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We are the masters now

Trafalgar Square is located at the geographical centre of London and, next to ‘Big Ben’ and the Houses of Parliament, it is probably this country’s most famous landmark.

Named after the 1805 battle, the Square is dominated by a 200 foot column on top of which is perched a bust of the Horatio Nelson, the Admiral who let the Royal Navy to victory over the French and thereby saved Britain from Napoleonic invasion. The column that bears his name and image was built from donations offered up in tribute by a grateful nation.

In the four corners of the Square there are four plinths. Three of them are occupied by statues of King George IV, General Charles Napier and Major General Sir Henry Havelock. The fourth plinth is empty and has been since around the middle of the 19th Century.

A few years ago I became vaguely aware that there was something of a campaign to find an appropriate monument to place on the fourth plinth. I say ‘vaguely’ because I paid little attention to this campaign, partly because I have better things to do with my time and partly because I learned that the process was to be decided by means of a competition under the auspices of the Mayor of London, Ken Livingstone. I anticipated that I would most likely disapprove of the outcome.

My instincts proved trustworthy yet again for, this last week, the winner was unveiled.

lapper.jpg
Alison Lapper, pregnant

As you may already have guessed from the image, Ms. Lapper has never led anyone into battle nor has she ruled a kingdom. Instead, she has managed to bear a child despite being quite severely disabled. Apparently, this makes her worthy of iconic status. Or, perhaps that should be ironic status, as the sculptor (someone called Marc Quinn) explains:

The artist, Marc Quinn, says the 15ft marble sculpture of Alison is an antidote to the men in Trafalgar Square. He wants to introduce some femininity among Landseer’s lions, because he believes Nelson’s Column is the epitome of a phallic monument. After 160 years during which no one could decide what to put on the fourth plinth, this is a victory for women.

I was not aware that anyone was clamouring for an ‘antidote’ to the triumphal Nelson or the glowering Charles Napier but nonetheless Mr. Quinn’s testimony is valuable because it gives us an insight in to the reasons why ‘Alison Lapper, Pregnant’ so appealed to the Social-Working Classes who were running this operation. They wanted, no needed to find something sufficiently post-modern, post-British, non-judgemental, diverse, inclusive, multi-this and inter-that and what could possibly fit the bill more sweetly than a pregnant, disabled artist of no particular note or renown. She is just too deliciously deconstructionist to warrant anything other than pride of place.

As per usual with these things, the unveiling has been accompanied by a wave of breathless, excitable mummery about ‘representing 21st Century Britain’ and so forth but this carving is not about the future, it is about the past. More particularly it is about rudely and pointedly rejecting the past. As much as the organisers might like to think of themselves and their project as ‘new’ and ‘bold’ and ‘different’ there is, in fact, a wearily familiar pattern here.

New regimes that have triumphed over old regimes often have it within their gift and their desire to physically erase all symbols of that old regime from the landscape. It would not, therefore, surprise me in the least to discover that the Mayor of London had at least toyed with the idea of removing Nelson and Napier and Co and having them shipped off to be broken up. Possibly they felt that the time was not yet right for such radical surgery. More likely the cost was prohibitive. But if they cannot destroy the symbols of the past then they can at least desecrate them and desecration is precisely the function of ‘Alison Lapper, Pregnant’.

I have no desire to be disparaging to Ms. Lapper herself. I do not know this woman but I do sympathise with her for the struggle she has to endure to her unfortunate disability. I wish nothing but well for her and her family. However, her representation does not truly have the power that her sponsors hope it will have. She has not sufficient moment or significance around which a new identity can be forged. In fact, I am confident now, that Nelson will still tower over Central London when her craven image has been toppled from its pedestal and sold for scrap.

Nelson and Napier were not just war heroes and grand imperial adventurers. They were members of the then ruling class and their statues are symbols of the ruling order; spatial representations of their imperial grandeur and permanent reminders of who was boss. ‘Alison Lapper, Pregnant’ is precisely the same thing. It is a symbol of conquest commissioned by members of a new ruling class to remind the public of exactly who now has power over them. She will only last as long as they do.

95 comments to We are the masters now

  • Dan McWiggins

    David,

    Please tell me this isn’t true.

  • Tony

    Oh come on! – tell me this is some stupid early April fools joke?

    Of course not – Red Ken (one legged GLC members of sein fein (sp? who cares!) vagina-friendly metrosexuals against the bomb – yeah right on baby, stand down Margaret) Livingston excels himself. I am so happy I don’t live in London any more and don’t have to pay for this ‘artifact’.

    How long before Ms Lapper is wearing a superglued traffic cone on her head?

  • Mashiki

    This had best be a joke. A very bad April Fools joke….if not…I’m going to have to give my cousin a few choice words when he comes to visit me the next time. And hopefully drive it into the rest of the family when he gets back to the UK.

    If it is true, someone tell me something. Why has the 4th pinnath stood empty? When you have had *so* many great people in the last 80 years even. There are alot of better choices then the one that was given.

    *sigh*

  • The Wobbly Guy

    Why not Churchill?

    I can’t believe this. Simply out of this world.

    The Wobbly Guy

  • Verity

    It goes without saying that this is another part of destroying Britain’s national pride. They’ve expunged much of our history (save the sadism and savagery of our imperial past – a perception that the former colonies and now equal members of the Commonwealth do not share, by the way) in state schools, and they are intent on suffocating any pride for our glorious history that is left beating in the British breast.

    Who? The Trots, the Marxists, the usual suspects. People like student union activist and now, unaccountably, foreign secretary, Jack Straw and all the other spite-filled inadequate people currently in charge of wrecking Britain.

    David says he was not aware that anyone was clamouring for an ‘antidote’ to the triumphal Nelson or the glowering Charles Napier, but that is because of the civilised company he keeps. The spiteful class warriors in their endless committee meetings, wrapped in oversized cardigans tastefully scattered with dandruff, clutching their mugs of tea have been clamouring for at least 50 years to get the history of Britain’s incredible achievements air-brushed out of the national consciousness.

    This grotesque 15 foot (!) statue of a naked deformed woman is beyond repulsive and is a deliberate assault on the sensibilities of Londoners and a deliberate denigration of Britain to show the tourists. Every other country in the world glorifies those who contributed to its achievements and fame.

    Putting up statues that celebrate weakness is virulent with hate and spite.

    As to bringing a touch of femininity to the square – first, who needs it? The square is dedicated to the Battle of Trafalgar. If they genuinely wanted to bring a touch of femininity to fourth plinth of Trafalgar Square – itself a stupid proposition whose inanity is self-evident – why not a statue of a heroine? We have one living right now. Margaret Thatcher.

    This sculpture carries a whiff of the circus freak show.

  • They wanted a woman, I suppose. Why not Boadicea? Of course, that defeats the point. The post-modernists want to make a point about what is truly admirable these days, which is being disabled and female, not in such sanguine things as fighting for liberty and other such old fashioned nonsense. Two oppression-claims in one person, now that’s worth celebrating! Coming from an ideological perspective that loudly proclaims its adherance to the idea of meritocracy and denial of discrimination, the assignment of heroic scale virtue to certain status-categories is quite ironic. Or hypocritical. Not at all surprising, of course.

  • karakazov

    What the hell is wrong with people?

  • Julian Morrison

    They can put it there, but can they keep it there? I predict it being repeatedly dethroned, angle-grindered, sledge-hammered, and graffiti-repainted.

  • Guy Herbert

    Verity: It goes without saying that this is another part of destroying Britain’s national pride.

    I don’t think that’s it at all. It’s sentimentalism. Dianafication. A different sort of national pride, based on the elevation of intense, intimate, but banal, feeling over old-fashioned public virtues. The statue is presented not as denigrating the rest of the square but exceeding it. It is supposed to show how we feel about the world–or how we ought to feel about it.

