Wednesday, March 14, 2012

The Execution of Lady Jane Grey

The Execution of Lady Jane Grey
by Paul Delaroche (1830).
(click to enlarge)
I’m an arts junkie. Since I was a kid, I hoovered up just about every piece of literature, music, art, film—whatever I could lay my hands on.

Because I started to appreciate art at so young an age, I’ve got a healthy promiscuity in my tastes, and lack any snobbery about what can be great art. Pop music or academic paintings, cheap industrial design or refined Swiss watches—it’s all good to me.

What I loved was the high you get from discovering a truly great work of art. I loved the familiarity that great art produces in you—the sense that you’ve seen this work before (when of course you never have), heard this music before (when of course you never have), heard this story before (when of course you never have). Few people can remember the first time they heard The Police’s “Every Breath You Take” or The Beatle’s “Yesterday”, or saw The Godfather or Casablanca—they can’t remember because they are such perfect works of art that they slip into your consciousness as if they’d always lived there. As if they are as much a part of you as breathing.

So I went to the Louvre today, the first of a six day exploration I have mapped out—and it was a bit disappointing: I’d seen everything already.

Certainly it was a thrill to see, say, David’s The Coronation of Napoleon in the flesh. The sheer size of the painting made it memorable—after all, all of the version’s I’ve ever seen fit on a computer screen or a coffee-table book. None of those versions could compare to the brilliance and life and sheer size of the 60 square meter original.

But there was nothing novel about that painting, or in fact, any of the other works that I saw: They were all paintings and sculptures that I’d either seen countless times before, or in fact had studied and memorized; or works which, though I didn’t know them, I recognized as part of a movement, or as a lesser example of so-and-so’s work, or as a—

—then I came across Delaroche’s The Execution of Lady Jane Grey.

It was overwhelming. I was overwhelmed. It was like stumbling on a scene I had always had in my mind, yet could not recall. The brightly lit, white central figure—helpless, as she reaches out to keep from stumbling—reaching out to the discrete executioner’s block, which will be the end of her. The grave men beside her, at once determined yet sorrowful. The wailing, duplicitous women. The plush velvet cushion—to absorb the weight of the young girl’s knees, and protect them from injury—contrasted with the coarse straw matting—to absorb the young girl’s blood, and protect the ground from its stain.

The longer I stared at the painting, the more its beauty overwhelmed me.

As I write this, I have on my computer screen a small, paltry reproduction of the massive painting–I can only glance at it from time to time, because if I look too long at it, I know that I will weep at the beauty and sorrow of the painting.

I estimate that between three separate passes today, I must have spent altogether about an hour and a half with this single painting at the Louvre. (I’m not counting the approximately fifteen to twenty minutes I spent studying the sketches and studies Delaroche made in preparation, and which were helpfully displayed alongside the painting.)

The painting is big: A good three meters tall, and about four meters wide. So you have to stand back to fully appreciate it. Of course, some people take this to mean they can stand in front of you, and block your view.

Such as happened to me with an American family.

They were mom and dad and junior and juniorette. Except for junior, who looked like a scarecrow, all in the family were overweight. From their accent, I guessed the northern Plain states, and from their clothes and demeanor, I guessed middle middle-class people, at the Louvre on one of those dreadful group tours.

They all dutifully stared at the painting. But they clearly had absolutely no idea what they were looking at—it might as well been a street-sign in a foreign language.

Which is fine. There’s nothing wrong with being ignorant about something—so long as you’re willing to learn, and then use what you know to change your point of view.

So somehow, I wound up talking to this family—and somehow, I found myself giving them an impromptu exegesis of Delaroche’s The Execution of Lady Jane Grey

“Look at the young woman’s dress,” I told them, pointing to the painting. “See how perfectly white it is? The bright white of satin—the bright white of virginity, of innocence and purity—yet contrasted to the pale greyish hue of the young girl’s skin. That is the contrast between the young girl’s innocence, and the palor of her imminent death.

“Look at the young girl’s ladies-in-waiting—they are wailing, but they are not looking at the young girl. They are both looking away. And see the heavy gold chains they wear on their necks? Around their waists? Contrasted to Lady Jane, who wears nothing but the white (virginal, pure, innocent) dress. Delaroche is signalling that the ladies-in-waiting aren’t wailing for their mistress—they’re wailing for themselves, for their now-uncertain destiny. That’s why they’re duplicitous: They don’t care for their mistress—they only care for their own fate.

“Yet contrast that with the attitude of the two men,” I continued. “The executioner is not indifferent to the young girl—you can tell by his posture, by how he leans on his ax, bent at the waist, as if to get a better look at the young girl, before he carries out his dreadful task. But he is not trying to get a better look at her out of some lascivious or sadistic need—no, because his face is serious to the point just shy of sorrow. He is not sorrowful—he cannot be, he is an executioner. But he is unhappy with what he is obliged to do.

“Now look at the gray-haired man. He is at once guiding the young girl and trying to protect her. His shoulders seem flared up—as if trying to make himself bigger: A larger shield against the inevitability of her fate. Yet he is guiding her to the executioner’s block: Like the executioner himself, the gray-haired man can do nothing to change what will be.

“Finally, look at Lady Jane herself: She is blindly reaching forward—as we all do. We are—one and all—blindly reaching forward to find our destinies. But you and I have many days or months or years ahead of us—while the young girl has only the executioner’s block ahead of her. She is reaching forward, as we all do—but there is only death ahead of her. Notice how it is her left hand—the Hand Sinister—the hand of death—that is about to touch the executioner’s block.

“Look at the bandage covering her eyes. Look at those tiny half-moons of shadow under where her eyes should be. Delaroche is telling us that, even though her hands are blindly outstretched, and even though her eyes are supposed to be blindfolded, she can in fact see her fate. She can see the executioner’s block. That block is the whole point of the painting—in fact, it has the most central position in the painting, aside from the Lady Jane herself.

“Lady Jane’s eyes are the only ones looking at it: Though she is blindfolded, she alone among all the characters in the painting is looking at the executioner’s block. And she is reaching forward towards it. In fact, she is almost touching it. She is resigned. That’s why her skin has such a gray palor—the palor of death. She is already with God. That’s why her dress shines with the purest white. That’s why the light shining upon her is so overwhelming that we cannot tell if this scene is taking place indoors or out: God has already allowed her to join His Realm, and is shining His light on her.

“All that remains is for her to lay down, and accept her fate,” I concluded. “All that remains is for her to die.”

The American family looked at me, then looked away, silent. They weren’t even embarrassed by my mini-lecture—which I would have understood. After all, some random guy all of a sudden pouring out crazed ramblings about some silly painting is enough to get anyone embarrassed. Hell, I’d’ve been embarrassed, if I’d accosted myself as I did this family.

But they weren’t embarrassed by my ramblings—worse:

They were indifferent.

When I was done, they all just nodded wanly, and then wandered away, without so much as a glance at the painting. The mother, as if thinking her family’s reaction rather rude towards me, self-consciously said, “Thank you.”

No apology was needed—what was needed was for the family to take another, longer look at the painting, and come to understand what it meant. Come to see the truth that it represented.

But they didn’t—they didn’t even glance at the painting. They simply waddled off to “do” another room at the Louvre.

Nothing that I said mattered.

Glenn Greenwald has a post out today about how Obama deliberately had a Yemeni journalist jailed—jailed and tortured. It’s a good post, about a serious subject. Yves Smith at naked capitalism consistently posts tremendous pieces about the Mortgage Mess, and the shenanigans of the so-called “Mortgage Settlement”. Zero Hedge hammers away day after day at the rampant corruption of Wall Street—a corruption confirmed today by Greg Smith’s op-ed piece in the New York Times, lambasting Goldman Sachs’ culture of corruption.

But what does it matter, if nothing changes?

Lately, I’ve been posting less and less. I’ve been trying to understand why, even as I’ve tried to up my posts—but I can’t seem to manage it. I can’t seem to work up the enthusiasm that I used to feel, and which fueled my writing.

But when I explained the meaning of The Execution of Lady Jane Grey to that American family—and saw their reaction—I suddenly understood what had happened to me, and why I can’t seem to work up the same enthusiasm as before.

Americans don’t care.

Greenwald can write until he’s blue in the face about all the hypocrisy of the Obama administration—and it won’t matter, because nobody else will be outraged. Yves Smith can go on and on about the utter unfairness and corruption of the “Mortgage Settlement” process—and it won’t matter, because nobody else will be outraged. ZH can insist that Goldman and Jamie Dimon between them are the Anti-Christ—and it won’t matter, because nobody else will be outraged.

They pretend that they do. They stand in front of the painting, their eyes staring vacant and glazed, and put in the time—say three or four minutes. They read Greewald, they read Smith—they nod sagely and say, “How awful!”

But it’s all pretense—it’s all show. It’s not even to assuage consciences—it’s just to pretend to others. “Oh, we did the Louvre in three hours flat! Saw the whole thing from end to end!” That’s what it is—show. “Isn’t it awful what Greewald wrote about? And what about Yves’ columns—aren’t those banks just awful?”

And then they turn and walk away.

In my own case, I have analyzed what I can do best, to help make a better society—and from every angle, I always come to the same conclusion: Writing about things that matter is how I can best helpd my society.

But increasingly—and it’s been gnawing at my motivation—I keep wonder, Why bother? If what Greenwald or Smith write doesn’t change anything, what makes me think that what I write will be any different? Any less useless?

