Saturday, May 18, 2019

Iconoclasm

If you're new here, this is a weekly column consisting of letters written to my (eventual) grandchildren (who exist) and my great-grandchildren (who don't, yet) -- the Stickies -- to haunt them after they become grups and/or I'm dead.


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                                  Who the Hell is This Guy?

Irregularly Appearing Imaginary Guest Stars 
Dana -- A Gentlereader
Iggy -- A Sticky (GT*)
Marie-Louise -- My Muse (GT*)
"I went to the museum where they had all the heads and arms from the statues that are in all the other museums." -Steven Wright 


Dear (eventual) Grandstickies & Great-Grandstickies (& Gentlereaders),

In last week's letter, I mentioned that smartphones, theoretically, make it possible to act when someone throws the oft used phrase, you can look it up! at your psyche.

For the record, although late to the party, I admit to now owning one, a smartphone I mean. I also admit to the opinion that overall, they do more harm than good, particularly culturally speaking.

However, it's not the tool, it's how you use it, and...

[Hah! I call bullpoop, sir! You spend an inordinate amount of time online. Granted, most of your web surfing involves the pursuit of unspeakably dull content or listening to music that our culturally cutting edge social media "influencers" would find to be, well, also unspeakably dull. Still...]

I repeat, Dana, it's not the tool, it's how you use it. As I started to say -- there's a huge difference between taking selfies and/or sharing your fascinating life loudly enough with everyone else in the tiny, uncomfortably upholstered, over-heated or under-cooled waiting room -- and using your phone to access an ever-growing, electronic version of the Library of Alexandria. 

[The what?]

Nevermind.

[Snob.]

Heavy sigh. Anyways...

[It's not anyways, snob, it's anyway. Everyone knows that!]

It's a charming literary device I use all the time to honor the work of David Milch's classic, Deadwood. Now, just get the hell out of here, I've had enough!

SOUND OF DOOR SLAMMING IN MY HEAD


My Dear Stickies and gentlereaders, please forgive the digression. My apologies. What I set out to do was point out that when I was out and about in the world recently I was asked if I found it interesting that iconoclasm (although that particular word was not actually used) has become a fad here in the home of the free and the land of the brave.

Knowing that my knowledge was somewhat limited concerning both the word and the phenomenon it describes, when I had a private moment I whipped out my trusty smartphone and discovered that according to Wikipedia iconoclasm is "the social belief in the importance of the destruction of icons and other images or monuments, most frequently for religious or political reasons."

Now,

I confess that I'm cis-gendered and enthusiastically heterosexual -- a chubby, pasty-faced, melanin-challenged, old man culturally branded with a scarlet letter P due to my unwillingness to repent for, or even acknowledge the legitimacy of, what passes for original sin in certain circles these days, white privilege.

[You may remember that for a minute or two I thought I was an African-American lesbian woman (who looked remarkably like Halle Berry) named Coco trapped in the body of... etc. This went away when I overcame my addiction to mayonnaise sandwiches. Who knew?] 

And,

As you would expect, I have trouble staying woke (in more ways than one) but I do my best.

However,

I'm afraid I don't have much sympathy for those who declare themselves to be traumatized by statues that most Americans were mostly oblivious to prior to the Church of Equity and Social Justice reviving the perennial struggle over freakin' INANIMATE OBJECTS! 


Sorry, I've gone off the rails again. Perhaps just a bite of a mayonnaise sandwich, just a taste to calm my nerves... No, I must be strong. Remember the nightmare that was rehab. Concentrate.

Anyways... when I unexpectedly encountered the word iconoclasm, not a word you encounter all that frequently (at least not yet), the phrase verbal iconoclasm, unbidden, popped into my head.

I think this is a good name for a disturbing phenomenon loose in the world that manifests as no-platforming, the banning of "hate" speech, microaggressions, political correctness, etceteraness -- particularly in America since free speech is enshrined in our Bill of Rights.


Statue smashing (or shrouding, or dismantling), like censorship and book burning, is a time-honored tradition with roots extending back literally thousands of years.

In fact, although my artistic knowledge is rated by The Journal of Fine Arts Majors as Philistine +, I'm endlessly fascinated/appalled by documentaries about the destruction of art in Catholic churches and the like by Protest-ants in the 16th century.

In certain circles, ISIS springs immediately to mind for some reason, iconoclasm is still quite popular. Recently, in Philadelphia, where the Bill of Rights was ratified, a bronze statue of singer and long-dead American icon Kate Smith (1907 - 1986) was covered on a Friday and removed by Sunday.

A highly placed, anonymous, often reliable source in the Philadelphia Flyers organization told me that it was then cut into pieces and buried in an unmarked grave; an exorcism was performed on the sight it had occupied since 1987.

The Flyers, who had been playing Ms. Smith's rendition of God Bless America during home games for as long as anyone can remember, discovered she had recorded songs that contained some racist lyrics -- in the 1930s. 

I was unable to discover if Ms. Smith's Presidential Medal of Freedom will have to be returned. Poppa loves you.

Have an OK day. 
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©2019 Mark Mehlmauer As long as you agree to supply my name and URL (Creative Commons license at the top and bottom of my website) you may republish this anywhere that you please. You do NOT have to include any of the folderol before the greeting or after the closing except for the title. 






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