Ethics Warm-Up, Valentines Day, 2018: Of Mummies, Mockingbirds, Hunchbacks, And Sperms….

Happy Valentines Day!

1 Jeremy gets a vacation! As some of you may know, philosopher Jeremy Bentham, John Stuart Mill’s mentor and the founder of utilitarianism, has been stuffed and kept in a glass case at the College of London since his death in 1832 as a condition of his will. I’m not kidding! (A photo has appeared periodically in the Ethics Alarms header from the blog’s first day.) Here he is…

That’s Jeremy’s real head on the floor: the one on top of the stuffed body around his skeleton is wax. Jeremy still attends all meetings of the school’s board, wearing his own clothes.  Now he’s visiting the U.S., something he always wanted to do when he was alive.

2. The message is increasingly clear: everything is racist. Got it, thanks! Working from her mummy, scientists from the University of Bristol reconstructed the face of 3,400-year-old queen Nefertiti, King Tut’s mother, using 3D imaging technology. The process required more than 500 hours. Nefertiti was Egypt’s queen alongside Pharaoh Akhenaten from 1353 to 1336 BC. Heeeeeeere’s  NEFI!

Now the project is under attack on social media because the reconstructed Nefertiti face isn’t dark enough, not that anyone has a clue regarding how dark or light anyone who lived over 3000 years ago was.

This is the kind of gratuitous race-baiting that causes well-deserved backlash.  It’s also redolent of an old whitewashing theme, dating back to the “Cleopatra was black” and “Jesus was black” claims of activists in the 1970s.

3. Segue Alert! And speaking of stupid whitewashing controversies, the cancellation of that high school production of “The Hunchback of Notre Dame” because the student cast as the gypsy ingenue Esmeralda was “too white” provoked a backlash….from Nazis.

Naturally, this means that the race-based attack on the innocent student cast because she was the most qualified to play the part was justified, thanks to the trampoline effect when a bad idea is attacked by even worse extremists.  (Don’t make me put the cognitive dissonance scale up twice in one day.) The New York Times reports that the students who intimidated school administrators into cancelling the show “are now besieged by an online mob targeting them with threats and racial epithets after the incident was reported in right-wing publications like Breitbart News, then spread to the neo-Nazi site The Daily Stormer. Via Facebook, the students received pictures of themselves with swastikas plastered on their faces. One parent had what was thought to be her home address (it wasn’t) posted online with a comment seeming to encourage harassment: “Do your thing social media.” Another parent received a profane email, assailing her for embracing “anti-white racism,” adding: “I feel sorry for your brainwashed child.” The way this phenomenon works is that now, when someone legitimately objects to the unethical handling of this episode by the school, they can be portrayed as agreeing with white supremacists.

We saw this effect in full bloom in Charlottesville. Tearing down statues of Robert E. Lee is a form of historical airbrushing and censorship, and principled, objective critics (like me) condemned the statue-toppling mania. Then the alt-right and the white nationalists marched against the removal of a Lee statue, and suddenly if you objected to a memorial to a major figure in American history and a bona fide military hero whose life is a wealth of lessons for all of us, it meant you were siding with racists.  President Trump was effectively trapped by this Catch-22.

4. Segue Alert 2! And speaking of the Left’s increasing enthusiasm for censorship and thought control, “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” and “To Kill a Mockingbird” have been pulled from school curricula by the Duluth School District in Minnesota. The local NAACP chapter has been pushing for this for many years, apparently. “We felt that we could still teach the same standards and expectations through other novels that didn’t require students to feel humiliated or marginalized by the use of racial slurs,” the district’s director of curriculum, Michael Cary, told news media, adding that for  “a number of years” some students have said the racial slurs make them feel “uncomfortable.”

Notes The National Review,

The Duluth-area NAACP finds itself creating an unlikely echo of Jim Crow fans who sought to kill To Kill a Mockingbird because it made white people feel bad about themselves. Denouncing the book as “immoral” and “improper,” the Hanover County School Board in Virginia voted unanimously to remove it from schools in 1966. Lee replied tartly of the board: “What I’ve heard makes me wonder if any of its members can read. Surely it is plain to the simplest intelligence that To Kill a Mockingbird spells out in words of seldom more than two syllables a code of honor and conduct, Christian in its ethic, that is the heritage of all Southerners.”

