Fun with My Parents' Living Room Art - Part II

03 Jan 2008

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This is Doc, who runs the Culture of Beer blog. I think he likes us all to believe he's just some old beer-drinking fart sitting on the stoop with his banjo and plectrum, spinning country yarns to anyone who'll listen. But the truth is, the dude's wicked smart. If Mensa had its own sub-organization that only accepted the top 2% of Mensa members, he'd get in easy if he wanted to. Fact is, you just can't spew nonsense this good unless you're the elite of the elite. (That's a favorite post of mine, which I shall use instructively someday, I'm sure, when I'm a visiting professor at some creative writing program.) Doc's genius is the only explanation I can come up with for his spot-on guess as to the photoshop job I did on my parents' living room painting.

I had four more paragraphs written about Doc's particular genius, but then received yet another correct answer from Evil Evil Genius this morning.

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His comment was that the picture was "definitely missing a Jesus." Again, a correct answer! -- although he answered second, and one could interpret his answer as simply affirming Doc's original speculation. On the other hand, Evil Evil is also a genius and is highly preoccupied with all things JC, as evidenced by his recent post, Godzilla vs. Jesus.

As statistically anomalous as this may sound, the high percentage of correct answers is not overly surprising to me, as there are so very many geniuses on my blogroll, including those who guessed incorrectly and everyone who has read this far or has ever visited my blog.

Let's take a closer look at the artwork again, shall we? Here, again, is the photoshopped version:

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And here's the original:

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Now, if you're like me, there's something disturbing about that painting. Honestly, if my parents were to ever leave this painting to me, I'd hire someone to real-life-Photoshop Jesus out of this thing. < See endnote 1.> Because, really, it's not that bad of a painting otherwise. BTW, I said in my earlier post that a family friend painted this. In fact, I think it was done by a priest!

Now, I was raised Catholic with a Born-Again mother -- which is like having a tall Guinness with a double-wheat-grass chaser. As such, I've tried hard to repress everything I know of religion. A nice quiet life of congenial atheism is all I ask. And, I think I've finally reached a point at which most bible stories are, in my mind, a pleasantly confusing mix of scripture and Andrew Lloyd Webber's Jesus Christ Superstar. Religion is so much more enjoyable as a rock opera., btw. They should have started it that way instead of making the world wait 1,937 years. <<em>See endnote 2.>

Let's get back to that depiction of Calvary, shall we? Now, forget about the other historical details, such as the two thieving bastards normally depicted as being crucified alongside JC. Forget about any research into whether pine trees grew there or the geology of the region. What confounds me is that pole height.

Assuming Jesus was 6 feet tall, his head in the painting is about 30 feet off the ground. (One could easily argue that JC was probably 5 feet tall or less, humans having evolved taller in the past few millennia. But, for such a charismatic figure, I figure he'd have probably been a bit taller than your average bloke.) Let's take a look at my calculations:

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So, I figure JC's head at about 30 feet above the ground. In order to support that kind of pole with no guy-wire, I figure you'd want another 24 feet or so in order to ensure maximum long-term crucifixion utility. This brings the entire pole (the y-axis or ordinate, if you will) to approximately 54 feet.

The x-axis, as we can infer from studying Vetruvius, should be at least equal to the crucified's height, probably adding another foot or two to allow for the use of spikes without damaging the recyclability of the said x-axis (or abscissa ). So, while one would expect the abscissa to be at least 6 feet long, it appears roughly just 4 feet long, rendering Jesus embarrassingly short-armed. (Actually, this paragraph is an oblique homage to genius blogger Vica's " Vitruvian T-rex." What? You don't read Vica's blog? Well get there pronto & book mark her.)

Getting a man to hang 30 feet in the air would be no small endeavor. One would imagine a rather complex scaffolding of sorts, to begin with. Such a contraption might be relatively simplistic on level ground, but that hill would make for a challenge! And yet the hill shows no sign of human intervention -- no tracks made by Roman laborers dragging planks up the hill all day (and then back down again).

You may object: But, Patrick, what if they they used a pulley system, the details of which would be too small for inclusion in an oil painting? No, I thought of that, too. It would have been possible on a plain wooden post, but that 15+ foot tall growth of thick ivy on the post suggests otherwise.

In short, I'm flummoxed.

Here's what I think it is, really: See, when you're part of a group, certain events or images seem comforting. This is a learned / acquired response through tradition and long-term exposure. Ergo, if you're a Christian, it's comforting to look upon a dying man on a cross. If you're not, it's simply morbid. So, for Christians, it's only natural to find serenity in this painting.

I once had a philosophy professor who was a strict vegetarian. She asked me what I was doing for Thanksgiving and, after I described the usual details, she responded, "How anyone could enjoy sitting around a table pulling flesh from a carcass is beyond me." So, I guess it's all in the perspective.

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Endnotes:
1. Sidenote to sis: I sincerely hope you want this painting someday because, if you do not, I'm absolutely serious about having it altered.

2. JC dies year AD 33. Add 1,937 years to get 1970, the debut of JC Superstar.

Original Comments

Below, are the original comments on this post. Additional comments may be made via Facebook, below.

On January 3, 2008, Motormouth wrote:

In Spanish, "Mensa" means "Stupid."

On January 3, 2008, Suze wrote:

Evil got that right? Yikes!

On January 3, 2008, Evil Evil Genius wrote:

Doc wins. I was thinking something more like this.

On January 4, 2008, GETkristiLOVE wrote:

I too am disturbed by the painting - that pole would never fit on the stage version of JC Superstar, and Mary would have to bring binoculars, something not yet invented.