Friday, June 29, 2012

Aristotle, Homer, Rembrandt and Joseph Heller

Aristotle Contemplating a Bust of Homer, Rembrandt van Rijn. (1653) Apparently Joseph Heller wrote his novel Picture This about this painting. The only Heller novel I haven’t read yet.
Heller concludes that we don’t learn from history (and in fact so much of history may be nonfactual that learning may be impossible). Being a pessimist chronicler of the American Century, his main unspoken theme is of course parallels between the onetime Hellenic overlord respective the onetime ruler of the Seas, and his home country.
This is most apparent in his treatment of the peak and downfall of Athens, when after the victory over Persia, Athens formed the Delian League, and got embroiled in the Peloponnesian War. Heller describes a beacon of democracy that destroys its own greatest advances or transforms them into tools of abuse, turns on its own allies just to demonstrate its power, and loses to weaker enemies due to self-deception.
I've always wondered about this painting. 
Please recommend this post

No comments: