Tuesday, November 07, 2006


Those Dead White Guys of olde, are they still relevant? Their answering laughter is thunderous. The more I wonder, the smarter they get, these people that haunt our libraries; the dead men, dead and buried, dead and gone, who still rule us today more thoroughly than any tyrant could ever hope to.

For example, Euripides wrote Medea, one of his more disturbing plays, of Jason, the hero of the Argonauts, and his wife Medea who helped him escape with the golden fleece from her Father - both now older and fallen on hard times. He thinks to solve their situation by planning to marry the daughter of King Creon, putting Medea and their children temporarily aside 'for the improved standing and good of all'. She deals with their problem by bringing horrible death to his new betrothed and to King Creon, and most horribly of all, to their children.

From the ending of the play after Jason has discovered the children’s death, and she is being borne away into the heavens in a chariot of the gods, they harangue each other endlessly:

JAS. And thou thyself grievest at least, and art a sharer in these ills.
MED. Be assured of that; but this lessens the grief, that thou canst not mock me.
JAS. My children, what a wicked mother have ye found!
MED. My sons, how did ye perish by your father's fault!
JAS. Nevertheless my hand slew them not.
MED. But injury, and thy new nuptials.
JAS. And on account of thy bed didst thou think fit to slay them?
MED. Dost thou deem this a slight evil to a woman?
JAS. Whoever at least is modest; but in thee is every ill.
MED. These are no longer living, for this will gall thee.
JAS. These are living, alas me! avenging furies on thy head.
MED. The Gods know who began the injury.
JAS. They know indeed thy execrable mind.
Meo. Thou art hateful to me, and I detest thy bitter speech.
JAS. And I in sooth thine; the separation at least is without pain.
MED. How then? what shall I do? for I also am very desirous.
JAS. Suffer me, I beg, to bury and mourn over these dead bodies.

each accuses the other that "it was YOU!", not seeing that from the perspective of the chorus and the God, the truth is that it was THEY that did it. Once upon a time, together, they slew dragons, they were Heroes – now, what they had done, and who they once were together are forgotten. Euripides continues:

JAS. But may the Fury of the children, and Justice the avenger of murder, destroy thee.
MED. But what God or Deity hears thee, thou perjured man, and traitor to the rights of hospitality?
JAS. Ah! thou abominable woman, and murderer of thy children.
MED. Go to thy home, and bury thy wife.
JAS. I go, even deprived of both my children.
MED. Thou dost not yet mourn enough: stay and grow old.
JAS. Oh my dearest sons!
MED. To their mother at least, but not to thee.
JAS. And yet thou slewest them.
MED. To grieve thee.
JAS. Alas, alas! I hapless man long to kiss the dear mouths of my children.
MED. Now them addressest, now salutest them, formerly rejecting them with scorn.
JAS. Grant me, by the Gods, to touch the soft skin of my sons.
MED. It is not possible. Thy words are thrown away in vain.

Each is intent on the cause and the fault of the other; one who had done the deed, one who had ensured that it would be done. Each talk past the other focused on their own parameter of hatred and justice - different as can be, and yet but two parts of the same soul, parted and grotesque.

For that is what I think Medea is about, Jason, the calculating taker of step after step up the stairs, and the visionary Medea who takes the entire staircase at a bound, but now off balance carreening wildly about - the particular and the whole, each necessary to the other, but now separated by divided vision, and their separation is a bloody wound, raw nerves and pain to both, united no more. The One, divided and at odds with it's once one self.

Do we not do much today that resembles this?

Think of the 'art' that currently plagues us, the stylization of ugliness, a disharmonic, separateness is its hallmark. Pieces of this and pieces of that, thrown together - find any tattooed fool for a glaring case in point. This art doesn't unify, it separates, it discolors, it unbalances - and its companion adornments of body piercing with chunks and hoops of iron struck through the wearers flesh, it mutilates what was once wHoly.

There is an irony here lost on both the artiste's and their patrons, and that is that I don't think that most of these adherents grasp this wider perspective precisely because their vision has been hauled down from the heights, and pressed into the horizontal particulars before their faces.

