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

Monday, April 18, 2005

Is Nothing Sacred?

An expert from Columbia Uiversity has released a study suggesting the sculture shown above to be a possible forgery.
An Ancient Masterpiece or a Master's Forgery?

A scholar has suggested that "Laocoön," a fabled sculpture whose unearthing in 1506 has deeply influenced thinking about the ancient Greeks and the nature of the visual arts, may well be a Renaissance forgery - possibly by Michelangelo himself.

Her contention has stirred some excitement and considerable exasperation among art historians in the Classical and Renaissance fields. Many other challenges to accepted attributions have faded quickly into oblivion.

The scholar advancing the theory, Lynn Catterson, a summer lecturer in art history at Columbia University, presented her argument in a talk at the university's Italian Academy for Advanced Studies in America on April 6. Maneuvering through a wealth of material - including Michelangelo's drawings, records of his banking activity and his acknowledged reputation as an avid seeker of renown and wealth - she said, "He had the motives and the means."

The strikingly naturalistic sculpture, 95 1/2 inches tall, depicts a deadly attack on the Trojan priest Laocoön and his two sons by writhing sea snakes dispatched by Athena - or, some say, Poseidon - after Laocoön warned against admitting the Trojan horse during the siege of Troy. It resides in the Vatican Museums in Rome.

In a telephone interview, Dr. Catterson cited a pen study by Michelangelo dating from 1501 depicting the rear of a male torso that resembles the back of the "Laocoön" - and Michelangelo's documented finesse at copying. (
I remember being drawn to this sculpture back when I was taking my first art history class. It was startlingly unique for its day and, at the same time, seemed to subsume all the major works created before its time.

I'm going to rely on another expert's judgement on this subject.
Richard Brilliant, Anna S. Garbedian emeritus professor of the humanities at Columbia and an authority on classical antiquities - his works include "My Laocoön: Alternative Claims in the Interpretation of Artworks" (University of California Press, 2000) - said that Dr. Catterson's contention was "noncredible on any count."

For one thing, he said, "she made absolutely no reference to ancient sculptures that could be related to the 'Laocoön,' " including a large body of ancient fragments found just before World War II at Sperlonga, a site near Rome where Tiberius had a luxurious villa, that refer specifically to episodes of the Trojan war.

Some scholars have also found fault in relating the "Laocoön" to the Michelangelo drawing of a torso, now at the Ashmolean Museum at Oxford.

"To my eye, the Michelangelo drawing does not bear a close resemblance to the torso of the Vatican Laocoön," said Katherine E. Welch, an associate professor at New York University's Institute of Fine Arts and an expert in Hellenistic and Roman imperial antiquities, in an e-mail message. "The latter is distinguished by a vigorous torsion or twist, which is lacking in the drawing."
I have decided to trust in Professor Welch's expertise. Posted by Hello

Episcopal Church Continues To Implode

More fallout from the Bishop Gene Robinson ordination for the Episcopal church in America. This comes from the Kansas City Star:

Episcopal church splits from denomination
By HELEN T. GRAY, The Kansas City Star

The area's largest Episcopal church will leave the Episcopal Diocese of Kansas and the Episcopal denomination, officials announced Sunday night in a joint statement.

The agreement for the 2,200-member Christ Episcopal Church at 91st Street and Nall Avenue in Overland Park to separate passed by a vote of 873 to 211 communicants in good standing 16 years old and over.

Voting had taken place over the past three Sundays.

Volunteers from the nearby Hillcrest Covenant Church collected and counted the ballots.

The Rev. Ron McCrary, rector of the Overland Park church, said no matter how people voted, “we welcome whoever wants to remain with Christ Church.”

The Right Rev. Dean E. Wolfe, the Episcopal bishop of Kansas, said, “This is a sad and difficult time for the Diocese of Kansas because we are losing an important part of the body.” (link)

As I recall, the reason the liberal church hierarchy accepted the ordination to the position of bishop of an openly homosexual prelate who had violated church doctrine by abandoning his wife and children to take up cohabitation with another man, was to make the Episcopal church more inclusive.

Odd how these things have a way of playing out in a manner that was not part of the plan.

If the disintegration of the church continues, the faithful few remaining will be able to have their next service in Bishop Robinson's local gay bar.

I'm Beginning To Like This Guy

I've never had much respect for Senator Trent Lott (R-Mississippi). He has always proven himself to be one of the many wienies in the GOP ranks when it comes to standing up and challenging the Democrats and their sycophants in the mainstream media.

But, unlike Chuck Hagel (R-TwilightZone)), he is urging President Bush to "get aggressive" and come to the support of Tom Delay, the embattled House majority leader who has been viciously accused of having done political stuff.

