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Tony Grist

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Mr Greenwood's Crucifixion [Apr. 6th, 2007|09:55 am]
Tony Grist
It was the last holiday we took en famille- my parents, my sister, myself. I forget exactly how old I was. Nineteen, twenty- something like that. I filmed proceedings on my dad's old 8mm camera because those were the days when I thought I was Jean Luc Godard. When I edited the film I left all the shots of myself on the cutting room floor except for a close-up at the end which I thought was a nice, auteurish touch. My mother thought it was wankerish (not language she'd have ever used) but then she never understood me...

I'm remembering all this because today is Good Friday and that was the holiday that took us to Colmar and I got to stand in front of Matthias Grunewald's Isenheimer altarpiece with it's central panel of the crucifixion- the most graphic image of a brutalised human body in all western art. 

(That is, until Mel Gibson came along)

Image:Mathis Gothart Grünewald 023.jpg

Here's a close-up. Horrid, isn't it?

My mother didn't like it. I did. I liked it lots. 

But now?  But now I see it as manipulative.

Grunewald's trying to get to us.  He's pushing buttons. Sex. Transgression. Guilt.   Especially guilt.  You did this to Jesus, Jesus did this for you: don't you think you should be feeling really bad about yourself?

(And while you're in this mood, how about giving us some money?)

You see,  I've been a Christian preacher. I know how the system works. 

My German is rudimentary, but doesn't Grunewald translate as Greenwood?

Mr Greenwood's crucifixion.  Ha!
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Comments:
[User Picture]From: baritonejeff
2007-04-06 10:42 am (UTC)

I've been a Christian preacher. I know how the system works

That's how THAT system works.

You've taught me something today. Something about myself.

At this stage in my life, I didn't think I was thin-skinned enough to find myself offended by a statement like this, but, apparently, I am.

And, BTW, "Greenwood" *is* a valid translation of the German.

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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2007-04-06 10:54 am (UTC)

Re: I've been a Christian preacher. I know how the system works

I'm sorry and not sorry to cause offence. I don't like hurting people, but I think I'm speaking truth.

But it may only be a partial truth.

I too like to think I'm thick-skinned. But I don't suppose I am. I wonder what it would take to shock me?

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[User Picture]From: baritonejeff
2007-04-06 02:53 pm (UTC)

Re: I've been a Christian preacher. I know how the system works

No apology necessary, as you didn't hurt me and you didn't shock me. Your words did, however, rather piss me off, as they felt like a glib wave of the hand in the form of a blanket dismissal.

As to the over-the-top nature of the Grunewald crucifixion, look at the resurrection panel (I'm working from memory here), and the blinding nature of the risen Christ. The whole tryptich is over-the-top.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2007-04-06 03:00 pm (UTC)

Re: I've been a Christian preacher. I know how the system works

Grunewald's Resurrection demands a separate post. It's an astonishing, visionary painting.

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[User Picture]From: glitzfrau
2007-04-06 11:13 am (UTC)
You're absolutely right, it's Greenwood. Sebald (him again!) writes about the painting and the painter in his giant long poem After Nature. It's a really touching and disturbing passage; you should read it.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2007-04-06 11:34 am (UTC)
There's also a long passage about it at the beginning of Huysmans' La Bas.

The only Sebald I've read is Rings of Saturn. I must explore further.
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[User Picture]From: aellia
2007-04-06 11:26 am (UTC)
I don't think I ever felt guilt. I knew that it wasn't me who did it. Just as I don't feel guilty about the slave trade. It wasn't me who did it.
I used to feel incredibly sad for Mary.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2007-04-06 11:35 am (UTC)
I don't think I ever really felt guilty myself, but as a preacher I felt I had a duty to make other people sweat. :)
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[User Picture]From: aellia
2007-04-06 11:38 am (UTC)

Questions

Why are people supposed to feel guilty?
And why is it called "Good" Friday?
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2007-04-06 11:54 am (UTC)

Re: Questions

Because if they feel guilty they'll submit to the Church and give it lots of money.

Sorry- that's very cynical.

I think it's called "Good" Friday because Jesus's death on the cross is supposed to have done us good- redeemed us and all that.

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[User Picture]From: jubal51394
2007-04-06 12:08 pm (UTC)

Re: Questions

I read somewhere online yesterday that it is thought to be a corruption of the term "God's Friday" as in "Goodbye" being "God be with you".
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2007-04-06 12:42 pm (UTC)

Re: Questions

Interesting.

I hadn't come across that explanation before, but I think it's very plausible.
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[User Picture]From: besideserato
2007-04-06 11:22 pm (UTC)

Re: Questions

In Spanish and Romance languages, it's "Holy Friday". Isn't it "Sad Friday" in Germany?

There is a finny story about my mother when she first got to the US and found this holiday was called Good Friday. She said, "ah! The English! Always so optimistic about everything! And these damn Americans! Such workaholics, they can't take a break for a feast!"
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[User Picture]From: shullie
2007-04-06 01:11 pm (UTC)
I find the picture/painting and Gibsons film... and the whoe homoertocism surround it fcinating, though it always makes me smile that admids that horrendous image of the broken beaten figure they still have to hide his humanity, his genitalia...

The guilt is a big factor.... which is what Gibson actually said, he wanted people to see what 'Christ' had to go through physically for them (I may have aparaphased here). heap it on!!!

As for being the other side... well I know exactly what you mean.. though I think the financial aspect of it all has wained, as Christmas is now the big deeper in pocket festival for retail and the church.

I could write loads even essays/papers on the image and Mary's reactions to it...lol.. hey I have!!!

I always prefered Easter to Christmas when I was a Christian, was more deeper and more meaningful...
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2007-04-06 02:46 pm (UTC)
I was watching a TV documentary about racism last night and it included an account of a particularly atrocious lynching in Waco around the time of the first world war.

What Jesus had to go through was nothing compared to the torture they heaped on that poor guy in Texas...
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[User Picture]From: besideserato
2007-04-06 11:10 pm (UTC)
It's so amazing to me how religious the US is in comparison to Peru. Catholic shame and repression has NOTHING on this country's Bible-thumping. It annoys the living hell out of me. If another person says he or she is going to pray for me, I will hang myself, I swear to GOD.

That was a bit off-topic, now, wasn't it? I really do like the altarpiece, however, it's a very dramatic portrayal. I like it most because it's silent and it doesn't tell you its prayed or died for you. It just sits there on the altar to be taken as you Will. As it should--free will, is, after all, the greatest gift from God.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2007-04-07 08:23 am (UTC)
I was being unfair to Grunewald. He is pretty amazing.

But I prefer Durer.
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[User Picture]From: besideserato
2007-04-07 11:49 pm (UTC)
I became obsessed with Dürer in high school at some point and spent an entire year carving blocks with images of Hindu origin. To this day I don't know why I chose Hindu iconography--I wasn't trying to be contrary!

My delight with repeated prints was the gateway to what would become my ultimate obsession: Andy Warhol and serigraphy.

Funny how one sort of... I suppose the word would be "evolves", and I am amused with my hesitation to use it.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2007-04-08 09:24 am (UTC)
Durer and Warhol had a lot on common.

They understood the uses of celebrity and they understood the market.

I love them both.
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[User Picture]From: besideserato
2007-04-08 11:12 am (UTC)
"They understood the uses of celebrity and they understood the market."

Ain't that the truth?
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