…Literature is supposed to help readers accomplish what Atticus Finch famously advised his daughter Scout to do: “You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view . . . until you climb into his skin and walk around in it.” It is doing no favors for young people to quarantine them from books that consider other ages, other mores, other viewpoints — some of which were vile. Learning to grapple with such discomfiting truths is a part of growing up, or used to be. Now the push to turn the whole of literature into a safe space is reinforcing the urge to postpone adulthood indefinitely. As Twain once said, “Censorship is telling a man he can’t have a steak just because a baby can’t chew it.”

When I was a lad, it was the Right that was always trying to stop us from reading, watching and hearing things, and liberals were the champions of free speech, expression, and access to literature and the arts. How did progressives become so corrupted and estranged from their own values?

5. Finally, a few comments about “Spermgate.” The earlier post regarding the possibility that President Obama’s hand-picked portrait artist may have inflicted a gross image on the painting gleaned what I regard as head-exploding reactions from some commenters from whom I have reason to expect better. Those reactions I would characterize as Rationalization #33. The Management Shrug, or “Don’t sweat the small stuff!”:

…Not only does the accumulation of little wrongs, ineptitudes and transgressions erode values, cultural norms and efficiency, it also eventually undermines the mission and goals as well. “Don’t sweat the small stuff” is the mark of a bad manager as well as leaders who encourage and foster bad management. The philosophy is one of built in excuses for failures, on the logically absurd theory that a thousand little failures won’t add up to one big one.

I don’t even agree that the imprint of a sperm cell—the artist’s trademark, we have learned—on the face of a former President in an artwork created for the National Gallery to be viewed by proud American citizens–is a trivial matter. Ace Commenter Mrs. Q, as she usually does, nails why:

Kehinde Wiley has a large piece I’ve seen in the local major museum here. Personally his work isn’t my taste but having read about his art, especially the infamous decapitated white ladies, I don’t find his work objectionable. What is objectionable is a former President picking an artist whose work is fairly pedestrian save for the chronic sperm depictions. Seriously, how would the Obamas NOT be aware of Wiley’s wiley work?

Picking this artist to paint a Whitehouse portrait calls into question the Obamas’common sense and legacy. It will be permanently tarnished (not that it wasn’t already) by a juvenile choice to pick a juvenile artist.

This is about more than sperm, art, and patriotism. This is about making a moral choice for our country in a time of severe deception and division. This is about a former world leader being a leader and not being enmeshed with political statement artists when it counts. And as history and museums show us, portraits do count.

Another Ace Commenter asked, “Why should anyone care other than Barack Obama?”

Well, here’s why I care, dammit. He’s one of our Presidents. The portrait is going to hang in the National Portrait Gallery with other POTUS images, and that means that Barack Obama’s permanent image in our nation’s Capitol should not be flip, or edgy, or disrespectful to the man, the office, the venue, the nation, or the Republic. Obama didn’t pay for the work, taxpayers did. Quite simply, a vulgar image–and a sperm represents a bodily excretion that gentlemen do not display in public unless they are Louis C.K.—does not belong on a Presidential portrait.  I don’t care that it’s his signature, of sorts: that signature doesn’t belong on a portrait of a President of the United States that will be on public display under the auspices of the United States Government, and anyone who argues otherwise is spinning so hard they might corkscrew themselves into the ground.

This isn’t Obama’s portrait to indulge himself with. If the painting is going to hang in his Presidential Taj Mahal, that is, library, or his home, fine. He can let the juvenile artist put the outline of a penis on his face: that will let us know something about his  taste and sense of propriety. But this portrait is for the rest of America, and posterity. The real “who cares?” is the artist’s identity and his trademarks. Outside of Gilbert Stuart, how many painters of Presidents can you name? What matters is the subject, and what the portraits represent.

There are other problems with Obama’s sperm-vein, besides that fact that “factcheckers” and the Left’s mouthpieces are denying that it is there, thus proving what untrustworthy, dishonest hacks they are. We have been bashing the current President for his boorishness and lack of couth and decorum for over a year, and now the most vociferous Trump-haters are saying that it is trivial that the previous President may have allowed his official portrait to include a sperm on his face?

Then there is this: there has been a rumor of long-standing that Obama is a closeted gay man (not that there’s anything wrong with that) What kind of man ends up with sperm on his face? If a homophobic anti-Obama critic created such a drawing, it would be attacked. Or is Obama tacitly trolling his critics? Or is he acknowledging something? Here’s a rule: “No secret messages, symbols or images in portraits commissioned for national display” How about that? No dirty words, like the “sex” that a sophomoric animator stuck into the sky in “The Lion King”; no suggestive images, like you get when you fold the Land ‘O Lakes girl juuust right…

—no cleverly disguised or hidden sex organs, turds, swastikas, no racially-charged objects like basketballs, chicken wings or watermelons, so coded initials, and no sperms.

