Judgment call in art

Here’s a fascinating story: Michelangelo’s Last Judgment—uncensored.

Some of the more controversial nudity in Michelangelo’s Last Judgment was painted over the year after the artist’s death. Those additions were left intact when the Last Judgment was restored in the 1990s, but thanks to a farsighted cardinal we can see what the fresco looked like before it was censored.

Left: Michelangelo Buonarroti | Last Judgment | 1534-41 | Sistine Chapel, Vatican. Right: Marcello Venusti | Last Judgment | Museo e gallerie nazionali di Capodimonte | Images and original data provided by SCALA, Florence/ART RESOURCE, N.Y.; artres.com | (c) 2006, SCALA, Florence/ART RESOURCE, N.Y.

Left: Michelangelo Buonarroti | Last Judgment | 1534-41 | Sistine Chapel, Vatican. Right: Marcello Venusti | Last Judgment | Museo e gallerie nazionali di Capodimonte | Images and original data provided by SCALA, Florence/ART RESOURCE, N.Y.; artres.com | (c) 2006, SCALA, Florence/ART RESOURCE, N.Y.

The Last Judgment was commissioned for the Sistine Chapel by Pope Clement VII just a few days before his death. Michelangelo hadn’t even finished the fresco before controversy erupted over its unclothed figures.

Not long after the painting’s completion, the Council of Trent condemned nudity in religious art, decreeing that “all lasciviousness be avoided; in such wise that figures shall not be painted or adorned with a beauty exciting to lust.” Clement’s successor Pope Pius IV complied with the tenet, and in 1565, the year after Michelangelo’s death, had the more controversial nudity painted over by Daniele da Volterra, earning the artist the nickname Il Braghetonne, “the breeches-maker.” Da Volterra also substantially repainted the figures of Saint Catherine and Saint Blaise, whose positions were considered unseemly. Further coverings were added in the 17th and 18th centuries.

Michelangelo Buonarroti | Last Judgment | 1534-41 | Sistine Chapel, Vatican | photographed before the 1990-1994 restoration | Image and original data provided by SCALA, Florence/ART RESOURCE, N.Y.; artres.com | (c) 2006, SCALA, Florence/ART RESOURCE, N.Y.

Michelangelo Buonarroti | Last Judgment | 1534-41 | Sistine Chapel, Vatican | photographed before the 1990-1994 restoration | Image and original data provided by SCALA, Florence/ART RESOURCE, N.Y.; artres.com | (c) 2006, SCALA, Florence/ART RESOURCE, N.Y.

When the Last Judgment was restored between 1980 and 1994, many expected the work to be returned to its original state before the censorship. But some historians had suggested that da Volterra had scraped away the offending parts and painted on top of freshly-applied plaster–which meant that there was nothing left underneath to restore–so his additions were retained.

Thankfully, the art-loving Cardinal Alessandro Farnese, afraid that the original was going to be destroyed, had commissioned Marcello Venusti to paint a copy of Michelangelo’s Last Judgment in 1549. This tempera painting on wood is now our only guide to what Michelangelo’s work looked like before it was censored.

Marcello Venusti | Last Judgment | Museo e gallerie nazionali di Capodimonte | Image and original data provided by SCALA, Florence/ART RESOURCE, N.Y.; artres.com | (c) 2006, SCALA, Florence//ART RESOURCE, N.Y.

Marcello Venusti | Last Judgment | Museo e gallerie nazionali di Capodimonte | Image and original data provided by SCALA, Florence/ART RESOURCE, N.Y.; artres.com | (c) 2006, SCALA, Florence/ART RESOURCE, N.Y.

Compare Marcello Venusti‘s copy with the pre-restoration Last Judgment in the Artstor Digital Library to see the extent of the changes that were made to the painting. Bonus: Check out the freer interpretation of the Last Judgment by the circle of Giulio Clovio.

