Tale of A Ruined 19th Century Fresco

Some things should be left to experts

Is nothing sacred?

Alas or maybe eureka depending on who you talk to. A 19th Century fresco entrusted to a church in Spain was ruined by an 80-year-old woman who sought to restore the deteriorating painting. Once the lady’s ‘labor of love’ was discovered she declared the church priest had given her his blessing, others had seen her at it, and nary a soul had attempted to stop her. Apparently it’s all good because the church has now become a tourist attraction for those who find the defacing of a one-of-a-kind work of art a must-see.

And for those who can’t make the pilgrimage to Spain, the once beautiful depiction of Jesus wearing a crown of thorns is now a caricature of its former self. It now resembles, according to some, a crayon sketch of a very hairy monkey in an ill-fitting tunic. The image has gone virile and makes for a good laugh when digitally-imposed into unlikely scenes, and the paintings of great masters such as Michelangelo, Leonardo, etc. Excuse me if I don’t laugh.

The thought of nothing being sacred, not even old art, brings to mind my beloved poem ‘The Second Coming’ by William Butler Yeats. I don’t care how long ago it was written to me it’s timeless. One of its themes ‘the best lack all conviction, while the worst are full of passionate intensity,’ can forever be applied to the human condition. The current political climate is a perfect example. Go ahead read the poem and tell me events and/or individuals it’s applicable to in today’s society.

THE SECOND COMING

TURNING and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.

Surely some revelation is at hand;
Surely the Second Coming is at hand.
The Second Coming! Hardly are those words out
When a vast image out of Spiritus Mundi
Troubles my sight: somewhere in sands of the desert
A shape with lion body and the head of a man,
A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,
Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it
Reel shadows of the indignant desert birds.

The darkness drops again; but now I know
That twenty centuries of stony sleep
Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,
And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?

Is nothing sacred? A mass shooting in of all places a Sikh Temple, a place of worship; competitive sports made a mockery of by doping athletes; glowing book reviews bought and paid for by authors; a representative yelling out, “you lie,” as the president addressed a joint session of Congress in the House of Representatives; letting the rape of vulnerable young boys in the locker room shower of a prestigious university; a president, perhaps not the first, but the first we know of, defiling the oval office; Congressmen skinney-dipping in the Sea of Galilee, etc., etc…

The indignant desert birds are indeed circling ready to sink talons and beaks into our dying civility. So hey, it’s alas for me but eureka for those who pose with the ruined painting and slap it into other scenes and send it into cyberspace so others can have a good laugh.

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