Again, I must say: I’m amazed that I even have to write this.

 

50 Comments

Filed under "bias makes you stupid", Around the World, Arts & Entertainment, Character, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Dunces, Government & Politics, History, Journalism & Media, Leadership, Race

50 responses to “Ethics Warm-Up, Valentines Day, 2018: Of Mummies, Mockingbirds, Hunchbacks, And Sperms….

  1. Other Bill

    Oh my God! Nefertiti is a Kardashian!

    • Glenn Logan

      Actually, she looks like the sister of the actress France Nuyen, who played the part of Elaan, the Doleman of Elas in Star Trek’s original series.

  2. Land-O-Lakes is on the America’s Dairyland MI Upper Peninsula state line and is the source of the (as OB would put it) the mighty WESconsin River.

    And no discussion of hidden

    • (And no discussion of hidden) “whatever” would be complete without homage to the indefatigable Joe Camel.

      • Other Bill

        Good grief. The first (and previously last) time I saw the Land O’Lakes maiden folded like that was in sixth grade. Class wise-guy and hyper active cut up, Hunter Wagner, enlightened all of us with that very neat trick. The same Hunter Wagner who two years later giggled when Sister Whatever Her Name Was urged us to say an extra prayer as we adjourned for Christmas break because “sometimes some of us never come back from vacation.” The same Hunter Wagner who died on his surgeon father’s operating table over Christmas break as Doctor Wagner was trying to save his son who’d shot himself in the head with his father’s revolver while daring some other neighborhood kids to play Russian roulette. Life’s dangerous.

  3. dragin_dragon

    I had a cat named Nefertiti once. We called her ‘Wild Child’, since shorting Nefertiti to ‘Titi” seemed, well, disrespectful. Cats know when they are being made fun of, and, boy, do they disapprove.

  4. Except don’t we have wall paintings that reveal the color that the ancient Egyptians seemed to think Nefertiti was? Maybe Thebes ancient Egyptians were tan-washing everything…

  5. luckyesteeyoreman

    2. I’m waiting for some historian of modern (leftist) sensibilities to assert that Eric the Red was black. (She’ll be correct, too: Eric just didn’t identify,/i> as black.)

  6. JP

    I thought the Disney SEX thing was proven to be SFX.

  7. Chris Marschner

    Jack: I have been struggling with the flu and apparently unable to structure a cogent thought. If you will indulge me as I try to put some context to my earlier sentiment.

    While I reject the rationalization that “we should not sweat the small stuff” because I believe it is the small stuff that develops into a big stinky mess, right now we need to focus or at least prioritize our attentions. It was never my intention to create the impression that we should not deal with the small stuff.

    RE: “Another Ace Commenter asked, “Why should anyone care other than Barack Obama?” This comment looked vaguely familiar.

    Everything you stated after that sentence I agree with.

    When I read the first post earlier today regarding Hannity’s bashing of the portrait I thought to myself, Is this all we have to focus on right now? Can these people (not you) grow up and begin to address the serious challenges we have today? And, I am not talking about what lawyer paid off what porn star Charles. The biggest issue confronting us right now is how to undue years of growing polarization. Where is the friggen leadership to address this. We cannot address entitlements, immigration, debt issues, or how to prevent other nations from destabilizing us when we are at each other’s throats every damn day.

    That was the crux of my first comment. When I attempted to clarify I began to put myself in the other person’s shoes – ala Atticus Finch – as to whether my sensibilities regarding the portrait were correct, I considered how my view of art may be substantially different than Obama’s but given that much of art is subjective I took pains not to impose my value judgments on this work.

    Having considered your perspective as well as many of the other commenters I have a better understanding of your point. I know you deeply value the office of the presidency and do not want to see it diminished in any way, irrespective of who is in office. In my haste to be nonjudgmental of the choice of artist or quality thereof, I failed to consider the legacy effects of such a portrait.

