Oil Heiress-Funded Climate Taliban Attack Gustav Klimt’s Tod und Leben
Also open thread.
Two days ago, a pair of protestors from the American oil heiress-funded cultural vandalism collective known as Letzte Generation threw oil over the glass sheet protecting Gustav Klimt’s Tod und Leben at the Leopold Museum in Vienna. One of them was immediately dragged off by museum staff, while the other glued himself to the frame and proceeded to lecture visitors about the evils of fossil fuels.
Letzte Generation lack the confidence of the Taliban, who proudly destroyed ancient Buddhist monuments, officially because they violated Islamic law, but in truth as an act of defiance and retaliation against the West. They have similar dual motivations, driven as they are by a deep abhorrence of Western culture, which merely finds one of many possible expressions in their climate activism, but the strength and the moral certainty just aren’t there. They attack well-protected artworks; they glue their hands with no little timidity only to the outermost edges. These are the austere moralists who want to smash the idols, but who aren’t so sure they’re vacant stone, and fear the power that is still in them.
We live in an age of social contagion, where the most widely propagated movements succeed not because they are clever, or wise, or prudent, but simply because they make easy demands on their members and they’re good at self-propagation. It’s easy to throw around oil and shout about the climate; it took Klimt seven years to finish painting Tod und Leben to his satisfaction. A central question, is how long the antinomianist allures of our postmodern post-Corona world will remain ascendant, and to what degree our climate Taliban are justified in their fear of the beauty, discipline and the strength that remain with us.
I wonder why this is the strategy these brave radicals have chosen: What does classic art have to do with "raising awareness" of climate change? Why don't they hurl filth at oil co. headquarters & execs? Why don't they attack Wall St or City Hall etc, where actual decisions on policy are made? What is the connection bw art & the climate?
I think first is simple cowardice: Klimt or his work can't punch back, and the security guards at your average museum aren't exactly trained assassins. But also what these works represent is Beauty, individual skill and talent, and most importantly, transcendence, which paradoxically takes us out of ourselves but also links us to each other through a shared experience of the sacred and eternal.
I think this gets more to the heart of why these obviously miserable children have chosen artwork as what needs to be befouled and destroyed to "raise awareness" (of themselves): they need to destroy what they could never create, and just like so many radicals throughout history, what they really most desire is for the rest of us to be as miserable and hate-filled as they are. And I guess that's why our cultural heritage must be attacked: if they can't experience joy, gratitude, transcendence, etc, then none of us should either.
These acts are an assault on all of us, on the best and most beautiful parts of humanity and human history, and they should not be excused for either the youth of the perpetrators or that age-old Get out of Jail Free Card: they were doing it for a good cause.
These children need a nice stiff jail term.
Children play-acting at doing something meaningful to "help" -- while all around them are actual atrocities playing out in real-time.
Tough times are coming. Then nobody will have time to worry about gluing themselves to artwork OR talking about the people who did.