People who say it cannot be done should not interrupt those who are doing it. Welcome to From On High.

Sunday, February 13, 2005

Modern Art

I am drawn to the story of The Gates, the exhibit that was launched yesterday in Central Park consisting of 7,500 metal frames bolted to the park's sidewalks, each with an orange sheet hanging from it. The "artists" who created this massive faux clothesline display prefer that they not be called orange; they ask that we call them saffron. It gives this "artistic" display refinement.

My interest isn't in the exhibit. It is the sort of thing that my three-year-old grandchildren could have created - and probably have - with the laundry.

I am drawn to the kind of people who are drawn to such idiocy. Here are some of the reactions of people who journeyed to Central Park to stand in awe of the orange sheets:
"It's a bit insane, but that's why everybody is here," said Ali Naqui, who was brought to the unveiling against his will by his fiancee. (link)

"It's a waste of money, but it's fabulous," said student Shakana Jayson. "It brings happiness when you look at it." (link)

"I think it's fantastic," said Dominique Borel, who was walking her dog, Mickey, on Friday. "I love it. I think it's exhilarating." (link)

Thea Stone said the artists "created a temple in the park; it's become like a holy place to walk." (link)

"I came for this. It's poetry in motion. It's for the moment — a kind of Zen," said Barbara Knorr, a German-speaking visitor who came from Switzerland just to see the exhibit created by Christo and Jeanne-Claude. (link)

How does the artist, Christo, describe the work that he poured all his creative efforts into?
"It's very difficult," explained Christo. "You ask us to talk. This project is not involving talk. It's a real, physical space. It's not necessary to talk. You spend time, you experience the project." (link)
Translation: The project has no meaning. It's an experience. On par with a bowel movement.

Many of the admirers of the orange sheets on display probably walked right past the Metropolitan Museum of Art to "experience" The Gates. Had they walked into the Met, they would have been truly inspired. For there they would have found artistry as crafted by the finest artisans the world has ever produced; Reubens, Da Vinci, Michaelangelo, Raphael, Rembrandt, Piero della Francesca.

Instead the locals were told to go see The Gates. To "experience."

They did. None of them seemed to know quite what that meant, but they dutifully responded.

I grappled with the correct definition of the word "art" many years ago - no small task - and decided, after studying intently (from a distance of about two feet) a Reubens painting, that the definition is something close to this:

Any sculpture, painting, or drawing that I could never replicate is art.

Only in my dreams could I ever, ever replicate this.

Christo's clotheslines are not art and Christo is no artist. He is a hustler. A modern-day (wealthy) snake oil salesman.

And the people who stand in awe of his saffron gates remind me of the villagers in that fable from my youth who expressed their admiration for the emperor's clothes - before some child broke the shocking news to them. The emperor was nude.Posted by Hello

Roman Library To Be Excavated?

I love stories like this (from The Australian):

New hope in hunt for Roman library
By Nick Fielding

A PHILANTHROPIST has stepped forward to fund excavations at the ancient city of Herculaneum in Italy, where scholars believe a Roman library lies buried beneath 3m of lava from the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in AD79.David W. Packard, whose family helped to found the Hewlett-Packard computer company, is concerned that the site may be poorly conserved or that excavation of the library may not continue unless he underwrites the work.

Herculaneum, south of present-day Naples, was buried by the same eruption that destroyed nearby Pompeii.

There has been concern in academic circles that the already excavated parts of the Roman city are falling into disrepair and that there are no plans for excavating the Villa of the Papyri. The building, which contains the library, once belonged to Julius Caesar's father-in-law.

The villa is regarded as one of the most important unexcavated sites in Italy. Previous exploratory digs unearthed 1800 charred manuscripts, many of them unknown or known only through references in other works. (link)

This is fascinating stuff. I'll keep an eye on this story and bring updates to you as they come across the wire.

The Myth of The Separation Of Church & State

First, let me make short shrift of the left-wing propaganda. There is nothing in the Constitution of the United States of America that refers to a separation of church and state. From religion and public discourse. The passage that atheists and Democrats cite as their source for such a proposition is this:

"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…."
This clearcut and straightforward expression of the founders' intent with respect to the establishment of one national religion has been intentionally misconstrued and criminally distorted to mean there will be no discussion of religion on public property; no federal or state funds used to "promote" religion; no overt or covert mention of God in public schools; no books referring to a Creator on public grounds, in public libraries or in public schools; no property either owned by or in any way related to the government used for religious services or celebration.

