Tuesday, February 28, 2006
Piet Mondrian and the Religion of Peace.
Years ago I corresponded with a woman who was completing her doctoral thesis on Piet Mondrian. We'd meet occasionally in Manhattan, visit art museums and libraries, do romantic things that young students do. We had a nice casual relationship. I have fond memories of Mondrian.
These days I correspond with a lady who has a friend finishing her doctoral thesis on Nietzche. Our relationship is a bit stranded on the rocks. We meet for lunch, we visit art museums and libraries, do romantic things that a couple of old people can barely manage if my back isn't too painful. And I grit my teeth hearing about her friend who tells her that I'm a fascist bigot who knows nothing. Her friend knows. She knows all about Islam and it is a religion of peace. I'm a religious Nazi.
Mondrian escaped from the Nazi invasion of Europe and fled to Manhattan. One day he looked out his hotel window and saw the cars on the streets below. He eventually painted the scene as he liked it. It's called "Broadway Boogie Woogie." I like it.
Any day these days one can walk down a street in Kansas and see a lady wearing a tee-shirt or carrying a purse with the motifs originally designed by Mondrian. Walmart has racks of Mondrian design dresses. Mondrian's work has become wall paper. It's pretty.
My old friend, if she cares anymore, would likely be upset that her post-grad efforts are now the subject of conversation of fat ladies in Kansas at Walmart. She wasn't the type at the time back then to be a snob, but I think she'd still find it unhappy that her prized artist has become an unseen part of Middle America's polyestre set.
My friend looked at Mondrian's work and said "Doctoral thesis." The world looked at Mondrian's paintings and said "Wall paper."
My friend's friend looks at Islam and says: "Religion of Peace! For you, blah, blah, blah, the essence, blah blah, blah, is ungraspable! You are a bigot! Nietzche blah, blah, blah...."
There's more to be said for Mondrian than that his work is ultimately wall paper. I knew someone who wrote a doctoral thesis claiming great things for him. So who is right? Is my friend's thesis right that he is a significant artist? Or is the world at large right in saying he made designs that others successfuly turned into smocks for fat ladies?
When one strips away all the art jargon and presents the works of Mondrian to the world, the result is wall paper. When we strip away all the crap we hear and read about Islam, the resulting picture is one of murder and slavery and horror.
Those who study Islam and know it deeply and academically can go on for years about it's high significance. They are experts. They know. To those of us in Kansas, Islam looks like one big ugly mess. Who is right?