See, if your audience doesn’t truly care about what you’re telling them—if they’re just going through the motions, pretending to care in lieu of taking what you have told them and actually doing something—then why bother?

114 comments:

  1. Zackly, GL.

    If you have never happened across it, you should take a look at The Society of the Spectacle by Guy Debord.

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  2. Thank you for a great post GL and an excellent art lesson.
    There are some other Americans that do get it and are outraged by the ever increasing and bold theft of the American future and perhaps the future of the free world along with it.
    So, so many people cannot seem to rise above what comes fast and easy. They may still not get it even when they too kneel before the executioner.
    I could go on, but don't want to rant.
    Thanks again!

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  3. The very fact that I am posting this comment is an acknowledgement that I respect your work and it did profoundly influence the way I look at current events. Please keep up your good work. Your writings do make a difference may be not for everyone but atleast for me.

    Thanks,
    Venkata Satti

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  4. Don't sweat it Mr. Lira. Your message isn't for the hoi polloi. To appeal to the masses your message would have to be so watered down as to be meaningless. You are reaching people who appreciate your work. Read Isaiah's job by A.J. Nock, it will make you feel better.

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  5. "Americans don’t care." I disagree. I think they don't understand. If they were informed beyond Fox news and Cnbs, I'm sure they would 'care'. In fact most Americans I speak with about finace get enraged when the penny drops. Your bloggings are very insightful, Please keep at it. Let's add to our understanding, perseverance.

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  6. GL,
    You ARE making a difference. I check your blog every day to see if there is a new post because I do not want to miss one. They are educational, entertaining, and enlightening, and I really enjoy both your writing style and your viewpoint.
    Thank you.
    ...Oh, yeah, I'm an American :)
    Bill

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  7. Dang, you got me, GL.
    As you described your lecture to the family, I thought "Oh man, he's THAT guy. The annoying guy who goes on about some minutia on a topic that people aren't really interested in..."

    But then when you brought that around to your application, I realized I'M that guy, no doubt, to all my Facebook "friends" where I keep trying to sound the alarm of the desperate state of the economy, the US and the world. Countless links and comments from ZH, this blog and others, along with rabid Ron Paul posts have no doubt got me "blocked" or "hidden" by a lot of people.

    But... every so often, a "like" appears on something from a friend I haven't seen for 20 years, or an agreeing comment from one of my old high school teachers. Or I get a random text like "on board for Ron Paul now, what can I do?" People are getting activated, slowly but surely. We are approaching a critical mass (but not there yet).

    Following up on rahbii's final admonition I would add: Do not grow weary in well-doing... for in due season you will reap if you faint not.


    (Now whether that turns into paid subscribers is another matter)

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  8. Mass Democracy has failed. The Electorate is asleep. If you truly attempt to wake them, they will kill you.

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    Replies
    1. That is exactly what De Mello asserts in his book "Awareness"....

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  9. If it helps any, GL, one of the most valuable things about your blog is that you're warning about these things without being one of the raving tinfoil hat brigade. When I'm talking to the (admittedly few) people I meet or know who I think it's worth warning about what's happening I always refer them to your blog, and those early hyperinflation posts.
    Of course, a lot of the time it doesn't work. A few days ago I asked someone if he'd looked at the hyperinflation post. "No, didn't get around to it yet." A couple of hours later I asked him if he'd seen the cartoon video on YouTube I'd mentioned of "The Devil Went To Jamaica" He laughed and told me how he'd showed it to his whole family.
    Sigh...

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  10. What an extremely beautiful post!!! That is why I read you all the time! Don't give up ... a lot of us care, and I would be one of those nerdy people who would enjoy having a beautiful piece of art explained to me in such simple and clear terms, just as I appreciate the wonderfully simple way you explain such complex themes as hyperinflation, turbulence in world affairs and other news that seem to be presented to us in "complicated language" by press and politicians, perhaps in the hope we will not notice.

    Your fan Tita

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  11. I have had your blog bookmarked for a least a year. Love your passion, so please keep it up.

    Steve Woods
    Orange Beach, AL USA

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  12. Easy to understand your frustration Mr. Lira. A few other blogs I read have scaled back their writings as they've gotten tired of presenting the same basic message over and over. Heck even I have grown tired of trying to reach folks on my two pet topics, the economy and real food. Despite my repeated postings on Facebook it sees it falls on death ears. No, most of the population would rather bury their head in the sand. Nonetheless your loyal readers appreciate the effort you put into writing your blog.

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  13. "Why bother"....indeed... !!

    Apt for many people in different circumstances, who have various concepts and impressions.Your view as portrayed through a recent experience overlayed with the self discovery and search for acceptance, has touched a nerve in my own being.

    I too have (and still do he says with a wry smile) challenged myself with such thought provoking logic....searching for the ultimate glorification of ones existence and meaning of ones self. Our art forms differ but are categorised nonetheless as distinct art forms.

    I do not consider that ceasing to do what you love because you have doubt(s), as an option. That brings you to the state of the subject matter of the painting. Truth is, casual observers will always remain....I call them tire kickers...nothing of substance....time wasters.

    Ours is not to try to bring them into our sphere, but to perhaps accept them for what/who they are.
    If you search to enlighten the unwilling you face a monumental and insurmountable task. One which has the ability to consume you entirely. I know this from personal experience as some others have alluded to above.

    You've made an interesting observation GL...but I advise not to get caught up in that non-caring and somewhat omnipresent attitude. Keep it simple...just ignore it.

    There are art lovers....... and there are "others". I have always considered art is for the thinking man.

    Head down, tail up...keep working.....for what its worth..you make my brain cells multiply.

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  14. Pardon my ignorance, I thought the painting is in the London National Art Gallery?

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    Replies
    1. Actually, it’s home is the Tate Gallery. It’s currently on loan to the Louvre.

      GL

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  15. Wow, I know exactly how you feel about others just not getting it. Even though, in the case of the economy, the evidence is overwhelming that the u.s. is headed for disaster the uneducated masses either brush it off or acknowledge it but then take no action whatsoever. Worse, some will make fun of you for being an alarmist. I finally wrote an ebook about the debt crisis which should prove to people that we are in big trouble, yet so far few of my friends on Facebook have bothered to read it.

    We both have to realize that some people just aren't going to get it and not waste our breath on them. Sometimes I'm even tempted to think, what do I care if you listen, I know how to get rich off this system even though it's going to wipe most people out. But that jaded way is not the way to go. Help those who an be helped and there are plenty.

    I can say I am not an art aficionado and although I won't look at that painting for more than a few minutes, if that, I still appreciated the art much more after you explained it than I did before. You can reach intelligent readers hungry for truth. Don't give up.

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  16. Hi,

    Truly great post, GL. Very moving, yes it was.

    But perhaps you should become more of an existentialist about this. You do what you do for what it confirms to yourself about who you are. "Yes", you can say, "this is what I do, and so this is who I am." And part of who you are is to shout to Americans that they appear like a people sleep walking into an abyss.

    Imagine: The current president of the United States claims the executive power to order the execution of any American citizen as the result of a secret executive process, the nature and contours of which remain to date - a secret.

    The current Attorney General in justification says that the due process guaranteed by the Constitution before taking Life does not mean process in a Court, but is fully satisfied by the "process" of the decision itself made in secret by the executive. This is the most outrageous legal reasoning I have ever read.

    If anyone missed it, Mr. Holder just defined the abyss.

    There are no more extreme words that can be spoken by the executive of a constitutional republic than these.

    It's of a piece with Newt's promise to disregard court orders he doesn't like. True bi partisan consensus to end constitutional due process and the rule of law in America, or what's left of it....

    There is coincidentally a presidential election going on in America at this time. And this claimed power to kill American citizens is a constitutional issue of such importance as to rival the constitutional question of Southern Secession. At least that's my opinion.

    Yet this claim of executive power, which was rejected close to a thousand years ago with the Magna Carta, goes practically undiscussed. And ordinary Americans are either unaware or just don't care, and if they do care they're generally in favor of the president taking action against America's "enemies". Those are facts you can't change.

    So leave the vast majority of Americans alone with their fantasy of being the exceptional people chosen by "God", the greatest place on earth, a shinning city, the leader of the "Free World" etc ad nauseam.

    Despite that, you should keep writing if only for those who one day might read what you, Greenwald or others write and wake up in the cold sweat of existential Angst. And so, be provoked to do something if only for their individual selves and their family.

    And second, the coming years or decades may not be much fun, and it's important to have non mainstream voices and places to discuss our various understandings of issues and events.

    Regards,

    Unna

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    Replies
    1. I too could not believe the audacity and boldness with which Holder shredded the United States Constitution in that speech. The funny thing about it: Like Lira said, nobody gave a damn. The head of the U.S. Justice department just told us that Americans have no right to a trial by a jury of our peers, no right to an attorney, no right to defend ourselves against, or even be informed of the charges against us, and no right to confront our accuser. It's almost like people don't believe you when you tell them about it. And when you suggest they look it up for themselves, they would rather plan their next vacation.

      My view: The masses will not wake up until their standard of living slips away from them, and they find themselves destitute with a hoard of money that buys them nothing. And even then, some will still kneel at the foot of their master, the State, and beg for scraps.

