12 August 2005

a metaphor...

Below is a picture of Oscar Wilde's tomb at Pere Lachaise Cemetery in Paris that I took a few years ago on one of my annual visits. It is, as one would expect, a flamboyant and bigger than life memorial to not only his genius but also his wit.

It is now a metaphor for what is going on in the US when it comes to bigotry and the plans of the ultra-right that is not just trying but actually, for all practical purposes, is in control of the political mentality of the country due to circumstance and the stewardship of a few well-organized fanatics whose main reason for living is power - at anyone's cost. They rely on people being sheep, being afraid and being pliable. It is an old, old trick used by the medieval church. If you keep the people in the dark, don't let them have knowledge, and keep them in a constant fear, they will believe anything you say. It's called blissful ignorance. It also is great cause for alarm for the people in control should the "ignorant" suddenly become aware.

Lady Bracknell: “I do not approve of anything that tampers with natural ignorance. Ignorance is like a delicate exotic fruit; touch it and the bloom is gone. The whole theory of modern education is radically unsound. Fortunately in England, at any rate, education produces no effect whatsoever. If it did, it would prove a serious danger to the upper classes, and probably lead to acts of violence in Grosvenor Square.”
The Importance of Being Earnest, Act I, Oscar Wilde

The tomb is an Art Deco sculpture of a male figure, possibly in flight, with a stylized hint of ancient Babylonian or Sumerian gods. If you look closely at the picture below, you will notice that there is something missing from the sculpture - the penis and testicles.

A number of years ago, someone decided they needed a souvenir and literally "whacked" it off. It's never been replaced. Nor, in my opinion, should it be replaced. I think Oscar Wilde would be amused. When he was alive they tried to emasculate him, and to an extent did, but he fought them with all of his wit and genius.

Tombeau de Oscar Wilde

The metaphor I'm struck by is how the right-wing is doing their best to "castrate" the nation into becoming solely what they want it to be according to their beliefs at the expense of anyone with any contrary to theirs. They want no diversity and no exchange of ideas between people. No secularism. No athiesm. No freedom of religion. No freedom of expression. No freedom of privacy.

I could cite a great number of things in the news today pointing to their stance, but the one on which the right seems most fixated is the LGBT community.

This is the reason for the metaphor. Though they believe that the community is already emasculated from its very nature, they work very hard to prove it. They continuously attack and attack, chipping away at the surface of the sculpture. Fortunately, the sculpture is strong and solid. So is the United States and the LGBT community. People are starting to take notice.

But the bravest man amongst us is afraid of himself. The mutilation of the savage has its tragic survival in the self-denial that mars our lives. We are punished for our refusals. Every impulse that we strive to strangle broods in the mind and poisons us. The body sins once, and has done with its sin, for action is a mode of purification. Nothing remains then but the recollection of a pleasure, or the luxury of a regret. The only way to get rid of a temptation is to yield to it. Resist it, and your soul grows sick with longing for the things it has forbidden to itself, with desire for what its monstrous laws have made monstrous and unlawful. It has been said that the great events of the world take place in the brain. It is in the brain, and the brain only, that the great sins of the world take place also.
-Oscar Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray, 1891

In previous posts I indicated my fear and the need for fear of things that were happening in the US. I feel less fearful. There are signs that the tide is starting to turn and the rules of logic, fairness and democracy are reasserting themselves, slowly, but the omens and auguries are there.

An old Hopi Indian adages says, "When hope is gone, life is over."

...be afraid, but be hopeful.

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