We're all familiar with the boiling Frog story of how, if you drop a Frog into a pot of boiling water, it will attempt to leap out. But if you place the Frog in a pan of cold water and heat it gradually, the Frog will remain until its tender meat falls off its bones. All from slow cooking.
Well, in a comment I made here recently under "Christmas eve 2006" I quoted one of Hitler's nazis from an interview after WWII which seemed to support the boiling Frog story. Of how everything seemed "normal" in Germany because the folks there mistook the forms of society, i.e., the "houses, the shops, the jobs, the mealtimes, the visits, the concerts, the cinema, the holidays" as signs that everything was pretty much as it always had been.
Yet, like the Frog placed in the gradually heating pot of cold water, those nice German folks didn't recognize they were being slowly cooked. The society's forms remained constant. It was their spirit as a nation they didn't recognize as the stinking mass of decaying rot, reeking havoc on the world it was terrorizing.
But there does appear to be exceptions to the cooking Frog story. In recent history, there exists no greater symbol of its contradiction than that of the Phrygian cap. That is, to the French at least.
Here is one such example of a Phrygian cap.
The Phrygian cap goes back centuries, but during the French revolution, its wearing became the symbol of freedom. In fact, as we are reminded over at Wikipedia, the national symbol of France, Marianne, is depicted wearing a Phrygian cap in her representations on statue and coin.
In one of the more famous pieces of Romanticism in the visual arts, Eugene Delacroix's 1830 "Liberty Leading the People" depicts Liberté commanding the people in revolt from that summer in the streets of Paris when a constitutional monarch, Louis-Philippe, was installed by the people as their king. The Frogs, sensing they were slowly being boiled alive had rose up and escaped their fate.
Worthy of mention is the fact that the government of France purchased Delacroix's "Liberté". More note worthy is the fact the government chose to hide the painting deemed too dangerous for public viewing for the next eighteen years. But perhaps most notable of all is the adornment atop Liberté's head--a Phrygian cap, ultimate symbol of liberty for the French.
From the current state of the U.S. today, i.e., a nation of apathetics and with a government sensing that and exploiting it to their advantage, we have become torturers immune from world opinion and international treaties, a country with the self-proclaimed right of pre-emptive attacks upon other nations based on lies as truth, and an insouciant citizenry losing their hard earned rights, it's difficult to imagine such a painting as Delacroix's being created in America.
For just as the Frogs sensed the water about to boil in the summer of 1830 and jumped from the pot, seeming to disprove the boiling Frog story, Twenty-first Century America appears to reaffirm it. Were such a painting to be made in this country today, it would likely be of "Liberty Fleeing the People," not leading them. Lady Liberty would be running for her life--from us!
And as for her cap? The Phrygian cap enjoying a resurgence in popularity as being modeled here by Dada?*
Well, Americans needn't concern themselves with a return of that fashion anytime soon, thankfully. Not here anyway. American's taste doesn't run in those fashion circles. It's way too out of vogue for us, I'm sure. Much as our passé taste for the Liberty the hat represents.
*(NOTE: Dada hasn't had a chance to break in his Phrygian; to shape it yet. Revolting fashion takes time.)