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    2. The Hundred Monkey theory suggests a metamorphosis of the masses once the critical few alter their individual actions. You should rekindle your enthusiasm to enlighten the few.
      Surely there will be days when the fat and overfed Americans gauk in bewilderment, but the keepers of the keys for our society realize the major injustice behind our flim-flam society.
      Not only will the tide change, but a tsunami of revulsion will demand change. Unfortunately the fat will suffer, and everything will become a luxury.

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    3. Dear Gonzalo,

      There are many US citizens who care deeply for our country and the world. We lift up those we can. We desire a change of heart for those who have lost their way.

      The family encountered in the Lourve - you served well. Thank you.

      Delete
  17. I care ! A lot of us care. Don't give up on us GL.
    Your writing is great and most of all - it's the Truth.
    Since you're in Europe now, do you care visit Prague ?
    Also a beautiful City full of history and art.
    Keep up the good work.
    Miroslav

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  18. Do not underestimate peoples understanding of things for the simple reason of inaction.

    Can´t you see that that family (and many others, in fact the large majority) are actually blindfolded and therefore so scared that they "lay down and accept the fate" that is being offered them.

    The hopelessness and melancholy of discovering that one is merely a small part of the machinery leads to inactiom.
    However, it is important for you to continue to interpret the economical and financial reality into a language that a citizen with an average education can understand.

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  19. I like this post, not because of the conclusions, but I admire your passion. I would love if you could provide more interpretations of art pieces...
    Btw, not only Americans read this blog. And it's really great to understand your economics, way of life and even culture. Please go on, good work.

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  20. Hello Gonzalo
    Since you're so close to Madrid now you should drop by one of these days, so we can go visit el Prado, the Reina Sofia, el Escorial, the Capricho garden full of black swans and you can give us a few art classes along with some economy tips about how to sort out the mess we're in...In the beginning I thought you were kinda snob and full of yourself, but this kind of posts show you in a new light...You're not such and asshole after all...Saludos

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  21. Well thought out and beautifully presented long term analysis.

    Thank You for educating! :-)
    (A recent addition to your blog after having heard you on the max keiser report).

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  22. Gonzalo - if anyone should be blogging its you. I think you are underestimating your influence over the long term.

    One of your complaints is that a bunch of ragtag bloggers were not able to take down the most powerful financial institutions in the world in their spare time? But you guys made a huge difference. Goldman's brand is ruined. JPM will never get another explicit bailout.

    Also, how many people will now love this painting because of your blog? I know if I ever make it to the Louvre I will look it up.

    As a dues paying member of the hoi polloi - I think your message is quite popular among us.

    Keep writing!

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  23. It's so hard to do the lourve justice, but six days may be a pretty good attempt. With so much to see and do in Paris I only allotted one day last time I was there. I regreted I could not spend more time there and on my next visit I will allow more time there.

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  24. I love this blog. Dont get frustrated, it doesnt take a very big percentage of the people to make a difference.

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  25. I too agree with some of the remarks herein. GL, some people do care. I personally care more than previously after reading your work. So I thank you for that.

    The only thing that keeps me at bay; is the lay man's mutted voiced that we all possess.

    Our voices, and actions have no meaning. The Elite rule and that is that!

    Thank you for offering " the blue pill".

    Beno

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  26. Great article. I empathize. The same thing has happened to me with posting. But I've not stopped communicating---I still communicate more directly with folks, but now increasingly by email instead of blog posts.

    Perhaps this is part of the grieving process---at least, this is how I'm making sense of it. I've increasingly come to grips with the fact that I've lost my home nation. The USA still exists as a political boundary on a map, of course, but the ideas upon which it was founded have long left the hearts of those who have wrested control from the citizens (partly at their consent, and partly not). I mourn this fate. Such destruction for so little gain for so few. Are we really so little? Do we so value promises of security in exchange for unfettered liberty? So many do, of course, being convinced that the security of a cell is real living, and the dangerous freedom of the wild is unnecessary risk.

    As for myself, I'll take lean freedom over fat slavery any day.

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  27. You, Yves, and all may think you are writing to change things, but you won't.
    However once the current regime falls away, your writing and those of Yves and others will make a difference in how thing are put back together again.

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  28. To absorb that painting is to fulling accept the approach of death. By grasping with the death of one so young and so innocent we must also look into our own eyes and see our fate there. How many people have the experience to do that in today's world? The media in the U.S. is controlled almost totally by six corporations. Your blog, and others like it, bring forth a pinpick of light in a world of darkness. Don't stop!

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  29. Probably your double digits IQ readers can´t grasp it, popmpous prick. You´re the same as the "elite" you say (and think) you belong (and you don´t, i can tell). You give to the overweighted (and uderbrained) fellow americans the very same treatment the media and corporate do. You give them the super processed "food for toughts" as they do with the information and the actual food. Instead of give them raw knowledge in order to achieve real awareness, you try to present yourself as "elite" and "I know better", "trust me". In wich way that´s a better treatment than the "others"? By the way, an elite person who requiere a contribution in blogger and run a "consulting" think tank for "thrive" in a crisis for a small fee? what a joke...

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  30. There are many Americans who care, realize, and understand the reality of life in the world abroad and at home. The numbers are growing but their voices and opinions are not supported or intelligently enagaged by mainstream American media. The world and America need a Martin Luther, Ghandi, or RFK type figure to cohesively and powerfully broadcast a message of reality and hope regarding the financial situation and rip the blindfold away. Such a figure acts not just with words but charisma and personality. Let's hope the world produces him or her.

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  31. A note about the particular Americans with GL. What prevented them from engaging with GL?

    GL pointed out the intense and delicate emotions and reactions of all the persons depicted in the painting, especially those of Lady Jane, the old man, and the executioner. This work of art is about human emotional truth in this extreme situation.

    Lady Jane, the executioner, the man helping her - my understanding is that he was a catholic priest sent by the queen originally to convert her although Lady Jane was a confirmed protestant - none of them are reluctant or inhibited from confronting or expressing with their emotions and dignified demeanor the truth of what is happening.

    These are emotions easily understood by any 12 year old, no less by adults. No elitist art here, I'm sorry. These Americans' problem was that, emotionally, they simply couldn't - or wouldn't - let themselves go there.

    Why?

    Perhaps their inability to feel, express, or confront genuine personal emotion has become a necessity for them to simply continue living their everyday lives. TPTB certainly would prefer, indeed reqiure, that Americans of all people remain emotionally constricted and bottled up. In denial about their economic reality along with the political condition of their country. Americans are from Mars, remember? And TPTB like it that way.

    Emotional experience is preferably confined to professional sports cum expressions of militarized patriotism, sexualized violent commercialized entertainment, the Fox News 2 minutes of hate du jour, and naturally, the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat as experienced on the next TV battlefield or NASCAR event, whatever.

    This is, of course, a generalized condition of the contemporary Age, but perhaps most glaringly evident in the United States. What, as a practical matter, is to be done to help these particular people? I haven't a clue.

    Regards,

    Unna

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  32. Wow, Gonzalo. Prolific. This is, perhaps, your best post I have ever read. Maybe even the best I've read in years outside the realm of the typical economics blogs I frequent.

    Somehow, in some manner, you touched upon everything I feel and have felt for over a year now. It's as if you walked me through the 5 stages of grief all over again, and brought me back to the ultimate point of Acceptance. Acceptance of the fact that Americans simply don't give a shit. Whether it's because they can't give a shit (due to ignorance) or because of pure, utter hubris, is inconsequential to me.

    The fact of the matter is, they just don't care. And you know what? It has confirmed my Acceptance of the fact that they aren't worth caring for. Pride always goeth before the fall. As far as I'm concerned, they have nothing to offer me, nor I to them. Our long term goal is to get the hell out of this corrupt climate before shit does indeed hit the fan. We'll just watch from afar with the same indifference they have afforded my children, even if they are too ignorant to comprehend that that is exactly the bind in which they have placed futurity.

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  33. G-Man, I forgot to add one other thing:

    “If you saw Atlas, The giant who holds the world on his shoulders if you saw that he stood, blood running down his chest, his knees buckling, his arms trembling but still trying to hold the world aloft with the last of his strength, and the greater his effort the heavier the world bore down upon his shoulders- what would you tell him to do?”

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  34. GL,
    It's not that people do not care.

    They do not know.

    "My people perish for lack of knowledge." Hosea 4:6

    There is no condemnation in not knowing.

    Those who blame their victims while continuing to victimize them have a great deal to answer for.

    KS

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  35. First of all, it's not "Lady Jane Grey". It's Queen Jane. Delaroche, a Frenchman and probably coming from a Catholic background, called her a mere "Lady", but she was no less a queen than King Jean I of France (probably the most meaningless monarch in European history) was a king.

    [contrary to popular wisdom, Jean I is not the king with the shortest reign. That distinction goes to King Louis Philip of Portugal, who was a King for about 20 minutes on Feb 1, 1908. Also there was King Dipedra of Nepal, who spent his entire 3-day reign in a coma on 2001. Compare to them, King Jean I had a good time while he was the king.]

    Having said that, Queen Jane (who will always remain as a mere 'lady' to Catholics) does appear in the Royal website as a monarch, so that should settle the debate.


    Second, she was not a virgin. She was married to a son of Northumberland, and given the age's standards, it is likely that the marriage was consummerated.

