August 13, 2007

"The lines of cleavage penetrated everywhere."

I'm so glad -- I'm glad -- that Ann-Margret appeared in that video -- the second one -- in the previous post, because I love when diverse things happen to fall together. I could make a great paranoid if only I could believe such things happen for a reason and if it scared me. But I think it just happens, and it amuses me. And makes me blog.

You know we've been talking about Hillary and cleavage these last few weeks, and just this morning I was reading William Safire's "On Language" column about the word "cleavage":
Cleavage is a strong but multifaceted old noun that has gained an additional meaning. The Teutonic verb cleave means “to split asunder”; the split hoof of many animals is said to be cloven.
And the devil!
The O.E.D. found cleavage to have made its appearance in 1816 about the mechanical division of crystals “sometimes called cleavage by lapidaries” (cutters of gems, nothing to do with lap-dancing). It also became a metaphor in church controversies: “When differences of religious opinion arose, they split society to its foundation,” noted an 1867 essay on Martin Luther. “The lines of cleavage penetrated everywhere.”

We now turn to its sexual sense.... In the zoologist Ernst Haeckel’s 1875 “History of Creation,” the propagation of the egg cell by repeated self-division was described as “the so-called ‘cleavage of the egg,’ ” which we now know forms blastomeres and changes the single-celled zygote into a multicellular embryo, and which brings us to the recent explosion in the word’s usage....
Eggs!
“There was cleavage on display Wednesday afternoon on C-SPAN-2,” wrote Robin Givhan, a Pulitzer Prize-winning fashion writer for The Washington Post. “It belongs to Senator Hillary Clinton. . . . There wasn’t an unseemly amount of cleavage showing,” the reporter granted, but she found it “a provocation” and “startling to see that small acknowledgment of sexuality and femininity.”

The word was then in political play....

The last time the word got this much publicity was more than a half-century ago....

I did not realize it at the time, but the lapidarian-religious-medical meanings of cleavage had only recently been joined by a new sense of “the cleft between a woman’s breasts as revealed by a low-cut dĂ©colletage.” That O.E.D. definition has as its earliest citation a Time magazine article of Aug. 5, 1946: “Low-cut Restoration costumes . . . display too much ‘cleavage’ (Johnson Office trade term for the shadowed depression dividing an actress’s bosom into two distinct sections).” Unless a search engine belches out an earlier usage, that’s a coinage stunner: it was Hollywood that invented the latest sense of cleavage.
This inspired me to do some research. Legal research, as chance would have it. Imagine! Me, a law professor, doing legal research. Has the Supreme Court ever used the word "cleavage," and, if so, has it used it in the recent, Hollywood sense of a cloven bosom?

The answer is that the Court has used the word 31 times, beginning in 1913, and 30 of these instances have had nothing to do with human anatomy: "society's racial and ethnic cleavages," "possible cleavage between black and white voters," "the fundamental cleavage which Article I made between apportionment of Representatives among the States and the selection of Representatives within each State," "more or less definite lines of cleavage among the Justices" -- you get the point.

But there is one use of the word stands out, and it's a reference to Ann-Margret:
Nicholson has been running through an average of a dozen women a year but has never managed to meet the right one, the one with the full bosom, the good legs, the properly rounded bottom. More than that, each and every one is a threat to his malehood and peace of mind, until at last, in a bar, he finds Ann-Margret, an aging bachelor girl with striking cleavage and, quite obviously, something of a past. `Why don't we shack up?' she suggests.
That's from a Rehnquist opinion, but Rehnquist did not come up with that prose. He's quoting a Hollis Alpert review of the movie "Carnal Knowledge" (and finding the movie not obscene).

Don't you wish you were there when the Justices watched that movie? Fortunately, that case, Jenkins v. Georgia, came up during the period covered in the Bob Woodward & Scott Armstrong book "The Brethren":
A screen was set up, and several Justices attended the special showing. As the film progressed, there was little of the usual cackling, running commentary or leg slapping.

"I thought we were going to see a dirty movie," Marshall commented at the end of the movie. "The only thing obscene about this movie is that it is obscenely boring," said White. The Chief left early. He told his clerks the camera work and the lighting had been well done. Rehnquist said he liked the music.
I would like to end this post with a nice YouTube clip, but my head is reeling after looking through some of the crazy stuff a search for Ann-Margret turns up. Like this. I think I'm going to go home and act like this. Wait. This is good. And this is blurry and full of bad, but still good.