They don’t make Disney films like they used to

Just spent an evening seeing what I could see of Frozen on Youtube, and every one of the cuts I watched made me laugh. So I went to look at what I could find of my own first movie, which was also Walt Disney, and it was Fantasia.

Say I’m around five years old, and it’s in a cinema. And I remember my mother saying to me years later that when we got towards the end, I wanted to go home. So I have just played the final section, and having watched it, I am less surprised that I wanted to leave than that I ever went back. This is not light and amusing. It is fearsome and frightening. Comes in two parts so it lasts around nine minutes. And do I remember this? Do I ever! The aim, I suppose, was to introduce us little children to classical music, but perhaps other things as well.

Would you show your children any of this? What I have always remembered about the movie and loved the memory of was the part with the dinosaurs.

Would you show your children this one either? I’m not even sure I should show this to them even now and they have children of their own, who I would also never want them to see these as well.

Better to watch Frozen for all its political correctness, as I discussed in the previous post.

“No right, no wrong, no rules for me. I’m free”

My grand-daughter, Age 5, just sang me this.

I’m no expert on modern music and this definitely does not strike me as brilliantly tuneful, but then again, I grew up with Dylan (but also Peter, Paul and Mary). The lyrics I can, however, follow easily enough.

The snow glows white
On the mountain tonight
Not a footprint to be seen
A kingdom of isolation
And it looks like I’m the Queen

The wind is howling
Like this swirling storm inside
Couldn’t keep it in
Heaven knows I tried…

Don’t let them in
Don’t let them see
Be the good girl you always have to be
Don’t feel
Don’t let them know…
Well, now they know!

Let it go, let it go
Can’t hold it back anymore
Let it go, let it go
Turn away and slam the door!
I don’t care what they’re going to say
Let the storm rage on
The cold never bothered me anyway

It’s funny how some distance
Makes everything seem small
And the fears that once controlled me
Can’t get to me at all!

It’s time to see
What I can do
To test the limits and break through
No right, no wrong
No rules for me
I’m free!

Let it go! Let it go!
I am one with the wind and sky!
Let it go! Let it go!
You’ll never see me cry!
Here I stand and here I’ll stay
Let the storm rage on…

My power flurries through the air into the ground
My soul is spiraling in frozen fractals all around
And one thought crystallizes like an icy blast
I’m never going back
The past is in the past!

Let it go! Let it go!
And I’ll rise like the break of dawn!
Let it go! Let it go!
That perfect girl is gone!

Here I stand in the light of day…
Let the storm rage on!!!
The cold never bothered me anyway

But I don’t hear what a five-year old girl can hear. So I have now gone looking on the net and found this: What Is the Meaning of Frozen’s “Let It Go”? And bear in mind I haven’t seen the film.

Outside of the context of the story, the lyrics could be applied to anything, which is extremely dangerous. Historically speaking, rejection of established norms, relativism, and finding liberation in these things were key elements of Nazism, as Dr. Modris Eksteins explains in his book Rites of Spring: The Great War and the Birth of the Modern Age. Indeed, anti-establishment attitudes and belief in relativism were also key to the beliefs of Lenin, Trotsky, and Stalin, according to Paul Johnson in his book Modern Times: The World From the Twenties to the Nineties.

This is not to say that the song advocates these beliefs. It does not. However, when removed from the confines of the story, the song can easily become an anthem in favor of these destructive philosophies, though it was not intended to be one.

That’s not what’s in the mind of five-year-olds. But there is some sort of hidden rebellion that is clearly implied. And then this came from an answer on Quora:

It’s okay to be yourself, even when the world won’t accept you. In fact, it’s paramount, because if you repress yourself (conceal… don’t feel) you’ll explode, and end up making life much harder for yourself and for everybody else. You won’t be able to control your emotions or behavior until you accept who you are, and are comfortable with it. You shouldn’t have to fit yourself into a box of what is “perfect” or socially acceptable, because you’re never going to be perfect. It’s also okay to remove yourself from everyone else if you need to (though eventually you do have to reintegrate into society).