    Far from being “non-judgmental”, as David ironically suggests, it is a matter of promoting certain categories of existence (femaleness, motherhood, disability, unconnected family life) as emotionally more worthy than the grand theatre of the imperial square. It has a living subject: an “ordinary person” who can be interviewed and profiled into celebrity, reality tv style… It is quite of a piece with the succession of tattered rainbow-coalition group-identity events that Mayor Ken has seized the place as a stage for. And like them it stands not in opposition to the traditional political functions of the square (whether as a celebration of national achievement or venue of protest rallies), but in a separate moral universe. The judgment of the committee, Ken, and Quinn is that Britain is greater when it celebrates the innate characteristics that create difference and ignores the possibility of cooperation or conflict with others based on interest or abstract values.

    Quite apart from being kitsch, the new sculpture is conceptually and stylistically isolated and jarring. If they understand the site at all, its promoters have chosen not to engage with it. Had they taste and understanding yet wanted a bit of “balance” by sex, or to offer some revision of imperial history, then there would be plenty of possibilities for a consonant statue.

    One ideal candidate was mentioned on Samizdata a little while ago: Mary Seacole. She should satisfy everyone: a woman and black, for those worried about representation; a genuine heroine of empire to suit the site; a reminder of the consequence of war for those who find the place too militaristic. And an historical figure, so safe from personal involvement.

    Unfortunately the competition was never about satisfying competing claims. It was about embodying the mindset of New Britain. In this, I guess that it has succeeded. I hope that in 30 years it will look as incomprehensibly dated as footage of the 3-day week.

  • Verity

    Julian – I was about to express a similar thought. At last London has something whose worth will actually be elevated by defacement. Those W Indian graffiti artists could do their work in broad daylight and get nothing but grins of complicity.

  • Verity

    Guy, you raise a good point about the Dianafication aspect. It’s all about c-a-a-a-ring. But I would argue that it is also motivated by a hatred of everything imperial. In a sense, the two are intertwined. It’s all part of the lefty multi culti militia. We have s-o-o-o much to learn from these people …

    I also think it is hostile. It is an assault on the sensibilities. It is intended to be coarsening.

  • Woody

    C’mon everyone, it’s ‘armless.

    I have to ask why not the first mayor of Greater London? He must be a great historical figure. I’m sure the good people would reach into their own pockets for that.

  • It has taken four decades, of which only the last two have been overtly culturally marxist, to come to this defining moment. As we can all now see, our new elite feels confident enough to mark and celebrate the success of its long, revolutionary struggle. It no longer thinks in terms of aims or even means. It thinks in terms of accomplishment and it can do so not just publicly and in an unashamedly abashed style, but in the most public corner of Britain. This is a real statement of power.

    Much debate about taste and aesthetic merit will follow. The right will deplore the damned thing on these grounds and politically. A few pointed references may be made in the House. The Daily Mail will fulminate. It makes no difference. The curtain twitching classes and the upwardly mobile have lost not just their ’80′s grip on Westminster. They have, in CM terms, lost their hegemony – their effortless and unconsidered power to shape society and the country in general. Something completely alien is fast taking its place.

    The only positive in all this is that moments of hubris attend those of triumphalism. The CM transformation of society has been successful because its methodology has been subtle, almost ethereal, and beyond the apprehension of the public. Something of that may change with this and, presumeably, later demonstrations of the power of the new elite. It is the duty of those on the thinking right to work at this possibility, to widen it and to try and expose the real nature of the change to our society that has and is being wrought.

  • claire tyler

    You’re all missing the point, which is that the role of public scuplture has changed. Why make fifteen foot high bronze casts as a form of memorial? There’s no need. It’s as redundant a form of art as portrait or landscape as direct representation.

    What makes the choice for the plinth is so difficult is that what “the public” wants has changed, and most modern sculptures and statues have a different sort of relationship to their subjects. A “modern” piece of work is out of keeping with the rest of the Square, and a “traditional” piece wouldn’t carry caredibility, as the aesthetic and public values which it would be based on have been comprehensively undercut during the course of the last century.

    I don’t think the choice of the statue of Alison Lapper is at all ‘PC gone mad’ as some reactionaries will imply (Winding up this island’s most notorious closet case, Littlejohn, is a most worthwhile end in itself.)
    . It’s certainly challenging and thought-provoking, but the thoughts it will provoke in right-thinking people are worthy thoughts, ie the place of the disabled as full and equal members of society. The fact that it is realistic sculpture makes it a strong image with a strong message.

    I don’t know why the British have such a weird attitude to art, architecture and culture. I’ll bet my pension that more people spend more time looking at the new statue than all the others put together. And that says it all for me.

  • JRT

    Why are we so ashamed of our glorious past?

    http://www.fortunecity.com/emachines/e11/86/hitch1.html

    “Imagine yourself coming round in a hospital casualty department, your memory a blank, your pockets empty or handbag gone. Perhaps you can still read and count, perhaps not. In this world of scattered families and long-distance travel, how will you ever find out who you are? And what use will you ever be again, to yourself or anyone else?”

    “More and more, Britain is like just such a patient, a country lost in amnesia, a people who have suffered a collective blow on the head which has wiped out our understanding of who we are and what we are for.
    Unless we swiftly find a cure, then we will be adrift in a world only, too ready to take advantage of our weakness. The strange thing about this is that we have submitted so willingly to this mental castration that some of our own people have keenly sought to blot out the real past, and reshape our history into a grey mush of social reform and gender studies.”

  • YogSothoth

    Unbelievable. Firstly, if they wanted to add a woman to the mix, an excellent choice would have been Margaret Thatcher. Secondly, I cannot believe that the British – people I had previously believed to be in possession of steely resolve and iron constitutions – would roll over and play spectator as they watch the complete and utter slow-motion pussification of their nation.

    This is just how a great people becomes something less, step-by-step, with one treasured institution or noble trait extinguished at a time until they are all gone.

    Do you all not see what is happening here? They’ve taken away your ability to defend your home and
    given you instead a rate of burglary that’s almost 2x what it is here in the US. They tax the shit out of you for your medical system but when the chips are down, George Harrison flies to America for treatment.

    I cannot tell you how disheartened I am to see all that has happend to your great nation. England and its people have no greater fans than your cousins across the pond and we *need* you as a strong ally that like us, believes in itself and in individualism. The collectivists and their allies the islamists are determined, dedicated enemies and we need all
    the help we can get – please y’all wake up and stand against what’s happening to your great nation before it is too late.

  • Verity

    I was going to respond to clair tyler, but as she exemplies everything we are discussing here (although the point seems to have gone over her head), it would be trop. However, she may be distraught to learn that actually, British tastes have not changed very much at all except among a tiny cadre of thrill-seeking chatterati in London. The British, like most others steeped in Western civilisation, still seek beauty and spiritual uplift in the arts. She is right to intuit, though, that people will spend more time staring in disbelief at this monstrosity than looking up at Lord Nelson.

    I do agree with both David and Guessedworker that this is a defining moment. That they have had the daring to hideously deface a square celebrating one of our greatest heroes does advertise a sinister triumphalism.

    One can only trust the spirit of Londoners to do the right thing.

  • Julian Taylor

    Well, we already have a rather magnificent statue of Boadicea (Boudicca? etc etc) in London, at Westminster Bridge.
    The one statue we don’t have in London is a monument to “Chinese” Gordon, also known as Gordon of Khartoum, A statue WAS originally erected on the 4th Plinth to him – but was later removed for some unknown reason (if anyone can discover why it I would love to know). Given that Trafalgar Square is effectively Britain’s hero square, I would have felt that a statue of Gordon would have blended in admirably with the statues of Napier and Havelock.
    To look at the list of the competitors for the statue on the 4th plinth is to recoil in horror at the absurdities of the late 20th Century and early 21st Century. The competitors are:

    Sarah Lucas – Ford Fiesta that appears to be covered in pigeon dung (protest against Red Ken’s genocide of London pigeons – after all, what would be a radical socialist regime without at least one act of genocide?)

    Thomas Schutte – Perspex architectural model entitled “Hotel for the birds.” – another protest against the GLA

    Sokari Douglas Camp – group of anti-war protesters

    Stephan Gec entered life-size replicas of Tomahawk cruise missiles.

    Marc Quinn counters Nelson’s “phallic male monument” with a nude statue of a pregnant disabled woman (the winner).

    I guess that at least we should be thankful that we don’t have a gigantic statue of Saint Tony de Blair or Ken Livingstone ….

