tag : bright yellow-green apples: power and sanitisation

"I see little point in persisting in a discussion with one so obstinate as you" Martin White

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

power and sanitisation



figure 47.7. safety Christ

Another one of those little books I happily stumble upon in the library, Jesus: Authors Take Sides, compiled by Richard Ingrams, is proving to be a fantastic read. It's a compilation of many different extracts by various writers, with their many takes on Jesus. A standout so far is taken from "Pre-Raphaelitism and the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood", where Holman Hunt records what happens when he invites Thomas Carlyle into his studio to look at "Light of the world". Part of why I so enjoyed the rant is cos I find most Pre-Raphaelite art so much saccharine dross. Here's an excerpt, from the reaction, where Carlyle's getting into his stride:

“He walked about, as he was trying with his ever invincible soul to break down the obtuse stupidity of the cormorant-minded, bloated gang, who were doing, in desperate contention, their utmost to make the world go devilward with themselves. Search has been made honestly, and imposture striven to satisfy the desire to procure some portraits of him, but not the faintest shadow exists that can be accepted, nor any nor any legendic attempt to represent him can be credited, notwithstanding your fables of King Abgarus of Eddressa or of St Luke or of St Veronica’s napkin, Yet there were artists enough to spare, and the sculptor’s work has come down to us, filling all the museums of Europe. They adored their stone images of obsolete gods, and looked to the augurs of these as ruling their destinies, while the living mouthpiece of God, the giver of true wisdom, was amongst them,. It was a shadow-land in which they searched for their gods, and so made images of Jupiter, of Apollo, of Hercules, of all the deities and deeses who put no bridle upon the will of their voltaires, but left them to play into the hands of all the devils in hell, from whose reign indeed they were not separated, unless forsooth we have to take them for creatures of purposeless fancy. Male and female, they were the rulers of a heaven that all the intelligent men among them had long ceased to believe in, in spite of the statue of the “son of man”, as he called Himself, and shown us what manner of man He was, what his height and what His build, and what the features if His sorrow-marked face were, and what his dress, I for one would have thanked him who did it with all the gratitude of my heart for that portrait, as the most precious heirloom of the ages. Now I tell you, young man, you are doing exactly what the sculptors of Roman time did, and y’ll ne’er make your talent a benefit to your fellowmen of to-day and do to them that come afterwards if you go on working worn-out fables. I have seen the pictures, all of them by the great painters who have set themselves to portray Jesus, and what could be more wide o’ the mark? There’s that picture of “Christ Disputing with the Doctors” in our National Gallery by Leonardo da Vinci, and it makes him a puir, weak, girl-faced nonentity, bedecked in a fine silken sort of gown, with gems and precious stones bordering the whole, just as though He had been the darling of the court, with hands and fingers that have never done any work, and could do none whatever, a creature indeed altogether incapable of convincing any novice advanced enough to solve the simplest problem in logic. There are other notable presentations of conceptions of Christ in paint and marble familiar to us in prints, and they are all alike”. Here vin shrill voice and high, he continued, “And when I look, I say, “Thankyou Mr da Vinci”, “Thankyou Mr Michael Angelo”, “Thankyou Mr Raffaelle”, that may be your idea of Jesus Christ, but I’ve another of my own which I very much prefer.” I see the man toiling along in the hot sun, at times in the cold wind, going long stages, tired, hungry often, and footsore, drinking at the spring, eating by the way, His rough and parched clothes bedraggled and covered with duct, imparting blessings to others which no human power, be it king’s or emperor’s or priest’s, was strong enough to give to Him, a missioner of Heaven sent with brave tongue to utter doom on the babbling world and its godless nonsense, and to fashion out another teaching to supplant it, doing battle with that valiant voice of His, only against the proud and perverse, and charming, the simple with his love and lovableness, but ever disencharming such as would suppose that the kingdom of heaven that He preached would bring to Him or to his adherents earthly glory or riches; offering them rather ignominy and death. Surrounded by His little band of almost unteachable poor friends, I see him dispirited, dejected, and at times broken down in hope by their immovability and spleen of fools, who, being rich with armed slaves, determined to make the heavens bend to them. I see him unflinching in faith and spirit crying out, “He that hath ears to hear, let him hear”. This was a man worth seeing, if likeness could be found.”

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