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  36. Hi there, this is the first time I've visited your blog and was directed here by a friends status update on Facebook - probably the inner layer of the apathetic and tokenistic "objector". Like if you hate racism, re-post this if you care about the NHS...all of this chair based protest is no bad thing, I implore anyone to show their disdain for injustice and inequality. But in recent years the vehemence displayed by people's virtual selves does not match with the action they take to try to address is. They don't research, they don't question, they stare blindly at their computer and inbox the way your American family stated blindly at the painting of Lady Jane Grey. But do I think they do it out of pure ignorance - no. Do I think they do it because they don't care - I don't believe so. What I think is part of the problem is that the state of the US and the UK today is almost do ludicrous that people see what is happening, but to fully process the extent to which those in power are exploiting, lying and damaging the ordinary citizen is so awful that I think people have closed down any faculty to take on board what is being said.


    What's occurring now, the extent to which the state is truly in the hands of corrupt, unethical and dangerous individuals strikes at the heart of people's basic beliefs. Some of the things which have happened in recent history are so awful, far reaching and irreversible that people filter it out because it falls within the kind of terrain occupied by conspiracy theorists and hardened activists - the realm which Mr and Mrs Joe Public don't feel speaks the truth. We've all grown up on the lie that the state is there for you, your leaders are there to serve you and that if you're a good, decent, hardworking person,well you can make it. The fact is recent history shows that is a sham and for some people in order to defend the pretence they need to see enough to seem informed, but not enough to really understand and become incensed.


    Now do I blame people for this - not really, it's the classic way people react when something strikes at the heart of their fundamental beliefs and principles. When face with government's who so glaringly ignore the needs of their population, the population reacts like an abused child and just zeros in on how they can survive the hour, the day, the week.


    So do we give up. Not a chance! I believe in people. I guess that means I must also believe in the people who make up government and I do believe in them and shall fight for their souls! Karl Rogers, the creator or person centred therapy, said he believed people were like potatoes - that even in darkness their natural inclination was towards growth. We are now, I believe, in some of the darkest times in recent history and it is for this very reason that we need to continue, no matter how pointless it may seem, to continue to beat out drums, tell our truths and believe that people will grow, will begin to move beyond denial into being able to really see their world and to be shocked, disgusted and angry enough to be compelled to act.


    Continue to believe, continue to write because what you say and the way you say it is compelling, moving and necessary. It's what I do and will continue to do in the hope that one day the many trickles of knowledge will bring on the flood of real change.


    Sal - UK.

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  37. If even just one person is saved from the coming financial collapse, or has their eyes opened to how the world really works, isn't the effort worth it?

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  38. @Brett:

    Only if it's someone who matters.

    There is a Chinese legend in which a sage tried to save an influential family from destruction by a flood, or more likely a tsunami.

    And, long story short, only a slave girl listened to the sage. When the flood/tsunami hit, only she survived.

    However, her survival chaged nothing ; the influential family was no more, and the sage failed. The slave girl, with no money, no job, no connections and no whatsoever, ended up becoming a hermit, with zero impact to the rest of the world. Otherwise it was likely she would be stoned to death, since her survival would have been 'unlucky'.

    [in Chinese culture, survivors of shipwreck, particularly if they were of low status, were frequently executed as being unlucky, bringing bad omen.]

    Jesus got very annoyed when the only person who thanked him was a samaritan. So Jesus didn't give his usual package of blessings to him. Jesus uses three sentences to complain about the 9 Jews whom Jesus intended to save, and just spends one sentence to send the Samaritan, who was not the intended recepient of Jesus' miracle, away.

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  39. The most misunderstood and misquoted man in the history of mankind, Jesus, just ketp doing his thing. He let his words of truth and admonishment hit everyone, land anywhere, and go anyplace, without thought of outcome. We all have to learn his lesson of not being "outcome based" on our speaking of what is true and right. He knew his words would be taken out of context and that thousands of religions would spring up claiming to really understand him, but he also knew that those few who seek to understand him will find answers within, from the same source he had. He was the best example of just putting it out there and letting the chips fall.

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  40. An elderly hag seeking truthMarch 16, 2012 at 4:50 PM

    People do care. They simply fall into that all too human condition of a desire to save their own skin. In an effort to 'win' (whether it be power, applause, money, or religion) they endeavor to do what is preached in schools every day...SURVIVAL OF THE FITTEST. The problem, however, is that while genetic superiority wins, it does not necessarily consider the superiority of the mind or HEART in its efforts of reproduction.

    Like lambs led to slaughter the greatest changes to affect mankind come about when humans defy this 'survival' element and decide to stand for principles. When that time comes, blood runs throughout the streets as they are forcibly silence. Only when an overwhelming majority supports them do you see radical change--and, not always for the betterment of society. Hitler, Mao, et al forced change, as some would posture so did Christ or Muhammad. The fault is not in the stars, as Shakespeare writes, but in our attitude toward humanity itself. It lays in the decision of whether man is inherently good, evil, or both.

    And that proposition is no longer allowed to be discussed in modern society in case it may 'offend'.

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    Replies
    1. Well said! Few people notice the distinction between rule of survival of the fittest (might makes right) and rule of ethics/morals (what is right is independent of might). This distinction separates mankind from all else. Follow Darwinism to its natural conclusion and you're left with no more law, no more right, and ultimately some form of cannibalism as a result.

      Delete
  41. Well done! Gonzalo.
    Obviously the americans had been kept in the dark of ignorance and arrogance by their "masters", Whom mastermind a very orchestrate-manipulated a sophisticated [democracy-make believe]
    But the truth is that they still think with a 17th mentality, thinking that "progress is civilization" and all because in the materialism culture that they live in.

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  42. I would be more interested in why a painter with such obvious talent chose such a subject.

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    Replies
    1. http://www.allposters.com/-sp/Delaroche-Napoleon-after-His-Farewell-Speech-at-Fontainebleau-Posters_i7347750_.htm

      (Napoleon after the first abdication of 1814)

      http://www.museumsyndicate.com/item.php?item=9843

      (King Edward V and his brother, imprisoned in the London Tower)

      He also drew the death of Elizabeth I. Seems death of a historical figure was his bread and butter. After all there were no Andy Warhol at that time, and if one wanted to draw a person one had 2 choices ; a real portrait or a historical figure.

      Delete
    2. Incidentally, the mother of Edward V had been married before, having two sons. The younger one died along with the princes, his half-brothers; the older one, Thomas Grey, survived and his great-granddaughter became the Queen Jane, the subject of this post.

      Delete
  43. To Anon at 1219 I can tell you why. Gonzo that is quite a description that you gave out for the tourists. Perhaps had you explained who Lady Jane was and why she was executed at so young an age, they may have had a bit more appreciation. She was a young girl made queen but for 9 days in very turbulent political times. She was nearly spared, but for the fears of Queen Mary that Anne might reassert her right to the throne it was better to be off with her head.

    This painting really had no historical value and any meaning as it was painted nearly 300 years after her death is detailed below

    What was the reason for this painting? Well we know what it meant to Gonzo, but why did these English deaths from long ago matter so much to Delaroche and 1830s France?
    The answer lies in later paintings, where Delaroche no longer disguises his true theme. He portrays Marie Antoinette on her way to the guillotine, and Girondin liberals in the French Revolution receiving the news they are to be executed. It's clear that when Delaroche shocked the Paris public in the 1830s, what he was really ¬doing was presenting them, indirectly, with the mayhem of their own very recent revolution. The death of Lady Jane Grey had taken place centuries before; it provided a safe space for contemplation, allowing onlookers to meditate on the cruelty of history.
    The death of Lady Jane Grey

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  44. Dear Mr. Lira

    Your average American is patently not aware of the finer aspects of a cultured education.

    With this lack of education comes an inherent indifference to anything more sophisticated than say American Idol, The Voice, Fox News, Survivor, Home Makeover etc. etc…

    Your average American education is void of the necessary quality that is enjoyed by his/her European counterparts.
    Americans are by default a product of their own academic misfortune.
    I am not American, but I live in America. I grew up in the very same country as your heroine Lady Jane Grey.

    My education by English standards was below average. I attended state schools, all of which did not fall under the guise of being labeled elite.

    However, my education in comparison to my American counterparts is outstanding. I am a fucking genius here in the USA.

    In the past I had the honor of being one of Her Majesty’s Royal Guards: Link here for those disbelievers out there:
    http://grengds.com/static.php?content_id=94&&letter=S&start=0

    I too had the misfortunate encounters with many uneducated Americans on a daily basis. The lack of understanding or greater sense of history was forever misplaced. While on Tower of London Guard, I would forever hear stupid questions. I was once asked while on a St James Palace Guard did Kings and Queens used to live here. Well it’s a Palace and it belongs to the Queen, so yes, maybe they did. Ahh they replied, is she in, can we see her today.

    As you correctly state, it’s all show, there is no reality to any of it. It is all pretend; Americans like to pretend that their Government, country, education, quality of life, and healthcare is the best.

    In some aspects, conversing with your average American is like chatting with an Alzheimer’s patient, they kind of understand, but is lost when engaged in deep cognitive thinking beyond their sphere of understanding or willingness to understand.

    I am ever hopeful that Americans start to wake up and realize what is happening in this country, your blog is a small contribution in alleviating my frustration towards Americans being labeled as dumb.

    As George Bush Stated: "Our enemies are innovative and resourceful, and so are we. They never stop thinking about new ways to harm our country and our people, and neither do we."

