Iridescence

pearl pendantNatural pearl and diamond pendant, 18th century;
set with an oval diamond supporting a diamond bow motif
and a baroque drop-shaped natural pearl measuring approximately 16 × 18 × 26mm.

A natural pearl and diamond jewel of delicately wrought beauty once belonged to history’s most glamorous scapegoats for the abuses and injustices of autocracy, the victim of nationalism and misogyny, reviled by women and men, the hated l’autrichienne, the Austrian bitch, Maria-Antonia von Habsburg-Lothringin, known as Marie Antoinette, queen of France.

Political assassination is arguably justified, character assassination is not. Of all the offensive insults thrust at her, the most hurtful, far worse than all the salacious sexual slurs, the one that cut deepest, more humiliating than being deprived of shoes and false teeth in prison, more painful than beheading, was the Tribunal’s allegation of incest with her son.

“If I have not replied it is because Nature itself refuses to answer such a charge laid against a mother. I appeal to all mothers here present – is it true?”

Marie Antoinette on her way to the guillotine, drawn by David, 16 October 1793. Image: Wikipedia.
She was 37 years old. Usually, press reports about celebrity women degrade them by mentioning their age, but in this case the vulgar habit of prejudging by numbers is justified by the shock of
this woman’s premature ageing due to suffering

She, who was brought up to be a dynastic pawn, a bride and mother of kings, became the Eternal Feminine demonized. She was never expected to have control of her identity; her often derided play-acting at being a fashionably Romantic shepherdess in a pastoral idyll was her attempt at self-emancipation.

The modern perception of Marie Antoinette has shifted away from the inverted fairy story heroine, the romanticized narrative of an over-privileged but misunderstood star of the diamond-studded, blood-stained Versailles reality show, to the universal figure in women’s history of wronged mother and foreigner.

Marie-Antoinette and her children by Élisabeth Vigée Le Brun, 1787

While she was imprisoned, she was separated from her children. As she prepared for death, her chief anxiety was about their fate. An 18th century princess endured the kind of degradation and psychological torture that tyranny in the modern world still inflicts on female immigrants and their families.

And there’s the jewel itself, the progeny of animals and human skill, that natural pearl of iridescence beyond price, a man-made thing lovely enough to be the symbol of our atonement for our sins against nature and each other, sold for silly money, £25 million that should be spent on environmental conservation and humanitarian missions to reunite migrant families and release political prisoners.

The Delusion That Bankrupted A Nation

Pieter Boel Large Vanitas Still-Life 1663 Oil on canvas, Musée des Beaux-Arts, Lille.
Image: Wikipedia

The latest economic facts about Brexit:

Mark Carney. Governor of the Bank of England, “told MPs yesterday that UK households were £900 per year worse off than they would have been based on forecasts from May 2016 – just before the Brexit vote. As the Bank of England governor put it, “that’s a lot of money”. And that’s before we’ve even left the EU.

The vote to leave the EU has [caused] the value of the pound to tumble and inflation to rise from 0.5% to 2.5%.

But worse economic disruption could be yet to come if May’s hard-Brexit plans wrench us out of the EU’s single market, with which we do half our trade.” Open Britain.

Lucas Vorsterman Triumph of Poverty c. 1624 -30
Pen in brown, with gray and brown wash, black and red chalks, and white highlights, British Museum, London. Image source: WGA

 

Our fault

This is one of mankind’s greatest crimes. The ivory trade is threatening elephants with extinction. Persistent poaching of animals with the biggest tusks has messed with their evolution. Elephants are being born without tusks. 

Humans are a plague on the planet we share with other animals. We are our own worst enemy. We still have the power, if not the will, to protect other animals from us.

Image: Getty

SIGN AVAAZ PETITION TO END THE IVORY TRADE

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Arcane Bully

The Special Meaning of Being Whipped in the British Parliament

The Conservative Party enforcers put the screws on elected representatives known to be in support of the Repeal Bill that begins the unravelling of the UK’s laws from EU legislation.

The parliamentary party Whips are euphemistically described as “team managers”, which must explain the reluctance of this blogger to be a member of anything.

During the current fight to Britain’s death, aka Brexit, the ruling party Whips reduced “a female MP to tears”. That’s how it’s reported in all the press, from blue to pink to red. Not “reduced an MP to tears” but a “female” MP.

#MeToo?
Don’t take me there, the trampled shrine where the true victims lie speechless and forgotten.

“Calm down, dear?”
Artemesia corrected you years ago.

judithgentileschijpgArtemisia Gentileschi Judith Beheading Holofernes 1611-12 Oil on canvas Museo Nazionale di Capodimonte, Naples. Image source: WGA

DON’T WHIP ME AGAIN

Single Trading Nation at Sea

“The tectonic plates of the world economy are shifting. With an independent trade policy, Britain can put itself in a strong position to benefit, opening up access to fast-growing markets across the world.” Liam Fox, in The Financial Times, 11 November, 2017

Ships_at_Spithead_1797The imperial British vision of free trading Ships at Spithead 1797
Image source: Wikipedia

Our biggest gift to the world

Global warming will exceed 4C by the end of this century The Independent

“There can now be little doubt: this will be the last century of civilisation in any form we currently recognise.”
Christopher Oxford

War on Nonsense

Lord Rochester with monkey by Huysmans c. 1675. Image: WGA

Extracted from Twitter thread of Sean Jones QC:

“Brexit fanatics’ responses to my arguments take two broad forms:

1. Shut up, traitor. You lost, just get over it!
2. Why not stop sulking, come together with us and work for a jobs-first, bountiful Brexit?

…..what do I say to the invitation to collaborate in an imaginary pain-free Brexit?

It’s not an invitation I propose to accept, for three reasons:

1. I believe Brexit is an act of national self-harm in all its conceivable forms, and with there still being a reasonable chance it won’t happen, that’s what I want to advocate, and work towards.

2. It would not be like joining a collective Amish barn-raising. After demolishing the existing, perfectly good barn, there is still no unity of Brexiter vision, or purpose, about what to do next. The loudest of them are against having a new barn on principle.

3. Even if those anarchist Amish could be stopped from questioning what the negotiations are intended to achieve, what am I expected actually to do? The answer to that question is clear. What they actually mean is… Shut up. Just stop pointing out the dangers. Stop identifying the harm. We’d rather not be reminded of reality. We’ll go on putting up our vaguely barn-shaped shack made of balsa wood and papier-mache.

Put aside how sinister that it is. It’s also stupid. With a project this hazardous, risk-blindness will all but guarantee failure. We are seeing it in the negotiations right now. A refusal to do the basics: to realistically assess our bargaining position and be clear about our aims courts disaster.

If Remainers ever fell silent, all that would be left would be the sound of the wind rushing in our ears as we fell over the cliff.

I will take action. I will do all I can to help those confused by the Brexiters’ crass stupidity. And ultimately, I’m determined this nonsense will not happen.”
Sean Jones QC

Cornelius Norbertus Gijsbrechts, Trompe l’oeil with Studio Wall and Vanitas Still Life 1668.
Image: SMK.

“Man is the reasoning animal. Such is the claim. I think it is open to dispute. Indeed, my experiments have proven to me that he is the Unreasoning Animal….His record is the fantastic record of a maniac.  I consider that the strongest count against his intelligence is the fact that ….he blandly sets himself up as the head animal of the lot: whereas by his own standards he is the bottom one.”
Mark Twain,
The Lowest Animal, 1896