Saturday, February 26, 2011

People without history

That's pretty much the name of the great American disease, isn't it? We are a people without history. Our current population has nothing to draw upon other than pop culture and brain-dead religious rites. Reality escapes their notice.

Yesterday there was a stink over a "nude" statue in Central Park. In New York City! It's called "The Triumph of Civic Virtue". It is a statue of a male nude who represents 'civic virtue', standing atop the twin "Sirens" of "vice" and "corruption".

This is a statue that has graced Central Park for over a hundred years. It is history. Yet today our elected representative, Andrew Weiner, held a press conference in the park to denounce the statue as "sexist" and insist that it be removed. How dare a male statue stand on two female statues! 

Indeed. But of course these aren't depictions of women underfoot, but Sirens. And Sirens are female for the simple reason that Sirens are female. They are fictional creatures from the distant past, and here's the thing: you can't edit the past; it simply is. Shouldn't the context and meaning of the statue come into play when assessing its worth? No. It was a male standing on two women; end of story. 

(And then, of course, the idiot news-twits on local TV stations veered off into talk of whether the statue should be covered, what with it being nude and rude, and all. Perhaps a tarp was in order. Sigh. What really gets me about this is that it's taking place not in Sheboygan but in New York City. Horrors!)

Meaning is out of style. It is no longer a hot commodity. People don't have time for meaning. And certainly not for context, which is becoming a dimly understood concept, in any case. And this issue was raised by Anthony Weiner, a man who is generally considered one of our smarter elected officials.

People without history can't see the world around them because they don't know where it comes from. The world is basically a big, confusing blur to these unaccomplished souls. And in a world without context, you cannot recognize a treasure when it's standing right in front of you.

Little by little, American dimwits are tossing away our past. And until knowledge comes back into style and we push the know-nothings back into the woodwork where they belong, we will lose more and more of the past. It's heartbreaking.