In 1999, Mark Wallinger created a statue of Christ wearing a crown of thorns. He named the statue Ecce Homo (“Behold the Man”). It was not chipped out of stone or carved out of wood, but was instead made out of a plaster-and-marble-powder cast of a human body. The piece was a temporary installation that stood on the empty “fourth plinth” in Trafalgar Square in central London. Being made from a human cast, it was literally life-sized and dwarfed by the imposing surroundings of the square.
Caesar. What say the augurers?
Servant. They would not have you to stir forth to-day.
Plucking the entrails of an offering forth,
They could not find a heart within the beast.
It is surely something worthy of merit that G.K. Chesterton’s quotable words have been equally employed by those from both right and left of spectrum. Rarely can an individual be used thusly. Perhaps this is because it is so easy to capitulate to the laziness of polarization. Anyway, in an angsty mood I was looking for easy ammunition from GKC. While thumbing through Chesterton titles, I stopped at Utopia of Usurers. Cute, right? To be honest, I was looking for easy ammunition against materialism. Indolence often reaches for the easy weapon, and I was guilty. Happily though, Chesterton in an essay titled “Art and Advertisement” served up something grander than a mere angsty quote: this time it was a timely inquiry into motive in the creation of art.
This blog is late. I don’t mean a couple days after deadline. No, I mean it’s-been-months-and-I-still-haven’t-found-a-topic-to-write-about late. I have so many emails sitting in my inbox kindly, and more recently, desperately, asking me if I have a blog written yet. And would I please, please, please write something?
In my last two blog posts, I have tried to show how both Boyhood and Birdman seem bent on resurrecting a philosophy popular in the 1960’s: existentialism. While Boyhood seems to give a hopeful spin to its form of it, Birdman presents a much darker picture, linking existentialism to what was commonly thought then was the only truly authentic act in the face of the death of God: suicide. Albert Camus fought this notion, but many under the influence particularly of Friedrich Nietzsche, embraced it thoroughly.