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October 27, 2003

Anne Geddes--Secret Baby Hater?

For those of you who are unfamiliar with Anne Geddes' work, she is famous for dressing babies up in flower costumes and putting them in flowerpots and other surroundings, then taking pictures of them. She also has dressed them as snails, fairies, bears, and even food in a bowl. (You can see some examples here.) I don't like her art. It makes babies into just so much furniture.

For her latest book, perhaps meaningfully titled Pure, she has extended her baby art into a whole new area of uneasy weirdness. Here are some examples: She wrapped a baby and a woman in a tight mesh to make it look as though the baby was still in the woman's womb, though the message conveyed is more one of the devouring mother who cannot let her baby free. She surrounded a baby with weird stuff to simulate a womb, ending up with the effect that the baby, instead of looking enclosed in a mother's comforting warmth, looks isolated, lost, alone and uncared for. She hung babies like so many sacks of cottage cheese in knotted cheesecloth sacks on a line, giving the impression that babies are just an assembly-line object, plenty more where those came from, and all of them alike, none unique, no need to worry about individuals.

She has an entire line of products based on both her earlier and her latest work—books, posters, calendars, clothing, plush toys, gift wraps with her images on it, and whatever one can put the images on. She has also influenced a whole crowd of women who should know better.

Ms. Geddes is undoubtedly a gifted photographer and a canny marketer. And judging by her success, many people find her work to be adorable and cute. I just have to wonder whether these are the same people who found The Nanny Diaries "hilarious," "funny," and "a light read." Do they actually look at what they are praising?

In short, I am and have always been disturbed by what this woman does with babies. Her photographs of babies shows them constricted, bound, alone, apart from any kind of loving family context, altered into something alien and antithetical to what babies are all about. In short, she makes them into objects. Some might say that they are objects of art and that that is her message, but I would disagree.

Babies are Human Beings

Babies are not objects. They are not flowers, they are not fruit, they are not bears or bees or cabbages. They should not be wearing costumes at that age, nor do they need to be restricted and forced back into the womb. They have been born. It is time to deal with them as the spirits that they are, inhabiting small human bodies. They have an awareness that may not be recognizable to us, but it is there all the same. Furthermore, they are spirits who are only just trying to figure out who and what they are and what their role in life on this world is to be; they do not need any complications.

Therefore, to dress a baby in a costume that makes it into a butterfly or a bear or some other non-baby thing gives the baby a confusing message, saying that it is something other than human. Yes, when a child is older and able to hold a conversation about "dress up," then the child is ready to have fun with different costumes. But infants are too young for this kind of play.

And after all, who is the dressing up for? If a baby is too young to make the choice (let alone to appreciate the "fun"), then it is clearly not done for the baby. So it is for the parents' benefit. But what does that say about how the parent views the child and that child's rights? What other kinds of decisions will a parent make for that child as it grows that the parent is not entitled to make? How can a parent enjoy forcing this kind of weirdness on their children? (And I won't even mention the proud parents and grandparents who flaunt their crimes by sending in pictures to magazines.)

It is disturbing to me that such a person as Ms. Geddes can be so successful. That shows that there are a lot of people buying her art who can at best be described as unconscious and not paying attention to what they are supporting (i.e., they only look at the surface of things and don't look underneath), or who, worse yet, agree with the kind of controlling, children-as-owned-objects attitude conveyed in Ms. Geddes' art.

Not Just Babies

When Ms. Geddes works with older children, her art is just as disturbing. For example, she has a photo of four naked children coated with red clay (with their eyes closed), clutching each other for comfort as though some horrible holocaust has occurred and they are being turned into earth. What is she trying to say here? Why on earth would she create such an image?

In another image, a very little boy and girl are dressed as a bride and groom kissing each other, which type of image I have always found particularly disturbing and inappropriate. It is one thing, and quite normal and healthy, for a little girl at a certain age to want to dress up as a princess or a bride and pretend that she is getting married; it is entirely another thing when adults get involved and want to dress very little boys and girls as brides and grooms interacting with each other by kissing or such. One must ask the question, "Are adults who do that sort of thing inappropriately interested in the children in those roles?" I am not saying that Ms. Geddes herself is that kind of person, but would it be too much of a stretch to call what she does child porn?

And, as a psychic who has a good talent for "reading" people from their photographs, based on my opinion of what her work represents, I will say that although she is outwardly a beautiful woman, I would never want my own daughter anywhere near her.

October 09, 2003


I once had a lengthy email debate with someone about guns and the gun-grabbers who are trying to terminate our second-amendment right of keeping and bearing arms. It went well (from my point of view, meaning that we were being civil and, it seemed, learning something from each other) until we got down to why someone might want a gun. The person on the other side of the discussion could see no reasonable reason for owning a gun. When I raised the issue of self-defense, I was totally floored by her response. She stated that she did not have the right to defend herself because she was a Buddhist, and she believed that her beliefs prevented her from any acts of violence, even if those acts would keep her alive.