They don't see a whole that is divided, they see only parts which they adorn and prop up to be 'admired', pieces... many pieces, quantity in place of unity, juxtaposition over integration - the result of their unknown philosophy, their faces pressed up so close to the trees that the bark is wedged between their teeth, their eyes unable to see around the width of the tree filling their vision, the very existence of a forest is to them but a scoffed at rumor. But even to these people, what pieces of wholes they do retain, they retain within them still.

The further irony is that the "Modernist" artiste’s, who do realize that they are assaulting unity and beauty, don't realize the way in which their 'fans' don't grasp their point. They think that the public is just too stupid to grasp their intent, but they don't fully get the idea behind the publics missing the pointed ideas behind their "art", the public only thinks that it has found a sophisticated way of engaging the target of the ‘art’, which unbeknownst to them, the artiste is attempting to destroy.

As an example of what I mean, one review I saw of Warhols Marilyn Monroe canvas, the one that had three images of her churned out upon it, and odd colors washed over the surface, was that it was depicting the effects of machine upon nature, and so illustrated the worthlessness of art, and of the West in general, etc.

But what the reviewer and the artiste don't seem to get about such awful 'art', is that most people on seeing the images they present in their pieces, they still manage to mentally leap to the actual objects that these images spring from - physically or conceptually; whereas the artiste seems to think that all art and interpretation of art, begins and ends with the images they use, but it is only themselves that they impress with their extremely tortured trails of 'thought' which they see as being truly 'Deep'.

They think that those horizontal images they distort are somehow entirely separated from that conceptual entity they originally derived it from. When they slap Marilyn Monroe upon a piece of clapboard, and splash pastels over her, they think that they've succeeded in destroying her. But what they don't get, is that when most people see the Marilyn canvas, if they’re not repulsed by the presentation of her remembered beauty, they use the 'painting' to mentally travel to that still whole mental picture they have of her beauty - they only see a 'unique' way of displaying her, they don't disassemble her in their minds in the way that the artiste intended, to them she is still whole.

Or at least for some, in part - for now. The patrons are still primitively seeking after Art, the unifier, the giver of meaning, but they are given only this particularized 'art' instead, and it doesn't unite, it doesn't soothe, it only excites. And excitation always requires more and more to sustain itself, more quantity and more jolt to each dose to be felt at all. This 'art', it does batter away at Sweetness and Light, and inexorably beauty is divorced from unity, quantity buries quality, concept is separated from fact, the Vertical is severed from the Horizontal, the eagerness for the perception of style and respect does eventually erase all style and deliver respect only from those who don't know what it means - and finally meaning separates into mere facts, suitable only for hurling as weapons for breaking, not building.

Jason continues as Medea disappears into the sky:
JAS. Dost thou hear this, O Jove, how I am rejected, and what I suffer from
this accursed and child-destroying lioness? But as much indeed as is in my power
and I am able, I lament and mourn over these; calling the Gods to witness, that
having slain my children, thou preventest me from touching them with my hands,
and from burying the bodies, whom, oh that I had never begotten, and seen them
thus destroyed by thee.

But old Jove, the One in the Many, is not deceived by either Jason or Medea. Those who were once One in Love, divided from each other, willingly, and purposefully, and in so doing wrought pain and suffering upon all that their division rent apart. The Chorus answers:

CHOR. Jove is the dispenser of various fates in heaven, and the Gods perform
many things contrary to our expectations, and those things which we looked for
are not accomplished; but the God hath brought to pass things unthought of. In
such manner hath this affair ended.

Our 'art' finds its way into our aspirations and our lives; our elections tomorrow are more cases in this point. The Leftists are so focused on their horizontal goals of regaining power, and thwarting Bush, that they are most willing to distort their vision by any particular perceived offence they can gin up into a scene between themselves and their Media.

The Conservatives have fallen to their folly of trying to retain high principle through the mediation of horizontal power grabs. Small gov't, secure borders, Righteous War staggering under Medicare bribes, multi-culti bribes, and International-PC-Relations bribes in order to secure power, and so of course they fritter it away.

The leftists with their particulars at the expense of any soaring vision, the conservatives with their soaring vision pinned down with their particulars as butterflies to a display board - truth and unity forgotten by each, and repelling each other just as a magnet when broken in two can not be forced back together, the once common center now become two oppositely polarized ends.

A Greek tragedy in deed.

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