  • cbk

    Being an ignorant an untravelled American, I can’t place this sculpture in visual context.

    I wonder if the kind folk at Samizdata would consider taking a shot of the square and the eventual location of this piece so I, and others like me, can get a better measure of how this piece will be displayed for the good people of London.

    Those familiar with the square’s appearance, no doubt, can readily pre-visualize this sculpture in situ. And as it seems that context matters, especially in this instance, I’d be very grateful for a step up on this learning curve.

    Thanks,
    CBK

  • Verity

    cbk – I’m sure someone will post a picture for you, but you are missing the point. The context is, Trafalgar Square celebrates Nelson’s naval victory at Trafalgar and saving Britain from an invasion by Napoleon. He is a hero. He saved Britain through nerves of steel and intelligence.

    Putting a fifteen foot sculpture of a naked armless and deformed woman into a hero’s square is an insult to Britain by the bitter, spiteful, tranzi radical left.

    You don’t need to be so literal about the context.

  • Bernie Greene

    I heard about this a few days ago and was wondering when a piece would appear about it here. Your analysis is spot on.

  • Jeremy Clarkson points out:

    there’s already a statue of a disabled person in Trafalgar Square. The centrepiece, standing on top of the column is Nelson, who only had one arm and one eye.

  • Actually, I don’t think there’s anything per se wrong about a statue celebrating a severely handicapped woman who has overcome her difficulties. As David says, Ms Lapper is certainly a sympathetic subject, and (though I know nothing about her save what I can deduce from the fact of the sculpture) she would seem to have displayed a bravery and heroism very different to that of (say) Nelson, but certainly brave and heroic in its own right.

    So such a statue wouldn’t bother me at all, if all it were pointing to were its subject. But I fear that the subject is of secondary importance to the sculptor and those who would put his work upon the plinth. I fear what he and they want most to say is, ‘And how do you like that, you lot who’d prefer a traditional image of some long-dead white protestant male military hero?’ There is a certain sense in which Ms Lapper is being used here, and if I were her I’m not certain I’d be very happy about it.

    FWIW I should note that, as a technical matter, the statue appears to be quite well done.

  • harryj

    Alison Lapper is no doubt a brave and worthy lady. How sickening for her to be used in this way by those influential people who deliberately decided to insult the whole nation using her. Trafalgar Square, tribute to our greatest warrior sailor who stopped a world class tyrant and made the British navy invincible for a hundred years, a hero who gave his life for his country at Trafalgar. Should they, the degenerates of a left-liberal elite, a gang of self pleasuring political impostors, be permitted to insult the people in this way? I hope that ordinary people will show how they feel about this.

  • The person I’d put a statue of on the column in Trafalgar Square is Alan Turing. I think this would be entirely in keeping with Nelson (he did also make a massive contribution towards saving Britain from invasion) and it would be a demonstration that British greatness was a combination of the traditional martial arts and also brainpower and technology. (That has always been true).

    And, if you wanted to look at it this way, this would at the same time make an in some ways politically correct apology for a great injustice. (Turing was shamefully driven to suicide by the powers that be after the war due to his homosexuality). Of course, all this is far too subtle for the ghastly people who now rule us.

  • Michael,

    I recently commented on Matty’s blog about a list of appalling, lefty peaceniks (Benn, T.Ali etc) who were reading something or other at a recent High Park vigil. As a palliative to more catholic tastes I offered my own list of (mostly dead) heroes. These included Turing, Violet Szabo and the commando officer who lead the St.Nazaire raid as well as some of the more obvious right-wing hero figures. Turing was the only one later commenters picked over – because, of course, of his well-known secret. I judged him to be well down the list in terms of eroica, though. For me the clear winner was Leonard Cheshire, a man who lived a shining and unimpeachable life and left to the nation a legacy of true value.

    I doubt whether the assorted sculptors and judges knew anything much about him.

  • David Crawford

    If they wanted a female, and they wanted someone who has a connection to “caring”, why not a statue of Florence Nightingale? I can’t think of anyone who would object to a statue of one of the founders of modern nursing.

  • Verity

    If they wanted to be politically correct and include a woman, how about the French resistance heroine, Odette, who underwent torture by the Germans and never gave away any Allied secrets. She is a true war heroine.

    Mrs Tilton, you are completely off the mark. “Actually, I don’t think there’s anything per se wrong about a statue celebrating a severely handicapped woman who has overcome her difficulties.” She has absolutely no achievement of any importance to, or impact on, the nation. She overcame a handicap. So what?

    In France, they would have made her into a TV star instead. Oh wait, they did! There’s a female dwarf stars in a show called “Guardian Angel”. She’s pretty, got a neat hairdo, good make-up, nice jewellery and, being French, they have her togged out in some stylish clothes that draw attention away from her disability. They don’t bang on about it, but the message is, anyone could be your guardian angel in disguise. Given the standard of French TV, it’s not a bad show.

    I really don’t care what personal difficulties this Ms Lapper overcame and I’m certainly not interested in “celebrating” them. Nothing personal, but the placing of this horrible sculpture in a square dedicated to a military hero (who overcame many difficulties himself, let us remember) is an insufferable affront to the British people and I believe it is the anti-war NION, ANSWER crowd who created the climate that emboldened Livingston and his cohorts.

  • Verity,

    perhaps you missed the distinction I implied between the work and the context in which it is being used. I agree with the final sentence of your post; that was indeed more or less my point.

    But as for ‘I really don’t care what personal difficulties this Ms Lapper overcame’: your candour, if nothing else, is admirable.

  • The Wobbly Guy

    As a citizen of a former British colony, I feel for you guys. I really do.

    Now, my great fear is that my own nation might follow in your footsteps.

    *shudders*

    The Wobbly Guy

  • There’s a dwarf on German television as well, by the way. She’s the assistant to a pathologist in one town featured on Tatort (‘Scene of the Crime’), a cop thriller that revolves among several locations and is sometimes quite good. She is portrayed entirely without condescension; indeed, beyond the stepladder she needs to reach the corpses and her boss’s nicknaming her ‘Alberich’, there is no reference to her condition whatever.

  • Guy Herbert

    claire tyler writes: “What makes the choice for the plinth is so difficult is that what “the public” wants has changed [...]“

    But we don’t actually know what the public wants here, only what the Contemporary Art establishment wants. There was a certain amount of unscientific polling done as a show of consultation in relation to the competition, the results of which have not been published. Leaks suggest that about 80% of those responding wanted none of the above.

    I don’t agree either that “the role of public sculpture has changed”. The form of public sculpture, as a whole, has changed, since the 19th century with a much wider range of work in public spaces. That’s not a bad thing.

    Maggie Hambling’s Wilde memorial, which is very close to Trafalgar square, may be a bit bronzish for clare tyler’s taste, but it is both thoroughly modern in form and in sympathy with its environment. It isn’t to my mind a masterwork. Neither is it trite trash. It will last.

    The unchanged function of public sculpture is not to show public taste, but to show off the taste–or lack of it–of public benefactors, and their power. The new elite wishes to share its view of the world with us in the belief that it carries self-evident goodness and justice. In this it is not much different from previous attempts to dramatise hegemony through art. Its problem is that it is so tied to the lumpen sententiae that inform the new art game, that any sense of context or history (past or future) eludes it.

  • Verity

    Guy – Agree with every word except the last phrase: “any sense of context or history (past or future) eludes it.”

    No. Any sense of context or history (past or future) is eschewed. It’s a sin of commission.

  • Guy Herbert

    cbk:

    Here’s a webcam.

  • Tim Sturm

    Who needs terrorists when we can murder our own society all by ourselves?

  • cbk

    Verity, I’m not missing the point at all. I understand the historical context. I understand your outrage too. However, as a designer/artist, I’m immensely curious about the visual context as well. And what the art community views as acceptable, appropriate or worthy.

    I’m also curious to know (and even more so having re-read Taylor’s description of competing pieces) if the artists who competed in the endeavor created specifically for the setting or not.

    And if somebody had any knowledge of it, I wouldn’t mind knowing how the call to artists was advertised. Did the 4th plinth committee ask for a post-modern leftist statement specifically to neutralize the square? Or did they only consider such art once submissions were made?