I didn't know enough at the time to point out to her that even hard-core Buddhists like the Tibetans believed in fighting to stay alive and defending their homeland with guns and whatever else they could bring to hand. And it probably would have had no effect on her to quote Proverbs 25:26: "A righteous man who falters before the wicked is like a murky spring and a polluted well."

However, I did say that she was making the judgment that her life was less valuable than that of some criminal who would take her life without a thought (and probably many others as well), in addition to whatever other crimes he might commit. In fact, by allowing him to commit a crime, she was participating in the commission of that crime and almost certainly making further crimes not only possible but almost inevitable.

This line of reasoning made no impression on her. We ended the discussion at that point, neither of us having been convinced by the other, but, I hope, both of us with a better understanding of how some people think on the issue. But it has always bothered me that she felt her life to be of so little worth that in her mind, anyone had the right to take it away and she had no right to do her best to prevent that. Though for that matter, I do wonder: When it gets right down to it, if her life were threatened, would she really commit suicide by allowing someone to murder her? Or would she realize that it is okay to defend herself?

Even animals know that self-defense is a right. Should you try to attack your cat, your cat will defend itself. Though it may show remarkable self-restraint and not lacerate you as badly as you might otherwise deserve, should you, in your cat's judgment, be accidentally harming it and not deliberately. For example, when trimming some matted fur from my cat's belly, I accidentally nipped his skin with the scissors. He meowed and nipped at me, not breaking the skin but letting me know I had erred. He is a large and strong cat and could have truly injured me, but he knew that I wasn't attacking him. (I felt--and still feel--terrible about my carelessness, and I have never repeated that mistake again.)

Likewise your dog and any other animal that can defend itself, will. Animals that cannot defend themselves will flee. I know of no animal that will willingly take abuse or, worse yet, claim that it has no other option but to take abuse, other than humans. And whoever started the idea that it was somehow holier to allow oneself to be killed than to fight back when attacked was misunderstanding the nature of spirituality and responsbility.

We have responsiblities to ourselves as well as to others, and some of those responsibilities are (A) to make sure we are good people who are doing good in the world (and not harm), (B) to prevent others from doing harm, including to ourselves, and (C) if given a choice between allowing a good person to be removed from the world (presumably, us) or a bad person (a criminal attempting to take our lives or those of our family members), it is our duty and obligation to make sure that the world stays a better place and doesn't become a worse one by our loss. Of course, as thinking, reasonable people with consciences, we must make sure that the threat is real and that we are reasonable in our response to it.

But don't just take my word for it. The Pope, Gandhi, even Jesus all said things in support of self-defense. Here are some links; I'll add more as I find them.

The pope's opinion of self-defense.

Jesus on sword (gun) ownership: "But now, he who has a money bag, let him take it, and likewise a sack; and he who has no sword, let him sell his garment and buy one." (Luke 22: 36.)

Another quote from the Bible: ""If the thief is found breaking in, and he is struck so that he dies, there shall be no guilt for his bloodshed. If the sun has risen on him, there shall be guilt for his bloodshed. He should make full restitution; if he has nothing, then he shall be sold for his theft" (Exodus 22: 2-3.) He who steals into another?s home bears the responsibility of his criminal action. Self-defence is not a crime." (Source)

David Koppel weighs in: ""Consider the situation of a mother in a rough Los Angeles neighborhood, moments after an escaped psychopathic murderer has broken into her house," suggests David B. Koppel. "The woman has good reason to fear that the intruder is about to slaughter her three children. If she does not shoot him with her .38 special, the children will be dead before the police arrive. Is [it] the woman's moral obligation to murmur "violence engenders violence," and keep her handgun in the drawer while her children die? Or is the mother's moral duty to save her children, and shoot the intruder?" ("Does God Believe In Gun Control?")" (Source)

The Bible and gun control.

A patron saint for gun owners?


The bottom line is that not defending oneself is part and parcel of an insidious political agenda that is anti-life and anti-freedom. The next time you hear someone talking about how no one should own guns, ask yourself (and them) some pointed questions about who benefits from a disarmed citizenry. Think of how one of Hitler's first actions was national gun registration, and one of his next actions was to then have his troops go door-to-door collecting guns from Jews and other "undesirables," who of course could no longer defend themselves. And then of course the next step was the death camps.

I am not saying that such a horrible thing could happen in America, but part of why that is so is because citizens have the right to keep and bear arms. We do not yet, thank God, have a national gun registration program, though some states, such as California, are so close to one (in that everyone who purchases a gun legally has to fill out paperwork that the Department of Justice gets to see--and how naive would someone have to be to think that the DOJ doesn't keep copies of that paperwork?

I will end this post with this famous quote by Martin Niemoller, a Lutheran priest who spent seven years in the Sachsenhasuen and Dachau concetration camps--and remember that 22 million people died in those camps. 6 million were Jews; the remaining 16 million were others considered to be undesirable by the Nazi party.

First, they came for the Communists, but I was not a Communist so I did not speak out. Then they came for the Socialists and the Trade Unionists, but I was neither so I did not speak out. Then they came for the Jews, but I was not a Jew so I did not speak out. And when they came for me, there was no one left to speak out for me.