Maybe this doesn’t mean all that much any more:

Nevertheless, this has reached into an awful lot of heads, and the lyrics have obviously resonated. But we’ll only know in around a decade or more what if anything this has meant assuming it has meant anything at all. 

Canada-Russia Moscow 1972

I game I have never seen before since I was hitchhiking in Europe when it was played, and we arrived in Paris not knowing the score. So we bought a copy of Le Monde where there was a story that filled two columns with everything in it describing the atmosphere at the game and the history of Canada-Russia hockey but with no actual score. But there at the end, there was a two-line para that I could barely decipher as saying that Canada had won the game.

I moved to Australia in 1975 so that the Canadian team has all the players I remember. I wouldn’t know a single player on a single team in the NHL, or even on the Leafs, but here I know everyone, including the announcer who was Foster Hewitt, who broadcast the Leaf games for my entire youth.

And of course, it was that last minute of the game where Paul Henderson – a Maple Leaf – scored the goal that has remained undoubtedly the single most thrilling goal in the history of Canadian hockey. Even as I watched it, and for me it was for the first time, I felt the tension, even though I know how it ended. Who could ever forget?

Might add, that my children are ethnic children, both played hockey (not ice hockey, but hockey unlike grass hockey which is a non-existent nothing to me). I also was at the game when Toronto last won the Stanley Cup. Alas, the Leafs are the worst sports franchise in North America and are unlikely to win The Cup anytime in my own lifetime.

Will just finish by saying that I had the enormous pleasure of playing hockey with my sons when we lived in Canberra. These are the memories that really matter, even more than who won between the Russians and the Canadians back in 1972.

Daniel Andrews, spreading misery wherever he goes

In dealing with Daniel Andrews you have to begin with an understanding that he hates normal people going on about their own lives in their own way. If he can bring unhappiness to others, he is front and centre. So we have this: Rabbis’ request denied. And what request was that?

HEALTH authorities have refused a request from Melbourne’s ultra-Orthodox Jewish community to celebrate their holiest day of the year in person.

Let’s see if we can find some additional detail.

Nine Melbourne rabbis and seven medical providers called on Daniel Andrews to allow them to observe Yom Kippur with small gatherings.

Yom Kippur – which begins at sunset on Wednesday – is described as the “holiest day on the Jewish calendar”.

The community leaders – which represent up to 1500 families who observe the Torah – on Monday called to be allowed to run services at synagogues, subject to density quotients and with groups limited to 10 men plus those running the service.

They said gathering would be held outdoors where possible, with pre-registration, Covid-marshals, masks and social distancing all in place.

The leaders even said the services could be limited to inner-east postcodes – including 3162 covering Caulfield, 3183 (Balaclava) and 3185 (Elsternwick and Ripponlea) – with low case numbers.

But the Health Department said chief health officer Brett Sutton could only provide exemptions to the limits on public or private gatherings if they related to end-of-life events.

And a bit more.

In a letter to Mr Andrews, the group argued Jewish people were more “constrained, limited and disconnected” than any other religious group.

“Unlike other denominations and religious groups, we do not have the option of electronic broadcast or the use of any other technology on our Sabbath and Jewish festival days, due to the restrictions of Jewish Laws on these days,” the letter read.

“Needless to mention that this is having a detrimental spill-over effect in many ways on our members and their respective families.

“Our members, in regular times, attend synagogue thrice daily.

“It is, so to speak, our second home.”

The group said Yom Kippur was also the one day that almost every Orthodox Jew would attend synagogue.

“Our members could not fathom the idea of not praying together on this day,” the letter continued.

“It would be fair to state that religious services in a place of worship, on the holiest day of the Jewish calendar, are more essential than a Thai boxing event.”

Andres, of course, ducked out of personal responsibility, but you may be sure he was the one who made the decision.

Who are the stupid ones around here?

