Gods and Dogs 

On Clothes, Costumes and Bandages -

We are born naked – with no protection to face life – 
First clothes we experience are diapers (If we are lucky).

Later on, we are dressed in anything, which is given to 
us, forced upon us, or which we have inherited from older 
brothers or sisters. They protect us from sun and cold and 
they cover our nudity.

Later in life, we try to influence the way our body is covered 
by begging and screaming, to convince our parents or foster 
parents, to supply us with clothes, which would help our self 
esteem, or at least give us a slightly dignified look, providing 
us with some respect from a highly critical and often merciless 
circle of children surrounding us.

Later, when we are able to pay for our own clothes, we 
face more difficulty, as we must start making our own 
choices, and we begin to understand, that by covering 
our body in different ways, we can enhance or even change 
our personality, and by doing that we can also change our
standing within the society we live in. Unfortunately, we are 
not well enough equipped to face these challenges. It all 
becomes a very intriguing but often deceitful undertaking.

We are easily seduced by trends and fashion, influenced 
by friends, lovers and family, or made to abide the rules of 
religions, beliefs, sexual orientation and other convictions.

Later in our lives, we encounter illness (mental or physical), 
when we have to dress our wounds of life (mental or physical) 
when our body (physical or spiritual) cannot support our daily 
routine, we need clothes which enable us to do this.

The clothes, (all kinds of supports, bandages, old age diapers 
etc.) which we put on whenever we are ill, injured or disabled, 
reveal to everybody, that we are vulnerable, so we are actually 
an easy prey, easy to be taken advantage of, or be targeted 
and attacked. But this state of vulnerability might also create a 
more unusual circumstance under which this garment represents 
a certain kind of “stigma” or some sort of a “symbolic” value, 
elevating us to higher spiritual grounds (the loin cloth of Jesus, 
the shroud of Gandhi or the clothes pilgrims would wear on their 

Dancers love to dress in rags. Their daily wear is of great
psychological significance and has much to do with their 
individual superstitions. No matter how casual their outfits 
look, they are never chosen by chance. They hide or reveal 
their body as well as their momentary mental, physical or 
emotional state allows them.

In the community of artists, dancers always appear to be 
the fittest – physically and mentally – but the contrary is 
true. They are more prone to injury – mental, physical or 
emotional – than any of their artistic colleagues, because 
they are obliged to exhibit their own body as a work of art !

Surely, I don’t reveal any great secrets, when I say, that 
none of us was born perfect. We inherit physical strength 
and resilience , but also weaknesses, or our mental capacity 
with all its loopholes - inevitably our emotional armoury will 
reveal cracks, but - we all must live with this heritage from 
the moment we scream for the first time, until silence.

In the course of our life, psychological twists and turns, 
acquired or inherited and illnesses will become our constant 
companions.  And then - suddenly - after having breathed 
so much life, after being inspired by so many adventures, 
after being intoxicated by so much living - suddenly, we 
are declared sick, ill, deranged or dysfunctional.

It is this border, between “normality and insanity”, between 
“health and sickness” and all the norms which determine 
the one or the other, which fascinates me. 

It can be diagnosed at any moment of our life. But where 
is exactly this moment, which will ultimately push us over 
the invisible border into the dark world of insanity and
illness, and who will be the "Determinator....?"

It is more than clear to me that I am not the first or the 
last person to ask these questions, and I think that every 
emerging generation should re-examine and redefine the 
borders and the twilight zones of insanity and illness.

But regardless of the borders, within which these human 
conditions will be confined, surely no positive developments 
can ever be accomplished without the help of a healthy 
portion of madness.

Jiří Kylián - November 2008