19 September, 2008

Courage Denied

"You Want My What?"

"The human race is a race of cowards; and I am not only marching in that procession but carrying a banner."

The satirist Mark Twain uttered that line. In my search for copy on the subject of courage, I have found the truth of Twain's words. Here at The Colorist, I have been studying the traits of a fine artist. Interest and support for the trait of courage is at an all time low. Try another quote:

"Moral courage is the most valuable and usually the most absent characteristic in men," General George S. Patton.

Here is a watershed moment: artist takes the army to school regarding courage.

Here is the story:

Army castrates heraldic lion

Published: 13 Dec 07 12:34 CET
Online: http://www.thelocal.se/9398/20071213/

Protests from female soldiers have led to the Swedish military removing the penis of a heraldic lion depicted on the Nordic Battlegroup's coat of arms.

The armed forces agreed to emasculate the lion after a group of women from the rapid reaction force lodged a complaint to the European Court of Justice, Göteborgs-Posten reports.

But although the army was eventually happy to make the changes in the interests of gender equality, the artist who designed the insignia was less than pleased.

"A heraldic lion is a powerful and stately figure with its genitalia intact and I cannot approve an edited image," Vladimir A Sagerlund from the National Archives told Göteborgs-Posten.

Sagerlund blasted the army for making changes to the coat of arms without his permission.

"The army lacks knowledge about heraldry. Once upon a time coats of arms containing lions without genitalia were given to those who betrayed the Crown," said Sagerlund.

"We were given the task of making sure the willy disappeared," Christian Braunstein from the army's 'tradition commission' told Göteborgs-Posten.

But the castrated lion has already won the day and is now worn on the arms of all soldiers in the battle group's Swedish battalions.

"We were given the task of making sure the willy disappeared," Christian Braunstein from the army's 'tradition commission' told Göteborgs-Posten.

"We were forced to cut the lion's willy off with the aid of a computer," he added.

The Nordic Battlegroup is one of eighteen such military groups in the European Union. Some 2,000 of its 2,400 soldiers come from Sweden, with the rest coming from Finland, Norway, Ireland and Estonia.

Perhaps interest in courage is at an all time low. For the love of God, how does taking away the pride of someone else benefit these faultfinders?

Just to get it straight, courage is defined basically in two categories: physical and moral. We are interested here in the moral courage sub-category of "artistic courage". What is it, and is there any to be had? Is there anywhere to turn to discover the trait of artistic courage?

Stay tuned.


Yellow said...

I'll be following this train of thought with interest. I am strongly ambivilant to the removing of the penis in this case. I have just read an article in Artists and Illutrators magazine about Barbara Rae who detests being referred to as a 'woman artist', like she's part of a subset. I know what she's getting at, and I can understand how the female soldiers feel excluded. However, I think that the male genitalia of the lion on the shield are an obsticle to their acceptance. The lion on the shield is still a male lion. They'd have to chave it's mane with help of a computor and adjust the placement and width of the hips to make it female. Arghh.

Casey Klahn said...

I haven't read Barbara Rae's article, but it sounds like the right direction. The position of women artists in the world is an issue, and the term might feel like something to overcome for her.

My( humorous) take on the Swedish army tuss-up illustrates one of my takes on life, in general. Why detract from someone else in order to build yourself up?

Put another way, why is a very old and traditional heraldic symbol (as according to the artist) a threat to anyone?

My thoughts are to add to a tradition, but don't replace, tear down or destroy.

Yellow said...

It reminds me of those propoganda sculptures in the old USSR which were torn down and melted. I understand why the people at the time did it, but I feel we lost something which could have taught us lessons later on. But then, I wasn't living there with that regime, so it's easy for me to comment from such a safe distance.
I like your closing thoughts in that comment.

Casey Klahn said...

That is an interesting thought. Was it right to deface Hitler's painting? Destroy the Buddha in Afghanistan?

Are these acts the moral equivalent of burning books?

On a lighter note, one day I was commuting to work in Seattle, and I looked at the truck driving next to me - with a giant statue of Lenin! This was right about the time of the dissolution of the Soviet Union. So, for what it is worth, someone saved one!

I feel that the lack of a moral foundation will render an otherwise brave act as uncourageous. Erasing a portrait of a predecessor? Was that breakout courage, or dialectic materialism?

OK, I think we're as deep as we can get, here, Steph. Love you, and I hope the next post on artistic courage will add something. I think I learned a great deal about the subject.

One last thought. I was thinking about these Swedish army members, and I remembered that I used to climb with a former Sw. Army officer. I can definitely vouch for that guy's courage!

Yellow said...

No problem. It was making my head spin and my teeth grind at the same time. Pick a more lighthearted opic next time. Love you too.

Robyn Sinclair said...

Oh dear! Don't they realise that they also need to lose the mane!!!!!!!

Casey Klahn said...

Poor old Simba.

Remember, build up and don't tear down...

Okay! On to artistic courage!

jafabrit said...

why did,'t they just make another herald with a lioness and make it a joint heraldic symbol or combine both on one herald?

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