Since we’re in Prague today (only in my mind), I want to post a “modern” work by the Czech painter, Milan Kunc. While I was there last summer, he (they) held an exhibition of his works. I’ve wanted to see his works for decades…and…there he was.
It was most interesting to see his work the same day I visited St. Agnes and their collection of Medieval (“religious”) art.
Here is a shot of one of his paintings I had no idea about. “Military Boots” 1968. I couldn’t help but immediately pull Heidegger and his interpretation of Van Gogh’s so-called “Peasant Shoes” into the picture. But we cannot miss the unspoken history in Kunc’s work–1968–Prague–Soviet domination–uprising against oppression–the crushing of revolution–the abolition of artistic freedom–military boots built to trample and dominate humans.
Oh, and back to Heidegger and his interpretation of “Peasant Boots.” One can easily see that Kunc is playing off Van Gogh for sure, but now, they are military boots. I do find it interesting that my mind went immediately to Heidegger and then to Van Gogh. Now that Heidegger’s reading has been fully discredited–why did (do) I do that? (Cf. Schapiro “The Still Life as a Personal Object” 1968)
In a post earlier this week, I referred to Phyllis Trible and her book, “God and the Rhetoric of Sexuality.” I forget how insightful she is with the biblical text, and I had forgotten what a beautiful writer she is in this work. In my opinion, anyone interested in the Jewish-Christian Scriptures must read her writings. If we listen to Trible execute new readings of old texts, she will alter our worldviews–radically.
Here is a passage I read last night on her interpretation of the Hebrew word for compassion. She is speaking of the two-fold function of metaphor and uses this Hebrew word rehem–“womb” and then its plural rahamim which means “compassion.” Simply put, in the singular rehem means womb; in the plural rahamim, we translate as compassion. Stay with me now:
“Accordingly, our metaphor lies in the semantic movement from a physical organ of the female body to a psychic mode of being. It journeys from the concrete to the abstract. “Womb” is the vehicle; “compassion” is the tenor. To the responsive imagination, this metaphor suggests the meaning of love as selfless participation in life. The womb protects and nourishes but does not possess and control. It yields its treasure in order that wellness and whole-being my happen. Truly, it is the way of compassion.” (33)
“to the responsive imagination”
The Madonna of Zbraslav (Prague 1310-1320)
St. Agnes Convent Museum Bohemian and Religious Art
The Church of the Most Sacred Heart of Our Lord, Prague
Detail: Holy Water Font designed by Jože Plečnik
“The Church of the Most Sacred Heart of Our Lord is a Roman Catholic church at Jiřího z Poděbrad Square in Prague’s Vinohrady district. It was built between 1929 and 1932 and designed by the Slovene architect Jože Plečnik. Plečnik found the inspiration for this construction in old Christian and ancient patterns.”