Now, go research something.

ADDED: Damn! I put the wrong link on "going to go home and at like this." Ruined the joke. Try it now. ACTUALLY: I've removed all the those links in the end. They've all gone bad. Some YouTube policing, presumably. I hope you caught them when they were good. AND: Links restored.

26 comments:

AlphaLiberal said...

Well, sure, cleavage is fascinating. I've always thought so.. Well, since around 14 YO, anyway. But cleavage is only skin deep, so let's just get back to deeper subjects.

I came to point out something else and invite Ms Althouse to address it. Lacking a better venue, here it is...

We learned today that one of the innocent people tortured by the US international torture complex was falsely accused by another torture victim.

Ann is very scared by the terror threat and urges a "get tough" posture which, judging by her silence (which is complicity), includes support for torture policies.

So I invite Ann Althouse to address torture and the inevitable torture of innocent people. Does she feel safer knowing people are being tortured in our name? (Does she agree with the Bush-Cheney Junta that torture is only torture when the pain level meets or exceeds the pain of organ failure?)

Althouse's silence on these matters raises many questions.

Peter Palladas said...

You omit the joy of the word that it also means its opposite - to join as well as to separate.

Meade said...

AwfuLiberal said..."But cleavage is only skin deep, so let's just get back to deeper subjects"

Only skin deep? Really? How about the cleft between the (I presume) two hemispheres of your brain?

jeff said...

"I thought we were going to see a dirty movie," Marshall commented at the end of the movie. "The only thing obscene about this movie is that it is obscenely boring," said White."

I would have to agree.

"Althouse's silence on these matters raises many questions."

Good point. I have my suspicions about her stance on cat juggling in Mexico. Why does she hate cats so? Her silence on this matter raises many questions.

I followed your link. Since when did we outsource to SYRIA of all places? Seems fishy, but hey! It's in print so must be true.

danny said...

good luck AL, but there are more important things to discuss, like eggs and cleavage!

Ruth Anne Adams said...

All your links go to the same Rogue Novelist bit.

I remember first knowing about Ann-Margret as Ann Margrock on the Flintstones. Stone cold fox.

paul a'barge said...

How about terrestrial occupation of the moon? Althouse's silence on this raises many questions.

jeff said...

Cat juggling on the moon. I invite Ann Althouse to address MY topic. On her blog. The silence is deafening. And telling. And complicit. It raises many questions.

Meade said...

Shhh... I wouldn't mention the moon if I were you guys.

amba said...

Don't forget that women are twice cloven -- that other use of the word, Queen Elizabeth I's, that I've put in the comments before but am quoting again because I love it:

"Had I, my lords, been born crested not cloven, you had not treated me thus!"

Ann Althouse said...

Cloven Not Crested would be a good name for a blog.

Gedaliya said...

Show me no more those snowy breasts
With azure riverets branched
Where, whilst mine eye with plenty feasts
Yet is my thirst not staunched;
O Tantalus, thy pains ne'er tell
By me thou are prevented
'Tis nothing to be plagued in Hell,
But thus in Heaven tormented.

- Michael Drayton: To His Coy Love, 1631

The Exalted said...

some idiotic nyt column puts "the word into political play"

right

or will gets an excuse to slip the anti-hillary reference into his column

i've seen him speak, amazingly articulate, funny, composed, and totally mendacious -- very dangerous combination

Ron said...

Ann...Althouse...law prof with a whip!!!

amba said...

I like the way "a good name for a blog" is becoming like "a good name for a band" ("Nuisance Beavers" was my latest).

Time Magazine actually used the QEI quote in regard to Hillary:

The U.S. has always been a patriarchal arrangement, at least in its politics. Presidents were to be, in the racy formula that Queen Elizabeth I once used, "crested, not cloven." The American political style savored of saloons and cigars, and took its vocabulary (front runner, dark horse) from the race track. It was Founding Fathers, not Founding Mothers, who drafted the Constitution.

~ "Why Not A Woman?" by Lance Morrow

Hoosier Daddy said...

We learned today that one of the innocent people tortured by the US international torture complex was falsely accused by another torture victim.

I had absolutely no idea that Assad was in cahoots with us in torturing innocent people. I wonder why Diane Sawyer or Nancy Pelosi didn't query him on that rather than wondering what was on his Ipod.

ricpic said...

Does Hillary have cleavage or fallage?

Ruth Anne Adams said...

