The Orwellian Banning Of All That Is Sensual
In a time of universal deceit - telling the truth is a revolutionary act." - George Orwell“The history of Christianity is likewise a history of how women were silenced and deprived of their rights…At the root of the defamation of women in the church lies the notion that women are unclean and, as such, stand in opposition to the holy. Clement of Alexandra writes: “With women ‘the very consciousness of their own nature must evoke feelings of shame’”. – The Theologian Uta Ranke Heinemann, Eunuchs for the Kingdom of Heaven: Women, Sexuality and the Catholic Church“There can be no sexual pleasure without sin.”- Pope Gregory The Great
Fascist minded people despise art and sensuality with vehement passion. They hate creativity and any expression of sexuality with a wide-eyed frantic enthusiasm. Any work that details the anatomy of fascism will speak of these truths. To read about them is one thing, to experience it is another- I have had much experience with art and passion despising fascist minded people over the past 15 years. The Polunsky Unit mail room censors are well known to be the most overzealous in the entire Texas prison system. To be fair, this only applies to certain mail room staff members. Not all of them are fanatics but those who are unleash their habitual neurotic episodes of oppression often and with ritualistic glee.
DENY! DENY! DENY!
They deny any everything they can: books, magazines, pictures, printouts or art. Oh yes, art is indeed a favored target of the censors. Last month I had a book on Indian Art and one on the art of Yoko Ono denied. This month I have already been issued denial forms for a monograph on the artist Chris Ofili and the November 2016 issues of Art Review magazine. Indian art, Yoko Ono, Chris Ofili, Art Review: dangerous, dangerous contraband that must be banned from all of the 112 prisons within the state of Texas. The 147,000 inmates who inhabit these prisons shall not be allowed to cast a single glance upon such wicked material that is “detrimental to offenders’ rehabilitation”.
Official edicts by the great moralizers and despisers of art and sensuality have been written condemning these artists and publications. I have stacks of these denial forms. There have been times when I have received up to three a week. To make an exhaustive list would be far too time consuming.The creation of my painting, The Orwellian Banning of All That Is Sensual, is a statement concerning all of this- a bit of a commentary on the absurdity of such denials and a proclamation that fascists will never be able to destroy the Dionysian spirit of creativity. They will never be able to eradicate Eros and the power and beauty of passion… I have generally been feeling rather Orwellian lately and apparently many others have been as well- just yesterday I heard on the news that sales of George Orwell’s 1984 has skyrocketed since the election of Donald trump. 1984 expresses and exposes the inner nature of fascism better than many of the academic non-fiction works on the subject. To cite some passages from the work seems quite appropriate. This is Party leader O’Brien speaking to Winston Smith who is in the Ministry of Love undergoing the process of being “cured”:
We shall crush you down to the point from which there is no coming back. Things will happen to you from which you could not recover, if you lived a thousand years. Never again will you be capable of ordinary human feeling. Everything will be dead inside you. Never again will you be capable of love, or friendship, or joy of living, or laughter, or curiosity, or courage, or integrity. You will be hollow. We shall squeeze you empty, and then we shall fill you with ourselves…Power is in tearing human’s minds to pieces and putting them back together again in shapes of your own choosing. The old civilizations claimed that they were founded on love and justice. Ours is founded upon hatred. In our world, there will be no emotions except fear, rage, triumph and self-abasement. Everything else we shall destroy- everything…The sex instinct will be eradicated. Procreation will be an annual formality like the renewal of a ration card. We shall abolish orgasm. Our neurologists are at work upon it now… There will be no laughter except the laugh of triumph over a defeated enemy. There will be no science…All competing pleasures will be destroyed…If you want a picture of the future, imagine a boot stomping on a human face- forever.
In an afterword to 1984, written by Eric Fromm, 11 years after the original publication, he stated that one can react to this Orwellian picture in two ways: A person can either become more depressed and complacent, or he or she can acknowledge that there is still time and respond with “greater clarity and greater courage”. I will most definitely choose the latter.Fromm also says that Orwell was sounding a warning and essentially calling for a “renaissance of the spirit of humanism and dignity”.
Humanism: adherence to beliefs that acknowledge and advance ideas that emphasize the potential value and goodness of human beings, focus on commonalities and shared experience of mankind, and seek peaceful and rational ways of solving community and global problems.
Dignity: the state of possessing honor and respect and acknowledging these things within others. We can all do this in large and small ways in our daily lives.I try- in various ways- from the confines of this wretched cell in the Polunsky Death Camp. All of my art is done in the Dionysian spirit of humanism and in the defense and exaltation of the awesome power of dignity and artistic creation.
Note: You may notice that the names of Miley Cyrus and Lady Gaga are tagged up on this piece. They have both been labelled as dangerous contraband and banned from Texas prisons. The names of the artists Gustav Klimt and Egon Schiele are on this painting for the same reason. Interestingly, the Nazi regime also banned the works of Klimt and Schiele.