Home » Posts tagged 'Correggio'
Tag Archives: Correggio
On the evening of July 3 and long into the night, hundreds of thousands of Egyptians celebrated the Egyptian military’s ouster of their democratically elected President, Mohamed Morsi, who had been in office for about a year.
We old sourballs at Critical Pages have never liked President Morsi. His party, composed primarily of the Muslim Brotherhood and a sprinkling of conservative Islamic groups, was the last to take part in the grassroots uprising that overthrew the autocratic Hosni Mubarak — an uprising that succeeded when the military withdrew their support of Mubarak, forced him out of office and took him prisoner. And when the Muslim Brotherhood did begin to participate in the move against Mubarak, they said they were not interested in political power and would not field a presidential candidate.
That was merely the first in a long list of lies and stealth maneuvers that brought Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood to power. And after getting into office President Morsi behaved like a man who, having won the election, believes he has an intrinsic right to do whatever he pleases. And what pleased him was to acquire more and more power. At one point in 2012 he granted himself unlimited powers to “protect” the nation and the power to legislate without judicial oversight or review. Yup, he was a rotten president.
But we old sourballs don’t feel like celebrating the overthrow of a democratically elected president, even a rotten one, by a military junta acting in the name of “the people,” by which they mean the mobs in the street. That mob is made up of secularists, yes, and liberals, yes, and also by lots of supporters of Mubarak and by religious zealots more backward than the Muslim Brotherhood. But even if those cheering in Tahrir Square had been saints and angels, it’s still a lousy way to remove a president from office.
So the military powers have rolled out the armored personnel carriers, arrested the president, arrested the leaders of his political party, suspended the constitution and announced to the cheering throngs that they, the generals, will present them with a roadmap to the future. The last time this happened was at the fall of Mubarak and after the military had been in power for a while the mobs discovered they didn’t like it.
Maybe this is what Egypt needed to do. Maybe the political system had failed — it certainly looked that way — we know the economy was failing and maybe the society as a whole was sliding toward failure. Now, this time, maybe the secularists will get their act together, get organized, field one candidate and not three. Maybe Egyptian society will get around to the concept that people have certain rights regardless of which party wins an election. Maybe the idea of live-and-let-live will spread everywhere.
For Christmas this year we’ve chosen the nativity scene painted by Correggio around 1529. A group of angels overhead has been been cut from this cropped version of the painting. (They are badly composed and unnecessary; we don’t miss them.) It’s sometimes called Adoration of the Shepherds, because those are shepherds on the left. Almost hidden in the right background is the figure of Joseph — a person often relegated to the margin in paintings of this family. At the time it was painted, the work was valued primarily for what it portrayed and somewhat less for its technique. Nowadays, the work is probably admired more for its structure and craft than for the event it captures. The scene is realistic, no one has a halo and the shepherds are real people. Furthermore, Mary’s face expresses her love for her child, not religious worship as in so many painting which nowadays strike us artificially pious. Everyone in this otherwise completely realistic and earthly scene is illuminated by the almost blinding radiance emanating from the child; indeed, the woman on the left holds up her hand as if to shield her eyes. Correggio’s painting makes visual the words that infant will later use to describe himself — “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” Correggio’s work reminds us that in this season of darkness and we need all the light we can get, no matter if it’s 1529 or 2012.