Fortitude in high heels

SerpottaFortitude
Fortitude Sculpture by Serpotta in white stucco and gilding, height 200 cm, 1710-17.
Oratorio del Rosario di San Domenico, Palermo. Image: WGA

Elegantly dressed for the life she wants,
in her favourite high-heeled shoes, breastplate bodice and plumed headdress,
Fortitude leans her elbow on the pillar of patience,
never keeping her eyes off the longest battle.

She doesn’t like what she sees, but she will never give in, she will never be part of it, even when other people make snarky remarks about her posing in her Rococo niche.

She exemplifies the moral courage of sticking to her post “because it is noble to do so, or because it is disgraceful not to do so.”

Keeping true to herself, and her fashion sense,
without bragging or lecturing, she puts the fun back into virtue.

“Patience is the pillar which nothing can soften.”
St Hildegard of Bingen (1098-1179)

Music composed by Hildegard of Bingen

“She sat like Patience on a monument, Smiling at grief”
Viola in Twelfth Night, Shakespeare (1601)

Smile sung by Judy Garland (1963)

Fortitude is one of the four Cardinal Virtues of Christianity, recommended in a life skills course dating back to the 4th century, based on Aristotelian and Platonic ethics.

Aristotle defined fortitude as courage governed by reason (or temperance) in circumstances of fear or over-confidence: “Courage….chooses its course and sticks to its post because it is noble to do so, or because it is disgraceful not to do so.”

St Augustine of Hippo defined fortitude as “love readily bearing all things for the sake of the loved object”.

Kant: “Virtue is the moral strength of the will in obeying the dictates of duty, never developing into a custom but always springing freshly and directly from the mind.”

Fortitude has become rarer in the modern world where license has chained us to new tyrannies, and freedom is as elusive as ever.

The advantages of self-control in adverse circumstances have been forgotten in the revolt against the misunderstood stiff upper lip. It’s adorable. The straighter the face, the better the joke.

The primary importance of sincerity in human intercourse – “speak what you feel, not what you ought to say” – has been effaced by knee-jerk opinion polls and social media group anxiety – Like to be Liked, Follow and Ye Will Be Followed – which have compromised Freedom of Speech and promulgated the nonsense that passes for wisdom nowadays.

If you’ve read this far, you deserve a modest disclaimer: yes, I’m as foolish as you.

The most self-expressive of Romantic poets would not have predicted humanity blogging itself to death.

The people who died for Democracy did not expect the Voice of the People would come from Babel.

Fortitude rests on her broken pillar, not on popularity.
Fortitude does not betray her soul, which to her is virtue, which to us is self-identity.
She fights on.
She wears the shoes she wants.

She?

All four of the Cardinal Virtues, Prudence (or Wisdom), Fortitude (or Courage), Temperance (or Self-control) and Justice (or Fairness) were allegorized as female.

Figure_des_quatre_Vertus_from_Ballet_comique_de_la_reine

Figures of the Four Virtues from Ballet Comique de la Reine, 1582, one of the court entertainments commissioned by Catherine de Medici from which classical ballet, and political satire, developed. Image: Wikipedia

Fortitude lives up to her reputation for cheerfulness in adversity by playing the lute and holding a pillar at the same time.

“Ginger Rogers did everything [Fred Astaire] did,
backwards and in high heels.” Bob Thaves, Fred and Ernest comic strip, 1982

Step By Step
Poster for Top Hat, 1935

“Give a girl the right shoes and she can conquer the world.” Bette Midler
(often misattributed to Marilyn Monroe)

SerpottaFortitudeHigh Heels

USE DEMOCRACY AS IT WAS MEANT TO BE. SIGN AND SHARE THE PETITION FOR A PEOPLE’S VOTE TO STOP BREXIT DESTROYING OUR COUNTRY.

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The Misgovernment of Britain

“THE UNCERTAINTY, MUDDLE AND DRIFT [OF BREXIT SHOWS] THAT VICTORIAN THEORIES OF GOVERNMENT SIMPLY DON’T DESCRIBE ANY LONGER THE REALITY OF HOW THE UK IS MISGOVERNED”
Tim O’Connor

“I live and practise in the United States, a parliamentary democracy where a written Constitution is supreme. The UK, though, has a system of contingent Parliamentary supremacy (with the Crown in Parliament – the Executive – dominant), and no written constitution.

One may prefer one model over the other. I prefer that of my adopted homeland, as it happens. But one may argue for either, and the UK’s has, in fairness, generally muddled along pretty well on precedent and incremental adjustment.

Until now, that is. In the last week or so, you back home have seen the UK Supreme Court deciding, obiter dicta, that it knows better than legislators what voters want; and Parliament ruled not to be supreme, but bound by an ad hoc referendum in a past Parliament.

Moreover, Parliament has ceded control to the Executive in making laws – the so-called ‘Henry VIII’ powers, agreed without discussion – and decided not to give itself a say over the Executive determining the UK’s standing in the world, instead freeing the Executive to act unfettered.

