Friday, December 7, 2012

A Visit to the Country I Grew Up In.

Yesterday I took a father-daughter afternoon and went with Hannah to the Norman Rockwell exhibit at the Birmingham Museum of Art, which runs through 6 January 2013. It was a visit to the country I grew up in. The Runaway was always one of my favorites, perhaps because the kid looks like me when I was his age, perhaps because I ran away at a later age (15).
One of Rockwell's works that I had not encountered before, though, is this one:
It reminded me of Orwell's often misquoted observation:
(Kipling's)"grasp of function, of who protects whom, is very sound. He sees clearly that men can only be highly civilized while other men, inevitably less civilized, are there to guard and feed them." -- Essay on Kipling, 1942.
Entitled Christmas: Knight Looking In Stained Glass Window first appeared on the cover of The Saturday Evening Post on 6 December 1930. The "knight" is more of a town watchman, but perhaps Rockwell's entire point was to ennoble his sacrifice with a title. He is standing watch outside at Christmas feast, perhaps just pausing there as he makes his rounds. It is cold and dark outside and a layer of snow is on the top of the window casing. The wind is blowing his cloak. He stands with his back to the wind, gazing through the window at the merry makers.
The original oil on canvas painting is 48 x 30 inches and the print does not do it justice. This is my new favorite Rockwell work.
Another one, from 1968, struck me particularly, mostly for its caption which rings truer today than then. Though Rockwell intended it as a commentary on Vietnam and the Civil Rights movement, the government secrecy it condemns has reached a pinnacle with the Bush and Obama administrations.
"We are the governed, but we govern too. Assume our love of country, for it is only the simplest of self-love. Worry little about our strength, for we have our history to show for it. And because we are strong, there are others who have hope. But watch closely from now on, for those of us who stand here mean to watch those we put in the seats of power. And listen to us, you who lead, for we are listening harder for the truth that you have not always offered us. Your voice must be ours, and ours speaks of cities that are not safe, and of wars we do not want, of poor in a land of plenty, and of a world that will not take the shape our arms would give it. We are not fierce, and the truth will not frighten us. Trust us, for we have given you our trust. We are the governed, remember, but we govern too." (Caption accompanying "The Right to Know," Norman Rockwell, 1968)
It was a very pleasant afternoon, though my daughter could scarcely credit my stories of playing in our neighborhood until well after dark, cars and houses left unlocked and neighbors whom we actually knew.

8 comments:

drjim said...

I grew up there, too, Mike.

The last one is interesting as it's one of his works that has himself in it.

He's the pip smoking guy over on the right side of the painting.

j3maccabee said...

Good stuff, good memories. And I am glad you had time with Hannah. She is a jewel, and please give her a message for me. Tell her I will never forget her kindness at the hospital and the fact that she not only remembered my wife's name but what floor she was on, when we rode the elevator together. Things like that mean more than she realizes to a weary, worn out geezer.

WarriorClass said...

The America we grew up in no longer exists. It has been taken over by an illegitimate government that arbitrarily enforces laws against one group, us, and not another, the oligarchy (i.e. Corzine), wants to force us to pay for the murder of unborn children and support sodomite marriage and unconstitutional wars, while violating every part of the constitution at will.

To pay taxes to this anti-Christ government is to be complicit with it, and suffer it's fate in hell. This is deadly serious.

If you pay taxes, you are guilty.

WarriorClass III

rdf67 said...

I blame the Court, which was supposed to provide a balance of power, for protecting the Administrations every time they faltered. Imbler v Pachtman gives prosecutors absolute immunity - based on a case where the prosecutor did everything right and never should have been sued. Since then, the theory of ABSOLUTE POWER has prevailed and bad men can do bad things to good people with immunity - so long as they are a government official. Since it is not a government function to lie and to abuse, why are these acts protected? When you find yourself on the wrong end of the prosecutor's side, your fate is determined by a dumb jury. Anyone with a brain is either removed by the government or by the defense. The most amazing revelation after a trial is the jury interview - and you say, "Oh my, that person was allowed to make a life or death decision?"