    Perhaps you can address the ethical issue of whether we as a nation, in order to preserve the honor and prestige of our highest office, should we demand that future presidents limit their choices of artists to only those that create photo-realism in the images they create on canvas? If we should and then demand photo-realism does that perhaps distort the actual persona of that president. Are these the images of what we want our presidents to project or should the images reflect the true personalities, peccadillos, or bad taste and quality of judgment of that president. On one hand, I want the institutional portraiture protected from the oil on velvet crowd. We have the technology to eliminate the artist altogether by taking a digitized image and using CNC equipment to recreate the brush strokes. Such a practice would probably much less expensive and more egalitarian because such contracts would have far more qualified suppliers.

    On the other, there is value in memorializing the decision making process that can only be attributed to the individual whose likeness is created in the portrait. The decision to permit any likeness of any president to be permanently on national display is on him or her alone. It is the one decision that cannot be attributed (blamed) to others. Thus, the portrait will serve as an enduring context for many of his statements.

    I pay homage to Mrs Q’s comment:

    “. . .What is objectionable is a former President picking an artist whose work is fairly pedestrian save for the chronic sperm depictions. Seriously, how would the Obamas NOT be aware of Wiley’s wiley work?

    Picking this artist to paint a Whitehouse portrait calls into question the Obamas’ common sense and legacy. It will be permanently tarnished (not that it wasn’t already) by a juvenile choice to pick a juvenile artist.

    This is about more than sperm, art, and patriotism. This is about making a moral choice for our country in a time of severe deception and division. This is about a former world leader being a leader and not being enmeshed with political statement artists when it counts. And as history and museums show us, portraits do count.”

    I agree with every word. Future historians will be unable to airbrush this decision away.

  8. Son of Maimonides

    “… a gross image …”

    Of (possibly) a sperm cell? We’re back to menstruation now.

    • Son of Maimonides

      “–and a sperm represents a bodily excretion that gentlemen do not display in public unless they are Louis C.K.—”

      Or in biology classrooms, or when having a discussion about the nature of life, or in television shows, or all over an intern’s dress that broadcast all over national media. Whatever stigma the subject might have held in the political arena has passed. The point is, context is everything and sperm as an abstract concept isn’t lewd or anything else — it just exist. Depending on how one approaches the subject or how the sperm is displayed means everything.

      Moreover, this is all underscored by the fact that this is all just guesswork. Wiley’s “trademark”? Hardly. He employs a number of tropes in his work of which sperm has been one, but it’s not what he’s most known for, nor is it a defining characteristic from what I’ve seen. Speaking of which, “we have now learned”? This story broke less than a day ago and the majority of those talking heads now professing their art acumen to anyone who will listen had never heard of Kehinde Wiley before (I know I hadn’t, and I actually follow this stuff). Anyone assuming anything has already made an ass of themselves and I (for one) refuse to get dragged further into it.

      It’s art, and the fact that it’s caused so much controversy goes a long way towards proving it’s (not a typo, that’s how it should be spelled) inherent worth.

      • You are a master of equivocation and deflection. 1) Sperm is not used, portrayed, or spoken about in casual public conversation. Still. 2) The aspect of it in the Lewinsky investigation was regarded as gross, and condemned as gross at the time. 3) A gratuitous discussion of sperm in a workplace environment would create a prima facie case for sexual harassment. 4) A President talking about sperm, much less wearing it, would be universally treated as breach of decorum and taste. 5.) The fact that a particular feature isn’t an artist’s only trademark doesn’t mean it isn’t a trademark. His proclivity for using the object is noted in all online bios I have read, so the only relevance of your cavil is that maybe Obama had a reason not to assume the artist would be so inappropriate and disrespectful. That means that he was obligated to have consent. Again: if he didn’t, he’s an asshole. If he didn’t, then both he and Obama are assholes.

        My post has nothing—nada, zilch, nil—to do with art. I’m not criticizing the quality of the art. Placing sperm on a President’s face in a public portrait would be wrong for Rembrandt, Picasso, or Wyeth. If the artist were better, if the portrait were a masterpiece, not a word of the post would change, nor would the ethics analysis be any different.

        Nice exhibition of shameless spin, however. It’s so much easier to pretend to rebut an argument when you intentionally distort it.

        • Son of Maimonides

          “You are a master of equivocation and deflection. ”

          You don’t know me, so I would appreciate you refrain from broad generalizations about my personality and style of debate, as I have extended you the same courtesy.

          “Nice exhibition of shameless spin, however. It’s so much easier to pretend to rebut an argument when you intentionally distort it.”

