Saturday, September 5, 2020

Louis XVI, Death, and Vandalism


I have to censor myself a bit when things like the vandalism and resultant removal of the Louisville Louis XVI statue happen, because I don't want to get in trouble. But I think I can say this. The truth is that I tend to react to news of the deliberate damage or destruction of art, especially art that is specifically symbolic of my beliefs and interests, with a kind of instinctive visceral rage that I generally simply don't experience at news of deaths, even unjust ones, of people I had never heard of. Maybe this makes me a bad person, but it's how I honestly feel.

I'm sure this has a lot to do with the fact that I'm in the arts, though I don't think all musicians are like this. While I work in the performing, rather than the visual, arts, my respect for competent visual artists is such that it's not hard to see an attack on a beautiful (or even just technically proficient) statue as an expression of contempt for the labor of all artists and therefore on my vocation. The subject of the art in question does not have to be as close to my heart as Louis XVI is for me to feel that way: I'm obviously not a Buddhist, but the Taliban's 2001 destruction of the 6th century Bamyan Buddhas still horrifies me too.
But it's also about the fact that, whether we like it or not, death is inevitable for all human beings, whereas a statue or artwork or building can last indefinitely for multiple future generations if not deliberately destroyed. And with over seven billion people on the planet, no matter how empathetic we think we are (and I freely acknowledge that there are people more empathetic and humanitarian than I am) we simply cannot grieve for every death, even every publicized one, or we would do nothing else. There is a finite amount of man-made beauty in the world, but an apparently infinite number of idiots who do not appreciate it.
I am outraged as an American monarchist because there were very few statues of royalty in the USA to begin with and now one of the most notable ones has been so severely damaged that it probably cannot ever be safely displayed in public again. But even if a statue of King Louis XVI per se is not as important to you as it is to me, the arts in general (including sculpture) are essential to what make life worth living for those of us who are alive. And no cause can justify or excuse such wanton contempt for human creation, history, the integrity of public spaces, or the legacy of a kind and decent man to whom all who do believe in the United States of America owe their independence and who ultimately paid for agreeing to become the USA's first foreign ally with his life.



Thomas Henderson said...

Nihilism and anarchy should be opposed and condemned with every fiber of our being. For the dark revolution is aimed squarely against legitimate authority. A king, even a long dead one, is a father for his people and an earthly representation of the Father. An act of vandalism that defaces such a symbol is yet another reminder of the diabolical spirit infesting our times which prowls to tear apart and scatter all that is orderly and decent. Louisville was named for Louis XVI for his military aid in the creation and founding of the United States. It is a sad statement of irony that the king who had suffer and died at the hands of republicans is now being humiliated by another round of revolutionaries, but this time by those who rail against the Republic.

Vive le roi!

Ponocrates said...

Sad, but the idiots who damaged this statue probably know very little about King Louis XVI except that he belongs in this vast chasm known as "the past," which is categorically bad, in their view. Just remember, sinistra delenda est: the left must be destroyed, root and branch.

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