Oh, and as you may not have noticed, witnesses summoned to give evidence to Parliamentary select committee enquiries only come by their own discretion, and, like Arron Banks, can seemingly walk out when they feel like it.

So, which system is it? Parliamentary supremacy? Judicial control? Executive control? One popular vote nearly two years ago that seemingly now binds all future parliaments?

I honestly do not know. I doubt if anyone can say with true certainty. (Scots constitutional lawyers are meanwhile brawling, as if about the last bottle of full-sugar Irn-Bru, over a Sewel convention that nobody is even sure is broken.)

So far as I can tell, UK constitutional structures at the moment aren’t just mixed, they’re scrambled. Brexit is a universal solvent, and all the previous structures are crumbling and mingling within the struggle over it. And that cannot be a sustainable state of affairs.

Whatever ultimately happens with Brexit, the UK is going to have to clarify constitutional structures in a way it hasn’t done since the Irish Home Rule crisis. The uncertainty, muddle and drift, where nobody is truly sure who has what powers, under what limits, cannot continue.

The thing is, I’m uncertain, on the evidence of the mess that’s been allowed to develop today, that there is the requisite appetite or expertise to carry out the difficult constitutional exercise of picking one system, clarifying it and sticking with it. I am sure, though, that Victorian theories of government simply don’t describe any longer the reality of how the UK is misgoverned.”

Tim O’Connor, Attorney at Law

Lorenzetti The Effects of Bad Government 1337 -39, Sala della Pace (Hall of Peace) Siena.
Image: WGA

MARCH

The New Cosette Marching to Keep Britain in Europe by MHPhotography

MARCH ON 23 JUNE

because if “parliament votes for a hard Brexit, then a people’s vote is the last hope of saving us all.”

“because I think the no-Brexit position could win.”

“But please God, let there be no other referendum ever again: never forget the near-mortal damage done to Britain by an irrevocable vote on an unfathomably complex question. 

“Instead, trust in general elections to throw the bastards out when they get things wrong.” 

Polly Toynbee, The Guardian

March to save our country’s future and restore rational democratic government.

This moment defines us all.
It’s our last chance to take back control. 


Adaptation from a detail of Minerva chasing the Vices from the garden of the Virtues 
or Triumph of the Virtues by Andrea Mantegna, 1502
Musée du Louvre, Paris.

TAKE BACK CONTROL:
SAVE UK FROM DESTRUCTIVE BREXIT

Stop Brexit’s Sale of Britain

newcosette

SIGN OPEN LETTER TO THE PRIME MINISTER DEMANDING PROTECTION OF CURRENT STANDARDS AND REGULATIONS IN ANY FUTURE TRADE DEALS

ashmoleanAlfredJewel

THE KING ALFRED JEWEL,
a symbol of everything we value in our country:
State protection of social and economic rights, education and National Health service, enshrining British unity, freedom and fairness,
where our true sovereignty lies

Mother or Dictator?

“ENGLAND IS THE MOTHER OF PARLIAMENTS”
John Bright, 1865

farcePANTO SEASON
It has often been observed that a government’s ceremonial grows more ridiculous in relation to its despotism. In England it’s the other way round: at last we have a tyranny that befits the fancy dress and rituals.

“Conservative rebels have been threatened with legal action if they make false public comments about the activities of the government’s whips in the run-up to Wednesday night’s crunch vote in parliament, the Guardian understands.”

Elected Representative Whipped into Tears: Bullying and Harassment in British Parliament

Wanted: 24 Heroes and Heroines

IF YOUR’E A CONSERVATIVE MP
AND NOT NUTS,

SAVE BRITAIN NOW

“The Conservative party is the most successful party in the democratic world, precisely because their reputation is that they don’t go nuts and become ideologically zealous…..all it would take here is a couple of dozen brave Conservative MPs.”
(Nick Clegg in conversation with Richard Thaler, The Guardian)

Does the judgment of posterity matter nothing in the age of instant fame? Can’t the reluctant Mythical Tory Saviours be moved (I just deleted ‘bribed’) by sugar-coated promises of everlasting fame and glory? They can be put into an exclusive club, and have as many titles and honours and free canapes and wet towels and holidays on private islands and TV appearances as they want in return for saving Britain by saying “Sorry, I was Wrong”.

Why is it easier to lead millions of people into hell than admit you made a mistake?

“There are few, very few, that will own themselves in a mistake, though all the World sees them to be in downright nonsense”
Jonathan Swift, in The Tatler No. 63 (September 1709)

9 heroes and heroinesMaster of the Castello della Manta Nine Heroes and Nine Heroines (detail with seven figures) 1411-16 Fresco Sala Baronale, Castello della Manta, Saluzzo. Image source: WGA

FIGHT BREXIT – SAVE BRITAIN – STOP BREXIT

Brexit is NOT inevitable