.

  3. Posted by Julian O'Dea on August 14, 2015 at 12:52 pm

    More on people who had a brush with fame but are now lost to posterity:


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