    Perhaps it doesn’t matter to you, and that’s fine. And if I never know the answers to my questions, that’s fine too. It wouldn’t be the first time, nor the last.

    But, not receiving any satisfactory answers does nothing to diminish my curiosity on such things. And in that spirit, I have one more question. What does the general population think of this addition to Trafalgar Square?

    CBK

  • cbk

    Thank you Guy.

  • Verity

    CBK – Answer to your last question first. It was only announced today. I would say most Brits would be aware of the insult to their heritage, their anger a tiny frisson to the soi-disant “art community” who will say, “Oh, isn’t it wonderful? This is what art is all about!” They will say this because they are morons.

    Yes, the artists were designing specifically for the fourth plinth in Trafalgar Square.

    Given who the contest was organised by, and who would be doing the choosing – Red Ken – the requirement for radical left submissions was understood – although it may have been a written requirement as well.

  • Hylas

    This is not Political Correctness, it’s deconstruction.

    The purpose of the statue is to “deconstruct your fascist paradigm.”

    In other words, the insult is intentional.

  • Verity

    Thank you, Hylas. That is what I have been saying in several posts. It’s an assault. It is the intentional defacing of a national monument dedicated to a hero.

  • Wow. The person who should go on that plinth is the chap who knocked her up. Pretty brave, to date/marry somebody who is not just severely deformed, but also an exhibitionist and now apparently an immortal exhibitionist. I bet they have some fun down at the pubs and at Torquay…

    Don’t get me wrong – I think it’s great that we in the west are able to help everybody, people with disabilities included – reach their full potential. But come on, this is a ridiculous inversion of aesthetics classical aesthetics that celebrates the ideal. She’s no hero, she merely laid back a bit, and thought of England. Coming next, courtesy of Red Ken: Lobbying to get a wheelchair soccer team into the premiership; rugby for people who cry when they get hit; and cricket for batsmen who can’t hit.

    Yep, that’s what it’s all about. It’s not about championing some pregnant chick – it’s about attacking traditional values. Read your Marcuse and Gramsci, folks. To overthrow the oppressive regime we live in, the revolutionaries must champion the “downtrodden” over the hegemonic. Therefore criminals are championed over cops, stupid kids are promoted from grade to grade (thus devaluing smart kids), bad art is promoted over good art. Or as the student radicals of the sixties would tell you, “our bad grooming is an attack on the bad system.”

    As long as Red goddam Ken is going to crap on Western values and tradition and art, he might as well follow the lead of our avant garde, and just mount an enormous petrified turd on the plinth. I mean, why muck about with half measures? Hell, half-bury an upside down crucifix and a Star of David in it, and mount it atop a policeman’s hat, glued onto a marble scroll representing the Magna Carta. As long as art is supposed to be transgressive, why dress it up so cleverly, and why try to be subtle?

  • cbk

    Thank you, Verity.

    I look forward to further comments and observations on this topic.

    CBK

  • Thank you, Hylas. But broaden your conclusion. This is not an art issue. It is not even an hegemonic issue any longer. The artwork announces the end to hegemony and the establishment of a new cultural egalitarianism.

  • Dave O

    However, she may be distraught to learn that actually, British tastes have not changed very much at all except among a tiny cadre of thrill-seeking chatterati in London.

    Tiny? I’d be actually interested to see a proper survey.

    Don’t care for this statue myself, but some of the other 4th Plynth statues have been excelent.

    Personally speaking, I’m with Michael Jennings – Alan Turing should be there.

  • Unless I’ve missed it, no-one has pointed out a key fact about this sculpture –

    IT IS TEMPORARY.

    Which I think changes the context in which one should analyse it.

    For those who aren’t aware, a new sculpture is commissioned every two years for the plinth… each successful piece remains in place for a year or so.

    This is the fourth piece, following Mark Wallinger’s Ecce Homo, Bill Woodrow’s Regardless of History, and Rachel Whiteread’s Monument. The next is a work in coloured perspex and will replace Quinn’s sculpture next year.

    All of the pieces so far have caused debate about the nature of public art, about the nature of Trafalgar Square itself, and about other issues directly and indirectly raised.

    I do not believe that any of these pieces would make a suitable permanent occupant of the plinth… but I think the programme of temporary commissions for this most unusual “gallery” is a wonderful way of creating debate and discussion. I think it’s actually a much more exciting idea than trying to arrive at a consensus for a permanent piece.

    I am not expresssing any particular opinion on Quinn’s work, for or against. I’m not quite sure how I feel about it yet, to be honest.

    I thought everyone should be aware of the nature of the commission, since much of the ranting here seems to assume that it is permanent…

    Info here: Fourth Plinth.

  • Verity

    Al, that was a totally brilliant post.

    I think it was the NION/ANSWER mob that gave Red Ken the nerve to release this act of cultural terrorism on Britain. A scant five years ago, he may have mooted this outrage, but, after swanking around and being a cheeky chappy on the talk show circuit, wouldn’t have gone through with it. Now, Brits seem to have lost their nerve for fear of being bashed around the head and shoulders by the Marxist and terrorist funded NION/ANSWER rabble and Red Ken can impose a grotesque disfigurement of their monument to a historic event that saved their nation on them.

    Al, I suspect this was a turkey baster job.

  • Verity

    Iain, No, I think we were all aware that it was temporary, which doesn’t make it any less grotesque. You refer to Trafalgar Square as: this most unusual “gallery” … a wonderful way of creating debate and discussion.

    Trafalgar Square is a permanent monument commemorating a critical point in the history of Britain and a British hero. It’s not a “gallery”. And crappy “art” is not “a wonderful way of creating debate and discussion”, although the art mafia always wish to excuse it as such. Let them hire a private gallery for their rubbish and keep it inside for discussion by those who willingly enter to look at it.

    Let us not be diverted from the argument: this is crap art and its imposition on Trafalgar Square is deliberately insulting.

    Let us not forget David’s headline: We Are The Masters Now.

  • Matt W.

    “Cultural egalitarianism” Guessed? give me a god damn break, its the subsuming of everything noble and the elevation of the mediocre to the heroic…except heroic isn’t the right word because a “cultural egalitarian” doesn’t recognize that any one individual could truly be heroic. It spits on Britains history, saying that it no longer respects those who have changed the course of history, or saved the nation, but reveres people whose greatest accomplishment in life is apparently getting knocked up, and posing for the very work of “art” that will commemerate them. I hope this piece of garbage is defaced quickly, hell if I were I cop I think i’d help out the vandals (of course defacing isn’t quite right…it’d be like defacing the walls of a concentration camp) Britain is still considered among the strongest remaining Western nations, but if that *spit* statue *spit* is any indication, theres a deep rot everywhere.

  • OK… fair enough. I thought that some of the commenters seemed to think it was permanent. Perhaps I misread their intent.

    By “gallery” I was referring to the use of the Plinth, not the square as a whole. On reflection, however, I withdraw the assertion. “Imposition” is the key issue here, isn’t it?

    I agree with Al and others on Ken’s various cultural impositions – he really doesn’t have a fucking clue, does he? He also managed to commission the worst building that Norman Foster has knocked out in recent years. Although when it rains, water pours out of the lights under the overhang/canopy, which at least makes me laugh.

  • Hylas

    Guessedworker,

    Deconstruction evolved from Marxism just as birds evolved from dinosaurs. It takes the Marxist idea that all cultural values are a form of propaganda, an “ideological superstructure” designed to control and oppress the people. Communists attempt to establish Utopia by violence, Deconstructionists attack the “superstructure” by opposing all value-judgments. The theory being that once the superstructure is destroyed, perfect justice will prevail.

    So what’s the problem with this? The problem is reality.

    The military tyranny in some form or other is in fact the common rule in human society; even in the best ordered societies … any disturbance of an established order of a nonmilitary type is likely to result in a reversion to a military dictatorship.
    -Arthur Livingston

    How to avoid this? The institutions of society such as democracy and separation of powers can only do so much. Something else is needed:

    Such has been the lot of most of mankind: a choice between the gangsters who come across the river to steal and the gangsters on this side of the river who do not need to steal because they have their own peasants to exploit. How else could it be? Given what we know of human nature, how could we expect there to be a government that wasn’t, in the final analysis, simply a protection racket that could make laws?

