Artist’s Journal: NUMBER 35
I’m reading Camille Paglia’s new book: Glittering Images and I found this in the introduction…
“…a tremendous amount of major Western art has been intensely religious, and liberals, who have hounded Christmas creches out of public squares, would similarly object to the doctrinal instruction necessary to present Christian iconography in the public classroom. Thus arts education is stymied in the United States – a victim of political cross fire.”
Wow! As of late, as an art history instructor, I’ve felt pretty much the same as some biology instructors trying to teach evolution. There is still a problem with this concept in the twenty-first century. Mind the Gap – indeed! One slip and one offended individual can create lots of problems.
Mind the Gap is a warning to train British passengers to be aware of the gap between the train door and the station platform. Not a good place to get wedged into. What bothers me most is how the ignorance and small mindedness of some is tolerated due to some vague concept most often referred to as political correctness.
Political correctness is, in my point of view, not about tolerance – quite the opposite. It is antithetical to the concept and practice of diversity, too. Again, my opinion. The difference however, between evolution and Christian iconography, is quite simple. You may still refer to evolution as a theory proposed by Charles Darwin. He, by the way, was a scientist and not, as some would like to think, the anti-Christ. Mind the Gap!
But, of course, stating that may also possibly expose me to someone’s rage. So then, the Theory of Evolution offends the religious, as much as, exposing the doctrine behind Christian iconography offends non-believers, atheists or Christians of varied and diverse denominations. This iconography, by the way, takes up most of an art history course covering art from the ancient to the Medieval periods. Mind the Gap!
The iconography, regardless of the period being studied, is a reflection of, or the outcome of, the popular communal beliefs of that time. So then, it would be as easy to offend any of the fundamentalist whose belief system derived from Abraham. It is easy to offend non-Christian believers as well. Mind the Gap!
Ernst Fischer, the author of The Necessity of Art: A Marxist Approach (1963) wrote, “The newly acquired power to grasp and control objects, to prompt social activity and bring about events by means of signs, images, and words, led him [Man] to expect the magical power of language to be infinite.”
Oh, God, I quoted a Marxist; a Commie. Oh, no, I evoked God! It’s a slippery slope in the public classroom. In the Frank Capra movie – Meet John Doe – a supporting character called the Colonel responds to Long John Willoughby, the main character, “Tear down fences… why, if you tore one picket off your neighbor’s fence, he’d sue you!”
How did it come to this? Don’t teach anyone anything. Just have them read, remember and regurgitate politically correct material and don’t mind the gap between ignorance and bliss.Posted on: 13/01/2013, by : Ron Fortier