The Visage of the Mighty

Sometimes bad moves just make it easy for a jinx to find things. Such as when the Myrtle Beach Chamber of Commerce thought it was a good idea to build a sandcastle bust of President Obama in a place where it might rain.  The Washington Times reports that “a torrential downpour that struck Charlotte Saturday afternoon damaged the Mount Rushmore-style sand sculpture bust of President Obama — an ominous beginning to what many fear is a plagued convention.


Workers were trying Saturday afternoon to reform the base of the sculpture, built from sand brought in from Myrtle Beach, S.C., pounding and smoothing out the sand that had washed off the facade of the waist-up rendering of the chief executive.

The sand sculpture was protected from above, and Mr. Obama’s face didn’t see too much damage. But the storm was so strong that its heavy winds blew the rain sideways, pelting the president’s right side and leaving the sand pockmarked and completely erasing his right elbow.

Are You Sure This Is A Good Idea?

Sometimes the choice of imagery is so unfortunate that it diminishes rather than honors the subject represented. This is particularly true of leaders who inspire a cult of personality that precipitate tributes in bad taste.

The Obama sand bust evokes another piece of ill-fated statuary. The Marcos bust in Pugo, La Union on the road up to the spine of the Cordilleras was built in the degenerate phase of the Marcos years, when sycophancy had erased all the remaining vestiges of sound judgment. “The bust was built in the early 1980s when Mr Marcos was still in power, but fell into disrepair after he was overthrown in a popular revolt in 1986.” As the BBC notes, it was finally blown up by persons unknown in the middle of the night in 2002, possibly by treasure hunters who thought it might have contained a clue to the fabled Treasure of Yamashita.


Sick Transit Gloria Mundi

Even before it was blown up, I couldn’t help but feel twinge of sympathy each time I saw that statue. It was so hideous that not even he deserved it. One could even say the culprits did the memory of the dictator a favor by applying TNT to it.

Statuary that merely celebrates the man often has a demeaning quality quality about it. It is the monuments that memorialize an idea that stand the test of time. Thus the imagery of Mount Rushmore may inspire because it is more about America than four mortal men. The test is that no man who commissions or allows to be built a statue of himself deserves one. I guess you can’t blame a man for the pictures that souveneir manufacturers put of him on beach towels or statues chambers of commerce erect on street corners.


And for those who actually think it’s a good idea — these words of warning:

And on the pedestal these words appear —
“My name is Ozymandias, king of kings:
Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!”
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare
The lone and level sands stretch far away.’


Belmont Commenters
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