Sunday, December 6, 2009

the people have the power

My thoughts on this are a wee bit half-baked. But, in the interests of getting something out there, here goes:

After looking at Platon's Portraits of Power in the recent New Yorker I decided to try drawing all of the featured leaders. I have been itching for some sort of larger drawing exercise than the individual drawings that I usually do. I am not sure this scratches the itch but I enjoyed it, even though there are several drawings I am really unhappy with (all posted).

When I first saw the portfolio in the magazine, I had an immediate reaction. Seasonal magazine features like this (see also the 'Person of the Year' stories, which proliferate between now and Christmas) make me uncomfortable and immediately set me to thinking about the deserving billions who are never going to make the list. Drawing the group here, almost exclusively male, also seemed to be a good opportunity to humanize the politicians a wee bit and (given my somewhat idiosyncratic drawing style) put them on the same level as the rest of us, which is where they belong anyway. The captions were part of this attempt to humanize but I quickly ran out of ideas and hope that the drawings mostly speak for themselves.

There were two other things that came to mind throughout the process. David Dark (in at least one talk I heard and maybe in print) speaks about his realization, during the 2004 US presidential election, that George W. Bush and John Kerry were the two least free men in America, bound by the expectations of the American electorate (and the election process) to hold positions which would be completely unreasonable (and which they would not believe) in most other contexts. (Mr. Dark discusses the candidates statements on 'winning the war on terror' in this regard.) In a lot of ways I am sure that many of these leaders are not the free agents they might believe themselves to be. I think this is borne out to some degree in the second thing that came to mind, which was Michael Leunig's cartoon, available here.

A couple of quick thoughts came along after I finished these and was wondering what to write: How many of these politicians live up to the charge given in Psalm 72.4?; Do I agree with those who argue that in Romans 13: 1-7 Paul is being satirical?

Without further ado, the drawings:

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