Ed said...

"... the government secrecy it condemns has reached a pinnacle with the Bush and Obama administrations."

No. It can only be a pinnacle if there is a down slope immediately ahead.

Roger J said...

Sadly, today the cop would have his taser deployed and the kid spread eagled on the floor. I have seen, in my lifetime, the role of the police morph from the kindly cop in the painting to a paramilitary force that will kill your dog with no provocation, and tase you if you even question what they are doing. If there ever was a "better public relations movement" among the LE community they've lost that one, big-time.

Anonymous said...

I remember growing up in that country too . . . vaguely. It was a time when injustice was recognized for what it was, and often dealt with directly by those involved, not put before a committee and endlessly delayed by beauracratic fools whose only real concern is expanding next year's budget. Now we are all, in one way or another, economic, mental or physical prisoners of the oligarchs and their state minions.

It has taken 100 years for them to do to America what it took Hitler only 10 years to do to Germany - probably only because we had the protections from outright takeover the founding fathers gave us. They knew exactly how men's greed would drive them to recreate a monarchy, or what would become today's dictatorship. The most powerful monkeys always rise up to become protectors of their group's watering hole. Doesn't matter that the 'water' today takes the form of nearly worthless 'money' with no intrinsic value - everybody wants it and those in power control it and, by extension, our lives.

Half a lifetime ago I made a decision to stop supporting this so-called government, after much study of tax codes, prompted by reading Congressman Hansen's book "To Harass Our People", a couple of years before he himself was wrongly convicted of lying on tax returns. At that time it was shown that nearly half of every tax dollar went to war, something that would affect not only most of the people of the countries we were deploying our forces to, but, eventually and inevitably, me as well. Why should I be forced to pay them to develop and deploy weapons, of whatever kind, that would some day be used to kill me, my family, friends and neighbors?

But the decision to quit the yearly self-assessment to beg for refund of a small portion of my 'fair share' (a PC version of the communist's redistribution of wealth) has almost no effect. Taxes are built into the price of EVERY item we trade worthless pieces of paper for. More than half the cost of everything is taxes, which represents minutes, hours, years and decades of the precious little time we are allowed here. We are literally slaving away in Gulag Amerika, just to make the greedy monkeys at the top a little more comfortable.

So we are ALL complicit in supporting the anti-Christ government, as Warrior Class points out, whether we realize it or not. The only way to stop it is to quit cooperating with it. And that, ladies and gentlemen, is why not paying your 'fair share' is considered to be a 'heinous' crime, because it pulls out the props from under their house of cards. Removing ourselves from their economic equation is the worst thing we can do to them, and they know it. That's why Agenda 21 and controlling 'ungoverned spaces' is so important to them - they can't let the little monkeys out of their control, out of their psychosocial prison.

Unfortunately the only way to keep them from dragging us back to their prison (once we wake up and escape or at least begin the process) is to make it cost them more than their accountants will allow - in both material and blood. And that is exactly why the Nazis' first priority is gun control and confiscation.

I'd like to see a Norman Rockwell world again someday. I'm afraid we're also going to have to see another civil war before that day comes. God help us.

-JRM III

Anonymous said...

I was born and raised in a small town about 10 mile`s from his studio. Many of his painting`s are a true depiction of my own childhood memories of small town New England in the 50s and 60s. There was a town hall building in Lee Mass. where we would slip in the front door`s to gaze at huge white marble tablet`s mounted on the wall`s . These tablet`s were engraved with the name`s of soldier`s who had been killed in battle . Each name had next to it the name of some spooky far away place ,Antietam , Chancellorsville , Gettysburg , Fredricksburg , The Wilderness and one that appeared many many time`s Cold Harbor . Here and now looking back half a century ago , I now know the true cost of those polished marble tablet`s . What a tragedy that our country is now on the verge of erecting a new set of these stones. Glad to hear your spending quality time with your family. W.R. Washburn Hickory N.C.