Tuesday, December 15, 2009

A schoolkid echoes Holbein and gets suspended

In the latest oddity of our fear-driven age, a second grader in Taunton, Mass. has been suspended over a drawing of Jesus and told to undergo psychological evaluation (at his parents' expense).

His artwork:

"...because he put Xs in the eyes of Jesus, the teacher was alarmed and they told the parents they thought it was violent," an educational consultant with the Associated Advocacy Center told the Taunton Gazette.

It may be too effusive to say so, but this child's iconography shows a deep theological truth. The Crucifixion was no mere illusion of death.

Perhaps that realization hit the teacher too closely.

The drawing itself is like a child's version of the Jesus in Hans Holbein's painting "The Body of the Dead Christ in the Tomb."

Note the disturbed reaction to that painting from Ippolit, the death-obsessed character in Dostoevsky's The Idiot:

"Looking at that picture, you get the impression of nature as some enormous, implacable, and dumb beast, or, to put it more correctly, much more correctly, though it may seem strange, as some huge engine of the latest design, which has senselessly seized, cut to pieces, and swallowed up--impassively and unfeelingly--a great and priceless Being, a Being worth the whole of nature and all its laws, worth the entire earth, which was perhaps created solely for the coming of that Being!

...The people surrounding the dead man, none of whom is shown in the picture, must have been overwhelmed by a feeling of terrible anguish and dismay on that evening which had shattered all their hopes and almost all their beliefs at one fell blow. They must have parted in a state of the most dreadful terror, though each of them carried away within him a mighty thought which could never be wrested from him."

Forget a psych exam, get that kid a paintbrush.

Update: The Associated Press claims that the school district denies the father's account. How will this turn out?

Writing books for money: a fool's errand?

Joe Carter discusses the economics of being an author.

Prospects are not good:

950,000 titles out of the 1.2 million tracked by Nielsen Bookscan sold fewer than 99 copies. Another 200,000 sold fewer than 1,000 copies. Only 25,000 sold more than 5,000 copies. The average book in America sells about 500 copies

One author says her net profit on a NY Times bestselling book currently stands at $24,517.36.

Samuel Johnson said nobody but a fool ever wrote except for money.

That was before the internet. There are a lot of fools out there.

Writing may be even less profitable than acting, and dollars for new art are dropping because of competition the Gutenberg Project and YouTube.

Without speaking fees or teaching positions to compensate, does the book writer have a realistic career path?