    Incidentally, why are the British lending the French our work of art? “Sacrebleu”

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    Replies
    1. The average American of who you speak, esp. one with two teenagers, would not be able to afford to travel to France for a week or two, nor would they want to given the myriad of vacation destinations available in NA, in of all months, March. That they chose an off season vacation to the Continent, perhaps they really were there to soak up the culture. I know GL means well, but if it were my family, I would have been highly offended of his attempt to educate me and mine. Did GL even consider this? Did you?

      Delete
    2. "In some aspects, conversing with your average American is like chatting with an Alzheimer’s patient, they kind of understand, but is lost when engaged in deep cognitive thinking beyond their sphere of understanding or willingness to understand."

      Too much fluoride in the drinking water?

      Delete
  45. G.L. -
    You could have directed them to a tattoo parlor ...

    Love your work. Keep it up. Educated people are listening. The coming economic shock and awe will put these average Americans on a consumption diet that will force them to appreciate what's tangible again someday soon.

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  46. GL - I check your blog often. I encourage you to continue. It's making a difference in my life. Just like the description of the painting (I'm pretty literal, so 'between the lines' is tough), you opened my eyes to a new perspective...I, in turn, open others to a new and different perspective.

    I don't think it's a quick fix, but what else are we to do? Sit in cave? I feel compelled to share, shake and otherwise challenge people's perspective simply because I can't agree with their B.S....

    Thanks for your ongoing contribution to my awareness...I hope your light to share continues to shine...

    David

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  47. Lovely article. I was once an active blogger but now it is a passive activity. IMO there is no point in proselytising; better to lead by example, follow your passions, and organically allow for opportunities to flourish. Some people just aren't ready for a particular message but it doesn't mean that nobody is searching for it. I certainly hope you continue to write! :)

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  48. There was once a time when an average American family might have appreciated your comments a bit more. But that time has long gone.

    Americans have long since been used to living in a suburban sprawl corporate wasteland that they know no other existence.

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  49. Hi Gonzalo- I really like your blog and have been reading it for some time now. That being said, this post smacks of anti- American snobbery. I've met many, many Europeans over the last 30 years, and they seem no better educated than my contemporaries. Do you really think an ordinary family from, say, Sweden or France would have reacted differently to your unsolicited, albeit enlightening explanation of the painting? Your anecdotal, unscientific sample of one family lends itself toward confirming your already solidified bias.

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  50. Is it true that “Americans” – norte Americano’s for my SA friends – are clueless? Poor Americans, perhaps, truly rich Americans, not, the middle classes, conveniently, i.e. your life experience, education, and occupation complete your outlook on life. Cognitive dissonance is quite powerful in America as we’re the land of free and home of the brave. Yet all it takes to understand this dissonance of what we’re fed vs. what’s true is to look at American history since the Civil War.

    Right now the West is marching towards a fascist/communistic end that a Hitler, Stalin, or Mao could not imagine – probably because they would not be in any sort of power to implement policy, just puppets to the real powers, think the orginal “Rollerball” film. “They” tried this in the 1910’s, the 1930’s, and now. Let’s all hope the third time isn’t a charm. There weren’t the control mechansims available during the WW1, America couldn’t be rolled into the fascist agenda of the 1930’s and Hitler forgot he was only supposed to neutralize the USSR in WW2 and not attack England, so there was a respise where the middle classes of the West had their post war renaissance. A cynic would say that time is now over. But what the cynics and the depressives fail to realize is unintended consequences.

    If it was truly so easy for the elite to conspire and rule the masses, we would still be living in Pharoh’s Egypt or Gilgamesh’s Assyria. That this is not the case gives us hope. After all the very tools they give us, Facebook and other social media, can just as easily work for independence as for control & collectivism.

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  51. "When the student is ready, the teacher will appear".

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  52. I yawned twice, better stop posting.

    Just kidding. I find your articles intellectually stimulating, instructive and motivating. I agree with nearly everything you say (Reproductive Violence post notwithstanding), and especially so regarding your criticisms of America and Americans, and yet find myself blatently, if still subconsciously, acting them out again and again.

    But that's when I realize that you're a writer, and by that I mean, an entertainer. And I don't mean that in a pejorative sense at all. As a writer, you're out to get us to see a perspective and think about it. There shouldn't be a mission to proselytize. You're not in government, religion or consulting. As a writer, as a composer or filmmaker, you use a medium to achieve a pleasing effect by your consumers. For me, you succeed admirably.

    As an added bonus, I hope to vote for someone someday with some of your ideas. But there aren't any. More art posts?

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  53. Gonzalo, I lack the words to describe but let me try, I really enjoy reading what you write so please keep up what you are doing....

    Thanks Cesar...

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  54. Bashing Americans is not going to help you. If I'd have been looking at the painting and you spewed out all that drivel behind me, I may have just looked at you in astonishment as well. Not because I was stupid or naive, but because art is a personal thing and who are you to ruin my enjoyment of it by what you feel is important for me to know? Or worse yet, because you have made some assumption about what I do not know about art based on how I am dressed, what I weigh and my nationality. I studied Art History at Dartmouth. I have a husband who is not skinny and three children, one of which is rail thin, one is average, and one is 10 lbs overweight, all teenagers. And I hope I don't run into you at the Louvre.
    Love your other posts though, and definitely plan to keep reading them. You are at the very least fascinating and often flat out brilliant. Keep up the great work, good, bad or indifferent, we need it.

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  55. I know how you feel my friend. I have been trying to wake people up to the corruption and the mess we are all in for more years than I care to mention. Nobody wants to hear the truth.

    My family, my wife, and her family shut down completely when I speak on finances or corruption any more. I feign interests in other things (wow, can you believe Duke and Missouri both lost) just to be able to communicate with them.

    This post sums up my feelings better than I ever could have expressed. I am alone in my views among those I associate with. I sneak to the web to read and gain insights and information I will share with nobody. I know where we are heading now more than ever, but the fire to awaken others is gone – snuffed out over and over by people who just don’t care.

    GL thanks for what you do and for giving me some type of outlet.

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  56. Sensory overload and information glut and plugged in instantaneous communication has begun to dominate our lives so there is little time for quiet refection on what’s really going on here. It has become a blur as the pace has been ratcheted up slowly by our contraptions an innovation at a time and now we are consumed by our consumption and unable to think straight.

    And while we are in this stupor drunk with distractions we hardly notice what’s going on and the people pulling the strings behind our backs are free to do what they will knowing we don’t have the time or inclination to question their plans. It’s easier to believe what they tell us and go with the flow and they know it and use every chance they get to promote a sanitized version of their brutality against the people and make it appealing as if this were the right thing to do.

    Is it any wonder that most people are not interested in lifting the beautiful, noble curtain our nation likes to hide behind; look at the sunny days go dark and mean spirited and see the greed and violence that we have been inexorably drawn into. They say that ignorance is bliss and when we have a choice to ignore or face unpleasantness there is a strong urge towards ignorance as the better path.

    We eat what they feed us and everything is sugar coated and made palatable for those who go along to get along, we are the good guys after all we live in the greatest nation on earth an exceptionally scrumptious blend of beauty, talent and wisdom that will never have a rival. When we keep people in squalid poverty encrusted inner cities it is because we are good and we are mighty, when we attack other countries and kill hundreds of thousands we are doing them a favor by bringing a better way of life our way of life.

    OTB tom pumroy

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  57. When your miners were trapped, it was those fat, uneducated Americans that rushed down to your backward, little fuck country and saved their asses.
    You ever tried to give my family your opinion of a picture that you didn't paint, I would snap your neck you ungrateful little shit.

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    Replies
    1. Actually, the engineer in charge of the rescue of the 33 miners in 2010 was a Chilean, André Sougarret. The design and manufacture of the pod that extracted the miners was Chilean. Most (though not all) of the workers were Chilean; most of the foreign workers were Peruvian and Bolivian, with a smattering of Americans and several Canadians. And the equipment used was Australian, French, Canadian and British.

      Here's an article about the rescue from the Washington Times: http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2010/aug/22/33-trapped-chilean-miners-are-alive-after-17-days/

      One of these people involved in the rescue was a drill operator, an American named Jeff Heart, who was operating one of the four drills being used to locate the miners. The drill he was operating was the one that fortunately reached a spot near where the missing miners were located.

      I'm sure Mr. Heart is a fine man—but he didn't "find" the miners. He was simply one more worker implementing Mr. Sougarret's plan.

      But Tony's comment is an example of this rather irritating habit in the United States: Hog the credit for anything good that happens anywhere in the world, and claim it was because of Americans, no matter how flimsy the evidence—yet shy away from the moral responsibility of the bad that Americans have actually done, like the massacres in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, Iraq, the illegal prison camps in Guantanamo and the rest of the world, etc.

      My own sense is, it's because Americans have actually done so little good as of late—say the last 20 years—that they try to steal the moral limelight whenever they can. "America saved the Chilean miners!"—even though it was one drill operator. "America is bringing peace to the Middle East!"—even though that "peace" means killing innocent women and children.

      As to Tony saying that he "would snap your neck you ungateful little shit": Number one, (assuming he means I should be grateful to America), I don't have anything to be grateful for, so I don't see why I should be. America hasn't liberated me from any tyrant, or saved me from any disaster. We're a long way from 1945—67 years, as a matter of fact.

      Number two, my email address is below. I would ask Tony to please feel free to email me a time and a place you would like to meet in person, and I will happily give you the same lecture that I gave the family at the Louvre.

