Of Cudgel Men, and Women

Perhaps, while on tour through what has become Europe, or perhaps in close study of history, or maybe upon the occasion of visits to museums of art and of curiosity you have discovered the diligent, passionate work of the cudgel men, those who knock the heads off of Pagans, off fellow Christians, off the body of the God Apollo, and of other out-of-favor gods, statued politicians and pedestaled heroes.  Passions are alike that, you know: moved in soul and body by roostered rhetoric, by the common talk of popular opinion, or by spirits in jubilee when drugged, drunk, or smoked…the eager arms will swing, the ropes will pull, and the lofty ideal in the body of a statue will find itself to be a dancing-floor for angry feet.  Each passing Age hosts the cudgel men, those whose passionate minds are unassailed by reason, those whose justice is unmoved by sympathy, those whose toleration accepts only the surrender or death of the unrepentant apostate.  Yes, we all know this to be a time of cudgel men.  Some oppose the cudgel men, some fear the cudgel men, some stand behind the cudgel men, cheering, urging them on.

Korinthos Statues, Corinth Museum; late antiquity, production and iconoclasm; photo, Michael F. Mehnert

If yet you have books to hand, if yet your knowledge is not limited by technological censorship, you will remember Barsauma and his thousand cudgel-bearing, cudgel swinging monks who silenced theological opposition, who by murder created singularity of opinion, who caused the classical statues to seek refuge within the courtyards of worldly bishops and retreating, Roman princes. 

Akhenaten, circa 1356-1340 B.C., Musée du Caire; photo, Jean-Pierre Dilbera



Or, maybe you will remember Akhenaten, pharaoh, high-priest of the “One” God, Aten.  Or, maybe not.  After-all, Akhenaten’s statues were smashed, his name obliterated from inscribed hieroglyphic, his fate shared with the one, nurturing, unifying spirit of the world, Aten, when the statues of both god and man were by the cudgel men beaten, pulverized, sifted ignominiously into the low, long, leveling sands of Egypt. 

Ah, here is an example you might know: Luther’s thugs…

Frans Hogenberg, “Church of Our Lady of Antwerp”, 1566; depicting the Beeldenstorm, the “image storm” of Calvin’s iconoclasm

No!  Better yet: the righteous, impassioned followers of John Calvin who made aseptic the towers and tympanum of churches and cathedrals, the Calvinists who smashed from shoulders the stone heads of saints, and of this-Christ-or-that-Crucifixion in one-town-or-another as cudgel men were inspired to action.  Then, as now, the city fathers and mothers, the discrete civic leaders, eager to avoid singularity, eager to be at-one, at peace with the mob, would remove the offensive saints from churches and squares, purifying the civic space of inconvenient beauty, placating the savage passions, preserving the bases that…

“Large” Buddha of Bamyan, 544 A.D.; destroyed by the Taliban, the Islamic Emirate, 2 March 2001

Right.  Here, within the compass of recent memory, another telling instance of cudgeling: the Buddhas of Bamyan, 18 stories tall, carved direct from the sandstone cliffs, obliterated by the bombs of the zealous, impassioned Muslims eager to obliterate the objects, the spirits, the ideas of opposition…

Edme Bouchardon’s (1698 – 1762) masterpiece, the Equestrian Monument to Louis XV, 1763 ; Benoît Louis Prevost, etching and engraving, 1768



Yes!  Here, a most telling story: in 1789, cudgeling socialists of the French Revolution, at the Place Louis XV tumbled, toppled, trampled the noble statue of Louis XV; and here, some few years later (1793) the cudgel men were at-it-again, though here with a towering guillotine where tumbled the unfortunate head of XV’s grandson, King Louis XVI, into a bloody basket.  Ah, yes: within seconds, the gaping, dripping, yet conscious Louis head was lifted from the basket, exhibited to the crowd, the socialist mob, who assailed the head with impolite gestures until the gestures became applause, became a general, loud acclaim, became a wild and raucous party for gesturing cudgel men and the dancing mob

“Destruction of the statue, Louis XV”, drawing (unknown artist), Musée du Louvre, Département des Arts graphiques, Paris


Yes, perhaps you have noticed: there is a something-in-us-all which enjoys spectacle, which revels at oneness with the mob, which unreasons in passion, especially in passions of violence sanctified by the authority of sentiment, by a fellowship of narrow opinion, by that proud nastiness which, eager for approval, displays itself superior in the accepted, safe, sentimental opinion.

Familiar? As seen in celebration at CNN, MSNBC, NBC, ABC, CBS; as reported by Fox News: Jacques Bertaux (c.1745 – 1818), drawing, untitled

And here, an aspect of appreciation: “Place Louis XV”, following Louis XVI’s beheading, was renamed, “Place de la Révolution”, soon to be named “Place de la Concorde”, then again, “Place Louis XV”, then, later…well, you get the idea: first, statue smashing, then, head bashing, then, renaming, then, well, a curious fact of the politically correct: they smash the statues yet leave the bases intact (for statues of themselves, the cudgel men, we might assume). And that digression must serve as introduction to the high arts of pictures and statuary, especially statuary, the “idea” made “real”, the ontological through man borne into reality, at one in beauty with the divine. 