          Again, sir, I believe you’ve mistaken me for someone else. I admitted to not being fully educated on the issue and made a point (replete with questions) which you answered. Mine was a point for consideration and rebuttal, not a testament to my feelings on the matter.

          You’re more convincing when you phrase things “I think you’re mistaken, here’s why” versus criticizing my “shameless spin.” An opinion expressed earnestly and questioningly is spin?

          Speaking of spin, you’re whole argument rests on the assumption that this is what happened, as opposed to the fact that it’s all imagined. The artist’s other use of sperm was quite obvious and clear, this is a hidden detail on the President’s forehead which has to be zoomed into to see. It’s CLEARLY a sperm when enlarged and pointed out, but I guarantee 99% of the viewing public would have seen nothing. Can we not even accept the possibility this is shapes in clouds or penises in Mermaid castles?

          • I said that it could be the most incredible coincidence imaginable. I also said that the shape is very sperm-like, and claiming that it isn’t is dishonest. Your argument is now that an artist who frequently paints sperm into his paintings of black men painted one by accident in what he knew would be his most famous and prominent painting, but didn’t realize it. That’s literally what you are suggesting is a plausible scenario.

      • Whatever stigma the subject might have held in the political arena has passed.

        Let’s test your little assertion. Procure yourself some of the substance (if you are female, find a willing donor… should not be hard) on your face and walk about in an urban area with a lot of pedestrian traffic. Tell me how it is reacted to by the common random strangers you encounter.

        Try the same thing at a political event. See if the reaction is different.

        Admit what it is, and see if you don’t get arrested.

        If you shy away from jumping up and doing this, it shows there is a stigma in your mind. If you think you might get arrested, you think that society believes the stigma. If you think a political event will be the same as walking the street, your assertion is wrong.

        (Well, I think that you stand a greater chance of being arrested at a political event, but YMMV).

        • “find a willing donor… should not BE HARD“? (bolds caps mine)

          Slow lob of the day!

        • Son of Maimonides

          There’s a difference in wearing actual sperm on one’s face and depicting it as a matter of art. Symbolically it can represent anything from life to masculinity, to creation itself. It is not gross, it is the building block of all life.

          Perhaps that’s the argument the artist was trying to make. Or maybe he smudged the paint too much, or maybe it’s glare. The point is, what’s gross in the “real world” and what’s gross when depicted abstractly are not one in the same. Michaelangelo’s David would be a sex offender if he stood in a street corner, but on a pedestal in a museum, he’s right at home.

          I’m willing to accept there’s a difference, but I’m having trouble seeing it.

          • In the artwork of this strange queer Black artist the sperm has an equally bizarre role to serve. You and anyone can spend 2 minutes looking into it via Google. Masculinity, power, homoeroticism, a statement about Black power, about the relationality of Black power to White power … So many things.

            To understand this issue though, you have to place it in a cultural context. But there are numerous ‘cultural contexts’ and, I suggest, you reveal your own as you elucidate your interpretation of this strange strange national event now being circulated globally.

            However, and unless you desire to be blind and to remain blind to the viewpoints of others, you must look at this through the lenses of various people, or various groups. Let’s take just one:

            Imagine the following and pretend that you are living in a smallish still-Christian community in say, ‘Milford, Michigan’. Here’s how it comes to you:

            “A Black radical homosexual artist who depicts black people holding the severed heads of Whites has just unveiled his portrait of the US President and, to all appearances, he included on the side of the President’s head what looks to be a spermatozoan.”

            Obviously, in a biology class, and within zoology, such things are considered as the generative functions and diagrams are presented. But in this case, and referring to your example, one must spend a minute to consider Who is offering this opinion? One must turn the examination lens around and look at you.

            Who are you? What ‘value system’ do you come out of? Or put another way, what value-system did you used to come from? Because even though you profess a neutrality, of sorts, your neutrality is in no sense neutral. It is really quite active. (But it is doubtful that you see this). It is value-laden, and if one looked further into you by asking you questions you would, piece by piece, reveal your value-structure.

            You fit in to a rather late era postmodern and post-Christian (or post-Jewish given the Maimondides reference) set of what can be described as ‘collapsed values’. Yet you would not describe yourself as such naturally. But you would be seen that way by others who are still involved in and located in specific value systems which, I gather, have become foreign and strange to you (and Charles, and Chris, and Spartan et cetera).

            And because you (seem to) have no self-consciousness of where you stand on the valuation-scale, as value-actuator, or because you hold yourself up as ‘normal’ and your view as the most reasonable, you don’t realize it but you are actually forwarding values, bringing them out, asking that other people recognize and, ultimately, accept those you see as normal.

