You don’t even have to be an avid news-watcher or -reader (and I’m certainly not) to know that right this moment, things in the world aren’t great, to say the least. I will not glorify nor draw attention the atrocities going on right this moment by even naming what they are. T. Thorn Coyle made a post today, however, which is wonderful, and which you should all check out. To combat the general soul-loss our culture is experiencing on a daily basis, I’d also highly recommend the Abney Park song “Letters From A Little Boy To Himself As An Adult,” which Captain Robert Brown discusses here–feel free to buy the album while you’re at it, as it’s wonderful.
I was thinking that, given the rather lighthearted tone of several of my posts recently (though this one earlier today is entirely serious, despite the lightheartedness), perhaps I should return to the previously announced posts on more serious matters again soon. But, given the horrors of today, I just can’t bring myself to it…
As Thorn is fundamentally saying in her post above, though, it is our duty during times like this to create beauty. (Indeed, I think this is one of the essential things about the Ekklesía Antínoou and our outlook on spirituality generally–the importance of beauty, kalokagathia, and to make beauty where there hasn’t been beauty before…the foundation of the beautiful artistic tradition of depictions of Antinous arising from the tragedy of his death is the paradigm for this outlook, in my view.) While I can’t always create beauty at the drop of a hat, I can draw your attention to some beauties out there that I’ve been fortunate enough to encounter in the last few days. In particular at the moment, I’d like to give you a guided tour of two pieces of Antinous-related modern art that I’ve just found–one that is oddly arresting, and another that is just plain odd (but hopefully fun for all of you as much as it was for me).
The first is this piece, found here on DeviantArt, by Eshto (Ryan Grant Long), who has done some really wonderful things that you should check out there. The only major problem I have with this is the date of 124 CE–firstly, that part of Hadrian’s Villa (the “Canopus Room”) was not completed yet; and secondly, at that point Antinous (if he was born c. 110-112 CE) would have been about 14, just after he met the Emperor in Asia Minor most likely. This figure of Antinous captures his features brilliantly, and yet he seems older and more mature than most of the depictions I’ve seen as well–not that this is a bad thing, but he certainly doesn’t look 12-14 here! Hadrian, as well, is almost more cartoon-like than Antinous, but all the more approachable and vulnerable for that. In any case, it’s a wonderful piece, and I like it very much…Not all art has to be “perfect” or even without critique to still be effective, beautiful, and moving, which this certainly is (at least for me).
This next piece is the strange one–it’s Robert A. Nelson‘s “Temptation of Antinous,” which was on display in an online art show in December 2008 (and still is, technically–which would be a great advantage of an online art show, I guess!). It doesn’t look much like Antinous, to be frank–the hair is too long, the body is far too chiseled and fine, and the face isn’t very close…but, the intention wasn’t to get figural accuracy, of course; and even when the attention to “getting him right” is spot-on (as with Eshto’s piece above), the eventual effect can still be quite different. The overall effect here is both humorous and a bit dark and eerie. Imagining this Cthulhu-esque ethereal cephalopod of doom tempting Antinous’ physical perfection with a Butterfinger is…well, astonishingly brilliant, for starters, but also hysterically hilarious!
So, what do you think? What modern Antinous art do you like? What modern Antinous art do you utterly detest? What modern Antinous art have you made yourself? Please feel free to discuss, and to share links to any of these possibilities, in the comments here, and I look forward to seeing what you come up with!