      And if you still think that my mere words merit a violent response from you, I would invite you to try something.

      That way, as I defended myself from your violent reaction to my mere words, I would have the clear legal and moral excuse to beat you until your brains see the light of day.

      GL

      Delete
    2. Hear hear! I hope you kick his arse into next Sunday, Sr. Lira! And now on to what I really want to say, at the end of the comment thread...

      Delete
    3. Tony, you are wrong-wrong-wrong. All you Americans (my former countrymen) ever hear in the biased American media reports is what Americans are doing, so of course you would be brainwashed into thinking that Americans were completely and totally responsible for the rescue of the miners (and everything else good and fair on this planet). This attitude is one reason I moved out of the United States of America. There is another world out there where we try to work together. That said, right on, Mr. Lira, and I enjoy your posts.

      Delete
  58. Unfortunately, the 'doing' is only going to come about during the crisis phase. So long as the powers-that-be are able to maintain the status quo, people are content to go on watching 'Dancing With the Stars.'

    In a few years, if we are re-creating scenes from Greece and there is forced austerity here (or worse), instead of a few thousand people participating in an 'Occupy Wall Street' march, you'll have a half million people camped out on the mall in Washington D.C.

    Amazingly, many will then say, 'How could we have seen this coming?' The millions of words being written here and elsewhere (like zerohedge), is not going to help us to avoid hitting the brick wall. They are not going to motivate us to force change, because we simply don't have the ability to overpower the status quo -- yet.

    But they are providing us an opportunity to make some basic preparations, which may allow us to weather the impending crisis in slightly better shape.

    Of course, most of pain will be absorbed by the middle and lower economic classes. The elites will have been allowed to spend several years since the '08/'09 credit crisis arranging their affairs and distributing dollar denominated assets at inflated prices brought on Bernanke's policies.

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  59. Your excellent post reminded me of these verses in James, chapter 1, "22 But prove yourselves doers of the word, and not merely hearers who delude themselves. 23 For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks at his natural face in a mirror ; 24 for once he has looked at himself and gone away, he has immediately forgotten what kind of person he was."

    Without trying to overgeneralize, most Americans have allowed ourselves to become dull to truth and only pay it lip service. But this is not limited to Americans or to the hoi polloi. Even the highly educated, who would have a better understanding of art and who claim to be enlightened, can still be the biggest fools on earth. All of us, in some way, are deluding ourselves about the kind of people we really are. Truth be known, we are much worse, individually and as a nation, than we are willing to admit to ourselves. But we don't want to know the truth.

    I posit that the apathy you encounter in others, and grapple with yourself in your motivation to blog, is largely due to spiritual blindness. The Western world has moved beyond post-modernism (where truth is subjective and determined by the individual), to the despair* that sets in when people understand that truth has become irrelevant. This is spiritual blindness in that people won't recognize that we are spiritual beings whose innermost longings can only be fulfilled in right relationship with Truth Himself, Jesus the Christ. And this means more than mere intellectual assent. This means a life of complete dependence on Him, evidenced by our committed obedience to His word. Many will reject this truth, but the denial of gravity doesn't mean you won't fall down.

    *The Swiss theologian, Francis Schaeffer, referenced a "line of despair' that humankind crossed in art, music, philosophy and theology. I commend his writings to you, GL, and to anyone else who seeks an intellectual framework to make sense of what is happening in the world today.

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  60. The Execution of Lade Jane Grey.

    Subtitle: How modesty, integrity, and virtue were killed off by a bunch of backstabbing bas****s at the top.

    How appropriate for today's times.

    Thank you GL.
    PeteCA

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  61. Dear GL,

    Americans do care. Take away their iPhones, release the new iPad late, up gas price to $5, and charge the outrageous price of $10 for a sumptuous dinner, and you will see riots.

    They really do care. About themselves.

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  62. Beautiful, GL.

    Like for Lady Jane, reality is rapidly approaching the United States. We can do little to deter our fate. At best, we can ride out the Tsunami. It benefits us, not at all, to bewail our fate. Some of us would prefer not to know, so they turn a blind eye. They can, thus, point a finger elsewhere.

    That family’s behavior is not uniquely American. It reminds me of the passengers on the Costa Concordia. When disaster struck ,they ignored the warnings and waited for other people to save them, rather than taking action.

    Unfortunately, Western culture often rewards people for being dependent and subservient. I see the coming currency debacle as an antidote for that. That family will get a smack upside the head when they are forced into penury. The question is whether they can learn from the circumstances.

    We may be a remnant, GL, but we can learn. So don’t stop teaching. Let the fools fall by the wayside, even if they are the majority of the population.

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  63. Will you make a difference to the course the World is set on? Unlikely.


    Will you make a difference to at least one reader who may stockpile food and convert his hard-won wealth into precious metals before it's too late? Almost certainly.

    Focus on the little bit of good you're doing. It's more than most of God's creatures are doing.

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  64. Hi Gonzalo. Thanks for keeping me updated via email. I did like your take on the nuances of Lady Jane. I never thought about the colors and can only imagine what it must have been like to try and explain to the tourists. This is why I don't bother. I stick to current events and market analysis. Even though I am ashamed that Americans are more likely to have an appreciation of an ice cream cone than fine art what can we really do? I am afraid the time to turn back the clock is gone and TPTB have the money and power to control the masses. I guess we could bring back the chopping block, but that won't solve a thing. The Hydra would just grow back another head. Sad story for the Queen of 9 days, but a beautiful depiction of her execution.

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  65. It isn't supposed to be easy; this is an asymmetric war.
    Most of us presumed they would run out of ideas and figure out just printing more money was only going to end in pain.
    Not many of us figured they would just park the rule of law somewhere dark and damp, and suspend the constitution, and declare martial law, and sedate the president, and stir up a war, and refuse to indict the blatant ne'er-do-wells, and suppress all dissent, and lock-down the internet, and erase the mortgage crime, and pay off the CDO's by the back door, and replace elected fools with unelected spineless ones.

    I think it is still going our way however, just a little slower.
    So don't give up. Refine the message, and repeat it.

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  66. Gonzalo -- you have inspired me. My wife and I are going to be in Paris for a couple days in early May. She want to go to the Louvre again. I'm bored by the idea. We've been there three or four times, and there are other sights to see en Paree. I'd rather do the Carnavalet again, because I'm curious to learn more about the city during Roman Empire times. Just finished reading Volume I of Gibbon, y'see.

    But by God, I'm not going to quibble with her desire. I will see out this painting, especially because I see that it's only a loaner. I was kicking myself for not having noticed it before. I like the hall with the huge paintings, especially the (self) Coronation of Napoleon and the Shipwreck of the Medusa. It helps that the musee has those placards in many languages pointing out the symbolism of some of the paintings. I'm no swine, but a man can't know everything about everything, so some of my art appreciation isn't as refined as yours. Thanks for the explanation (including the commenter who pointed out the allegory with Marie Antoinette.

    BTW, my wife and I are Americans who lived for almost our first 50 years in the collapsing empire. We had enough sense to get out while the getting was good. We too feel the frustration of trying to alert our friends and relatives back there and being ignored or scoffed at. The way I deal with it is to feel good that I at least tried to help them. It's the same feeling I have with the patients at the hospital where I work. I can tell them what's going wrong with their bodies (or their minds now that I'm working in a psychiatric ward) but they're not always going to follow my advice. It's their life. Should they choose a path that makes them die or stay insane, they have free will.

    Anyway, keep blogging. I don't agree with all you say -- I'm with Nicole "Stoneleigh" Foss in the deflationista camp. (We had her stay overnight at our house before she left for the Australian leg of our current speaking tour.) You have interesting viewpoints, and if your more recent appearances on Max Keiser are any indication, I get the impression you've softened your pro-Pinochet stance. I'd have had Salvador Allende sleep in y guest bedroom any day. I wouldn't mind his writer daughter doing it either, but I think my wife would be jealous.

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    1. Good for you and your wife, Bukko, I got out of the USA decades ago and moved to Canada. AmeriKa is doomed; unfortunately, the rest of us will eventually go down with it. Before that happens, I am enthralled in Freudenschade watching the Great Demise reaching its sad end south of the border.

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    2. The writer Isabel Allende is not Salvador Allende's daughter, I believe she is a second cousin or something like that. Most people make that mistake because both the writer and the daughter have the same first name.

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  67. dont let the b*stards bring you down

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  68. Maybe it's because you gave then an overly literal, narrative description of the work...which can never compete with a mind used to film and television. If there was a way to discuss with them the work in more abstract, conceptual terms...and as a painting qua a painting, not as if you were reading from a picture book...nah...they would not have cared anyway.

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  69. And I'll add that an art critic would sneer at your description of the piece (as obvious, literal, sophomoric, etc) in the same fashion you sneered at the tourists. I'm not saying they're right, mind.

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  70. I agree with you and what an incredibly poignant way to make your point! I too am nearing the time where I want to give up. I truly do not understand why people do not care. What I have realized is that people just want to be entertained.. day in and day out. They want to go on with their lives without having to make the effort to understand what is going on. The only thing that will get their attention is a catastrophic financial event where their wealth and their purchasing power is minimized.. We will soon see if this time the crash is large enough to command their attention.