    It was possible only because [of] a code of honor.

    Codes of honor do not come cheap, and they cannot be created out of thin air upon demand. The fact that you need samurai and not gangsters is no guarantee that you will get them; indeed you will almost certainly not get them unless you had them with you all along.

    To work when it must, the code of honor must be the unspoken and unquestioned law governing a community: a law written not in law books but in the heart-something like an instinct.

    -Lee Harris, Civilization and its Enemies

    Deconstructionists see no difference between a statue of a patriot and a statue of a dictator. A statue of a man who sacrificed his life for his country is the same as a statue of Saddam Hussein. Both simply represent the fascist superstructure.

    The danger is not egalitarianism, the danger is nihilism.

  • Indeed, quite brilliant summation, Hylas. Ms. Lapper represents the new, deconstructed values of the post-modern elite. She might very well be an admirable person full of values worthy of emulation by others, but certainly not on the sort of heroic scale that Trafalgar Square is meant to commemorate. Indeed her placement is to be a rejection of those values and virtues contained by the older subjects (well, okay, George IV and “virtue” really don’t belong in the same sentence without a “lack of”) being primarily patriotic and martial in orientation, which are two things the post-modernists hate above all else. I would defend my suggestion of Boadicea if they just wanted a female as suitable, in as much as redundancy isn’t all that bad, but certainly there are many more worthy subjects, some who even meet the ostensible requirements of political correctness. Florence Nightengale, Alan Turing, and etc, but of course they earned their place by [i]doing[/i], and not by [i]being[/i], which is the whole point of the deconstructionist exercise.

    On the subject of changing art tastes, I would have to disagree with the notion that the modern public does not appreciate the heroic scale bronze anymore. Modern art is not created to cater to the tastes of the average public, but rather to flatter the esoteric pretensions of the elite class that controls art production. The opinions of the masses have in fact been shut out of art production even as the overt ideology of artists has evolved towards a more egalitarian and faux-populist tenor. Really, who patronizes art museums, who takes the lead in agitating for the government sponsership of art, and who thereby influences art? It is the same nihilistic, deconstructionist, socio-cultural elite that make up the post-modernist movement.

    I believe the avant-garde movement around the turn of the century represented such a radical artistic turn that it disengaged art from public taste, and became linked with “progressive” (IE, Marxist) political and social opinion. By the late 20th century art has largely become a servant of those elite cultural influences driving the “deconstructionist” trend and has lost all value as art, instead becoming “social commentary”. Really, the idea that the average public prefers, for example, an elephant dung covered abstract “portrait” of the Virgin Mary, or a used toilet, to the splendors of the Italian Masters or the brilliance of the Baroque period is absurd. But naturally old-fashioned art does not further the deconstructionist agenda, so by modern lights it has no value at all, such value being “social commentary” of a progressive nature. By estranging generations of the public from the appreciation of art in general, they have committed in my view a great crime. Though that is by far one of the least of them…

  • Hylas,

    Are you American, perhaps? I can conceive that nihilism might be the danger there. But I can’t see the left in the UK returning to follow the wife-murderer Althusser or his Nieztschian student, Foucault. They’ve already been given the elbow once.

    In fairness, I’ve not read Lee Harris ‘cos I haven’t found a way into the Hoover archive! I’ve read Fonte’s essays and he’s clear enough viz-a-vis cultural marxism, and in line with our own Sean Gabb. Dr Gabb’s the nearest to our particular flavour of the revolution, of course. He takes the issue right on to the Labour Party’s home turf but his main target is the machinery of government itself. He is quite clear about the Gramscian dynamic. He is supported in this by the fact that the culture studies in the UK moved beyond the Althusserian (criticised as too ethereal) perhaps a decade ago and transmogrified into something specifically Gramscian, which it remains to this day.

    We can argue about this all week But it doesn’t alter the fact that the right has really not focussed on the threat yet. It reacts on a one-off basis to each act of vandalism instead of reading them together, as a process. We won’t get a lead from national politicians because they are hostages to PC and the sensitivities of the minorities. All one can do is to shout as loudly as possible about things and hope more people hear and do likewise.

  • M. Simon

    I’m with claire.

    If I was driving through what I would do is open my window and yell at the top of my lungs NICE TITS.

    Well I’m an American don’t you know.

  • S. Weasel

    How well this fulfills the arty community’s obsession with juxtaposing sex and the repulsive (only, no-one dares call it repulsive).

    Alison Lapper’s entire career has been ‘celebrating’ her own naked body, first in sculpture and then in photography. Self-obsession in the grossly deformed is understandable, but it is neither laudible nor healthy, and I resent being asked to participate in her neurosis.

    Whoever brought up the freak show is spot on: first we were invited to stare, then we were excoriated for staring, and now we’re invited to stare again, but warned to pretend we’re doing it for reasons more noble than morbid fascination. At least the morbid fascination was genuine.

  • Uh, sorry about the multiple pings. Our blog’s tech-guy is still learning TrackBack and something about the server response was odd, and well…

  • Verity

    Hello S Weasel. It was me who said there was a whiff of the circus tent about this, and I agree with your post.

    As you say, self-obsession in the grossly deformed is understandable, but the impulse to force one’s deformities into the consciousness of normally formed people, and be admired for doing so, is grotesque. Ms Lapper seems to be a sad case all round, and I for one would rather avert my eyes from her. This freak show is going to be forced on Britain’s most famous square, which celebrates a victory which kept our nation free and powerful (two words that cause the Gramscians to hiss and spit angrily) with an iron fist, with the express intention of defiling it. This is an insufferable affront to the British and it is interesting that Livingston has calculated he can get away with it.

    I will be interested to see how long this obscenity lasts.

    Meanwhile, Ms Lapper should bear in mind that there is a market for freak pr0n and Tony Blair’s pal Richard Desmond may be able to point her in the right direction.

  • Dave O

    freak pr0n?????

    You have got to be kidding me.

    The “obscenity” will last until the next sculpture goes up.

    I really do fail to see what is obscene about this.

  • Ian

    Deconstruction proper is nothing to do with Marxism. In fact, the Marxists are always attacking it because it is a rather elitist, aestheticist mode of criticism which is interested in how something is said rather than what is said, very broadly. And so deconstruction has itself has no political commitment one way or the other. It is really just a rather critically self-aware and often navel-gazing development of the New Criticism. It does not ‘engage,’ in the jargon.

    Importantly, deconstruction doesn’t come to any conclusions except the impossibility of coming to a conclusion. A deconstructionist would leave the fourth plinth blank and wonder about what wasn’t there.

    Deconstruction is not fun. And it was outmoded years ago by the attention-seekers. These cretins aren’t deconstructionists. They’re tranzi jerks, and their methods belong to ‘postcolonialism’ or something more exciting that actually lends itself as an iconoclastic tool.

  • Ian

    Turing or Nightingale would have been good. Churchill and (not yet mentioned, surprisingly) Arthur (?) Harris already have statues in London.

    Really, this new Lapdancer statue or whatever doesn’t offend me as much as the one of Cromwell. The fact that that tyrant stands outside our present parliament speaks volumes.

  • Verity

    I liked the Chinese Gordon idea. Also, no one’s mentioned Douglas Bader.

    Anyway, pinko tranzi Red Ken’s point was never to enhance the square. It was to trash it.

  • Ian

    Frank Whittle?

    There’s no shortage of candidates. I’m trying to think of someone who, unlike Turing, Whittle or Nightingale, didn’t have anything to do with war.

    Adam Smith?

  • Verity

    Trafalgar Sq is a square dedicated to Britain’s military achievements, Ian. So why try to think of someone who didn’t have anything to do with war? To cater to the NION/ANSWER crowd?

    I don’t ask in a confrontational sense. I am interested to know how much subconscious influence the appeaseniks have managed to wield on normal people.

  • Ian

    Hi, Verity. No, my point, which I didn’t express very well because I was trying to do other things at the same time, was that there are so many people who’ve done their bit to defend this country and others that the possibility of someone at odds with the aim of Trafalgar Square hadn’t occurred to me.