Ricpic: perhaps you're thinking of leaves, and foliage in the fall?

I remember Edith Bunker trying to get Archie to eat more roughage. He said, "Edith, at my age, I need smoothage."

Methadras said...

Ann, your silence on the moon landing conspiracy equals complicity. How dare you!!! Your silence on priest abuse is complicity. How dare you!!! Oh wait, I think you said something about that, but How dare you anyway!!!

Your silence to alphamorons charge of silence about torture of one terrorist victim accusing another terrorist victim is complicity about the complicity of being silence to begin with. How dare you!!!

ricpic said...

It would be a case of arrested development if any of the sixtysomething Supreme Court justices got het up watching the thirtysomething faux angst displayed in Carnal Knowledge.

Paco Wové said...

"I had absolutely no idea that Assad was in cahoots with us in torturing innocent people."

Damn that Bill Clinton - Al Gore junta for starting it all!

(But seriously, extraordinary rendition is a very questionable practice, whether practiced by Clinton's administration or Bush's. It's guaranteed to have significant negative consequences.)

James said...

You can read the 1946 Time article online.

Cleavage & The Code

Which is more sexy—an actress' half-covered bosom or her uncovered legs?

British moviemakers, puzzled by U.S. cinemorality, want a serious answer to this question. For the past fortnight, the man who knows all anyone needs to know about U.S. censorship has been in London trying to explain it in simple English. It is a tough job—even for the Johnston Office's jowly, jolly Joe Breen. No. 1 U.S. "interpreter" of the Hollywood morality Code.

The basic fact that amazes the British: the Code is a voluntary brake Hollywood puts on itself. Its clearest purpose: to keep non-Hollywood censors—official and amateur—out of the industry's hair. (The Code's dozen-odd pages of printed rules need no explanation. Samples: "Adultery . . . must not be ... justified, or presented attractively. . . . Complete nudity is never permitted. . . .")

What really makes the Code tricky is the way it is "interpreted" for each picture's questionable scenes. Four "interpretations" are currently troubling the British:

Wicked Lady, a 1945 picture starring Margaret Lockwood, James Mason and Patricia Roc, was a big moneymaker in England. But the U.S. will have to wait to see it. Low-cut Restoration costumes worn by the Misses Lockwood and Roc (see cut) display too much "cleavage" (Johnston Office trade term for the shadowed depression dividing an actress' bosom into two distinct sections). The British, who have always considered bare legs more sexy than half-bare breasts, are resentfully reshooting several costly scenes.


There's more, including New Statesmana poem from the .

James said...

Or rather, a poem from the New Statesman:(What I get for not using Preview)


. . America's artistes may strip
The haunch, the paunch, the thigh, the hip,
And never shake the censorship,
While Britain, straining every nerve
To amplify the export curve,
Strict circumspection must observe. . . .
And why should censors sourly gape
At outworks of the lady's shape
Which from her
fichu may escape?
Our censors keep our films as clean
As any whistle ever seen.
So what is biting Mr. Breen?

Eli Blake said...

During the prudish Victorian era, there was far more cleavage and of the breast visible in even the most elegant of women's dresses than there are in some clothes that are today considered risque.

On the other hand we think little of legs, but the Victorians went to unbelievable lengths to prevent a gentleman from ever seeing even a woman's ankle in public. Even pianos were covered so no one could see the legs.

Eli Blake said...

The idea of a torture victim naming another torture victim is not new.

During the communist 'midnight trials' at the paranoid height of the Stalin era, the accused would be charged with murdering one of the previous week's victims (only way they could get enough names.) After a kangaroo court they would be convicted and sentenced to death. They then had a chance-- to name all their friends and associates (so in effect this became a pyramid scheme with deadly results). If they named enough, they might even get a sentence commutation-- to a gulag. Otherwise they would be taken outside and driven to someplace where a previously prepared grave was dug, shot and buried so that the people who did it (and who would claim to never know anything of course) would be fast asleep in bed by the time the sun came up.

vet66 said...

Inevitably this conversation will be picked up by the loonie left moonbats who will move from the discussion of cleavage south to the "Bush" and it's divisive nature.

Best cleavage lately was the spectacular display by Sophia Loren in "Grumpier Old Men" that inspired Walter Matthau to famously exclaim, "Holy Moly!" Burgess Meredith did a fine job of representing the crested group by metaphorically discribing the entire produce section for his love interest, Sophia Loren's movie mother.