Many Conservatives argue that contemporary art, music, and theatre do not represent "family values" and should not receive support from government entities. "Old is good. We need to get back to it," they might say.
And that is why, whenever I think of the NEA's Shakespeare for a New Generation initiative, I have to have a little private chuckle. I mean, bawdier material has never been written. The vocabulary of the time was so complex that it often masks very dark and difficult themes.
What's a middle school teacher going to do when some kid asks what Bill meant when he said, "her breasts were dun coloured...?" Homosexuality, cross-dressing, promiscuity, drugs, murder, suicide - it's all in there. Hopefully, the teacher's study guide provides some helpful resources.
I'm not saying Shakespeare isn't worth studying, I'm just saying I don't think it anyone that has really read it would argue that it upholds "family values" the way the Bush administration believed. I have to wonder the new Endowment chief extended the program last year because he, too, gets a big private chuckle out of the deal.
Speaking of language. At Georgetown, my old school, the athletic teams are known as the Hoyas, a shortened version of an old Greek and Latin chant, "Hoya Saxa!" that was popular in the 1870s. Loosely translated, this means "What Rocks!" Wikipedia suggests that "rocks" refers to a rock wall on campus, but in my heart of hearts, I have to wonder.
There is an amazing fresco by Pierro della Francesca in Arezzo . Open up your browser in Explorer and you can explore the San Francesco, Arezzo church in 3D. This is an amazing piece of work, not just for the beauty of the painting but for the way the physical structure of the church is used to tell the story. It's like a "pop-up" book of renaissance art, telling a story known as the "Legend of the Cross."
Here is a great detail from the Pierro della Francesca fresco at Arezzo:
You are correct. That is the scrot of a Roman right there. No doubt it's inclusion in the painting was intended as a symbol of the slattern behavior of Romans back in the day. All the same, from a kid's perspective, that's showing BALLS IN CHURCH, people.
Old is good, but things are not always as straightforward as they seem.