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« Bernie Sanders is a Socialist! (Norman) | Main | The "Boundary of Detectability" and the Time Particle (Norman) »

December 05, 2010


Well, the odalisque and the slave are both slaves. Chattel in slightly different, but parallel, systems. That some slaves are privileged over others, that those others must serve the higher ranking slaves, does not make free agents of the slaves with more perks.

Elatia, I will withhold comment and wait for others to reply. From where or from whom did this painting originate?

This is a painting by J. A. D. Ingres, painted in the 1840s, now in the Walters Gallery in Baltimore.

The painting by Ingres is an icon of Orientalism of the variety elaborated by Edward Said. The question is, which elements of Galbraith's article correspond to Said's East and which to his West? The latter are our imperial rulers, who deflect any burden of personal or institutional responsibility, and who through ideology, self-interest, and sheer distortion, impose the that burden on ordinary "Americans," for whom they hold the deepest disdain. But where Said's East, set up as a foil to a rational West, was depicted as enticingly exotic and strange, Simpson and Bowles' is Rockwellian, ordinary. This allows the rulers to celebrate themselves as extraordinary.

I don't think so, Elatia. This one's at the Fogg (so says Wikipedia). This one's in Baltimore.

This is why I love this blog. You guys think about what you are writing and are going in the right direction.

There is something very specific about how this painting came to be associated with the author of the article. It also begs the question, "What were they thinking?" You have already started down than path.

I'm stumped. I know that Galbraith's father donated a terrific collection of Indian miniatures to the Fogg that he had been given while ambassador over there. Was the Ingres ever displayed with the Eastern works, to make some sort of political point? Anyway, no idea.

I too am stumped, like Jesse. But taking a cue from Dean's point about Orientalism, I will go for a wild shot.
Ingres never visited the "Orient." He painted the Odalisque series in Italy. The voluptuous female figures were meant to titillate the western male libido without violating the modesty of western women. It was okay to leer at an eastern naked female but a similar depiction of the European ladies would have been unacceptable. In other words, the Odalisque was a "smoke screen." In my opinion, the dire deficit scenario pundits like Erskine Bowles and Alan Simpson are using the future of American "Grandchildren" as a cover for their draconian financial cuts in order to screw ordinary Americans on behalf of the government and the rich. Our grandchildren are the odalisques for prosperous old men.

So Norman, are you ready to shed light on the question you asked?

Yeah Norman, what Ruchira said.

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