Kate: The Kate Moss Book

Kevin Kopelson writes:

Many people believe that Jesus, when alive, was both human and divine, or both mortal and immortal; many people, likewise, believe that God himself, of the Old as well as the New Testament, is both spiteful and forgiving, or both hateful and loving. And while we all believe such contradictory things about ourselves, about other people well known to us ‘in person’ (friends, lovers, colleagues), and even about the writers we read, we do not believe such things about relative strangers – that beautiful young man at the gym, that horrible troll there – and neither, as a rule, do we believe them about celebrities. We believe from reading him that Oscar Wilde – in person – was both superficial and profound. Or we believe that Roland Barthes in person – after publishing The Fashion System – was both structuralist and poststructuralist. And yet while Barthes himself, correctly, found that fictional characters seem realistic only if described by novelists as, say, demure yet determined, tender yet tough, casual yet cunning, he just as correctly did not find this to be so of female movie stars. ‘Garbo’s singularity,’ he wrote in Mythologies, ‘was of the order of the concept, that of Audrey Hepburn is of the order of the substance. The face of Garbo is an Idea, that of Hepburn, an Event.’

(LRB 20 December 2012)