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  71. Liked this post very much, Gonzalo. A few months back I went to a museum here in Massachusetts where they were exhibiting pieces by Rembrandt and other dutch painters. There was a painting by a man named Gerritt Dou that was stunning. It was not large, perhaps 1 foot wide by 2 feet high so not many people could stand close at a time. I stayed there as long as courtesy possibly allowed, perhaps 15 minutes. There was a white dog in foreground of the painting and it looked like every single fur on the dog had gotten its own brush stroke of paint to represent it. Simply amazing technique

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  72. "That’s more than 55 million homes with at least one iPhone, iPad, iPod or Mac computer. And one-in-10 homes that aren’t currently in that group plan to join it in the next year. "

    THAT'S FROM CNBC-

    With news like that I feel many of you bloggers are overestimating how bad things are at present. When faced with this news, I notice many bloggers of your type explain it away in the context of your beliefs. It seems special pleading on your part. I read your blog and agree with many points.

    The problem is that at present the FED and the GOV are keeping this together at the monetary level so the social and economic levels by and large have not collapsed. Certain sectors at the economic level are in a Depression like housing but overall and generally speaking, society is still functioning more or less like it did prior to the FALL of '08 when the collapse began.

    I mean it's not like 75% are unemployed. Most are working and buying products basically living life like they always have. Those 25% are in a Depression due to no work, part time work, marginally attached, not in the labor force, etc, etc and are in worthless homes they are about to lose or not. These though may listen to you but hope for better times. They're not all starving to death.

    It's like in Miami where I live you couldn't notice death, despondency and despair. This past week was the ULTRAFEST. It's the biggest electronic music DJ event of the year. It was sold out at 130 a pop with around 150,000 attending spread out through 3 days. Restaurants full, clubs full, cabs full with folks waiting up to 2 hours for a cab.

    Is that the sign of the end of times economically speaking? Is the world about to enter a hyperinflationary catastrophe anytime soon? Judging from the vantage point of South Beach where ULTRAFEST made 80 million bucks and in the concert there were 1000 cops at a ratio of 1 to 60 attending, it doesn't seem what many DOOM and GLOOM bloggers are predicting is gonna happen anytime soon.

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  73. I can relate to your frustration but I sincerely hope that this blog does not go the way of the "Hourly G". I value your economic opinions and enjoy your social commentary.

    JMA

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  74. Great post. Do not give up and stop posting. Chaos theory shows us that thing do not change in linear fashion; they go on for long periods with no seeming (visible/outer) change, then WHAM change happens with lightening speed. But it is all due to subtle linkages being made unseen over the previous time period.
    You are helping make those linkages.
    Have patience.

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  75. Site still operational? Sick? Vacation?

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  76. I came looking for you because you had disappeared. I often feel as you do and thing that the only real solution is to leave the US...but to where? And what about family obligations and payng for kids in college, you can't just pack it in and leave. I appreciate your writing and views, but there are so many who rely on the government and sdon't have the courage to cut the cords. Many people talk the talk but few are willing accept responsibility for themselves and cure the nation by sacrifice. Everybody is for cutting the size of government until it affects them.
    Then there is the cultural division in our society. Can we even form a consensus of sacrifice when we don't have common bonds but only alienation? Religion and spiritual values once gave people the ability to sacrifice for the sake of others. This probably hasn't helped. So be it...

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  77. Jocecito,
    Drive 30 miles outside the metro Miami area to a middle class suburban neighborhood of modest 3 bedroom 2 bath homes, where the working people live - the teachers, police officers, nurses, med techs, EMTs, firefighters, flight attendants, plumbers, and electricians.

    Look at the condition of people's yards and gutters. Look at the condition and age of the cars they are driving. Look inside their cars.

    Count the abandoned houses. Count the cars parked in driveways that look like they haven't been driven in months. Count the "For Rent" signs. Count the number of empty store fronts and abandoned gas stations.

    Hang out in the neighborhood grocery store and watch the checkout lanes. Count the number of people who pay for groceries with a SNAP/food stamp card.

    Ask a faith leader in the community how may houses of worship have been foreclosed. Ask social workers how many children they know whose parents have turned them over to the state because they can no longer afford to feed them.

    If you do these things you will have an accurate picture of what life is really like for the average American.

    K Smith

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    1. OK I'm bait. Give me actual names of towns 30 miles from the Miami Metropolitan Area and I will physically visit these places to verify what you just posted.

      NAMES OF TOWNS

      If so, then your post is accurate. I'd guess that Miami and the major cities are in a sort of boom but I will be waiting for your answer.

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  78. Brilliant...just sent to work colleagues

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  79. Mister,
    This is wonderful, and a perfectly allegorical representation of what American's hate about Americans. Hopefully my generation won't rear children to have them engaging in activities that have absolutely no meaning to them. We are young, and hopefully we're learning from our mistakes!
    Ali Joy
    Atlanta GA
    ps I read something today that likened the brain to two dogs fighting constantly, one good, one bad, and whichever won in the moment won our actions. Whichever dog you fed more won more. Don't stop feeding the good dog!
    Atlanta GA

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  80. I wrote this for Reddit but its edited its apropos for what you are talking about

    The US has never worked particularly well as a Republic (for any but the elite) except for a brief period post WW2 when it worked somewhat OK for most of the people (though not all of them, C.F Great Society, War on Poverty, Civil Rights Movements etc) .

    It can't me made to work well either because there is no consensus on what the Republic should be like, what rights and duties should be, what the Constitution means or any of that. The brief period of mass society created by the Industrial Age and the relative racial and cultural uniformity

    And note too this was flawed, yes Whites in America were growing to have a kind of identity but that identity excluded a good chunk of the population (Blacks mostly but also Native Americans, Jews in some places and the smattering of others that had always been here)

    That meant a sure failure since the identity was false and non inclusive of people who had always been here.

    You can get away with that with non assimilated immigrants but not with citizens, not for long anyway.

    And now we can't create one either, the nation is too diverse for that .

    And no its not Black or White or any more modern constructs its been that way since the mass waves of German immigration if not before and now with so many different peoples who are treated more as cattle rather than citizens building a sense of place and people is hard.

    In truth the sense of national identity is extremely weak exactly as the Founding Fathers intended.

    You cannot expect people to care when its not human nature to care about non tribe mates and the entirely artificial mechanisms of the industrial age have broken down. The age of mass media is nearly over. This takes away the the best tool for creating the lies needed to sustain a stupid failed system.The lie is transparent now.

    And so of course they don't care, there never was anything to care for or stand for on any grand scale and most importantly and so often forgotten, its supposed to be that way.

    The Federal and State systems were supposed to be weak and do just enough to allow people to make their own way. Of course politicians being politicians always screw things up either for the status games they play, for power, for money or sometimes out of dire necessity.

    The system we have is simply not compatible with Capitalism or the Universalism that has permeated modern culture.

    The assumption that average folks (and in and society they are almost all of us) think like progressives and want change and diversity and chaos is stupid. The rise of fascism ought to have taught us that because the failed promise of that system is stability and constancy.

    A last point, to survive and prosper (pun intended) we have to localize in break down into smaller groups with actual reasons to cooperate other than an imperial boot. We must build local, homogeneous, resilient communities, de-urbanize and shrink the bloat to something that serves human needs instead of institutional ones. If we don't, we may not survive.

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  81. My mom had a nickname for me when I was a kid, "Lady Jane Grey". Only later did I research her and learn of her execution and the reason for it. My heart went out to her and this picture made me grieve for her centuries later.
    I too sound the alarm bells to my friends and family who have a new nickname for me, "Debbie Downer". They allude to the fact that they think I might be clinically depressed. Easier to say that then to face the reality of the situation, which is staring them in the face. Tragicaly for me, they will all turn up on my doorstep.

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  82. Why bother? I have asked myself that same question for decades. In the 1980's and 90's I was politically active, railing against the Evil of Two Lessers that is the DNC/RNC lockdown on the political process of this once-great country.

    In recent years I have taken to being a contributing writer for an ethno-cultural blog, seeking to educate members of my ethnos as to the rich history of their ancestors, which they would never learn otherwise from the public and private fool systems in this country. Now as then, I am faced with the monumental indifference of what is, quite frankly, a stupid American public. Why bother then?

    I asked myself that very question for years, even as I continued to do what I increasingly felt was waste my time and breath. The answer came to me, incredibly, from a really bad Hollywood retelling of the life and death of Col. George Armstrong Custer, called, appropriately enough, Custer of the West (1967), starring Robert Shaw.

    In the final scene, Custer finds himself facing his soon-to-be-executioner, Chief Dull Knife (who in real life wasn't at the Battle of the Little Big Horn). Custer tries desperately to talk his way out of certain death, pointing out to Dull Knife that whatever the Indians do to him today will be irrelevant tomorrow as the forces of the White man will inevitably overwhelm and destroy them. Dull Knife listens, smiles and then nods his head, conveying to Custer that he understands and agrees with what he says. However, he then looks at him and replies "But today we fight!"

    As god-awful as that whole movie was, I never forgot that scene and those words. They have kept me going ever since. Logic holds whatever we try to do today will be for nothing as the horrible future we know is coming sweeps away the masses of the Great Unwashed to the fate their indifferent carcasses so richly deserve. How many valiant struggles were waged, though, for logic's sake? We're eye-balling the fifth century; we KNOW the handwriting is already on the wall.

    But today we fight!

