Street Fighting Men

Thursday, August 24, 2017
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Above is Gustave Doré's The Enigma. It shows a battle field, with dead soldiers scattered in the foreground. Chillingly, mixed with ther soldiers' corpses are also the bodies of a family -- a father, mother, and two children -- embracing each other in death. The battle seems to have moved on, for in the background we see smoke rising from the flames of further conflict.

In the center foreground, as the focus of the painting, are two metaphysical beings: an angel and a sphinx. They stare intently at each other, almost in an embrace. If you look up information on the painting it was done in the aftermath of France losing the Franco-Prussian war and the angel represents France in defeat and the sphinx is posing the unanswerable riddle, "why war?"

Before reading Doré's explanation of the painting, I thought of the two mythical creatures as the prime movers of the conflict. The two forces that were behind the seemingly endless and ever spreading battle. In the middle of that chaos they confront each other, touch each other, as if their arousal by the violence was the purpose of it all.

Well, yeah, I read the painting wrong, but for this post I'll go with the wrong reading. 

I've watched a number of videos of antifa and the hard cases on the alt-right; and by hard cases of the alt-right I don't mean Trump supporters protesting, I mean the type that go to protests intending to punch back at the antifa goons. The videos are ugly, with both sides circling each other like barking dogs working up the courage to lunge in and bite.

Politics and current events aside, at a certain level both groups are just street fighters looking for a brawl. It is what they want to do, and they need each other to do it. They are like the angel and the sphinx in my misreading of Doré's painting, lovingly embracing each other oblivious of the carnage around themselves.

Sadly, we are the carnage. We need to push them all back to the fringe, and not at the focus which they more and more dominate. We will all suffer the longer the thugs run wild. 

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