Editor’s Note: As promised, here is the concluding chapter to our visit in Venice: “I Wish I Had Died before I Saw the Biennale – Venice Part 3. I was reluctant to post this item on Gourmay as Sheila had decided that I was becoming rather “pig-headed” and that our readers would not be amused. She is probably right, but she can object in writing by submitting a scathing comment to this Post.
There are few things more disturbing to me than art critics/organizers imposing their views on your personal interaction with a piece of art. Now, I don’t consider myself to be a snob – even though Sheila thinks I am beginning to manifest a few “snobbish tendencies” – but I do not take kindly to filtered versions of what I can see for myself. As such, I took exception to Venice Biennale Curator Okwui Enwezor’s argument that art should be shaped by “looking at what’s going on around us today.”
While there are many notable exceptions, in my opinion most great works of art were created by artists working for a living or simply “looking” at the world quite a bit differently than the chaotic world around us. Leonardo da Vinci created “The Last Supper” while experimenting with paint colors. Monet was more interested in lighting than illustrating political manifestos.
In any event, I childishly decided to boycott the Biennale and visit Murano instead. There, artisans continue to work for a living as they have for decades. (Editor’s Note: I had wanted to visit Venice’s San Michele Cemetery instead, but Sheila nixed it.) In any event, I gamely sat in the park sipping a beer and occasionally taking a nap while Sheila toured the Biennale. I think I may have had a better time than Sheila, but it was probably not the “politically correct” thing to do so early into our vacation.
I have always been interested in the history of the term “politically correct” and turned to Gourmay’s noted historian, Rudi B., for an explanation. Thankfully, he discovered this exchange of telegrams between U.S. President Harry Truman and General MacArthur in a dusty historical archive that only recently was opened to the public under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA).
(1) Tokyo, Japan 0800-September 1, 1945
To: President Harry S Truman
From: General D A MacArthur
Tomorrow we meet with those yellow bellied bastards and sign the Surrender Documents, any last minute instructions?
(2) Washington, D C 1300-September 1, 1945
To: D A MacArthur
From: H S Truman
Congratulations, job well done, but you must tone down your obvious dislike of the Japanese when discussing the terms of the surrender with the press, because some of your remarks are fundamentally not politically correct!
(3) Tokyo, Japan 1630-September 1, 1945
To: H S Truman
From: D A MacArthur and C H Nimitz
Will do Sir, but both Chester and I are somewhat confused, exactly what does the term politically correct mean?
(4) Washington, D C 2120-September 1, 1945
To: D A MacArthur/C H Nimitz
From: H S Truman
Political Correctness is a doctrine, recently fostered by a delusional, illogical minority and promoted by a sick mainstream media, which holds forth the proposition that it is entirely possible to pick up a piece of shit by the clean end!
Got to love “Give ’em Hell, Harry!” Thanks Rudi for your research.