Sunday, November 28, 2010

all is vanity

When I saw this in Highland Park earlier today, I thought for a minute that it was a severe, puritanical homily - the kind that one occasionally finds painted on the side of buildings when one takes a back road somewhere in Pennsylvania or Ohio.   But no - it seems to be an awning beckoning one into a beauty salon.

Still, it's rather disturbing.   Given the observant Jewish population of Highland Park, one might assume that very many of them are quite familiar with the Book of Ecclesiastes.   And certainly, although I'm not sure what strictures are laid down in Orthodox dress codes, the long back skirts and flat shoes, etc, seem to suggest that vanity is a sin very much to be guarded against.   Even I (were I to be tempted to go to a beauty establishment in Highland Park, which admittedly is deeply improbable) would baulk at this name, which seems to reprimand one for frivolity, and to remind one of the futility of trying to push back one's wrinkles rather more than one wants to be reminded.   Because even if Ecclesiastes isn't at the front of one's mind, how could one not think of Charles Allan Gilbert's 1892 fin de siecle drawing, "All is Vanity," with a skull jumping out at one from what's ostensibly a woman adorning herself at a dressing table?

No comments:

Post a Comment