    I do like the idea of the father of the computer and Enigma code-breaker, or the inventor of the jet engine or the pioneer of modern nursing (and in battle, to boot) being commemorated because they show that war and freedom are won not just by uniformed heroes. Sure, it might sound a bit wishy-washy put like that, but these people had merit, and their wartime achievements became solid peacetime achievements as surely as victory in war kept us free in the ensuing peace from Hitler or the Kaiser or Napoleon. Had Nightingale been a man or Turing straight, I’d still be saying the same. But I would be as at home if the fourth plinth were occupied by a soldier, sailor or airman.

    Commemoration, now that strikes me as the distinction. A Lapper may have done something we can applaud, but not something we can commemorate, not something we can put on the back of a banknote.

  • Verity

    Interesting points, Ian.

    I can’t agree, though, that Lapper has done anything one would applaud, unless one thinks exhibitionism has some unique merit.

    Back to your argument, I personally would not like to see Trafalgar Square turned into a pinko sociology department. Having said that, certainly, the father of the Enigma codebreaker deserves to be immortalised somewhere. BTW, I thought there was already a statue of Florence Nightingale in London. I’d be astonished if there’s not.

  • Ian

    No, I don’t applaud Ms Lapper either, Verity. I just left the option open for others to do so.

    There is a statue of Florence Nightingale, somewhere in Piccadilly Circus, I think.

    No a statue of Turing, though. Perhaps in front of Admiralty Arch or the Imperial War Museum?

  • toolkien

    First, I don’t know Ms. Lapper’s full story, but she must be a dependent to some degree, and given the climate in the UK, I’ll assume that it is partially on the State. So what strikes me first, if she is dependent on the State, what right does she have to create further burdens, or at least augment existing ones? If her existence is already aided throught coerced transfers, it’s pretty cheeky to voluntarily increase the burdens and demands. And then it’s celebrated to boot! Perhaps that’s the real message here, glorious dependency literally birthing more dependency. More drain on the Public tit (or two in this case). If her existence is purely on her merits, or those who voluntarily associate with her, then all is well. If coerced sacrifices are involved in any way, then this is a blot on the ledger of fairness.

    And as far as statues and squares etc go, I may be being too idealistic, but I say pitch’em all. What role does the State play in furthering ‘national pride’ in any form? It is bound to be ‘agendized’ depending on ones perspective. I’m sure the adorers of the of the sculpture referenced don’t have much use for the others. I don’t think their property should be confiscated to pay for statements they don’t agree with either.

  • Verity

    Toolkien – I take your arguments, but even if Lapper isn’t dependent on the state, she is still not a fitting subject for a statue except in the privacy of her own home.

    OTOH, OK, would you mind if we had statues by private subscription? Statues of heroes and native people famous for achieving something do give a city – any city – a certain intrigue and liveliness. Captain Cook, in Anchorage. The statue of Raffles in Singapore. The statue of the WWI soldier from the Verdun in the town near where I live. These are all intriguing glimpses of the past, and they connect us to the past in a way that almost nothing else, except perhaps old family photographs, does. Moreso, because they’re 3-D. Any city would be the poorer for not having statues of the people who helped shape it.

  • Julian Taylor

    There’s a statue of Turing in Manchester, the inscription reads:

    ALAN MATHISON TURING
    1912-1954
    FATHER OF COMPUTER SCIENCE,
    MATHEMATICIAN, LOGICIAN, WARTIME CODEBREAKER, VICTIM OF PREJUDICE
    “Mathematics, rightly viewed, possesses not only truth but supreme beauty, a beauty cold and austere like that of sculpture.”–Bertrand Russell.

    The statue of Florence Nightingale is outside the entrance to St Thomas’ hospital, on the South Bank

  • Hylas

    Guessedworker,

    Yes, I am American. What gave me away? My comment about separation of powers maybe? ;)

    You can read Lee Harris here,

    here

    and here

    “Civilization and its Enemies” is a recently published book.

    I realize that deconstructionist theory is no longer fashionable among the high priesthood of the Left, but deconstructionist arguments seem to be an ingrained thought-pattern for many leftists – nearly a reflex action for some of them. It helps to be able to recognize it.

    The deconstructionist reflex is triggered whenever you label something “good” or “bad”. To the deconstructionist, the act of labeling sets up an oppressive hierarchy which must be deconstructed. If you set up a statue of a hero, the deconstructionist must set up a statue of something completely opposite and show that this thing is also a hero. If you claim that Bin Laden is a terrorist and the American armed forces are fighting for freedom, the deconstructionist must show that Americans are terrorists and Bin Laden is a freedom fighter. The whole point is to destroy any (non leftist-approved) binary opposition.

    Ian,

    When I refer to deconstruction, I’m not talking about its origin as a fad in literary criticism. I’m talking about its second life as a leftist rhetorical technique.

    I also think that you misunderstand deconstruction itself:

    “deconstruction never had meaning or interest, at least in my eyes, than as a radicalization, that is to say, also within the tradition of a certain Marxism, in a certain spirit of Marxism”
    -Jacques Derrida, Moscou aller-retour

    “My hope as a man of the left, is that certain elements of deconstruction will have served or – because the struggle continues, particularly in the United States – will serve to politicize or repoliticize the left with regard to positions which are not simply academic.”
    -Jacques Derrida, “Remarks on Deconstruction and Pragmatism”

    Deconstruction is political, and it is related to Marxism. If Marxists attack it, it’s because it’s a heresy of the One True Religion.

  • Hylas,

    Thank you very much for the links. I shall read with pleasure. If you are interested in our problems you can catch Dr Gabb’s essays at http://www.seangabb.co.uk (click on Free Life Commentaries, numbers 113 and 114).

  • Verity

    Hylas – I read the first Lee Harris article linked. Very interesting. Thank you.

  • toolkien

    OTOH, OK, would you mind if we had statues by private subscription? Statues of heroes and native people famous for achieving something do give a city – any city – a certain intrigue and liveliness. Captain Cook, in Anchorage. The statue of Raffles in Singapore. The statue of the WWI soldier from the Verdun in the town near where I live. These are all intriguing glimpses of the past, and they connect us to the past in a way that almost nothing else, except perhaps old family photographs, does. Moreso, because they’re 3-D. Any city would be the poorer for not having statues of the people who helped shape it.

    Of course I wouldn’t mind private subscription. I guess I assume that goes without saying. But such statements, about the past or the future should be left to private resources. When one erects a statue, it has the whiff of the religious about it. It is a relatively simple statement, bound up with a built in gestalt, or meta-context, and is ‘jingo-istic’ for its cause. I don’t necessarily see that it is the State’s role to buy into, or foster, such illusions. Individuals, with private resources, can make all the statements they like; that’s the basis of private association, a group of individuals voluntarily associating with each other connected by a shared set of beliefs. When it’s the State, there is very little possibility of universal sharing of beliefs.

  • Ian

    Hylas, thanks for your reply. I appreciate that your conception of deconstruction has a lot more common sense to it than mine.

    No wonder I never got on with Derrida. I’m more a de Manian, and Paul de Man was never a marxist. Nor a fascist, despite the attempts of those on the left to discredit him for a couple of literary reviews with a collaborationist flavour in the journal Het Soir in occupied Belgium.

    To me, deconstruction remains a legitimate line of enquiry into the nature of literary language and the composition of a text. It has everything to do with Quintilian and nothing to do with Althusser, for instance.

    And value judgements are not incompatible with it. De Man’s writings, in this regard, are much in the same tenor as Harold Bloom’s.

    And to me, “its second life as a leftist rhetorical technique” would be something I would not call deconstruction but instead catachresis or, at best, antanaclasis.

    Perhaps I am holding deconstruction too narrowly in thinking of it as an investigation purely into how we read, but that is indeed how I think of it.

  • M. Simon

    Very erudite discussion of the merits of the piece. But, you miss my point. Such discussion is just part of the “event”. If you really want to stop this sort of thing you must cut to the quick. End all serious palaver and ridicule the whole venture. And already I have been at it too long.

