by lefever on February 14, 2011
The power of an image to persuade our thoughts is strong–how much more so when the world was less image saturated?
Sure, it is easy to balk at these statues. Church expenditures on art is always questionable, especially now. It is easy to be angry that some sculptor was paid a wage that could have fed the poor.
But would not the artists be the poor if not for work? Who then is the patron?
Yes it is easy to balk at these statues that line the bridges and front church yards or stand at steps especially the less original, the ones purchased from a catalog- it is easy to see them every day until they are no longer visible to our eyes, failing to register the slightest consideration. But then, maybe at that point they are no longer for us?
Yet to see them for the first time, or during a reflective time or frightening moment of vulnerability when one is broken; to see one pondering the Divine drama and considering ones options in this world: to God or not to God…may remind us that, just perhaps, there is more to consider.
Prague now, I am told, is a city with only 20 percent practitioners of the Christian faith (a statistic given me at St. Vitus Cathedral)… this, once a strong Catholic nation, this city, ground zero of the Hussites; Jan Huss leading the way to reform prior to Luther and Calvin, this place where faith is now a historic wink?
I wonder how image plays a part. When did the Christian images as sculpture adorning the bridges and as paintings upon the buildings throughout Czech lose believability and impact in the daily lives of people here? …of people from anywhere?
The abuses made upon the people politically and scripturally, made reflections upon the art false and impotent–the art was no longer associated to theology but to corrupt practice as representative of the corrupt people behind church government.
There was a time when images were scarce, unlike today where we are so saturated in mass production of prints and broadcasting: we have no idea . . . Once, a single image would suggest a powerful idea to consider–more than mere decorum (though there was décor, craft guilds and the like, but that is not what I am talking about).
I recollect: a story told from the medieval period, of the condemned to die, that they would be led to the gallows by a priest holding a painting of a crucifix. The idea being that it gave the condemned an opportunity to consider their fate and consider their salvation in the last minutes of their life.
‘” ‘And as he ascended the stair he kept his eye on the tavoletta*, and with most loving accent said : Lord thou art my love; I give my heart…. here I am, Lord; I come willingly… And this he said with such tenderness that all who heard him were in tears… And halfway down the stairs he met the Crucifix, and said: What ought I to do? And the friar replied: This is your captain who comes to arm you. Salute Him, honour Him and pray that He gives you strength… And while descending the second flight of stairs, he continued praying, saying: In manus tua, Domine’
…from an eyewitness account of the executionof Pierro Pagolo Boscoli, condemned to death Feb. 22, 1512
*tavoletta [aprox. 15th c. - early 20th c.: a small board with painted image, two sides, with handle to be hand held by a comforter before one condemned as they walked to the gallows or punishment; one side a painting of a scene from the Passion of Christ, the other, a martyrdom relevant to the punishment to be meted out to the prisoner] ”
from: The Power of Images:
Chapter 1 : Response and Repression ~ David Freedberg
by lefever on November 17, 2010
(…in leading the mind?)
[FBA note from JWL: I have found it important to realize the power images play in the different hands that use them – and to understand the world a bit better, it is crucial to see what is otherwise innocuous to a contemporary capitalist living in any industrialized/technological consumer driven society regardless of one’s spiritual beliefs. Culture here is worth examining in light of what it is we receive and why, not necessarily to adopt the means, but perhaps to see it as a negative, perhaps contrary to the positive call of creating an original culture that leads to a different set of values – or not – but certainly, if one was asleep, perhaps this is a wake-up that may stimulate our discussions on culture, consecration, etc.,]
By Edward Bernays
(The following review was found – we do not know the original source – a search reveals that bits and pieces of it are all across the web in book reviews)
The first lines: “The conscious and intelligent manipulation of the organized habits and opinions of the masses is an important element in democratic society. Those who manipulate this unseen mechanism of society constitute an invisible government which is the true ruling power of our country.” This was written in 1928. This nephew of Sigmund Freud worked in Woodrow Wilson’s creation, the Committee on Public Information, and saw first hand how the public’s mind can be manipulated. Wilson was elected on a peace platform and had to transform the country to go to war against the German Kaiser. Bernays later helped publicize the American Tobacco Company, and is credited as a “father” of public relations. Anyone interested in understanding how the masses are molded by the powers that be must read this book!
Propaganda, though written in the late 1920s, is an excellent resource for a citizen in general. This manual, a seminal document, is a key resource on the thoughts and workings of the public relations industry, then only a speck compared to what it is today. Everything from corporate PR to advertising in general has basically internalized what is covered in this book in order to serve those institutional functions that mold the public’s mind.
This is all related to the ‘manufacture of consent’, something that Chomsky, who writes a good intro here, and Ed Herman explored in depth in their book ‘Manufacturing Consent’ where they lay down a Propaganda Model.
This is a huge topic for Americans, period. While media and their role, and their ‘slants’ is a hot topic (sometimes even within the media, but to limited scope of discussion) this book is a straightforward reprint of the PR industry manual. It’s no ‘secret’–it’s more like company policy. It’s far more illuminating than …