George Cruikshank (1792 – 1878), The Radical’s Arms, 1819

And now, the summation of the previous paragraphs: the violence done to statues is an act of murder, murder not being the end of what was, but the end of what would be, as in abortion when potentially is aggressively or passively killed that the inconvenient thing not come to life.  Some lives are inconvenient to others, some ideas are inconvenient…notice in spring the robin eggs dashed to the ground by competing starlings, jays, crows…notice the passionate, violent, animalistic attacks to statues, to ideas, to beauty, notice the primitive, brutal, reptile-eyes of cudgel men-and-women and you will know that the joy cudgel men experience is murder, is the joy of killing a living thing.  This living thing, this life of statues and pictures is divine, I might say, and truthfully say, “the life of statues and pictures is, ‘sublime’”.  The divine, sublime existence of high-art in statuary and pictures shall be the topic next of Quæ Sumus, “What We Are”.  

“Execution of Louis XVI”, engraving after an original painting by Charles Monnet (1732 – 1808).

Notice, the head of Louis XVI facing the pedestal upon which stood the statue of his grandfather, Louis XV.

Do you suppose that, given the opportunity, the progressive mob would not behead President Trump?

Do you suppose that progressive Democrats will assist in the murder and mayhem, as now they do, as do the progressive corporations, the media, the mobs?

Here, a coda:

The preceding paragraphs were composed on June 15, 2020 (I tend to write a month before posting) during the rise of Black Lives Matter riots, lootings, murders. Since June 15, hundreds of statues have been toppled, crushed, defaced, burned, some by the maddened mob, some by fearful, some by eager politicians, and some by good citizens to protect our shared history, the common beauty, civility, the civil Right.

You will notice: the statues destroyed are, for the most part, not in memory of the Confederate lost cause, those Americans who died in the error of inherited ideas, slavery, property in man; the statues destroyed are of Union soldiers, presidents, abolitionists, saints and others notable for virtue and accomplishment. This Sunday past, a statue of Mary, mother of Jesus, was set to flame. If this vandalism of Mary’s spirit comes to popular attention, expect the Left (Marxists, Communists, Socialists, news-readers, professors, dolts, progressive-capitalists) to minimize the offense, divert attention, explain-away and return to a violent attack upon these United States. Know this: You, the traditional, virtuous Christian, is the enemy of Black Lives Matter (BLM).

Just now, and in the near future, there will be a BLM public relations campaign, a campaign funded by progressive capitalist corporations (Airbnb, Amazon, Microsoft, Door-Dash, et cetera) that will soften the BLM image, that will implicate you, that will absorb you into the compass of its influence, and this by preying upon your Christian virtue. The BLM campaign will imply that we are all in this together, that together we shall progress to a better future. Do not believe the lie, believe your eyes, your mind, the truth that speaks to you through your soul.

Public relations campaigns are one thing, the truth of the Marxist BLM is another. If you love this virtuous nation, the least racist, most integrated, most fair, the nation most at liberty in virtue, do not believe the prevarications of leftist corporations and other useful idiots.

BLM is this: blood on the sidewalks; bullet butchered babies; black funerals of those who call themselves “Black”. We are all people of color. Blackness and whiteness and redness and other nesses are a tool now used by a political party (BLM), to divide, to conquer.

Mobs cheer attacks upon officers of peace; guns of citizens are seized; theft is condoned by politicians; you know what time we are in; we are in the early days of a Marxist revolution. All nations, kingdoms, countries, democracies die. How long ours shall live, how long America survives, qua America, is your choice.

In closing: You might think that we are not experiencing a revolution; most often, revolutions are in some other city, on some other block; yet, be certain, BLM thinks itself revolutionary, considers this to be a revolutionary time. BLM intends to win. History demonstrates, it might.

For a closer reading of the Classive, our sustaining tradition, and the Progressive, the emotional force attacking tradition, you might reference, The Classical Architecture and Monuments of Washington, D.C.: A History and Guide.

This from the book’s description: Classical design formed our nation’s capital. The soaring Washington Monument, the columns of the Lincoln Memorial and the spectacular dome of the Capitol Building speak to the founders’ comprehensive vision of our federal city. Learn about the L’Enfant and McMillan plans for Washington, D.C., and how those designs are reflected in two hundred years of monuments, museums and representative government. View the statues of our Founding Fathers with the eye of a sculptor and gain insight into the criticism and controversies of modern additions to Washington’s monumental structure. Author Michael Curtis guides this tour of the heart of the District of Columbia.

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