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Patriarchy: the stones will cry out! (part 1)

06 May

I talked a little bit in How Patriarchy Crumbled about the motivation of the Silent Generation in selfishly arrogating to itself the economic resources produced by that great mass of well-educated white baby boomers: generational envy. A major point in the article was that at some time about mid-century, fathers started encouraging women to want to go to cube farms rather than to serve their vocation as wives and mothers

As this was Jane Jacobs’ birthday weekend, around the country different groups hosted Jane’s Walks, where a local explored the city and the connections between people, buildings, economy, and society. I took the tour led by Linda Fisher through the NY Civic Center, a City Beautiful collection of early-20th-century structures. As the tour leader was a court reporter, we got many details of the goings-on in the fine courthouses around Foley Square, many of which you have seen if you’ve watched Lore and Order, as a New Yorker would call it.

These are all government buildings, make no mistake; but they lack the cinderblock-ugly brutalism of post-war construction, with bean-counter citizen’s groups demanding lowest-dollar rather than maximum beauty. The mosaics in the ceiling of the Hall of Records are gorgeous and priceless, and are repeated throughout the courthouses of the area. How did a society that built so well, and so beautifully, devolve to the one we live in?

My next walking tour was due in Brooklyn Heights, so rather than pay for a subway ride, I elected to walk across the Brooklyn Bridge. The photos on my journey illustrate some of the points made in How Patriarchy Crumbled.

Looking Towards Manhattan Tower of Brooklyn Bridge

This is the view back towards Manhattan from the Brooklyn tower. The two-toned tower visible through the cables on the extreme left is the under-construction “Freedom” tower to replace the World Trade Center; it exceeded the height of the Empire State Building in the past fortnight, and will rise to 1776 feet when complete. At one point, the tallest structure in New York was the Manhattan tower of the bridge, which stands on a foundation of oak planks resting on concrete, which rests on sediments at the bottom of the river. The reason why that tower does NOT rest on bedrock is that the construction of the Brooklyn Tower, which was shallower and does rest on bedrock, crippled so many men that the effort was considered not worth the cost in human lives.

One of those crippled during construction was the chief engineer, Washington Roebling. The following plaque gives some credit; note the date of 1951:

Emily Roebling Plaque

Note the quote at the bottom: “Back of every great work we can find the self-sacrificing devotion of a woman.” Roissy’s Third Commandment could not have stated it any better, but we see some creeping pedestalization.

The walk off the bridge towards Brooklyn’s old City Hall took me through Cadman Plaza. This was once a thriving collection of commerce and transportation that headed into economic decline along with downtown Brooklyn, a consequence of the merger with Manhattan in 1898 to become a part of the 8-million strong New York City. Now it is an underused park with a number of elements from the late-19th and early-20th centuries.

Cadman Plaza Plaque

Here is the 1891 statue of Henry Ward Beecher, advocate for children, originally in the area of Cadman Plaza (see the 2:49 mark in this video.)

Henry Ward Beecher

From the same era as the highly representational Beecher statue (the young negress [using 1891 terminology] on the left would probably not get sculpted today that way) is the Brooklyn Main Post Office, visible to the right of Beecher’s shoulder. Yes, kids, this is what used to be built for public buildings:

Brooklyn Post Office

In the middle of Cadman Plaza is the Brooklyn War Memorial, built in 1951 to recall the big one. As Wikipedia notes: “two figures representing Victory and Family stand to the sides of the inscription which reads:

This memorial is dedicated to the heroic men and women of the borough of Brooklyn who fought for liberty in the second world war 1941-1945 and especially to those who suffered and died may their sacrifice inspire future generations and lead to universal peace”

Brooklyn War Memorial

It commemorates the “men and women” of Brooklyn who died in WW2; such verbiage is almost entirely absent from the WW1 memorials I have seen.

Across from Cadman Plaza is the Brooklyn Korean War Veterans memorial:

Note that this is a .8 acre park, compared to the 10 acres for the Cadman plaza. Note also the focus on foreign dead as well as Brooklyn dead, and the creeping moral relativism. It looks like the following:

Note the absence of any representational figures, and the copying of Maya Lin’s style for the Vietnam Memorial in DC, with a listing of all names in granite.

