Thursday, October 01, 2009

This lovely bee broach is from Madeline Albright's collection. The former Secretary of State has a passion for broaches, mostly costume jewelry, with an occassional piece with diamonds or semi precious stones, and has written a book about her strategic use of them as a diplomatic tool called Read My Pins, which she is currently promoting. You can read the New Yorker review, or get more info. Evidently Ms. Albright is funny. Like Carrie Fisher funny. So I imagine going to one of her readings would be kind of a hoot.

I hesitated to include the publicity photo of her wearing a matching set of dove earrings and a broach, as Ms. Albright always struck me as very Kissingery. Both former Secretaries of State have that zaftig Yiddishe Eastern-Europe mojo going on. But Ms. Albright with a dove symbol is like Henry Kissinger winning the Nobel Peace Prize. (Oh wait, that totally happened. Fun Fact: Henry Kissinger won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1973 to be shared with Vietnamese Diplomat Le Duc Tho, who had the decency to turn it down especially since the Vietnam war did not end until 1975). And Mr. Kissinger has been quoted by the Grey Lady herself, saying: "The illegal we do immediately. The unconstitutional takes a little longer." While Ms. Albright made that horrifying comment about the deaths of about half a million Iraqi children due to sanctions. Realpolitik, folks. The Secretary of State is not running for Ms. Congeniality. "Mr. President, I'm not saying we wouldn't get our hair mussed. But I do say no more than ten to twenty million killed, tops. Uh, depending on the breaks."

What I like about the idea of this book, leaving all that blood on the hands stuff aside, is a powerful woman discussing something frivolous and framing it with anecdotes and quips about her extremely high profile work. This bee broach, for example, was worn by Ms. Albright to meet with Yasser Arafat. And Mr. Arrafat apparently sent her a butterfly broach after their meeting. Quite charming, no? And then there is the snake pin. Saddam Hussein had a court poet who wrote a humorous verse about Ms. Albright's snakelike qualities. (Akhenaton says that political poetry, invariably in praise of the leader, is a tradition in Arabic poetry and easy to write. Perhaps like Limericks?) Ms. Albright chose a pin showing a snake coiled around a branch and holding a diamond in its teeth to wear to all future Iraqi negotiations.

The other thing I like is the idea of a woman who is known not known for her beauty, who is of a certain age, and whose work came first, writing about her love of these trinkets and how she used them both to signal her feelings and boost her mood. (Isn't it sad that I love that? Isn't it sad that a woman has to be young and beautiful to worthy of an audience in our society? When will the youth obsession die?) At any rate, Ms. Albright has some good tips. Commenting on her ample physique she says that she wore her pins higher and higher on her shoulder to draw the eye up and away from her matronly bossom. Useful info indeed. I just might read this book.



Blogger midafternoonsnack said...

I'm not a great fan of Ms. Albright's "diplomatic" style, but I am all for her broaches! What a great idea to publish a book about her down and dirty semiotics?

Love it!

6:50 AM  
Blogger samsara said...

Ah, Ms. Mid Afternoon, that's what I meant to say but floundered! Broaches, yes! War to advance American agenda, no!

8:42 AM  

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