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  83. GL:

    Thank you for your depiction of the Execution of Lady Jane Grey. I too, saw this massive master at the Louve during the same week that you were there. For me it was haunting. I could not stare at it with out a feeling of dread. You are right as far as the other antiquities were concerned, all seemed the same, until my encounter with this piece. This was a real world event. No matter if it was painted 300 years after its era; it represented young death and the ill-fated attempt by justice to protect what was already her fate. However, if you noticed that protection (Sir Thomas Moore)did not have a face but broad shoulders to support the struggle. I could not stare at it long, it had a powerful, uneasy, presence. The day that I visited the Louve was filled with Spring break students, families and tour groups. Everywhere you turned was humanity. The location of this piece was tucked in a room in which you walked through to other areas. It was dark and cool. Your explanation to the American family was not entirely out of place. If the mother stopped to thank-you, then she will most likely repeat them to her family. The subject was not family friendly;however, it doesn't mean your comments were lost on her or her family. As for the collapse of the US economy and the exploitation by the Obama administration over the denial of the Federal Budget and its effects within Europe, yes I am very aware of its impact. As an American, member of the US military and a watcher of Fox news, you cannot lump all Americans into one uneducated camp. Watchdogs do exist.

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  84. Mr. Lira, I certainly understand your frustration, and your feeling that your writings don't matter because "Americans don't care". With that in mind, I refer you to the story of "The boy and the starfish". If you don't already know it (which I doubt), then find it on the internet and read it. It is a perfect example of why you MUST keep writing, if not for all of us, then for those of us for whom you most certainly DO make a difference. No, you can't save the world, and won't. But you WILL make a difference for some of us, even if you can never know for which ones the difference will be made, or how profound that difference might be. Keep writing, and keep making a difference. It's how you are made, and the rest of us would be worse off without the likes of you and your writings.

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  85. Senor Lira: It's been a long time since I have visited you and although I disagree with many of your views, your passion is irresistible it keeps me keenly focused on your words and how you apply them to a cause.... I read Glenn and Yves and I understand the futility that one must feel when encountering a situation as the one that you defined in your narrative.

    My parents, my father a playboy and my mother a social butterfly, would always criticize me for my lack of friends and social engagement,they would actually demean me with cruel rhetoric. I never felt the sting of their words for I knew that I had the best friends a man could ever have, and I was not shy in naming them... HUGO, DICKENS, POE, MELVILLE, SHELLEY, POLLOCK, ROTH, BOGART, HOLDEN, ETC. ETC.... I've added many more since those days, so many years ago, recently, Greenwald, Smith and Lira..

    Yours truly,

    Albie

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  86. I think the best answer to corruption and apathy is to not allow yourself to become discouraged or debased. Write about what you think is wrong talk to people about it talk about what you would like to see in it's place. Decide what you believe is right and do what's right no matter what those around you do. Build trust based networks where you live, start building functional templates for a healthy community. Offer an alternative vision, build up it's details. That family will have to decide what to do if things ever get hard for them. They will back one of the current corrupt power structures if they see nothing else to choose. We need visionaries, idealists and builders to lay out some better options. Do business in your community with people you know and trust. Most of the people around me have time and talent but are unable to get money. Find ways to circumvent money while enriching your life and that of your community. My friends and I do a lot of working hangouts, we agree to an amount of hours that we each get to utilize the group for, the host provides food and beverages and we work, usually gardening, sometimes spring cleaning, sometimes home improvement. We have the power to build the society we want to see on a small scale. We need to get to know each other and find common ground. The gov't is too corrupt to do the right thing anymore, individuals have very little power to change things at that scale. We need to rebuild our social fabric at the ground level. A police state requires enforcers, let's get to know the people in our neighborhoods who might be playing those roles and talk about common ground. What is a common basis of human decency, right and wrong that we should expect of one another in our community? What are our responsibilities to one another? I saw some very disturbing police behavior in NY and Chicago recently, I haven't seen it in my town yet but if I do I will grab a group of friends and neighbors, bake a ton of cookies and go down to my neighborhood police station and in the friendliest possible way talk about things that seem concerning and ask the people working there what their opinion is on certain types of behavior.

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  87. Unlike other parts of the world, once you have an arrest record for demonstrations, it follows you and really hurts the ability to get a job. The system is wired to silent hang those that protest. The only hope is revolution but the large majority of people in the US only give a crap about themselves. Those that do care are lunatic fringe and crap on the side walks.

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  88. Mr. Lira, I came to your site via a link at Instapundit, and deeply appreciate what I have had time to read so far.

    Your question, which, if I may rephrase it, "Why bother?" is a good one. I can't tell what goes on in the mind of each individual, but after reading so many stories and blog posts about these topics, one may be excused for wondering what a single individual can do to restrain the actors who daily add strands to this vast web of corruption and deceit when they are so powerful and well protected. A sense of helplessness can easily devolve into hopelessness, and that may be the source of this indifference. If you don't believe that you can either fight or fly, what else is there?

    Still, FWIW, I think your blog and others like it serve at least two valuable purposes. For one, the reassure those of us who think something is very wrong that we are not completely insane. For another, perhaps your voice, united with all the others, might finally reach a Horton who discovers our Whoville.

    Finally, I enjoyed your explication of the painting immensely. As for the family you met: Even if they did not seem to care at the time, who can say whether or not those words will come back to one or all of them in some quiet moment when, on hiatus from the bustle and buzz of modern life, they have a fleeting moment to consider the human condition. :)

    --Ed Snyder, mysteryachiever@hotmail.com

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  89. This is actually a very serious matter regarding Americans. I have been feeling more and more alienated as the decades pass and this is the reason. It actually hurts - dozens of times a day - to see how little people care about anything but their own corrupt image of self-interest. The mass rudeness and sloth, the gross neglect of fundamental social contracts that should never have to be articulated, the blind accecptance of mountains of garbage as consumer products and "nutrition". People actually laugh in my face because I occasionally express concern about my health and my integrity and that of the society in which I live. I'm not talking about flakey, commercialized "caring" and volunteering and the like. I'm talking about a basic respect for sincerity and the most fundamental comforts of modern life. Everything is fear or boredom.

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  90. Every painting has its own story. Some people would look at it as how amazing the painting was created and what's the story behind. I'm also a fan of art, an art that no one can argue about the piece that someone has created because there's always a great story behind it. You are really amazing for making every detail and create your perception of how the painting tells its story. Great post!

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  91. I'm not particularly sure what to tell you regarding this global apathy, GL.
    You're right, of course. They don't care.
    I tried for years to get my relatives that moved to the U.S. for a better future to see the writing on the wall and prepare contingencies. I mean they left their home once. They can do it again, right?
    And as the shit begins to stink more and more, they continue to do nothing.
    The people around me do nothing and recognize nothing. They're completely apathetic when it comes to recognizing the real problem, but they DO react aggressively when it comes to being petty.
    I'm more afraid of my fellow man in the street in the event of a global financial collapse than I am of an officer, or a military man.
    And gradually, I began to understand how it is to stop giving a damn.
    Because I have no idea what I can do to make it in any way better, to aid the whole. Should I attempt to enter the political system to be the one honest politician? Would I be or would I myself become morally corrupt?
    Should I protest in the street? Be branded a nutjob by my fellow man and a potential dissident by the goverment?
    What can a man really do in a situation such as this?
    As far as I can tell, all I can do is see the writing on the wall, be properly horrified, take what token measures I can to protect myself and my loved ones (if they'll even let me), and that's all. Because most people are like that family in the museum.
    I do, however, hope you'll still write. Because if you stopped, there would be one less beacon in the darkness to keep the ignorance away.

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  92. This generation is completely engrossed in their image, even more so than before. Facebook alter egos, for example. Everyone seems to be posing or fronting, even if it means having the newest iPhone. Unlock here

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  93. Do you think the nightingale stops its concert on believing no one hears?

    Your work is your existence is beautiful.

    Flowers spring in the asphalt's cracks.

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  94. Jesus experienced this 2,000 years ago.

    John 8:43 Why do ye not understand my speech? even because ye cannot hear my word.

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  95. From 1967's "Report from Iron Mountain" (available freely on the web...for now...the PTB claim RfIM is "satire" but if you read it you will see that all is coming to pass):

    Of all the countless dichotomies invented by scholars to account for the major differences in art styles and cycles, only one has been consistently unambiguous in its application to a variety of forms and cultures. However it may be verbalized, the basic distinction is this: Is the work war-oriented or is it not? Among primitive peoples, the war dance is the most important art form. Elsewhere, literature, music, painting, sculpture, and architecture that has won lasting acceptance has invariably dealt with a theme of war, expressly or implicitly, and has expressed the centricity of war to society. The war in question may be national conflict, as in Shakespeare plays, Beethoven's music, or Goya's paintings, or it may be reflected in the form of religious, social, or moral struggle, as in the work of Dante, Rembrandt, and Bach. Art that cannot be classified as war-oriented is usually described as "sterile," "decadent," and so on. Application of the "war standard" to works of art may often leave room for
    debate in individual cases, but there is no question of its role as the fundamental determinant of cultural values. Aesthetic and moral standards have a common
    anthropological origin, in the exaltation of bravery, the willingness to kill and risk death in tribal warfare. (p. 43)

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Whether you agree with me or not, thank you for your comment.

If you liked what I wrote—or if it at least made you think—don’t be shy about making a payment. The PayPal button is there for your convenience.

If you have a question or a private comment, do feel free to e-mail me at my address expat229@gmail.com.

GL