Wednesday, February 23, 2011

ANNALS OF THE CULTURE WAR, PART 534,556. Joe Carter at First Things examines Picasso, and if you've ever been to First Things you have some idea of what to expect. But I think Carter may exceed your expectations here.

The post is mostly about how Picasso was a shit with women, which we knew, and how that led Picasso to attack women with cubism:
On learning that Picasso was out, Hemingway decided to leave him a present. He went to his car and returned with a case of grenades, on which he wrote, “To Picasso from Hemingway.”

While an appropriately symbolic gift, Picasso didn’t need the armaments: He had already been lobbing grenades for nearly half a century…

The grenades he tossed also left more than a few wounded women.
See, they don't call it "culture war" for nothing. Not content to attack his wives and mistresses, many of whom "led tormented existences that ended tragically," with his artistic grenades, Picasso went rogue:
What begins in the glow of realist love -- or at the very least infatuation -- ends in the violent disgust of Cubist distortion. Picasso’s love-hate relationship with the visible world was a visual expression of his love-hate relationship with the women in his life. Cubism, according to the evidence in Picasso’s paintings, is less an abstract juggling of shapes and colors than an index of sexual disgust.
So even though Picasso also famously expressed his cubist disgust toward musicians, fruit and tableware, and himself, it was really all about the misogyny. Carter charts how Picasso made women purty like a photygraph when he loved 'em, and all cubey when he got sick of 'em. As for his "teenage mistress, Marie-Therese Walter," Carter determines, "being only an object of lust rather than of love, Walter never rated a fully realistic portrayal." And people say conservatives don't do feminist outreach!

But that's not the end; it never is. Picasso's grenades detonate to this day!
But Picasso’s story is not merely his own. As Arianna Huffington wisely discerned, his story is “the twentieth century’s own biography.”

The dehumanization trope can also be found in the works of such artists as Allen Jones and Robert Mapplethorpe, men who have embraced the objectification of the human form and who reduce the individual to an object.
I don't know much about art, but I'll say this: When Mapplethorpe stuck a bullwhip up his ass, you by God knew it was a man with a bullwhip up his ass.
Meanwhile, the fear and disgust surrounding female sexuality has become so pervasive that it is almost passé. Castration anxiety is now a major theme in rap and hip-hop music, and extreme images of the female threat, such as vagina dentate, appear in popular films (for example, in Teeth).
Oh, I remember Teeth; big hit. (Aren't they on Teeth VI now?) My only question is, what's this vagina dentate thing? It sounds Latin, but since sexism began with Picasso the term must date from the turn of the last century at the earliest.

Meanwhile if you like your culture-war more in the fake-C.S.-Lewis mode, you can visit Fr. Dwight Longenecker at Pantheos, where they send First Things writers when they get too reactionary, apparently. Longenecker's Professor Slubgrip conducts a Pop Cult 101 class at the University of Bowelbage (how do they think of these things?) and promises his demonic worm-students that they will be soon be "working in film, television, and 'media.'" Mwa-ha-ha! This threatens to be part of a series, and I only hope Fr. Longenecker learns to be faster at getting to the punchline.

UPDATE. More historical revisionism from commenters. The Dark Avenger: "I blame Marcel Duchamp for the post-colonial mess in the Congo, with his infamous painting Ce n'est pas un massacre." Zen Comix: "The presence of a Cubist Fernand Leger painting in The Omega Man's apartment is proof that Charlton Heston's gun fetish is about subjugating women to his Republican penis." Hogan: "And don't get me started on the rampant taurophobia displayed in Guernica."

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