Friday, December 29, 2006

Reconnecting with fine art, the slow cooking of Frogs and hats as a statement of fashion (or other stuff)

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.

Eugène Delacroix - La liberté guidant le peuple

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.)

10 comments:

meldonna said...

Not being one who's ever jumped when someone said 'frog', I do appreciate this story. It's telling that we've been in this pot of warm water so long, which makes it easier to not notice.

We're seeing a celebration of President Jerry's passing, and the attempt to lionize him for pardoning Nixon. They better watch that kettle. I don't care what a 'nice guy' we're supposed to believe he is. He's the last surviving member of the Warren Commission whitewash, was never elected, and pardoned 1974's Crook of the Year.

And CBS killed part of the Sun Bowl to show his hearse show up in Cali. Glad I'm not an OSU fan.

Meanwhile, breaking news says Saddam's just been hung. Worries about violence in Iraq in response are overblown, because, how the hell could you tell? Violence in Iraq is already beyond reason.

Talk about being in hot water!

D.K. Raed said...

It's quite a stunning hat Dada, for sure! So, after you "break it in", I assume it could no longer be used for a game of ring toss? just kiddin' ya.

Are americans frogs not realizing when the water temp has gone from pleasantly warm to boiling hot? I recall the germans took great care to ensure every little thing they did was done legally. They passed laws to authorize it all. A bit at a time, a little here & little more there. Pretty soon, the nooses of madness were wrapped tightly around the necks of the citizenry. oh um, I guess that's what you were saying afterall.

What a great painting! Am I blind, or are you saying the french govt deliberately painted out Liberte's hat? Of course we'll have no art like this here. Which public bldg would have the nerve to display it? They would have to sandwich it between rows of the Ten Comandments.

I always take heart that France has a long history of peasant revolts. There was The Jacquerie in 1358, when the peasants, along with the underclass of Paris, proclaimed condemnation (and worse) on every gentleman of France.

Thanks for reminding us of those guiding lights across the pond! ~~ D.K.

dada said...

DK...oh, it's there alright...that Phrygian cap atop Liberté's head as a trip into any paint program used to brighten her adornment reveals.

And such envy I have. That hers is broken in and so well used. Of course, being July as it was, she's sporting her summer Phrygian whereas I'm modeling my winter Phrygian which isn't near as flexible. But being as it's December, mine--to its credit--keeps my head hot!

dada said...

Mel: Yes, seems we're condemned to swimming in simmering waters forever!

And in a Nixonesque moment, my coverage of the Sun Bowl was grossly interrupted in the middle of the 2nd quarter to see black limos circling around some desert mortuary.

For a couple of hours yesterday I was an Oregon State fan for the first time this season. (Because it's in that "other Oregon" just up the interstate from Eugene!)

But CBS shuts down the game in warm-up for the Ford lionizing we're all about to undergo in the days ahead.

So, from "live" coverage of an exciting bowl game, we went to dead coverage of a dead president.

If CBS wants to show us shit like that--best covered with a tape on the 6:00 news--why not just fuckin' drop their pretense of football and show Mary Tyler Moore reruns til the limos arrive?

Oh, and in further eulogy to our dear departed Ford, as Amy Goodman pointed out Thursday, he flew to Indonesia, met with Suharto, green lighted his invasion of East Timor, which began as soon as AF1 started its departure taxi down the runway to take Ford to Guam where he deplaned and ...

"gave a speech saying that never again should the United States allow another nation to strike in the middle of the night, to attack another defenseless nation" as Timorans were being gunned down by Indonesian troops.

I don't rememmber hearing that in the MSM, but in defense of the MSM, I did learn what a great athlete Ford was. A fact of this president often overlooked.

And so, in the simmering pot that is history, it would appear the French are Frogs, whereas we here in the States are merely frogs!

Anonymous said...

Thanks, Dada, for the fascinating info on the Phrygian hat. Would like to know a) where did you buy it and b) how do you pronounce it?

Also, you're a very talented artist... are you thinking of painting something that makes a statement (and, of course, keeping it under wraps until the appropriate time)?

Best wishes to you and Mrs. Dada for 2007. Keep fighting the good fight!
Dena

enigma4ever said...

"revolting fashion takes time"... hmmm.

and the Painting -wow- she is really dressed for the Feat... to inspire the masses on...

This is a great post...one of your best...

Revolution is hard work...nope, can't say that ...

I have to think of something nice to say....

The Hat will always be memorable...

( sorry I am braindead- watched too many funerals yesterday)

dada said...

Hi Dena: Your comments are too kind. Thank you!

Actually, now that you mention it, I really did consider doing just such a painting as I mentioned here in the blog. That was 10-15 years ago, way before Bush. But then distractions like the computer came along and the painting idea fell by the wayside.

Now that the need for just such a painting is greater than ever, I can't even imagine how to capture all the atrocities of Bush. It's just sooo overwhelming.

As for the hat, Answers.com tells me it pronounced something like:
fridge' - ee - uhn

As far as where one would buy such a cap, I'd like to know also. (I'd prefer a lighter, more flexible summer, model.)

The one I'm sporting here is one I borrowed off the Web and photoshopped atop my head.

But wouldn't it be fun to revive such fashion here, there, and anywhere authoritarian regimes are running roughshod over the people? As a symbol by those wearing 'em to the Dick Cheney's of the world that we're on to their wicked bullshit; to strike a little fear in hearts of these bastards who so terrorize the rest of the world with impunity?

Here's wishes for a great 2007 for you as well! Thanx again.

karena said...

Dada,
That was beautifully written. Thank you so.

"Fridg-e-un?" I like that. It helps me spell it. Phrygian. There.

I like you in that hat, that hat is for you. Revolting fashion is needed indeed.

dada said...

Enigma: Thank you also for the kind words re this post. (I confess, I made myself chuckle when I wrote, "Revolting fashion takes time." ~grin)

But I'm worrying about you, dear. You're watching way too much heavy stuff. These funerals we're being bombarded with now can really bring you down.

May I gently suggest you lighten up a bit? Maybe watch a Bush press conference or two instead? (That is, if they can ever get him detoxed enuff to appear publicly--so glaring was his absence on the tarmack yesterday in DC)

BTW, let me just wish everyone a Happy and Safe New Year's eve tonight. Save the going-to-extremes overindulgent, pugnacious. audacious and outrageous behaviour for our president.

dada said...

karena: Really? You REALLY think that hat is "me"? Thank you ever so much.

You make me wish I really possessed such a hat. But, do you think, if I wore it out in public it would get the attention it deserved? - Set me apart from the crowd? Would I have to remove it inside the movie theater? ~g~

Anyway, thank you. Have a safe & happy NY'sE!