I have three responses to those who whine, "Separation of church and state! Separation of church and state!"

1. Calm down. Shut up.
2. The Constitution doesn't say what you've been led to believe it says.
3. Most importantly, here is what those who wrote the Constitution had in mind: We shall as a community nurture the practice of - the inclusion of - and the public celebration of - all faiths. We shall set aside the public square, as becomes reasonably necessary, for worshippers to assemble with the intention of both observing and broadcasting their faith.

There are people in this country who are scared to death that Jerry Falwell is going to take over the government and force them to - gulp - pray. To those people, I direct your attention to response number 1 above. I also feel it necessary to provide you with the assurance that we the people will not tolerate religious zealots bothering you.

You may have heard me say this before but I'll repeat it here for effect. Our ancestors whipped the Nazis. They destroyed communism. We can handle Jerry Falwell, should it become necessary.*

I say all this because there is a delegate here in Virginia who is of like mind.

Debate brings delegate to forefront

A proposed constitutional amendment would allow greater freedom of religious expression on public property
Michael Sluss, The Roanoke Times

RICHMOND - Through open windows on warm summer nights, Bill his aunt coming from one bedroom and those of his grandmother coming from another.

As much as any childhood experience, those daily recitations helped shape the character of the soft-spoken, broad-shouldered man who briefly became the center of attention in the House of Delegates last week. "That's how I was raised," Carrico said. "Those prayers, those things that I heard as a child sustained me through my adult life."

The Grayson County Republican calls himself "the delegate who wears his heart on his sleeve" and makes no secret of the value he places in his Christian faith. But he has not been a delegate who calls attention to himself, even when casting critical votes on controversial issues.

That changed Tuesday, when Carrico stood in the back row of a hushed House chamber and asked his colleagues to support a constitutional amendment aimed at allowing greater freedom of religious expression on public property, including schools.

Carrico said he sponsored the amendment because he was convinced that judges had "misinterpreted" religious freedom guarantees open expressions of faith in public places. Opponents, including the American Civil Liberties Union, contend the amendment is unnecessary and perhaps unconstitutional.

"I have no ill intent toward any other beliefs with this legislation," Carrico told his fellow delegates. "However, I'm tired of hearing that when you walk into a school or walk onto public property that you cannot profess your beliefs because you may offend someone else." (

Like I said.

* My apologies to Mr. Falwell for having dragged his good name into this.

You Don't Need a Survey

I don't know what the Washington Post paid for this survey but they could have simply called me and saved themselves a lot of money.

Painful Commutes Don't Stop Drivers Even With 30-Minute Trips, Most in D.C. Area Pass Up Public Transit, Poll Finds
By Richard Morin and Steven Ginsberg, Washington Post Staff Writers

Washington area residents spend far longer getting to work and find themselves in daily traffic jams three times as often as commuters elsewhere, according to new local and national polls by The Washington Post.

Half of the region's commuters spend 30 minutes or more traveling to work, or an hour each day to get to their jobs and back home. Even when compared with commuters in other major urban areas, the surveys suggest that Washington residents spend significantly more time on the road. (link)

People talk about the terrible traffic conditions around Atlanta and Los Angeles. They don't hold a candle to Washington D.C. when it comes to the percentage of one's life that is spent in traffic trying to get from one place around the city to another.

How bad is it? It is an indication of how bad the commute is there - and of how accepting of it area residents are - that I was driving southbound on I-95 out of Washington toward Richmond one morning (I've learned to structure my day such that my travel is in the opposite direction from the commuter traffic). All northbound vehicles (four lanes of them heading into the capital) were at a virtual standstill - from Washington to Woodbridge and beyond - at least twenty miles. As is customary in the area, I had turned to a radio station that updated the traffic report throughout the morning. It was bizarre to drive twenty miles down the interstate, see all lanes of traffic northbound at a stop and to hear the traffic reporter on the radio say,

"No tie-ups on I-95 this morning. Just the normal delays."

Twenty miles of gridlock is the norm.

If you value your life, don't go there.