            But they are in no sense ‘normal’. Or put another way they come about as a result of the application of choices made in respect to values. They have come about through long causal chains. And they are likely ephemeral and spurious (certainly so in respect to ‘traditional values’ and the logic that supports these). You represent, in this sense, a unique metaphysics. To understand you and what *made* you, you have to be dissected (if you will permit the turn of phrase).

            So, what does one take away here? That we live within times of ideological and also metaphysical battles. It corresponds in my view to an applicable metaphor: Spiritual war in high and low places.

            Those who have had the value-ground wiped out from underneath them, as you, stand on a postmodern ground, yet you see yourself as standing in metaphysical and meta-political normalcy. But you are (likely) anything but normal. You see in this sense, if you were to push on the metaphor, you are dealing in anti-values. And that ‘anti-‘ designation, obviously, connects up to a whole outlook which is (still) very much with us though we don’t often discuss it in those terms.

            The ones who undermine values, the ones who pervert culture, the ones who pervert children, the ones who pervert the mind, who deal in and install vulgar, obscene and deranged images in the minds of others, who permit thse things and indeed who encourage these things: I tell you truthfully there is a whole segment of the population, here and in many places, that will not stand for your perversions. They will work to correct them and attempt to put a stop to you.

            It really does come down to this, though I hope you see that I am using this as an illustrative example. (I have little idea who you are and what you think).

          • You dodged the question. Your claim was quoted in my response. You lack of engagement and deflection shows YOU know your claim is not true.

    • Stipulated: Normal, civilized people regard sperm on the face of the President of the United States as gross. You don’T? Swell. Take a class.

  9. When I was a lad, it was the Right that was always trying to stop us from reading, watching and hearing things, and liberals were the champions of free speech, expression, and access to literature and the arts. How did progressives become so corrupted and estranged from their own values?

    It is like many who were on the Right switches to the Left, while keeping their ethos regarding censorship.

    • Wow. This happens a lot, it seems. All of the racists in the South up and joined the GOP, taking their racist values with them, according to progressives.

    • “When I was a lad, it was the Right that was always trying to stop us from reading, watching and hearing things, and liberals were the champions of free speech, expression, and access to literature and the arts. How did progressives become so corrupted and estranged from their own values?”

      My hunch is that ALL worldviews have an instinctive tendency to censor works and protect the lanes of communication from work that either support worldviews in opposition to it or undermine confidence in the worldview itself.

      My guess is that the so-called progressive championing of “free speech, expression, and access to literature and the arts” more or less stemmed from it’s competitive worldview fighting to get its own communications into the mainstream, with little regard to overall principle of a “marketplace of ideas”. Now that the progressive worldview has been mainstreamed, it has little need to *apparently* champion freedom of speech and it’s more apparent that in reality it was only trying to champion it’s worldview and can now comfortably engage in what all worldviews have a tendency to do: censor works that undermine confidence in its own.

  10. Sue Dunim

    Exhibit C

    ” Hannity later released a statement in which he said: “Earlier today my web staff posted content that was not reviewed by me before publication. It does not reflect my voice and message and, therefore, I had it taken down.”

    Even Jove nods.
    I had a propensity to disbelieve the story as yet more right wing political BS,of the silliest and most egregious kind.
    Would I have been so diligent in fact checking had I been predisposed to believe it? Well, I may be able to take the 5th in a comment, but I can’t fool myself. Not in this case, anyway.
    That means I can’t criticise overmuch without being a hypocrite as well as prejudiced.

    In my own defence… I was not 100% convinced that there was no chance whatsoever that the story was true. So it was worth checking, in case I was wrong.

    I’m not going to examine all the leaves with a magnifying glass to see if there are some hidden images embedded within one or two of them though. I freely admit that with this artist, there may be.

    “When correctly viewed, EVERYTHING is lewd,
    I can tell you tales about Peter Pan, and the Wizard of Oz (that’s a dirty old man)”…

    • Hannity is a weasel, to be sure. But he shouldn’t have baled on the story. Here’s yet another example of the fascist right undermining an issue by getting involved.

      You’re right: the artist could have hidden an elephant in that foliage, and that would have been the right place for the undercover sperm, if it had to be anywhere.

