Rants and reactions to contemporary politics, art and culture.
Thursday, July 21, 2016
Melania's Soup Can
"Campbell's Soup Cans" by Andy Warhol (1962)
Melania Trump, or whoever is responsible for the writing of
her speech, has been accused of plagiarism.But as Chris Christie said, “Ninety-three per cent of the speech is
completely different" (“How Melania Trump's Speech Veered Off Course and Caused an Uproar,”NYT, 7/19/16).Governor Christie was plainly looking at the
glass as half full or 93% full, in comparison to the presumptive First Lady’s
critics who looked at it as 7% empty. Of course there are many who might have
said that with or without Michele Obama’s imprimatur the speech was as full of
empty platitudes as that of its predecessor. “Values: that you work hard for
what you want in life; that your word is your bond; and you do what you
say” might be reminiscent of Polonius' "neither a borrower nor a lender be," but are not exactly up there say with Hannah Arendt’s “banality of evil,” or
better yet the last lines of the second part of Goethe’s Faust, “Das ewig Weibliche zeiht uns hinan,” the eternal feminine lures to perfection.” If Melania
had gotten on stage and started off with something like an unattributed form of
Hamlet’s soliloquy critics might have taken pause, but doesn’t the regurgitation
of trivialities falls merely into the category of that practice that’s big in the
artistic community, “appropriation.” For instance Andy Warhol famously
appropriated the Campbell’s soup can and made it into a painting that
become one of the most emblematic images of the Pop Art movement? Let’s not
fault Melania for stealing Michele Obama’s words, nor even Paul
Manafort,who according to The Times “pegged the number of
suspicious words at 50.” The Times quoted the Trump campaign chairman as saying “and
that includes ‘ands’ and ‘thes’ and things like that.” It’s like habeas corpus.
There's no crime if you don't have a corpse.
Francis Levy's debut novel, Erotomania: A Romance, was released in August 2008 by Two Dollar Radio.
His short stories, criticism, humor, and poetry have appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post, The New Republic, The Village Voice, The East Hampton Star, The Quarterly, Penthouse, Architectural Digest, TV Guide, The Journal of Irreproducible Results, and other publications. One of his Voice humor pieces was anthologized in The Big Book of New American Humor (HarperCollins). He is presently the Co-Director of The Philoctetes Center for the Multidisciplinary Study of Imagination (philoctetes.org), where he supervises roundtable discussions on topics as varied as “The Psychology of the Modern Nation State” and “Modern Traffic Theory, Behavior, and Imagination”.