The plaintive, kazooish earworm that is Megan Draper’s performance of “Zou Bisou Bisou” in the season five premiere of Mad Men has been burrowing into the hive brain for the last two days. AMC even released it as a single on iTunes. What is really enchanting, though, is the see-through sleeves she dons (sorry) in her dance of the seven drapes (really sorry), and the “huge undergarments” in which she concludes her performance of the episode. You may be surprised to know that Immanuel Kant has some ideas about huge undies, while Eve Sedgwick offers us the definitive word on the veil. My Mad Men prediction, if you can’t tell, is that Don will murder Megan. I have a fresh perspective: Sunday’s was the first episode I’ve seen.
Q: Speaking of costumes, tell me about the lingerie you wore in the "house cleaning" scene...
A: It's vintage stuff. It's funny, the scene is so risqué...but it's like the hugest undergarments. I mean, it's quite large. It's not very skimpy.
—Mad Men’s Jessica Paré, aka Megan Draper, is interviewed after the premiere of the show’s fifth season, in which she performs a “light burlesque” version of Gillian Hills’s 1960 hit “Zou Bisou Bisou,” and cleans her apartment.
“…The attributes of the veil, and of the surface generally, are contagious metonymically, by touch, and that a related thematic strain depict veils, like flesh, as suffused or marked with blood…The veil itself, however, is also suffused with sexuality. This is true partly because of the other, apparently opposite set of meanings it hides: the veil that conceals and inhibits sexuality comes by the same gesture to represent it, both as metonym of the thing covered and as a metaphor for the system of prohibitions by which sexual desire is enhanced and specified…Note, though, how much the veil is like the veiled, the flesh that is prized for its ‘dazzling whiteness’ (the phrase occurs formulaically). The flesh, moreover, seems valueless without the veil.”
—Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick, “The Character in the Veil,” an essay about Gothic Literature from 1981.
“The Platonizing philosophy of feelings never exhausts its supply of such figural expressions, which are supposed to make that intimation comprehensible; for example, ‘to approach so near the goddess wisdom that one can perceive the rustle of her garment…since he cannot lift up the veil of Isis, he can nevertheless make it so thin that one can intimate the goddess under this veil.’ Precisely how thin is not said; presumably, just thick enough that one can make the specter into whatever one wants. For otherwise it would be a vision that should definitely be avoided.”
—Immanuel Kant, “On a Newly Arisen Superior Tone in Philosophy,” (trans. Peter Fenves), 1796.
Here's the video of Paré's performance: Un, Deux, Trois, Quatre!
Let Me Recite What History Teaches (LMRWHT) is a weekly column that flashes the lavalamp, gaslight, candlelight, campfire, torch, sometimes even the starlight of the past on something that is happening now. The form of the column strives to recover what might be best about the “wide-eyed presentation of mere facts.” Each week you will find here some citational constellation, offered with astonishment and without comment, that can serve as an end in itself, dinner party fodder, or an occasion for further thought or writing. The title is taken from the last line of Stein’s poem “If I Told Him (A Completed Portrait of Picasso)."
Image via AMC