March 20, 2013

"There is a statue outside the Federal Trade Commission of a powerful, rambunctious horse being reined in by an extremely muscular man."

"This used to be a metaphor for liberalism. The horse was capitalism. The man was government, which was needed sometimes to restrain capitalism’s excesses."

Wrote David Brooks, getting just about everything wrong.

Oh, well, we all get distracted and lose our minds when gazing upon extremely muscular men, do we not?

51 comments:

m stone said...

Not a good idea to speculate on the "original Idea" of the statue while the sculptor lives.

Rob said...

I love those two FTC statues. To me, they resemble primo Stalinist art, socialist realism at its best. And what better place?

edutcher said...

Gotta agree with Rob.

Looks like one of the Triumph of the Proletariat pieces on the Volga over the mass grave of 100,000 Kulaks.

Unknown said...

"Oh, well, we all get distracted and lose our minds when gazing upon extremely muscular men, do we not?"

Also when gazing upon creases in trouser legs.

Unknown said...

"...Oh, well, we all get distracted and lose our minds when gazing upon extremely muscular men, do we not?..."
Or, in such cases as this, when gazing upon an unforgiving contract to meet an 800 word unrelenting deadline for an 'editorial'?

chickelit said...

This used to be a metaphor for liberalism.

If liberalism starts trending towards acceptance of beastiality, they'll be able to recycle the man-horse imagery.

Bob Ellison said...

The commentariat is showing unusual restraint. David Brooks? Does he still have a byline? What is it with these 50-year-old wannabe liberals like David Brooks and David Frum? OK, someone's gonna say that sounds anti-Semitic. Listen, some of my best friends are Jewish! But not those two Davids. They just don't know what they are or what anyone else is.

Maguro said...

I hate to defend David Brooks, but his was a reasonable interpretation and the fact that the artist disagrees is neither here nor there. As an allegory, government taming capitalism makes a hell of a lot more sense than man taming trade. Especially when you park it outside a government building.

furious_a said...

extremely muscular man

Modern liberalism is more akin to the dweebily metrosexual Fred Armisen character on Portlandia.

furious_a said...
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wyo sis said...

An interpretation is when Brooks says something like "to me it appears to be..." He didn't say that.

virgil xenophon said...

Agree w. Maguro, but chickelit is the thread-winner so far, lol!

Chip S. said...

I agree w/Maguro. I'll even go further and say that what the artist seems to mean by "man controlling trade" is exactly the same thing as what Brooks means by "government restraining capitalism".

These sculptures are outside the F.T. fuckin' C.
What the hell else are they supposed to signify other than regulation of markets?

This is a small nothingburger.

Palladian said...

Not a good idea to speculate on the "original Idea" of the statue while the sculptor lives.

The sculptures were created by Michael Lantz, who died in 1988.

Interestingly, his brother was Walter Lantz, who created Woody Woodpecker.

Chip S. said...

I certainly don't need to speculate about what was on Walter Lantz's mind when he came up w/ that idea.

virgil xenophon said...

Along w. edutcher, I also agree with Rob. Too bad so much of great "Stalinist" inspired 30s art rests on so much human misery. Admiring the art while getting by the sentiments it represents can be tough, but one can always rationalize it as "art for arts sake" I guess. Sort of like the main character Steve-O (Matthew Lillard)in the 1998 movie SLC Punk! who gets into his recently divorced Father's compensatory new Porche.: "Dad, this is a German car!" Dad: "So?" Son: "But Dad, we're Jewish!" Dad: "I know son, but they make such damn fine cars."
LOL!!

traditionalguy said...

OK, the stronger man wrestles the trade system wild horse to restrain it.

That's a lawyer USING a Commercial Code to make trade safer so more will engage in it.

The great enemies of trade are price fixing creating shortages and a black market, monopoly granted by government creating fascism, and printing dollars/Treasury Bonds creating inflation of the currency.

That statue is Obama's Gang being restrained. Too bad the media have weakened the needed restraints to nearly none.

Synova said...

That's a beautiful statue. It actually looks like something. And a muscular man is always awesome. But it also has symbolism and stuff to argue over.

See?

Art doesn't have to be non-representative to be smart or ugly to be meaningful.

Synova said...

Apparently Brooks thinks that "trade" = "capitalism" and "man" = "government".

AprilApple said...

Capitalism is the free exchange of goods and services, without coercion.

Gotta tame that. Give Unlce Joe and Chairman Mao more power.

Chip S. said...

@Synova--do you think it's a monument to self-restraint or something?

chickelit said...

"Unbridled thoughts force their way without the will to be harnessed by man."

That's what I would write on that statue

bpm4532 said...