  11. From The National Review, quoted by Jack:

    “…Literature is supposed to help readers accomplish what Atticus Finch famously advised his daughter Scout to do: “You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view . . . until you climb into his skin and walk around in it.” It is doing no favors for young people to quarantine them from books that consider other ages, other mores, other viewpoints — some of which were vile. Learning to grapple with such discomfiting truths is a part of growing up, or used to be. Now the push to turn the whole of literature into a safe space is reinforcing the urge to postpone adulthood indefinitely. As Twain once said, “Censorship is telling a man he can’t have a steak just because a baby can’t chew it.”

    The following represents my attempt to point to and provide a picture of ‘meta-politifcal perspective’. I have made this choice in respect to my own concern for and ivolvement in ethics & morality. My desire to *see clearly* arises from my ideal to live ethically.

    My guiding idea is that in Our Present, and in this case specifically in the USA, we are witnessing a meltdown of constructed narratives. To see that process in greater clarity requires a position outside and above it. It requires a meta-cultural perspective. But I extend the meta- reference even farther: in order to understand our present requires a meta-political and also a metaphysical perspective. Right now, all perspectives are in disarray. That is one of the signal events of the day. It is in a sense the fruition of a specifically modernist doctrine of the relativity of all values.

    The example of To Kill a Mockingbird is an apt one. It now comes to light that there is a backstory to the story. There is a backstory to the construction of and the imposition of a novelization of the past —- the story narrated by Scout —- which later was seen to be ‘false’ and contrived. The novelist became the chronicle of her time, she responded to The Time itself as if she were translating metaphysical values into the moment. “If we write novels so, how shall we write history?” (Henry James)

    Now, in our present, the Guiding Narratives that had been established in the postwar … are splitting at the seams. Generally on this blog (this is my opinion and perspective) most denizens show a great deal of need and desire to live within what is now becomeing a sort of ‘cartoon picture of reality’. Anyone who has read my writing will have registered that the American Postwar Narrative is a constructed narrative. It is a ‘lie’ in a way that can be compared to a ‘novelization’. In essence though it is a false, though certainly a useful, view of history.

    The Postwar Era can be and should be described as one in which certain meta-narratives were spun and ‘set into motion’. This is very certainly true of ‘America’. In order to understand this, again, requires a position above and outside it. I refer to it in a general sense as Social Engineering. That means a top-down engineering of opinions, views, perspectives, right and wrong, good and bad. It is carried out by an entire System of interconnected powers and interests. So simple to describe, and far harder to decipher what it means …

    I would suggest that this unraveling of narratives and the inevitable disunity that we notice unfolding day-by-day is not repairable. If there is a longing to recover something that *once was* it is romantic longing, a nostalgia. It is not going to happen is my pessimistic assessment. This means exactly what you think it means. Socially engineered outcomes, because they are in essence non-organic and false, have led to a ‘Walmart America’. It is a totally flat, a totally unreal, a totally undesirable outcome. No upstanding human-being how is a human-being should want to live in Walmart America. And no one should desire to live in an Americanopolis. I think these are very hard truths. It is coming unsewed at the seams and ‘reality’ is spewing out the sides.

    Now, to face these facts is what is demanded. To face the facts and to begin to live in the unraveling present not in a false-present of ones romantic or nostalgic hope. To see truthfull and realistically in our present, and certainly to talk openly about it, provokes a reaction in people who do not desire to see, or who prefer to see through the distorting lenses of ‘imposition’.

    I suggest there are a few principle areas in which narratives can be clearly seen collapsing and I will here commit an ‘evil act of seeing’ by attempting to describe them. One has to do with America as the multicultural republic. This means the specifically engineered republic (post 1965) that we now live in. This social engineering not only is coming unraveled, it is necessary and good that it unravels. I mean ‘good’ in the sense that it is natural: a false-creation, effectively an unwilled one, is an artificial imposition and artificial impositions cannot stand. We are witnessing now the first stages of a far larger civil conflict. Obviously, I do take the meta-political view that hinges in ‘preservation of Europe’ and the reconstruction of European Identity. And I specifically say that this Identity has been under assault since around the time of the Second World war.

    The essence of this ‘attack on identity’ revolves around the attack on German identity and the absolute villification of the Nazi and European reactionary conservatism and ‘fascism’, which is a vast, powerful, and deeply undermining ‘narrative’ that has become established as a religious tenet in our present: the very imago of ‘ontological malevolence’. That is, in my colorful way of putting it, the dagger that has been thurst into the heart of Europe. It is a hard idea to take in, I know, and to really take it in means to confront the false-narrtives that were cynically set in motion throughout the 20th century. I have spent just about 4 years now doing this. It has not been easy.

