THE ESSENCE OF ART

In Apocrypha, our favourite fantasyland, government reacted to a dissatisfied electorate and impending elections by convening a Commission of Enquiry into Apocrypha’s politics.

The Commission’s sole term of reference mandated it to enquire into and report upon how to prevent Terrorized Inhabitants Voting Out Leftwing Incumbents. Accordingly, it became known as the TIVOLI Enquiry. Responsive to a growing trust deficit between government and citizen, a foreign national known as Judge Dread Summons was appointed Chairman. On the first day of hearings, Judge Dread called the proceedings to order and laid down some ground rules:

Order, now my court is in session, will you please stand?
First, allow me to introduce myself,
my name is Judge Hundred-Years.
Some people call me Judge Dread.
Now, I am from Ethiopia to try all you rude boys
for shooting black people.
In my court only we talk, ‘cause I’m vexed,
and I am the rude boy today.

Judge Dread wasted no time in calling upon the first accused, a well known professional rabble-rouser and Rude Boy.

Judge Dread:        Rudeboy Loud Daggaliar?

Daggaliar:           Yes, sir 

Judge Dread:        Loud Daggaliar, I see here you have been charged with                               protecting ten gunman for shooting with intent; five on                             murder charge and six charged with grab and flee charge

Daggaliar:             But your Honour, I didn’t–

Judge Dread:        Hush up! Guilty or not guilty?

Daggaliar:             Not guilty sir

Judge Dread:        I don’t care what you say, take 400 years. Stand down

Daggaliar:             But yu don’t know what I would say, your good Honour..

Judge Dread:        Hush up! What you trying to do, shoot me, too?

Daggaliar:             No, your Honour, but I–

Judge Dread:        Quiet! 400 more years for you! Never come back here .

Daggaliar:             But I didn’t do nothing Judge

Judge Dread:        Hush up! Is you mek up t’ings fi di people say ‘gainst police.                       You believe yu bad!

Daggaliar:             But I didn’t do that, dem frame me and I don’t deserve that

Judge Dread:        I don’t care, hush up! This is my court!

Daggaliar:             But, sir……..

Judge Dread:        Stop your crying, rude boys don’t cry, that’s what I hear

Daggaliar:             Dis is a Kangaroo Court and you are a Quack!

Judge Dread:        Hush up! Just for talking, I now charge you for contempt,                          and that is a separate hundred years. I hereby sentence                            you to 400 years. Take him away!

Daggaliar:             [struggling with security/incoherent mumbling]

Judge Dread:        I said hush up, hush up! You’re sentenced to 400 years and                        500 lashes. Don’t come back. I’m going to set an example!

After being unceremoniously evicted from the Enquiry, Daggaliar used his one phone call to contact Oma D’unn. Regular readers remember Oma, whose proudest achievement was his PhD in logic. Oma was, like a moon, bright only in the dark but had an uncanny ability to solve political problems by parable. Oma told Daggaliar to buy impressionist art. Daggaliar looked confused so Oma told him the story of the Irish painting.

“At Dublin’s National Gallery, an American couple were staring at a portrait obviously confused.  They saw a painting of 3 naked black men sitting on a bench. Two of the men had black penises but the one in the middle sported a pink penis. The gallery’s curator, realizing they were struggling with interpretation, offered his assessment.

“He lectured for an hour explaining how it depicted the sexual emasculation of African Americans in a predominately white, patriarchal society.  ‘In fact’, he added ‘some critics believe the pink penis also reflects the cultural and sociological oppression experienced by gay men in contemporary society’.

After he left, an Irishman approached the couple: ‘Would you like to know what the painting is really about?’

‘How’d you know?’ they asked ‘We just heard from an expert!’

‘Well, he’s an expert. I’m the artist’ he replied.  ‘Look, no African Americans are depicted. They’re just three Irish coal miners. The guy in the middle went home for lunch.’”

Oma explained to Daggaliar that nothing is as it appears so he shouldn’t expect a Commission of Enquiry was convened for the advertised purpose. Like impressionist art, interpretation was key and, Oma concluded, like Cool Hand Luke, Daggaliar’s problem was a failure to communicate.

Apologies to Cecil Bustamante Campbell (Prince Buster) whose 1967 monster hit Judge Dread captured the decade’s frustration with the “Rude Boy” era when we began the never-ending cycle of trying to stem rising crime with harsher penalties. Forty years later, plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose

Peace and Love

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