Sunday, January 16, 2005


If I were to win a prize from the Philadelphia Museum of Art where I could choose one piece of art to take home, it would have to be Turner's painting of the British parliament burning. I went to the museum today especially to see it, but it's GONE! None of the guards or other museum workers knew where it went to, but at least one of the guards knew which painting I was talking about. I'm so upset that I'll NEVER see this painting again with its vibrant flames consuming government, thousands of people lining the banks and bridge, watching. What were all those different minds thinking, what were people feeling while watching?

One time, while looking at the painting with my friend Michelle Strader, I expressed wondering what people had to say about how they felt about this catastrophic event they had witnessed, and she encouraged me to research it. She's right of course, I'm sure there is all kinds of documentation, though I doubt anyone bothered to ask the people who I would want to hear from. Then again, I don't know for sure because I never did the research, not for lack of motivation, but because of the incredible energy behind the mystery of it, the whole-human empathy of it.

I'm imagining the painting right now as I write this, and am overwhelmed with the excitement of seeing everyone out there, at night, lit by the glow of their government in flames. Tables, chairs, silly wigs, books, ledgers, documents of all kinds, raging in a magnificent pyro-gloria, creases on forgotten and miserable faces bright orange in the spectacle.

Where oh fucking where is parliament burning!? Who do I have to ask to find out where it is? Or if it will return? Ever? I feel uneasy, thinking that it's GONE forever! It's been here for so long, hanging in exactly the same spot! Okay, I need to calm down and not be such a spazz.

In honor of our upcoming trip to protest Bush's inauguration, I wanted to see government in a passion of destruction, and soak in the glow of the flames. Shit! Where is parliament burning now? Well, if it has to be visiting another city, PLEASE let it be DC!

Anyway, since Turner's crispy loveliness is nowhere to be found, I went to find my second choice, in case I'm ever told I can have one piece of art from the museum. And there it was! A statue of Narasimha, Avatar of Vishnu. It's only about 16 inches high, but it's extraordinary! Sandstone carving from the 4th century, Northern India. Narasimha has the body of a man and head of a lion, and you do NOT want to get on his bad side. In this particular sculpture, Narasimha has the demon king Hiranyakashipu laid across his lap, and is disemboweling him for trying to destroy Vishnu's cosmic order. Even the demon king himself will not be allowed too much power to create a world with complete disregard for the suffering of others.

The sense of justice is staggering in this sculpture, Hiranyakashipu's guts coming out in the fists of Narasimha, a sense of relief falling over the world, tyranny thwarted. If I were to choose one symbol to invoke a gust of change, it would be Narasimha, spray painted on the White House and Capitol. The betrayal of Ted Kennedy, Hillary Clinton, Barak Obama and others who said they would STAND with Boxer when she signed to contest the election results on 1/6/05 will be felt for good! I will NEVER vote Democrat again, not unless someone pretty fucking amazing steps forward, someone FINALLY courageous enough to look the demon in the eye and say THIS WILL NOT CONTINUE IF I CAN HELP IT!


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