Received the following note from a friend, who reminds, by having sent this to me, that the lockdown is not all bad since we are not able to go out to dinner with him at the present moment. He writes:
“Great article Steve.I’m sure you will enjoy it. Not from FOX 🦊 but what the fuck , we can all find articles to support our world view: Should the unvaccinated be left behind?

The full title, “Should the unvaccinated be left behind — if their stupidity isn’t their fault?” And whether it is all that hard to find articles that encourage someone to take the vax is a ridiculous question since such articles are everywhere and constant.

For me, the probability of getting covid is not zero but pretty low. The probability of dying from covid seems even lower. The probability of having something go wrong medically some time in the future because I have had the vax is much greater than zero, is an unknown risk, and is, moreover, an additional risk which I prefer to avoid if I can since the vax does not prevent anyone from getting covid. Bring on a genuine vaccine and then I’m all in.

It really is a question that ought to have been asked why the American Congress explicitly rejected vaxxines for its members and its employees. It’s not entirely a matter of personal freedom, but is a matter of personal judgement. I do not think my not being vaxxinated endangers a single other person, but I do think getting the vax endangers me. 

And there is this. Anyone who has been vaxxinated must spend the rest of their lives wondering whether they now harbour within their bodies some foreign agent that will at some point do them in. And if they don’t have such thoughts in their minds, they are the stupid ones.

Recent reports on serious problems with the vaccines

Here’s some background: Lara Logan drops dynamite Fox News segment on Biden’s sweeping vaccine mandates.

On Thursday, “President” Joseph Robinette Biden, Jr. broke another of his promises by requiring vaccine mandates on most, but not all, American citizens.  The next day, Fox News aired a terrific seven-minute segment by Lara Logan titled “Mandate Nation,” and it’s really worth watching.

Ms. Logan began the show reporting on new directives to OSHA not to report on COVID vaccine side-effects.  She then segued into recent reports from the U.K. and Israel that report on serious problems with the vaccines.

One feature of the segment that conservatives will appreciate is the montages from other channels, like MSNBC and CNN.  Their “commentators” are so crazed that it’s surreal.  These un-American fools actually think Biden “didn’t go far enough.”

The Biden Mandates are a civil rights issue, and they should appall lovers of freedom. 

They should also appall anyone who values their own good health, whether in America or here. So watch the Report for yourself.

Violence against women

The headline story in The Age today was, “Jab blitz to target city’s north, west”. And this is what it said right there on that front page.

Victorians [not women, but Victorians] who are more than 24 weeks pregnant will now be able to get priority access at state-run vaccine hubs.

Not only are they allowing it, they are recommending these vaxxations. There is, of course, also this to consider: Former Pfizer VP urges pregnant, childbearing age women not to get COVID vaccine; CDC disagrees. The date on this article is August 12, and this is what it says:

A former Pfizer executive recently advised that women of childbearing age and those who are already pregnant should consider opting out of taking the COVID-19 vaccine, but the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said this week that the vaccines are safe and don’t show an increased risk of miscarriage….

Last Wednesday, Michael Yeadon, who served as vice president and chief scientist for allergy and respiratory at Pfizer until 2011, raised some concerns about the COVID-19 vaccines use on pregnant and childbearing age women during Life Site News’ “Stop the Shot” conference, where he was one of the speakers. 

“We never, ever give experimental medicines to pregnant women,” said Yeadon, Ph.D., in a presentation. 

The pregnant people must all be well below the age where covid danger reaches its peak level. We might know a decade from now which was the actual answer. Meantime, it seems prudent, to say the least, not to give experimental medicines to pregnant women.

PLUS NOW THIS: ‘After a lot of prayer and deliberation,’ veteran ESPN reporter Allison Williams quits over company’s vaccine mandate.

“Williams revealed that the reason she is hesitant to get the COVID-19 vaccine is because she is attempting to have a second child.”

She obviously hasn’t seen the latest CDC Report, but may have seen many other things instead. 

The Welsh Guards play The Star Spangled Banner on 911+20