Friday, January 17, 2020

The Love Of The People

Image result for meegeren Christ with the Adulteress
 Reichsmarschall Hermann Göring's 'Vermeer'  
Many are the things that man seeing must understand. Not seeing, how shall he know what lies in the hand of time to come? - Sophocles
- The populist leader of Poland, President Duda, says that populism is love, nationalism and xenophobia are hate. He wants to use laws to help the people love each other. It doesn't help the Polish people love each other to say they were complicit in the Germans killing Jews in World War II, therefore it is illegal now to say such a thing. What do you think of that?
- 'Wine comes in at the mouth / And love comes in at the eye;  / That’s all we shall know for truth / before we grow old and die. I lift the glass to my mouth, / I look at you, and I sigh.'* Love in populism does not come in at the eye. It is not aesthetic.
- Meaning by aesthetic?**
- The feeling that arises from seeing something being done right.
- A feeling arising from a perception of good.
- Yes. Staying in the neighborhood of Poland: one of our impeached President's Ukrainian-born fixers employed to try to force first one Ukrainian president then the next to announce their government was investigating the American president's believed principle rival, this lover of Trump says he has a sort of shrine to him in his home, that he loves the man, really loves the man, this loved man who now repeatedly falsely claims he doesn't even know him, never met him. Is this also 'populist love'? If as you say it is not a coming in at the eye, how is it getting through to people?
- The President and his Ukrainian fixer as human beings are two remarkably ugly specimens: ugly to you and me but not to each other or to the people who love them. We see expressed in their appearance all manner of depravity: lies, self-absorption, delusions of grandeur. We see their physical ugliness: their obesity, their off-kilter posture, their incompetent use of cosmetics and ill-fitting clothes increasing the appearance of deformity. What do the people who love them see? Any of that?
- None of that. I've met more than one woman in the business of personal appearance, experts in make-up and hair treatments, who actually call themselves aestheticians, who are equally blind to the ugliness of their leader.
- Their leader Trump. And your explanation?
- The Dutch painter Meegeren*** famously painted and sold fake Vermeers to, among others, Nazi leader and art collector Reichsmarschall Hermann Göring. He fooled his buyers with paintings that were remarkably unlike originals. The difference from the original, it seems, is what fooled buyers: a kind of cartoonish awkwardness in the figures and their arrangement completely unlike the subtle expression in original paintings. The populist's love, to be expressed in the lawmaking of government, was called by Rousseau 'the will of the people'. The will of the people is invisible. It is felt in ritual. In ritual, people regain strength acting together passionately, that is, with a feeling of loss of individual self. Populist love is this selfless group action. Populist laws are made against anything that would interfere with this process forming the will of the people and the people's love for each other helping each other regain strength.
- And the fake Vermeer's?
- Your experience looking at the faces in the original paintings is aesthetic. You recognize, as a result of your own trying to do good and avoid evil, knowledge of life. In populist love what do you see? Cues that reflect back not to your knowledge but to your power, or lack of it, to your being in progress to recovery of strength and security. Cues that come from outside your personal experience directing you to give yourself over with others to the guidance of a leader. Cues that are effected by painting faces and figures with simple cartoonish expressions standing out against the highly worked, detailed background of Dutch painting of the period.
- In the passionate feeling of return to power out of weakness, true aesthetic perception is not possible.
- Yes. Instead is sentimentality, being told what to feel, instructed what feeling to imitate as part of a story reenacted, and the imbalance, gracelessness that results from falsity. Awkwardness, gracelessness are themselves cues that here are to be found instructions to ritual. Aesthetics are based on individual life. In performance of ritual, individuality is replaced by selfless action in group under guidance of the beloved leader. The leader is loved not for knowing anything about how best to live, knowledge and experience visible to the eye, but out of a feeling of gratitude for identifying for followers enemies to their love, guiding them in passionate opposition and so helping them make a return to personal strength in the midst of other people doing and feeling the same.
- Though it is interesting to be able to explain what's going on in, for lack of better word, the minds of Nazis and their sympathizers and other populists, more important, I think, their absence of aesthetics in body and art tells us why it feels so bad, the world appears so ugly, having to live around these people.

Further Reading:
The Impeached President & Applied Mathematics
Einstein & Intellectual Physics
Renaissance & Palingenesis
Who This Man Is
* A Drinking Song, William Butler Yeats
** See: Trump vs. Schiller
*** Henricus Antonius "Han" van Meegeren