At this point, what difference does it make?

Just like President Obama, he just makes shit up that sounds good. It doesn't matter if it's wrong or a lie. That's your story and you're sticking to it.

AJ Lynch said...

I read bits of that yesterday. It sounded nothing like Brooks who loves him some big guvmint. I think maybe Juan Williams's intern was the real author of the Brooks column...and I wonder who he cribbed it from?

Chip S. said...

What I would inscribe on that sculpture is, It seemed like a good idea at the time.

Craig Landon said...

Where I came from in Arizona, it seems to represent "Going to work."

Craig Landon said...

We seldom considered national government symbolism.

Synova said...

@Synova--do you think it's a monument to self-restraint or something?

Well... it's a man with bulging muscles and a horse with bulging muscles and I'm a girl so...

...what was the question?

EMD said...

Everyone else seems afraid to say it, but that David Brooks is kind of a cunt, right?

chickelit said...

EMD said...Everyone else seems afraid to say it, but that David Brooks is kind of a cunt, right?

That was the most unkindest cu*t of all.

bagoh20 said...

The modern version would have the man cooking the horse, while complaining about his sore feet.

The Godfather said...

I used to pass that horse all the time. Of course it's a metaphor for government restraining capitalist excesses. Just because David Brooks said it doesn't make it wrong. This time.

Mr. Majestyk said...

I walked past that statue today and noticed it for the first time. I just assumed it was a guy trying to tame a horse. But then again, I was never very good at seeing symbolism.

William said...

I think the meaning and significance of the metaphor would be better elucidated if, instead of a muscular man, the statue featured an underage Dominican hooker.

EDH said...

Oh, well, we all get distracted and lose our minds when gazing upon extremely muscular men, do we not?

"Oh, what rippling muscles."

n.n said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
n.n said...

This scene is a literal depiction of the free market system, where man tames the capital (e.g. horse) and is regulated only by the "invisible hand."

Rusty said...

The Godfather said...
I used to pass that horse all the time. Of course it's a metaphor for government restraining capitalist excesses. Just because David Brooks said it doesn't make it wrong. This time.

Greed is good.
trade. The axle upon which the whole world turns.

Paul Zrimsek said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Paul Zrimsek said...

The horse should be named Boxer and the man should be a pig.

Guimo said...

David Brooks is Ruth Marcus dressed up like a man.

Rusty said...

Guimo said...
David Brooks is Ruth Marcus dressed up like a man.

LOL.
You beat me to it.

AprilApple said...

How about an artful statue carved to depict the same horse standing up straight... kicking the tough guy government in the nuts?

LarsPorsena said...

A better depiction would be a man beating a mule.

Nichevo said...

interestingly, in Atlas Shrugged, Ayn Rand had a different interpretation of the image of horse and rider, as depicted by Lillian Rearden.

Richard said...

Anyone else wish that horse would kick the shit out of the man and run free?

Calypso Facto said...

If this statue was really designed to depict the gov't and capitalism relationship, it'd be a guy milking a cow.

RonF said...

Ah, did Mr. Brooks mean that the sculpture itself was meant to be a metaphor for liberalism as he defines it? Or did he mean that liberalism itself was once defined as such, and had that definition brought to mind when he regarded the sculpture? Because if the former he's apparently wrong, but the latter would be appropriate. Plenty of artworks have inspired various thoughts in people's minds that are completely different that what the artist's intent was.

Unknown said...

Ann, I love your blog, and frequently (usually) agree with it, but I don't understand this post. I'm a 30 year vet of the FTC, and Brooks' characterization of the statue is exactly right. The FTC was the product of Progressive era politics, and the statue captures the logic of the FTC Act (1915): namely, that the free market was a powerful beast that needed to be controlled by enlightened, wise regulators (the FTC was supposed to the "expert agency"). PLEASE NOTE THAT I'M NOT DEFENDING THIS LOGIC, just stating a historical fact about what the creators of the FTC believed in 1915. Brooks characterization of the statue should be uncontroversial.

Sam L. said...

Brooks got something wrong? And we're surprised? I am shocked, shocked to hear David Brooks got something wrong.

SOJO said...

Yeah, Rush Limbaugh blew the Beyonce controversy in much the same way today.

He didn't even read the lyrics. She was warning bitches to bow down to her, that just 'cuz she's took some time to get married and have kids, she's still the queen, more than his little wife, bow down to her etc. and he reinterpreted it as Beyonce telling women to bow down to their husbands, that she understands now that she's married, that's it's worth putting up with the crap and to bow down to their man.

Yeech, He's an old, fat, spooky man.

Brooks is kinda creepy as well with his muscular man, perfectly pressed pants leg obsessions.