19 July 2008

I don’t know what I like, but I know art; an unpleasant visit from Dr. Reality; and other observations on Saturday night

Art and the discriminating gent:

Down the Marion County Courthouse, it’s easy to become accustomed to the beauty or uniqueness of the place. The Division I Courtroom is simply the finest, most traditional and most beautiful courtroom in the state. It is nicer, for example, than that in which Gregory Peck tried his murder case in To Kill a Mockingbird. Most of the floors are marble, and the place is lousy with columns. (In a future post, I’ll reveal the scandalous truth of how the Courthouse was made necessary and funded. Remind me.)

On the third floor in the hallway (more of a narthex kind of thing, huge open space, open to the second floor, marble railings, the courtrooms and offices opening off of it) there are “vaults,” half cylinder shaped gaps in the ceiling on 3 sides. At the end of each of these is a fresco. (I think technically a frescoe is a painting done in wet plaster. I don’t know if they are technically frescoes. They are painted somehow on plaster on the walls way up high.) Anyway, 100+ years of dirt (much accumulated when the Courthouse was heated by coal and when everyone smoked) made the paintings dull and nearly unviewable. Somewhere, the County Commission came up with $40,000+ to bring in a couple of professional art restorers to clean the paintings. On each end of the narthex are fairly ordinary depictions of Lady Justice flanked by Industry and Truth or stuff like that. This is American Primitive stuff, I guess, which probably inspired the hell out of the turn of the 20th Century folk. The fresco over the front stairwell is unique. It’s 30 feet up and shows David Morgan. David Morgan was one of the first settlers in the Tygart Valley, and was a renowned “Indian fighter.” (The newest bridge across the Monongahela is the “David Morgan Bridge,” but it is commonly known by the more descriptive name “Third Street Bridge.”) Now, far be it from me to interpret art. I remember “learning” (i.e., being told about and not understanding a damn word of it) Picasso’s painting Guernica, done in 1937 to commemorate a large-scale air attack on a defenseless Spanish village by German-backed revolutionaries. Guernica is a huge painting, done only in black, white & grey. I don’t see any bombs, airplanes, blood, or such. There are light bulbs, birds, bulls, stigmata and sort of faces. It’s probably very meaningful - at least that’s what the professor in college said. I do wonder why a famous artist like Picasso wouldn’t use some damn COLOR? Well, back to David Morgan. In this fresco, he is a fine figure of a man shown prominently on the left in the foreground. He’s shown in neat buckskins of a ruddy hue, he has a fierce and courageous expression, and his strong right arm is raised, holding a gleaming tomahawk. To the right, cowering behind a tree in the background, we see a shabbily dressed, skulking Indian (probably a Shawnee), who no doubt is about to be dispatched as he richly deserves to his heathen happy hunting ground. This painting just pisses me off, and I’m not sure why. It feels more jingoist than racist, it’s a clash of cultures thing. And the story it tells is a lie. The white man didn’t win because “he” was inherently physically or morally superior. There were a whole lot more whites and they were backed by technology and industry that the Shawnee, etc., couldn’t match and on which they became dependent. There is a purity and balance to the way that the Indian adapted to Nature. The story of the decline of the Shawnee is nothing more than Gresham’s Law once again at work.

Does that mean that I’d like to chuck this society thing and live like a Shawnee? Sometimes, guys, it certainly does.

More on the Shawnee soon.

The World is Not Always a Nice Place; Deal with it

Here is either a link or a web address to a YouTube video. (Friend Tree, when she stops by, will doubtless gig me about my computer incompetency, and Set Me Straight.) This is a confession of a murderer. It is unpleasant. So have a Coke and a smile, and watch Dancing with the Stars. Or take a view of some of our Reality.


S/He needs insurance

While blowing through Western Maryland yesterday, a Klingon warbird (disguised as a Chevy Malibu) wearing Erie Insurance insignia blew by me. That’s impressive in itself, because I wasn’t poking along. Ever curious, I kicked Dudley into overdrive and paced this person for a while. However, s/he was going a speed that made even me and the German engineers a little antsy, and s/he was one of the 80% of Americans who say that they are better than average drivers. S/he was in the lower half of that group, based on inconsistent braking in the middle of turns and significantly changing direction in the middle of turns. I backed Dudley down to merely fast and either s/he turned off or the angels who protect children and idiots were on the job, because I didn’t run across any smoking remains the rest of the way. The fact that energy increases with the square of speed makes higher speeds real serious real quick.

Tomorrow, I suppose, more of Pastor Josh on the Jewish Monarchies. I can't wait until I hear about the Lockheed Martin connection. (Friend Josh knows that I'm pretty cynical on this topic.)

Pippa passes.


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