John F. Kennedy was the first President who fought in World War 2; George H W Bush was the last. This span of 32 years in the Presidency by one generation will probably never be repeated, and goes to show the estimation in which society held this generation. The Silent generation produced no Presidents, and is unlikely to. JFK’s brother, RFK, was born at the leading edge of the Silent Generation, and unlike his older brother saw no combat in WW2:

(Note how much Kennedy has a goofy, Alfred-E-Newman look here.)  There is a quote from Kennedy at the base of his bust:

Note how far Kennedy rhetoric fell from “Ask not what your country can do for you…” We can see the mealy-mouthed musings of PC in this Silent take on society.

As a reminder of what great public statuary can be, take a look at Columbus, presiding nearby:

What’s that building behind Columbus? It is a courthouse built in the 50s by the same firm that designed the Empire State Building. Let’s take a close-up of the left side:

Yes, New York State, liberalism central, has carved in stone an image of Moses bringing the Ten Commandments, on its Brooklyn Courthouse. Note that the style is less bold and representational than the Beecher statue of 60 years earlier, but it still isn’t bad for a piece of public art.

Another supreme court building from the 30s nearby also shows some nice medallions:

Note the “AD MCMXXXVIII” at the top.

We can see in these photos some of what influenced the Silent Generation. Unlike the “greatest generation” of WW2, they did not get a huge memorial six years after their war ended, with a large public park to set it in, and with representational figures idealizing male strength, reserve, and vigor. Lacking the bold thrusts of WW2, their rhetoric was confused and rambling. They were young adults in an age that was starting to tack “and women” onto every achievement of men, and elevating that effort to the sacrifice of men (contrast the subordinate role given to Emily Roebling.)

I will argue in the next installment that this feminizing was part and parcel of an overall plan, removing heroic representation and elevating women’s public achievements to an equal status with men’s. But for now, let’s take a look at what has happened to the churches of Brooklyn Heights, where Beecher was a preacher. The first Presbyterian Church lists the following roster of pastors:

"A multicultural and inclusive congregation."

Pastoresses Ruth, Flora, and Amy now lead this flock, and Pastor Emeritus Paul Smith is the only masculine name. What effect does this have on rhetoric? “God is love is God” on this side. The other is even worse, and seems like a complete contradiction of Christian Doctrine:

“There can be no genuine personal religious conversion without a change in social attitude.” Quote by the appropriately named Bill Coffin. The stone of the church is brownstone, a type of sandstone prone to easy weathering, and to my eyes appears to be weeping as it crumbles into dust.

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11 Comments

Posted by on May 6, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

11 responses to “Patriarchy: the stones will cry out! (part 1)

  1. will

    May 6, 2012 at 7:08 pm

    Notice also the trend to remove christianity from public places for example the 10 commandments and other insulting and offensive religious monuments(sarcasm).

     
  2. Will S.

    May 6, 2012 at 7:19 pm

    Thanks for this, EA. I love old architecture, monuments, statues, etc., and I think a place’s architecture, monuments, and the like, reveal much about the mindsets of the eras that created them – as this post indeed demonstrates well.

     
  3. pb

    May 6, 2012 at 8:50 pm

    I too was surprised to see that sculpture on the side of the state supreme court building. Surprised some haven’t petitioned to have it removed.

     
  4. electricangel1978

    May 6, 2012 at 9:22 pm

    Yes, that bas relief of the X commandments is only a little more than 50 years old. Patriarchy is written in the stones of our great public buildings from not too long ago. We will discuss why it is missing in Part 2.

     
  5. ray

    May 7, 2012 at 4:23 pm

    “Pastoresses Ruth, Flora, and Amy now lead this flock”

    the proud annoucement of the Presbyterian (anti)Church is the epitaph of America (and aren’t we PROUD of ourselves!)

    even in jest, referring to somebody named Rossy as the giver of a “Third Commandment” is part of the problem, do you see? others will never respect the real Commandments — nor the real God — when the supporters and defenders of God and the Commandments are belittling both by comparing them to a non-christian pick-up salesman

    (instead of just getting angry and defensive and firing off a withering retort, think about it awhile)

    this was a unique and revealing photo-essay — the graphic evidence v much backs up your narrative . . . and you are so right that the American matriarchy was already largely in place at mid-century, while the Baby Boomers were still kids (and that preparation made the boomer generation v easy to co-opt with feminism and materialism)

    look forward to the next installment; the stones are gonna cry a lot louder before this rebellion is done

     
  6. electricangel1978

    May 7, 2012 at 10:33 pm

    Ray,

    Thanks for the comments. I did not set out to see these items and link them to the previous piece. But like with learning the basics of game and then going to the opera, you start to see it everywhere. I think there is something almost sacred to this, and that is that game is a tool, to be used in support of patriarchy, or in support of debauchery. The point being that it reflects an underlying truth about reality; in Aquinas’ conception of God, God cannot commit murder not because he has to obey the laws that are his creation, but because the Law as reflected in the 10 Commandments IS a part of the substance of Him.

