Monday, August 9, 2010

For Tiepolo, for Turner, for Gainesborough - and for girls

A friend of this space has already so well framed the facts of the latest secession from humanity by the great State of Texas that it would simply be ill-read of one to recite them again. We all know, that on a straight Party-line vote mirroring the behaviour of the corrupted United States Supreme Court, the Board of Education has substituted the Manichaean heresy for empiricism, and ideological denial for learning. This is not to say, they run their classrooms the way they run their Air National Guard, with a fratboy's thrill in truancy. This is to admit, they run them as madrassas of sectarian paranoia. As has been celebrated by their Governor, the United States can get along perfectly well without this deformity. But the marketplace of textspookery is dominated by the demography of mass publishing, and Texas wags a very obese tail. Children, ostensibly protected by the Constitutional mandate for States to deliver a public education, will read this stuff across America. The great object of humanity - the quarantine of hooliganism - is the first casualty of low taxation.

We also know, however, that Manichaeanism took root in our lower latitudes long before it reached, in serene aggression, the Rio Grande. One ran into it only the other day, in the spectacle of a Believer's dandling of an infant boy on his knee, gurgling over an array of crayons. "Show me yer fav'rite keller, Algernon." Evidently the child pointed to one; he wasn't old enough to speak very well. "Oh, no! That's pink! Yew cain't like pink. Pink is for gurls! Pick another."

Who could ever learn to speak very well in a culture coerced by this terror? For Tiepolo, I thought. For Turner. For Gainesborough. This space is blessed to be visited by the highest sophistication in colour, per capita, since Josef Albers dreamed alone. So let us speak of girls.

The knife in this child's heart, plunged and twisted by reflex of prejudice, cuts both ways. It teaches the boy to fear himself. It steals from him forever, any access to that sovereign piece of himself. He will not forget this lesson. If one cannot comprehend the pederasty in this act, one must not speak to children.

And girls? How many times, Title IX notwithstanding, is the gender of Diotima, de Staël, de Beauvoir and Decca Mitford distanced from this boy's esteem, under penalty of resemblance, dread of empathy? What is the rape of Europa, to Texas?

But is pink's diminished concentration of red its dissipation, or its rising? What an absurdity, this convention is, was not lost in Homer's report from Iliam, or Cy Twombly's, either. This is the abiding, Manichaeanly unendurable power of pink, its volatile genius, to comprehend and project a spectrum greater than Texas can bear to know. Who can't marvel, that it coincides so chronically with the enlightening epochs of Western art, and was the badge of history's greatest crime?

for Tony Judt


  1. I live in Kansas which has flitted back and forth over the teaching of creationism. This fall unless the skies open up and herds of the silent majority gallop to the polls to elect an unknown democrat, we will have as our governor, that C Street evangelical and catholic, Sam Brownback. My native state is Oklahoma did not have one single county elect Obama. I know these people with their no shades of gray, much less pink, in their world. I view these places much like the days of the old iron curtain...or Iran as it twittered its way into the 21st century. Let us hope that the children will rise up and see there is a better world.

  2. Thank you very much for your comment. Any rising in the young is sweet to contemplate, but there will be no better world for them to see unless it contradicts everything they have seen for themselves since the inauguration of Ronald Reagan, because there isn't an external model to compare with what has been destroyed here. For them to see it, they have to be shown it.

  3. I hate to bring pink into the murky waters - but their are flashes of this soft hue smoldering, what I see coming is the rage of red, burning fires-what we have L and HBD is a culture war-50 years coming. I know more browns cluster in K and NC Ga for that matter but don't dismiss Youth's neon signs. their biggest dilemma is no one wants to see them until they are a voting block or dead in Afghanistan- I swear if they are not all killed off they will see what that other dying generation can not. pgt

  4. it's rising. the color of dawn and dusk. the beginning and the end. in it (and in what you have all written), i still find hope.

    algernon will figure, one day, that the dandler was delusional.

    there it is: "that they will see what that other dying generation can not"

  5. as to color,pink and questions of gender coding, isn't that fear at its worst in a parent, or authority figure. what it does to little ones that like pink -boys. they hide that color,but they still embrace it. for boys that learn to dislike even hate that color the damage may be far worse, all of a sudden pink is a bitch, a queer- a fear bedded early that results in violence whether deadly or consistently bruising. the colors of black, purple. I applaud the way you have opened up this ugly topic in such beauty- who can doubt Turner.

  6. No, no , no. pretty in pink, but where there is Turner there is fire.

  7. RMBL cannot accept comments without some germaneness to the posting where they are offered.