    Nice tits

  • Ian

    Come to think of it, it was an in-joke that one could deconstruct Mein Kampf and be so absorbed in the academic pursuit that one would not grasp the enormity of what Hitler was saying.

    Of course, no one would be interested in any practical, mundane, didactic, worldly application of the text, be it Hitler, Rousseau, Nietzsche, Yeats, Wordsworth, Rilke or Proust.

  • Ian

    Ah yes, M. Simon, but what exactly do we mean by tits?

  • Verity

    M Simon – “Very erudite discussion of the merits of the piece.” Huh?

    It’s obvious you haven’t read the thread. No one, that I can recall, had any thoughts to offer on any notional “artistic” merits of this deconstructionist project.

    All we discussed in the 73 or so posts above was the context on the spiteful assault of Britain’s martial past (and lately, deconstruction). And there was plenty of ridicule, although as the insult is deliberate, ridicule as a weapon cannot be effective.

    “End all serious palaver”? Read the thread before assuming you’re bringing a breath of fresh air to the party. We’ve already said it all. After 73 posts, it would take Mark Steyn to say anything new and piercing.

    And he will. One trusts. I for one will be haunting his site.

  • Verity

    Actually, M Simon’s post above is a perfect illustration of the first Lee Harris article that Hylas linked to.

    M Simon thought of something he perceived was outrageous and daring and wanted to be admired for posting it, so he cast us as the audience. He had absolutely no interest us or in the thoughts we had expressed in the previous 70 comments. Indeed, he had no interest in the subject. He just wanted to be perceived as interesting for writing: Nice tits.

    His fantasy that he would be admired for his post was manufactured in the face of the reality of everything we had said before, much of which went way beyond Nice tits. He even made up comments for us. “Erudite discussion on the merits of the piece” (which hadn’t happened), because that is the script that was required in order for him to be perceived as cutting through “all serious palaver” – of which there had been none.

    It may surprise him that others will not submit for being cast in the role he assigns them. Interesting illustration of the al-Qaeda fantasy that Harris refers to, though.

  • M. Simon

    Tits are breasts.

    The debate was erudite and insightful. I was entertained and enlightened.

    It does not cut the gordian knot.

    Nice tits

  • M. Simon

    Verity,

    We cowboy Americans are all to prone to skip the discussion and go for the essence. You all have so far had a long and entertaing discussion on whether the piece is shit and if so does it stink.

    If you are really serious about destroying this crap you must not ever take it seriously. You know – the Emperor has no Clothes. Evidently neother does this woman.

    So let me repeat. Simply expressed sarcasm is better than educated nuance.

    Don’t get me wrong. I am a fine arts lover, I have climbed over Moore’s sculpture at the Chicago site of the first atomic pile. I have actually touched Rodin’s Balzac at Chicago’s Art Institute. Had I seen this piece there I might have enjoyed it. But in no way is she as heroic as Nelson. (I’m exNavy so you can imagine). Her being placed where she was was an affront. You know by the usual gang of criminals.

    Nice tits

  • Verity

    M Simon – As the placement of this piece of rubbish in Trafalgar Square was a deliberate assault, all the ridicule in the world will not make any difference. Fatuities run off their backs like water. They know it’s rubbish. That’s the point.

    I repeat. You haven’t read the thread. We have not had a long and entertaining discussion on whether this piece is shit. We have discussed the deconstruction savagery that motivated it. We have discussed Marxists. We have discussed Ken Livingstone.

    It’s not the crap we’re serious about destroying; it can be blown up in an instant. It’s the fascists who are intent on destruction of our history and our civil society we wish to best.

    Most of us haven’t been even mildly nuanced. I don’t know what the hell you’re talking about. We’re not French. We’re not nuanced – although I’m not sure even Dominique de Villepin could scale the mountain of nuance that would be required to discuss this intentional insult with a straight face.

    You haven’t read the thread. I’ve been guilty of commenting before reading an entire thread myself, as have most of us. But I’ve never tried to nail imaginary comments onto the page in order to respond to them with my own little premanufactured gem.

    You were interested in getting an audience, not responding to a discussion. The thread – indeed the entire discussion – was to be the stage for you to say your line. Exactly what Lee Harris discusses in the link above.

  • A_t

    :) to be honest, I’m not sure about the virtue of the statue; i’m not sure if i like it, and i’m not sure about the motivation behind it. However, seeing all you people get this worked up over the “insult” it represents is great! Well done that sculptor.

  • Verity

    A_t – Ah yes, the leftie’s myopic view of the whole point of art – pour epater la bourgeoisie Trouble is, les bourgeoises aren’t shockable any more. No one cares about freak porn, either. It’s not the “artist” who occasioned our comments; it’s the Marxist who is defacing Britain’s most famous square. The sculture itself is irrelevant.

  • So what do you suggest, A_T? That we walk into the bright new marxist dawn trusting in the good intent and wisdom of our cultural liberators? Well, our cultural liberators are jerks who hate themselves, hate you, hate their people and their people’s history. Their offering for the 4th plinth, be it temporary or not, is a sign of the new, “free to be equal” culture that awaits us. Forgive me if I demurr – and gently disparage you for your inappropriate levity

  • A_t

    oh, I know *precisely* why you’re pissed off… i’ve read the whole silly thread. And yeah, maybe I should’ve said “well done that leftwing committee” instead, but hey.

    Your casual dismissal of the piece as “freak porn” says quite a lot about your closed-mindedness & unwillingness to examine your own perceptions & thoughts tho’. It’s certainly made me think a bit, about how I percieve the statue/person and why. Personally, I quite like examining/analysing my own reactions to things; I feel it’s good for me, & gives me insight into how my brain’s operating; allows me to question some operational paradigms I may not have been aware of, but hey, what do i know?

    As to “the whole point of art”, where did i say that? However, the number of times i’ve heard “if it pisses off the lefties, must be all right” round here, personally I’m not so bothered about lefties, but if it pisses off the social conservatives, i’ll usually give it my time of day.

    So yeah, i derive some personal satisfaction from your irratation at the sight of the world moving on from what you know. I don’t think that should be the purpose of most art though; in many cases it will incidentally happen. To be honest, if your art doesn’t at least disturb anyone, I doubt anyone will think much of it in one or two hundred years’ time (if anyone can think of any exceptions; major artists or musicians who have not shocked or caused controversy in their lifetime, & who are now revered as pioneers/masters, please let me know. I’m sure there must be some.).

  • A_t

    Hmm.. Guessedworker,

    a) i’d look beyond whatever political rubbish was surrounding the statue, & just take it at face value. Is it good? Does it make me feel anything? Is it really an insult to Nelson? (don’t think so personally).

    b) i have no intention of marching into a marxist dawn. Nor, i would wager, do most of the people who actually like the statue. Furthermore, I think your (along with many people on here) perception of the left is stuck in some 60s/70s timewarp… & this “they hate themselves, their country” etc. stuff just sounds like a tantrum from someone who (for now) is on the losing side. Do you really believe they do? Truly genuinely?

    I can see there’s a conflict between your idea of Britain & theirs. Undoubtedly, but it doesn’t mean either of you hate Britain, even if you hate each others’ conceptions of it. A nation is far too complex a thing to be modelled in one or another person’s head. Warrior-inspired ruler of the seas? Check. But if history’s looked at in another way, land of many courageous individuals, not presented with the opportunity to become famous, do something in the spotlight, but being courageous & strong nonetheless? Check also. A nation can be viewed in a variety of different ways. None will be utterly correct, few devoid of any truth. All will probably cast some light on the too-complex-to-describe truth.

    That’s my take anyway… feel free to continue fuming indignantly.

  • Tuscan T

    “If the enemy is obstinate and prone to anger, insult and enrage him, so that he will be irritated and confused, and without a plan will recklessly advance against you.”

    - Chang Yü

    If I were Red “mine’s a newt” Ken, I’d be planning plenty more stunts like this one. Howabout plotting a bail hostel in the grounds of Buck House for the next course? Then evil-smelling Housing Association tenants in The Boltons?

    Even in deepest Tuscany, far from the hunting calls of the English pseudo-left, I felt a disbelieving chill in my heart reading the original post.

