“The Full Circle”

Photo of Hiroko Matsumoto by Richard Avedon.

On the cover: Cardin’s “Butterfly” dress – a giant chrysanthemum of spiraling petals, centered by a blazing cluster of diamonds cascading the shoulder. This exquisitely gentle fall of frosted pink silk chiffon bares an arm, veils the other in a diaphanous, wing like cape. The blossom with in: mannequin, Hiroko.

These are five singular people who appear like metaphors somewhere further out than we do; beckoned, not driven; invented by belief; each the author and hero of a real dream by which our own courage and cunning are tested and tried; so that we may wonder all over again what is veritable and inevitable and possible and what is to become whoever we may be.

There is an old joke in which a man goes into a bar and he sees that the bartender has a banana in his ear so he says Hey, you have a banana in your ear, and the bartender says Speak louder, I can’t hear you because I have a banana in my ear.

The Full Circle

Who is it that can tell me who I am? – Shakespeare

Max Maxwell Landar has become Uncle Sam. It happened that about a year ago a patriotically-named tax advisory service concieved the notion of advertiseing itself by means of a sandwich man in an Uncle Sam costume, so they had a red white and blue suit made at a cost of $175.

Miss Cora Pratt, the Counterfeit Lady, is fashioned of a set of teeth, an old wig, beads, brooches, feathers and laces out of the attic, and the whimsical inclinations of Polly Bushong who has been practicing this little hoax for nearly twelve years.

Prince Robert de Rohan Courtenay, surnamed the Magnificent, the rightful Hereditary claimant to the Throne of the Byzantine Eastern Roman Empire – styling himself His Imperial Majesty, the Magnificent Emperor of the Byzantines and of the faithful Romans, Semper Augustus – was born in Oklahoma in 1886, having lost his Empire, along with a treasure valued at $90,000,000, when the Turks overran it in the year 1453.

William Mack is known as the Sage of the Wilderness, the (Abominable) snowman, Santa Claus, El Dorado, Rasputin, Daniel Boone, Garibaldi. Mr. Mack lives on Third Avenue… And the last time I saw him he said to me: “It’s a great life if you don’t weaken but you are bound to weaken one day.”

Jack Dracula, the Marked Man, is embellished with 306 tattoos (estimated value: $6,000), and although this is a work-in-progress conspicuously distinguished him., he is living in seclusion and I have solemnly sworn not to reveal his whereabouts… He told me he is not afraid of anything, I believe him.

Diane Arbus , Harper’s Bazaar, Number 3000, November 1961, pp. 133-137 (41.2005)

“The Full Circle” on Pi day Photos and text by Diane Arbus, born 96 years ago today, 3.14.1923.

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