Lott urges Bush to give DeLay 'aggressive support'
By Audrey Hudson, The Washington Times

President Bush needs House Majority Leader Tom DeLay to further his legislative agenda and should be more outspoken in his defense against ethics charges, Sen. Trent Lott, Mississippi Republican, said yesterday.

"I do think the White House needs to remember that people who fight hard for you as a candidate and for your issues as a president ... deserve your support, aggressive support," said Mr. Lott, who resigned his majority leadership post because of the furor over comments he made in 2002.

"Again, he may feel that he shouldn't get into the details of the workings of who the leaders are or how the leaders act in the House or the Senate. I read very carefully what he had to say last week. ... I wish it had been more, frankly. Frankly, he needs Tom DeLay," Mr. Lott told ABC's "This Week" with George Stephanopoulos. (link)

Euthanasia, ABC News, and Rigged Polling

Nat Hentoff is one of my favorite columnists and is a really smart guy. He has an excellent article on the Terri Schiavo case and how news organizations shaped the "facts" of her case. I encourage you to read it here.

His article includes this:
One of the most widely circulated telephone polls was the ABC News poll. Its interviewers told those who picked up the phone: "Schiavo suffered brain damage and has been on life support for 16 years. Doctors say she has no consciousness, and her condition is irreversible." Although Terri was brain-damaged, she was not on a respirator or any other machinery. She was breathing naturally and was fed three times a day through a feeding tube. This was not "life support," as most of us interpret that term.

The ABC News poll, for example, led to this penetrating response by a valuable blogger, Ed Morrissey (captainsquartersblog.com): "Since when does ABC conduct push-polling for euthanasia?"
This is still such a painful story.

Hysteria and Silicone Breast Implants

If one is ever looking for a rational discussion of the risks of silicone breast implants, forget it. While experts continue to find no increased risk with their use, advocacy groups somehow seem to know better.

And, like the famous line in the movie, "Poltergeist," They're Baaack.
Breast implant pirouette
By Jacob Sullum, Washington Times

For decades, members of the National Organization for Women and other groups that support abortion rights urged politicians to "keep your hands off our bodies." Today, women who want to enhance their appearance with silicone breast implants can justly turn this slogan against NOW, which is pro-choice on abortion but anti-choice on cosmetic surgery.

NOW President Kim Gandy says the controversy over whether the Food and Drug Administration should allow wider use of silicone breast implants, currently limited mainly to reconstructive surgery following mastectomies, is about "science and medicine." But while science can tell us (in theory) what risks implants pose, it cannot tell us if they are justified.

Different women will answer that question differently, depending upon their values, tastes and circumstances. In sharp contrast with its position on abortion, however, NOW argues women should not be allowed to do that.

In any case, NOW's objections to silicone implants extend far beyond well-established local complications such as implant rupture, infection, inflammation and collapse of the scar-tissue capsule surrounding the implant. The group continues lending credence to the unsubstantiated fears of systemic illness that led to FDA's 1992 decision to limit sales of silicone implants.

"Hundreds of thousands of women have been injured and become seriously ill after receiving silicone gel breast implants," says Ms. Gandy in a December 2004 article on NOW's Web site. The article explains "breast implant patients report a variety of immune disorders such as rheumatoid arthritis, scleroderma, fibromyalgia, Sjogren's disease and lupus."

Ms. Gandy brags of being "informed by the personal stories of these survivors." The problem is such stories don't prove anything, relying on emotion and post hoc, ergo propter hoc reasoning instead of scientific evidence.

In a comprehensive 2000 report on the safety of silicone breast implants, the National Academy of Sciences concluded "silicone implants do not cause major disease." As the New York Times notes, "Nearly all studies have found no link between silicone implants and serious disease."

Yet NOW encourages the belief research will one day "conclusively demonstrate that silicone gel should never be introduced into the human body," as Ms. Gandy said in 2003. In addition to immune disorders, NOW raises the specter of lung cancer, brain cancer, suicide and harm to fetuses and nursing children. It throws in "rashes, hair loss, open sores, aching muscles and joints, mental confusion and memory loss" for good measure.

Why doesn't NOW apply the same impossible standard to abortion, which has its share of complications and side effects, both known and hypothesized? I hesitate to suggest a nonscientific explanation, but perhaps it's because NOW -- which complains of "slick advertising campaigns" that manipulate women into getting boob jobs and dresses its activists in T-shirts declaring their breasts "100 percent all natural" -- would prefer certain choices not be made at all. (link)
Feminist scaremongers. They should be ashamed.