“Soft despotism is a term coined by Alexis de Tocqueville describing the state into which a country overrun by "a network of small complicated rules" might degrade. Soft despotism is different from despotism (also called 'hard despotism') in the sense that it is not obvious to the people."
Friday, September 02, 2011
Chairman Martin on The Mall
The Martin Luther King Monument is Stalinesque with a strong reference of something from the Upper Nile with a hint of a Sphinx like behind. It is awful. It was designed and carved in China. Why?
Edward Rothstein in the New York Times.
"As for the portrait of Dr. King, it seems to have been based on a photograph by Bob Fitch that shows him with crossed arms, engrossed in thought. But here, the crossing of arms is a sign of something else: determination, perhaps. Or command. Monumental, not human.
"And the mound’s isolation from any other tall objects, its enormity and Dr. King’s posture all conspire to make him seem an authoritarian figure, emerging full-grown from the rock’s chiseled surface, at one with the ancient forces of nature, seeming to claim their authority as his. You don’t come here to commune with him, let alone to attend to the ideas the memorial’s Web site insists are latent here: “democracy, justice, hope and love.” You come to tilt your head back and follow; he, clearly, has his mind elsewhere.
"The failure may also have a larger cause. Many recent memorials proliferating along the Mall have trivialized or mischaracterized their subjects. The World War II memorial seems almost phony, with its artificial allusions to antiquity; the Roosevelt Memorial diminishes that president and even implies that he was a pacifist (featuring his words “I hate war”) instead of a wartime leader responsible for building up the “arsenal of democracy.” Why shouldn’t King, too, be misread -- turning the minister into a warrior or a ruler, as if caricaturing or trying too hard to resemble his company on the Mall?"