The beauty of smoke

8 February 2011

I’ve never smoked a single cigarette — not even a puff. Yet I love watching people smoke onscreen. There are perpetual movements afoot to end images of people smoking, since critics announce that it makes us want to smoke (and yet look at my history!) — such that I’m sure this blog dedicated to photographs of famous people smoking cigarettes must be the most popular blog in the history of the internet. There I found this poignant image of Bette Davis in a cloud of smoke:

…as well as this image of Cary Grant, looking ever more dashing with the cigarette:

So what can I say? After a long day in the classroom, after all that talk, talk, talk, I feel enormous vicarious pleasure in these images of beautiful people looking ever more glamorous behind a puff of smoke — being quiet, being contemplative or melancholy perhaps, but always evoking the mystery of their celebrity. It doesn’t make me want a cigarette, but I love the pause, the possibility for zen.

I almost forgot to mention: this is my perverse response to the news that Pres. Barack Obama has quit smoking. I’m glad for his lungs, and a bit wistful nevertheless.

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2 Responses to “The beauty of smoke”

  1. Hattie Says:

    The phallic implications: Sexy man, castrating woman. I could write a book, but I’m too lazy.


  2. […] illegal drugs and smoking were so omnipresent that I never even tried to smoke. No, not one puff (an experience that I share with Didion, despite her different socialization). Let alone “harder” stuff — although the […]


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