Studio photography session + 40 years =
This is also the year during which Sir Paul is 64. I doubt he was thinking he’d be going through a bitter divorce, nor that the studio session would result in the work being reduced to a glyph in a computer’s software program for a company that he’d had a part in suing, a company run by someone who really likes his band. Nor could he have imagined this album cover would be the first image shown by Steve Jobs when showing off the iPhone last January.
From the website of Darren O’Donnell’s Mammalian Diving Reflex
Good Reads Loves Diplomatic Immunities & A Video Show for the People of Pakistan and India
Critic and blogger Timothy Comeau writes on his Good Reads site of the ridiculously narrow coverage of the “war on terror”, complaining, rightly, that even the CBC can’t seem to get more than the military’s side of the story:
“…the talk of putting a human face struck me as more this meaningless political rhetoric. Why are all these human faces those from Canada? Where do we ever see the human faces of the people we’re supposedly helping? How is their humanity ever brought to our attention? The fact that Darren could undermine the agenda of Canada’s national broadcaster with a 20 minute video perhaps suggests just how under-served we are by photo-ops, predictable rhetoric, focus on soldiers, and all the other regular bullshit.”
Check out and subscribe to Timothy’s Good Reads for lots of interesting reading, great links and compelling video on a whole range of subjects. Timothy’s the guy who got an arts grant to give a bunch of artists cable television so they could learn a little bit about what was happening in the world.
Henry Chadwick: Envoi: On Taking Leave of Antiquity in The Oxford History of the Roman World (1986)
Yet, even the barbarian invasions of the 5th Century AD fail to mark a decisive ending to the structures and values of classical Greece and Rome. If by ‘the end of the ancient world’ we mean the loss of a uniquely privileged position for Greek and Latin classics in western education and culture, then the shift cannot be described as decisive until the 20th Century, an age in which powerful forces inimical to the very notion of a ‘classic’ of the past providing a model or criterion of judgement over the present. Even as the 20th Century draws to a close, the continued centrality of Rome and of the old Mediterranean world retains at least one living and undiminished symbol in the Papacy, presiding over a community of more than 700 million people, most of whom do not live in Europe. Until very recent times the renewal of high culture in the West has been linked with some direct contact with the prime sources of this culture in antiquity: in Greek philosophy, in Roman law and administration, in the universalism stremming from biblical monotheism.
That is not to say that these three main sources are, or were at the time felt to be, wholly harmonious and co-operative friends. The Romans, from Cicero to Pope Gregory the Great, regarded the Greeks as too clever to be honest. The Greeks, as is clear from Plutarch, admired the Romans, but did not greatly appreciate being conquered by them and would have preferred their own incompetent government to Roman efficiency and justice. Christian monotheism represented a disruptive challenge to immemorial local cults and social customs throughout the Empire, and was met by vigorous resistance in the form of philosophic criticism and state harassment.
John Ralston Saul: The Doubter’s Companion (1994):
From the entry on Taste:
In late Imperial Rome, the great aristocratic pagan families were horrified by the rise to power of the lower-middle-class Christians whose churches were so plain and ugly that they were scarcely more than hovels. These rustic believers knew nothing about architectural principles and, we can surmise, had heavy accents and dressed without style. No doubt they were what those with taste would call common. Gradually, however, the aristocrats themselves followed the odor of shifting power and began to convert. Eventually the law left them no choice. It was probably a few generations before they actually thought of themselves as Christian, but in the meantime they brought taste to the church: architecture, decoration, mosaics, painting, liturgy, music. At last the bishops began to wear chasubles as magnificent as their positions. At last the bishops began to sound elegant and powerful. The beauty that resulted from the participation of the great old imperial families became an integral part of our pleasure in ourselves as civilized people. The new pagan Christian taste was quickly confused with the original Christian message of moral clarity. But those links were and remain purely imaginary.
The single and shortest definition of civilization may be the word `language`. This is not to suggest that images or music are of a lesser importance. It is simply that they have more to do with the unconscious. They are somehow part of metaphysics and religion. Civilization, if it means something concrete, is the conscious but unprogrammed mechanism by which humans communicate. And through communication they live with each other, think, create and act.
This phenomenon is particularly aggressive about its superiority. Even among themselves Westerners are constantly asserting that they have the best religion, language, method of government or production. They can’t wait to tell people everywhere in the world how to dress, pray, raise their children and organize their cities.
Non-Westerners are at first charmed, then paralyzed by our insistent self-assurance. And when, a decade later, our reorganization of cities such as Bangkok has led to disaster or of most African economies to famine and urban poverty, they find themselves pressured to take Western advice on how to get out of their mess.
What makes us such know-it-all busybodies? Christianity? The deformation of Christianity? These are just four among the dozens of standard and contradictory explanations.
It may simply be that we have not got over being the Barbarians. Indeed our problem has never been the fall of the Roman Empire but, with a few Italian exceptions, that we are not the Romans, who felt the same way about not being the Greeks.
Western history harps on about the growing reliance of the degenerate Romans upon the virile Barbarians to man their armies. So virile that we eventually sacked Rome and took it over. This interpretation leaves the impression that Rome was filled with overweight people lying about in a drunken stupor or fornicating. We tend to skip over the high, and from a Christian point of view, positive civilization into which Rome had evolved. Even a glance at the 5th Century mosaics of Ravenna shows a level of artistic skill which we, the Barbarians, saw, admired, but were unable to absorb. And so it was lost for a 1000 years. We may have conquered Rome, but we remained bumpkins. As documents of the time indicate, we were treated as such by the elites of the Empire.
Charlemagne was not simply claiming historic legitimacy when he had himself crowned Roman Emperor by Pope Leo III in St. Peter’s on Christmas Day of the year 800. He was giving in to his own colonial emotions by claiming the status of those who had been superior to his people. As with the classic nouveau riche, he had succeeded in his own terms but felt obliged to wrap himself in the trappings of the things he could never be. Charlemagne was the great king of a large but backward tribe called the Franks. He wasn’t a Roman emperor. He was a Barbarian.
The long see-saw battle among the tribes of Europe over the crown of the Holy Roman Emperor continued this seemingly indigestible inferiority complex. In its wake, German and Russian kings declared themselves Caesar (Kaiser, Czar). In our own century [20th] the Roman overlord past has been repeatedly claimed by dictators and democrats.
In any case, for the last half-century this sort of squabbling has been over the illusion of appearances. After all, the reality of power had slipped away from the three European tribes and moved on to North America, yet another step removed from Rome. The inferiority complex followed in a cumulative manner.
No country has more imitated Roman architecture ad mannerisms than the United States. An early identification with the honest but militaristic ideal of Cincinnatus quickly declined into a taste for ‘triumphs’ and ‘bread and circuses’. George Washington would have been horrified, but he was dead when Congress had him sculpted, larger than life, as Zeus dispensing liberty. Why Zeus would dispense liberty isn’t clear, except to provide mythological legitimacy.
As the American dream gradually falters, so the sense of national superiority asserts itself with a growing reliance on Roman-style trappings of power. The most obvious element is a weakened emperor who today surrounds himself with more than 1000 personal advisers. This is what the Romans called a praetorian guard. It follows that as government officials leave for the airport from their Washington houses, which are fully equipped with alarms and window-bars to protect them against their fellow-citizens, it is to tell non-Americans, rich and poor around the world, that they ought to be doing things the American way.