    We are a collaborative of men who think Patriarchy is the only system that can work for a moral, just society that leads to maximal happiness, by which word we mean as Aquinas and Aristotle and Adler meant: that we always choose those things that are actually good for us, rather than those things that only SEEM to be good for us. Roissy could be a Moses and issue commandments to young men who aspire to follow him to succeed with women, but he knows that following this path will lead to societal destruction. That he cannot issue capital-C commandments is made clear by what he believes about what we feel is the fundamental Truth of the existence of God: he calls Him a “pretty lie.” He knows the fruit of Truth, and the fruit of following his path, and yet he prefers his path.

     
  7. ray

    May 9, 2012 at 3:17 am

    Aquinas and Aristotle and Adler (etc) are attractive to inquisitive young minds enjoying themselves . . . but God didn’t mention those guys in his bible . . . just a thought

    when Christ rode into Jerusalem, he rebuked the Pharisees who were complaining that many disciples were shouting and carrying on emotionally (in the aftermath of miracles)

    Jesus said if the people didnt shout, the rocks would

    that’s an eschatologic reference, paired with his entrance into Jerusalem at the 2nd Advent once again on a “colt which no one has ever ridden” — meaning a unique sort of partnership

    i like your stuff but would like it even more if you wrote long paragraphs about Christ instead of about Roissy

    :O)

    cheers

     
  8. electricangel1978

    May 9, 2012 at 8:06 pm

    @Ray,

    I would dispute with you the point about Aristotle. Aristotle certainly knew of Heraclitus. The philosophy of Heraclitus is unmistakable in the opening of St. John’s Gospel: “In the beginning was the word.” Jesus walked and lived in a society whose lingua franca was Greek, not Latin. Herod was one of the Greek rulers of the region. Now, did Jesus read Aristotle? No proof I know of shows that he did, but the philosophy of Ancient Greece was all over the region, and being a man of great learning (and literate), he would certainly have come into contact with Aristotelian ideas (and to the extent that those ideas reflected the Truth of nature, he was in fact the Author of them!) Note that Paul reflects the knowledge of Epimenedes, so there is little doubt that some of the apostles were familiar with Aristotle.

    But as to actual citing of Biblical passages, that’s left up to the Prot-half of the Patriactionaries. I did use Luke 19:40 in allusion, as you spotted, but please don’t tell anyone!

    But I use the quote for this reason: much of my writing here is not directed at those already inside the fold, but those who know some element of Truth, and have not integrated it into the whole. We believe that the Bible is the revealed word of God; but for a non-believer, we have to start SOMEwhere. That is with Creation as the revealed presence of God; following Aquinas, I believe that laws, like the inverse-square law we know as gravity, are part and parcel of the revealed substance of God. If someone accepts the truth of physical laws, he is on his way to understanding revealed Truth.

     
  9. ray

    May 10, 2012 at 1:18 pm

    be wary you dont let your burgeoning intellect run away with your faith (it’s happened before, to better)

    there are many biblical passages that resemble pagan philosophy — by no means limited to hellenic thought — but aristotle was a lot more in the dark than he figgered :O)

    interestingly re our instant context, aristotle was vocal about the rulership by women of “patriarchal” greek culture (both before and during his time — nothing new under sun eh?)

    so he wasnt completely clueless! (except compared to christ’s followers)

    “If someone accepts the truth of physical laws, he is on his way to understanding revealed Truth.”

    nah youve got it backwards: physical laws, like nature, obey God and his servants, and are only secondary or tertiary “truths” (at best) that dimly reflect a much deeper reality

    there’s far more to revealed truth than mere physics and physicality (like, for example, wailing stones) and as the supernatural increasingly impinges on this world, that’ll be pretty obvious to all except the most literalistic and scientistic

    cheers

     

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