[Fwd: Egyptian art show]

Gerald Van jedvan at SPAMinfoserve.net
Sun Sep 19 00:20:37 MDT 1999

<P><FONT FACE="Arial,Helvetica">Lou Proyect's post about the NYTimes' review
of the Metropolitan's Egyptian Old Kingdom Art exhibition struck a very
responsive chord with me because I spent many days in Cairo's fantastic
Museum of Ancient Egypt during a month I spent there in 1971.</FONT>

<P><FONT FACE="Arial,Helvetica">To say one was enthralled by the exhibits
is too superficial;  so many Dynasties are covered in  a wealth
of detail and even domestic minutae that the feeling grows on one of standing
in the midst of actual objects and surroundings that were part of mankind's
first recorded civilization and society nearly 5000 years ago.</FONT>
<BR><FONT FACE="Arial,Helvetica">.</FONT>
<BR><FONT FACE="Arial,Helvetica">One gains an impression of human kinship
amidst artifacts, treasures and everyday objects, utensils and tools made
and used  by craftsmen and workers who  become almost recognizable
people as close examination r eveals  the chisel marks in stone, hammered
patterns in gold, characteristic marks, slight flaws and concealed mistakes 
made by  craftsmen  over four millenia ago..</FONT>

<P><FONT FACE="Arial,Helvetica">Because I am a craftsman too and have worked
with and known many hundreds of other hard-assed craftsmen around the world,
I  know what to look for in another's work.  One often gets an
impression of the kind of workman he was and his attitude towards his craft
and work.  The Cairo  Museum of Egyptian Antiquity actually seems
to become a museum of the living when viewed from that perspective.  </FONT>
<BR><FONT FACE="Arial,Helvetica">I felt I could have enjoyed exercising
my own modest skills there....</FONT>

<P><FONT FACE="Arial,Helvetica">In the fascinating days I spent  there
I gained some impressions about Egyptian societies that I have never found
mentioned in histories and art books..   The NYTimes reviewer
comes very close to it when he describes  characteristics of the Old 
Kingdom as:  <I>serene...a humane understanding...state of grace...joy
in life, </I>and in a more detailed and very significant passage: 
<B><I>"contented labourers, fisherman, musicicns and cooks.  Men and
women are always made to look beautiful, even when they're fat or old or
dwarfs.  Egyptians depict everyone with a respect for the diversity
of humanity."</I></B></FONT>

<P> <FONT FACE="Arial,Helvetica">The impression we get from our histories
is of  idealized pharaohs, pampered royal dynasties, and serving them 
hordes of slaves used and driven to build massive monuments and tombs for
the rulers.  The reviewer's  paragraph presents a very different
picture.  There doubtless were simple workers by many thousands, but
there is no evidence that they were driven.or sacrificed.</FONT>

<P><FONT FACE="Arial,Helvetica">On the contrary I believe our historians
have been imposing <B><I>their own views</I></B> of common labourers in
more modern and particularly capitalist times of how  they assume
ancient ruling classes treated their workers.  One hesitates to idealize
those ancient societies, but I believe the grunts who raised the massive
rocks in the Pyramids were able to take as much pride and satisfaction
in the precise placing of their huge rocks as did the sculpters who carved 
statues of Pharoahs.with such skill and artistic sensitivity.</FONT>

<P><FONT FACE="Arial,Helvetica">It has remained for the societies of the
Christian era to view the accumulation of personal wealth and power as
virtuous  and admirable,  and the work and lives of their unrich
servitors as worthless, mean. and expendable.</FONT>

<P><FONT FACE="Arial,Helvetica">Praise the Lord and pass the collection

<P><FONT FACE="Arial,Helvetica">Jed Van</FONT>
<BR><FONT FACE="Arial,Helvetica">.</FONT></HTML>
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Date: Fri, 17 Sep 1999 11:12:15 -0400
To: marxism at lists.panix.com, pen-l at galaxy.csuchico.edu
From: Louis Proyect <lnp3 at panix.com>
Subject: Egyptian art show
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The NY Times has an interesting review of the show I referred to the other
day, including a photo of the beguiling sculpture of the King and Queen
with her arm wrapped around his shoulder.


Louis Proyect


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