LOVERS OF DEMOCRACY
Henri Rousseau. The Dream. 1910.
Oil on canvas, 6' 8 1/2 x 9' 9 1/2" (204.5 v. 298.5 cm).
The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Gift of Nelson A. Rockefeller.
Photograph © 1997 The Museum of Modern Art, New York.
Copyright exception and fair use noted below.
"The Dream, a painting that mystified critics when it was shown at the Salon des Indépendants in 1910 [Paris, France]: they could not understand why the naked woman should be reclining on a velvet sofa in the middle of the jungle. For Rousseau, the answer was obvious. As he explained in a letter to a critic: 'The woman sleeping on this sofa dreams that she is transported into the middle of the forest, hearing the charmer's pipe'. For Rousseau's young admirers, this work was perhaps the pinnacle of his achievement."
When it was unveiled at the Salon des Indépendants, the poet and critic Apollinaire wrote: 'The picture radiates beauty, that is indisputable. I believe nobody will laugh this year'."
Lovers of Democracy employ this beautiful image of The Dream, not to seduce visitors to their WebSIte, but to symbolize the role of sexual seduction in distorting the evolutionary development of the character of human beings. See Geoffrey Miller, THE MATING MIND: How Sexual Choice Shaped the Evolution of Human Nature (2001).
Sexual selection patterns, themselves, raise significant moral and ethical conflicts, which are presently undergoing critical examination. These patterns are described by evolutionary psychologist G.Miller as sexual "fitness indicators": they are social and sales oriented; they operate in the semiotic space of symbolism and strategic deal making; they include the mental attributes of language, art, music, humor, which do their best work in courtship, where the most important deals are made. But the dream of a loving human sexuality is burdened by a bundle of contradictory values, which can sound like a "fascist nightmare." G.Miller. Id., at 104-107, 135.
The theory of sexual selection was dismissed when it was first presented. Charles Darwin, in The Decent of Man, and Selection in Relation to Sex (1871). However, after a century of investigation the theory has been accepted as a major original contribution to science. Indeed, sexual selection theory "has returned like the prodigal son" writes Miller, "Science shows once again how truth wins out against historical contingency and ideological hostility." G.Miller. Id., 33.
These inherited conditions do not necessarily doom the human experience but point to the need to guide the energies of human sexuality toward the evolution of creative intelligence instead of the decadent culture of consumption guided by the fitness indicator of "conspicuous consumption" and other wasteful and decadent outcomes. This goal is the motivating spirit of LOVERS OF DEMOCRACY, as further explored in the essay on Adam and Eve in Cyberspace that we have linked in this site.
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Cornelia P. Atchley, artist,
Portrait of Vigdor in blue 2001.
Copyright of the classic painting of "The Dream" exhibited in this WebSIte has expired. Copy of a digital photo of any art work may not be subject to copyright. An attempt to obtain perpetual copyright by use of photo or digital images, which can be made without end, may not give rise to a work of sufficient originality to claim copyright under the Copyright Clause of the Constitution and Copyright Act. USCA Const, Art. I, § 8, cl. 8; 17 USCA. § 102(a) Bridgeman v. Corel (DC SDNY, 1999). Fair use is also claimed, herein, of any digital reproduction of such items produced by any museums, archives, photographers, and by any other rights holders known and unknown, for purposes of non-profit education, criticism, comment, and news reporting, as provided by 17 United States Code § 106(1).