I'm not sure why I picked up V-Man Magazine at the newsstand a couple of months ago, but I did, and so stumbled upon this fashion shoot by Bruce Weber. It fits into the theme of "books as props."
The title is "How to Read."
Since I detest the idea of the e-book, I should maybe feel comforted by this photo spread. It says, right up front, "From hardbound to softcover...there's nothing like a great book." They're talking about real books, not digital ghosts.
But I wonder if the copywriter just wanted to get the words "hard" and "soft" in there, because books (as it also says in the copy) are mere accessories to the physical firmnesses of the fashion models.
What is the meaning behind this assortment of jerk-off books? Or is it just a random assemblage? Like the stuff in the windows of The Eldridge "speakeasy" club, a scrim for the masturbatory yearnings of the hard body. A lure to false contents.
The following fellow tugs down his drawers and poses with Bukowski. The stark juxtaposition between this Narcissus and old broken-down Buk is startling. Maybe if he was holding Allen Ginsberg or Walt Whitman, I'd buy the pose, but instead I have to wonder if the stylist has ever actually read Bukowski.
And, finally, Kerouac becomes a cover-up for the next boy's stripped loins, while the fashion-forward bathing suit dangles. He looks like a high-school jock ready to suck on a keg of beer. Maybe they figured, hey, Kerouac played football and he sure liked drinking, so this boy must be a fan.
Notice no one is actually reading anything here, though the title is "How to Read." (Step 1 - 3: Press book to genitals.)
As books vanish from homes ("We don’t need to have books out. We know that we know how to read”) and public places ("There’s something about having a beautiful book that looks intellectually weighty and yummy"), they're no longer there to connect us (via the potential of shared memory and experience).
What will be left are books that look and function like empty shells, used as props to communicate--what? Sex? Autoerotism? "Life's A Beach"?