  • Verity

    Damn straight, Tuscan Tony! It’s cocktail hour where I am. Make mine a double newt, straight up, on the rocks!

    A_t – Let me put it this way: if someone slaps your face with a glove, as a challenge, it doesn’t matter if it’s a kid glove or a “leather-lookalike” glove. It’s the intent that counts.

    I am afraid your own views of the Left are mired in the past. They have moved way, way on since the 60s and 70s – 30 or 40 years ago! My god! The world’s moved on! You’d “look beyond the political rubbish that was surrounding the statue”. Sorry, but that is a naive stance. If someone is pointing a gun at you, do you look beyond the gun and make a fashion judgement on how your attacker is dressed?

    Your charge that I’m bothered by Britain having changed is not just. Most of the modern world is better for everyone than the world a scant hundred years ago. And I love the internationalism. How did we ever live without the internet and email, for example? It’s the aggressors who bother me, and it amazes me that so many in Britain are so supine in the face of threats to their national interests. They hook up with NION and ANSWER, having no clue, and not caring, who is behind those organisations. (Hint, Marxist and Islamic terrorist organisations.) They don’t even investigate, yet every time they turn out for a “protest” at their command, they lend them credence.

    Well, I’ve gone on long enough and it’s time for another newt. I think I better have some soda with this one or I’ll be seeing giant pregnant legless newts in Trafalgar Square.

  • Oh A_t, you exhibit all the necessary qualities to be, if not a useful “captured intellect” along the way, at least a good citizen of Equal-land when our great, cultural journey ends there sometime later this century.

    These far from rare, in fact rather tawdry qualities do, however, include an appetite for self-examination. And that is something – well, a confession, really – that one doesn’t hear very often. I am impressed, indeed humbled for I can find in myself nothing but contempt for this damned statue. It is archly conceived, duffly executed, polytecnic fraud-art, a minor piece for picking the public purse. I can see no sense whatever in which it might inform me about the human condition (btw, a matter I have, in my time, reflected upon to some small, personal enrichment).

    Of course, I have been lost in awe at the wondrous skills of Rodin when something he knocked up went on show in my home town in the summer of ’99. I am, therefore, a snob beyond all cultural redemption and will doubtless be lined up against the wall come the revolution (chance would be a fine thing at my age).

    If I didn’t know from previous run-ins with you, A_t, that you were a good bloke I would put you down as a sap, a dupe. Wake up. Search out what is genuine and genuinely good in life and art (visit http://www.artrenewal.org if you don’t know). And while you’re at it visit http://www.italnet.edu/gramsci
    Then for the real gen: http://www.realdemocracy.com/ldvstp.htm
    and also:- http://www.orthodoxytoday.org/articlesprint/FonteCultureWarP.htm

    Catch you later.

  • A_t

    Guessedworker, “Search out what is genuine and genuinely good in life and art”

    Why, thank you for that advice. Never thought of doing that.

    Did you ever stop to consider that I’m very familiar with all the pre-raphaelite (very nice, yes, but so? I find it boring, cloying, sentimental, predictable to the point of boredom) stuff that catches the eye when you arrive at artrenewal.org? I don’t care for it, any more than I would care for some fool trying to convince me that Mozart’s symphonies were somehow more relevant than the contemporary music I buy regularly, and that everyone currently working in the music sphere should write for orchestral instruments.

    I don’t judge people who prefer to shy away from modern sounds & listen to Mozart. I know plenty of them, & if it works for them, good. I privately think they’re a little lazy, a little unadventurous, a tad closed minded, but beyond that, I wouldn’t presume to judge them; certainly not think that they were shallow because what they appreciated was different from me. I would similarly prefer if those with more conservative tastes would refrain from characterising that which I feel is important & meaningful as “shallow”, or thinking I only like it because I haven’t come across anything better, just because they don’t get it. However, I suspect that’s part of the definition of “conservative”; this certainty that your way is the right way.

  • Live with it, A_t. Radical means shallow. Radical folk see no qualitative differences in art or music (Mozart v Philip Glass, dear God!). Radical folk believe in cultural relativism and are never judgemental (except about white male heterosexuals, of course). Radical folk believe in human equality (despite more than 10,000 IQ tests that point in the same direction). Radical folk believe that freedom is posited on delivering classes or groups of people from the oppression of other classes or groups of people (despite the 100 million freed this way into the arms of God by communism). It’s all hopelessly shallow and survives on the stubborness of negative emotion alone (you know, that “hate” thing) – which is why the radical will always fall back upon threats when his arguments run out. But you, A_t, are a good bloke, as I’ve already said. So no risk of that. Any risk of a real argument, though?

  • A_t

    …meanwhile conservative folk will automatically value that which is established over that which might replace or sit alongside it.

    Yes, I thought we were having a real discussion, but you choose to patronisingly dismiss all my points. Do you expect me to defer to your “wisdom” displayed in the post above? (grumbles, generalisations & humbug about “radicals”, all sounding like a disgruntled colonel who’s lived past his allocated time)?

    To pick one… ” Radical means shallow.”

    OK… so Stravinsky was shallow, Picasso.. shallow…. Miles Davis.. what a shallow guy. Same with John Coltrane, Steve Reich & all the rest of them. Again, I say to you, this is *from your point of view*; you’re clearly incapable of getting much satisfaction out of their works. I’d suggest the reason for this lies in yourself, not the aforementioned artists, as I’ve found many of their works to be deep and rewarding, and I’m hardly alone. Pray explain why this is? Do you feel I’m fooling myself? That in fact I am only experiencing imagined pleasure/enlightenment?

    And this is to say nothing of older “radicals”; painters, musicians, artists & others who rejected convention in their time, but who you now think it’s safe to like because their radicalism was a while ago & is now acceptable.

    Lazy, boring. Where’s your argument *against* me listening to new things? I’m curious to know, because your one point “they’re shallow” doesn’t hold water.

    As far as I understand, you’d rather art had been set in stone at some point circa 1880. Doubtless there have been people like you through the ages; if you were born in 1850, your chosen date would probably have been 1770. Fortunately, you’re unable to stop progress, and current/future generations will grow up with Picasso/Miles/Stravinsky’s legacy, along with the legacy of all the art & music you love. That’s the way the world works.

  • A_t

    Oh yes, & “Radical” does not mean undiscerning; it just means “not attached to fixed cultural heirarchies”. If the unknown scares you, if you can’t conceive of comparing Philip Glass & Mozart’s music, well… your loss.

    I am very open-minded, but also intolerant of mediocrity. I have so far not found the former any kind of impediment in finding suitable entertainment which lives up to my standards. If you need guidelines, or feel uncomfortable venturing into the unknown, fine… I understand if you’re rather too old to change, but don’t presume that your frightened viewpoint reflects some larger truth; it doesn’t.

  • Colonel Sanders

    [blockquote]Original: Verity

    This grotesque 15 foot (!) statue of a naked deformed woman is beyond repulsive and is a deliberate assault on the sensibilities of Londoners and a deliberate denigration of Britain to show the tourists. Every other country in the world glorifies those who contributed to its achievements and fame.

    Putting up statues that celebrate weakness is virulent with hate and spite.[/blockquote]

    Whoa … you seem pretty virulent with hate and spite yourself.

    Theres nothing wrong with the statue itself, it isn’t a celebration of weakness (quite the opposite) and if the disabled repulse you perhaps you’d feel more at home in, oh, Hitler’s Germany maybe?

    That being said, it’s crazy to put this statue in Trafalgar Square. It’s not momentous history, nothing to do with Trafalgar, and unless she gave birth to the Messiah, is not such an achievement worthy of that place. If they want a woman there, that’s fine, British history has its share … Thatcher, Boadicea, Elizabeth I maybe … it should not be a problem. As for giving the disabled an honoured public place, sure, already done …. Nelson’s blind in one eye and a cripple as well.

  • Bert

    There IS a statue to Gordon in London. It was erected in Trafalgar Square in 1888, removed in 1943, and resited on Victoria Embankment in 1953, where it now stands. Most sources seem to agree that the fourth plinth has stood empty since William IV died, not leaving enough money for a statue of him to be erected. So Gordon’s statue must have stood elsewhere.