    But there you have it: the dagger has to be pulled out. And that is the process that I serve as self-defined Eurocentric. And the entire force that put the dagger in has to be confronted and opposed. One can look at these oppositional forces through a historical-material lens but it is also possible to look at them through a metaphysical-metaphorical lens. But understanding these two poles of perspective seems quite important. This work is, as I have said so often, essentially spiritual. It has to do with matters of the European soul and spirit.

    You will recover it or you will die. Just as the signs of death are now showing themselves. Waldo Frank in ‘The Rediscovery of America’ wrote of the wonder of a rotting corpse: all the individual cells light up with fantastic life even as the larger cultural body is moribund. Each cell is in chaos but what a splendorous chaos!

    You will begin to undertake the work of reconstruction, and you will adamantly oppose the forces and the narratives that operate, in deadly manner, in our present, or you will die. This is the essential message brought by Providence as the ground shakes and the temples tremble.

  12. Jack writes: “Well, here’s why I care, dammit. He’s one of our Presidents. The portrait is going to hang in the National Portrait Gallery with other POTUS images, and that means that Barack Obama’s permanent image in our nation’s Capitol should not be flip, or edgy, or disrespectful to the man, the office, the venue, the nation, or the Republic. Obama didn’t pay for the work, taxpayers did. Quite simply, a vulgar image–and a sperm represents a bodily excretion that gentlemen do not display in public unless they are Louis C.K.—does not belong on a Presidential portrait. I don’t care that it’s his signature, of sorts: that signature doesn’t belong on a portrait of a President of the United States that will be on public display under the auspices of the United States Government, and anyone who argues otherwise is spinning so hard they might corkscrew themselves into the ground.”

    The essence here, the one that underpins or overarches it, is that in America right now there are on-going wars that have to do with ‘values’ and ‘valuation’. I can give one example which ties in, sort of, to this present (and totally strange) one: When the White House was lit with ‘rainbow colors’ an entire system of values was, in a manner of speaking, put forward but then at the same moment also attacked. Some part of the nation said ‘Yay!’ and felt that against all resistances progress had been made. But another segment of the nation felt it as a defeat and an attack.

    How does one talk about whole structures of value and even of definition coming unraveled? Isn’t that the ‘collapse of meta-narratives’ that is the principle sign of postmodernism?

    You see, what I see is that some people can and some people will and do disagree with your entire value-system. They certainly relish and appreciate seeing the Rainbow Colors on the White House, but they also probably have no problem with breaking down any number of different values or rules or norms that you hold as ‘sacred’ (meaning: very important).

    These people might even pay a surcharge tax if it would pay for more signs of the Rainbow Nation to be displayed. Because by seeing a value-system that they define as ‘oppressive’ be dragged down to the ground and trampled on … is in fact what they desire.

    Who gets to decide values?

    Thus this is another aspect of the ‘unraveling of narratives’. Within the confusing mass of descending structures (the collapse or falling down of understood and accepted values) people lose their bearings. Once, the social norms of society mirrored themselves. Now the mirror reflects a kaleidoscope of chaotic facets-of-values. This literally places the very *self* in jeopardy. The self recoils back. It does not know what to decide. It loses its reference points.

    If ‘values’ are falling apart one will have no choice but to deeply consider and reconsider valuation. One what are values based and built? (And obviously what are the ‘real values’ of Europe?) The question itself turns one back to the inevitable project of having to search oneself at a profound level. But also to reach out beyond oneself to better structures within which to contain one’s self.

    For these reasons, and again, I foreground ‘Europe’ and European people and civilization. I make this the topic, the ‘subject’. That is to say that the restructure of the self demands a return to the self, its history, its processes, in order to recover itself. To say this I know runs very strangly against an entire operative narrative of late-Americanism. In any case it —- America —- is falling apart naturally, not unnaturally, and it will not be patched together. People turn back into themselves to define what really has value for them, what has value and meaning.

    • Yup.

      But there must have been racism involved when white guys are there.

      • The only archaeologically sound takeaway from all this that should ultimately go into the history books is that early Egyptian period sculptors must have been brought in from ancient Celtic groups— probably from the precursors of the tribes ultimately referred to as the Angles…

        Those sculptors had to have whitewashed the Egyptian sculptures.

        It’s the only plausible explanation.

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