You might also like

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Discouraged

Earlier this week we exchanged a number of comments about the Kent State University shootings. 1970. Not nearly so remembered, but a part of my 1970, the bombing of Rodin’s statute “The Thinker” at the Cleveland Museum of Art. The bombing was in March, KSU just two months later, in May. I worked across the street, at the Freiberger Library.

The Weathermen, Students for a Democratic Society, Black Panthers, SNCC, the Student Non Violent Coordinating Committee, all seemed a level above we intersection blockers who protested. Members of these organizations and more could be found in our student union, back in their infancy, posting their own meeting notices, and probably drawing away the more radical and angry among us.

Anti-war protests in 1970 were fueled by Nixon’s escalation of the war and expansion into Cambodia. The anger of the late seventies was more laser focused on injustice at home; we’d heard “plastics” as well as “Mrs. Robinson,” back in the sixties, and activists were slipping off into new corporate jobs. The war in Vietnam lingered; America moved on, buying homes and having babies.

Weathermen always seemed the most likely to me to have put the bomb at the Thinker’s base. Or anyone. The Weathermen always seemed very small to me, and looking them up just a bit ago, they were. The FBI didn’t think so, but it was 1970.

The Museum remounted the statue without repairs. A brilliant move that also preserved the artistic integrity of the work. Those of us who had the statue both ways appreciate its representation of the frailty of the social contract.

The Cleveland Museum of Art is mounting a new exhibition of work of Rodin, and in conjunction with that announced they had been contacted by someone naming a suspect in the bombing. The information cannot be corroborated, and remains hearsay. And, the “suspect” has been dead forty years.


The current nature and number of protests indicate how little has been accomplished. Minds must meet; it is the only solution. How long must it take.




''The Thinker'' by Auguste Rodin was photographed March 31, 1970, by Plain Dealer photographer Dudley Brumbach, days after a bomb blew out its base. It was a gift to the Cleveland Museum of Art in 1917 by Clevelander Ralph King. PLAIN DEALER HISTORICAL PHOTOGRAPHIC COLLECTION

22 comments:

  1. I visited the Rodin Museum when I visited Paris in 1969. Lovely sculptures.

    ReplyDelete
  2. The past few days I've been reading some very jarring posts and news articles and opinion pieces and I've been thinking that there are so many people snarling at each other -- on all sides -- I wonder how minds will ever meet. Those on ALL sides think they are right. When will we ever try to find common ground instead of tearing each other down??

    ReplyDelete
  3. It was an interesting time to be alive. I protested, but cat justify violence.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Whenever they show a bit of history of that time what we are shown is flower children dancing in a field with flowers in their hair. Or we see Nixon saying he was not a crook. There was so much violence happening then. And a lot of us were trying to be heard without being violent. Why can't we be friends?

    ReplyDelete
  5. Not only must minds meet, we need to put aside the necessity to win at all costs. Tolerance and compromise are needed. And more than a little empathy. Some politeness wouldn't go astray either.

    ReplyDelete
  6. I too, was horrified by events at Kent State, where 13 non-violent student protesters were shot by the Ohio National Guard --4 of them died. Still, I could never align my sympathies with the Weathermen. Violence is not abated by violence. Likewise, activities of groups like the SLA were --at least here in California-- attributed to a small, suspiciously sudden collective that had nothing to do with conscientious social movements of the time.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Cleveland was a pretty gritty place when I lived there. Industrial. Republic Steel, for example. My own ideas were forming. Half baked, I suppose.Protesters were everywhere, meetings and planning every night, school every day. You literally could be caught up, like drug pushers today. I knew Weathermen and SNCC, and they didn't sound that different. And in the end I gave up all but my opinions because nothing was changing. Cleveland was a huge and interesting campus, something on every corner. It was almost a relief to move away and make trouble with Welcome Wagon.

      Delete
  7. My husband loved that Rodin statue and had a small ivory looking copy of it on his desk. My son has it now. He was a student at Case from 1963 to 1972 when he finished his PhD....There were some times out 0 he worked in New Jersey for a time after his B.S. and in Munich for a while after his Masters. But you might have passed one another sometime in that area. He was shocked at the bombing of the statue. We were all horrified by the events at Kent State. But it is not worth becoming discouraged. We just need to keep putting one foot in front of the other. Someone suggested recently that we might have better success trying to change hearts than trying to change minds. I'm not sure, but maybe.

    ReplyDelete
  8. I hadn't known about the bombing of The Thinker, it seems a pretty senseless thing to do. Does anyone know why?

    ReplyDelete
  9. Do you know Rodin's drawing/paintings of the Indonesian dancers?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, but not at Cleveland Museum of Art. All his drawings and paintings seemed to flow from concept drawings to some fluid representation that proclaimed "Done!"
      The Cleveland Museum is a big stuff place. Statues. Armor. Swords. I don't recall any Rodin drawings on display.

      Delete
  10. Hari OM
    The sad fact is that there is not a single century in Mankind's history in which there was not conflict in one form or another. Even in Utopia, someone would have the mindset that they are being infringed or defrauded or some such and then agitate. For there to be what you wish for, each and every individual would have to have a sense of being content with their lot and no interest in desiring more than that. Very few of those folk in the world. YAM xx

    ReplyDelete
  11. Winning appears to be the goal these days. No matter how it is achieved. Ideals mean nothing to some who are in charge!

    ReplyDelete
  12. I believe in peaceful protests. The minute a rock is thrown or a window broken the point is lost.

    ReplyDelete
  13. And there it stands, a constant reminder. Will things EVER change?

    ReplyDelete
  14. there are times when it takes violence to end violence. peaceful protests didn't stop Hitler. I don't think there will ever be a meeting of the minds between the split that occurred in the 60s. one side wants equality for all, the other wants to subjugate those they consider to be less...women, people of color, the other gendered. one side is done with rule of religion, the other side wants to make this country a theology. there is no middle ground between these positions. yes, discouraged.

    ReplyDelete
  15. I discovered this week that there were about 26 castings made of The Thinker and they are all over the place.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I made one in Quebec once , in compacted snow. I don't think it exists any longer.

      Delete
  16. I don't know which Rodin drawings, if any, are at the CMA, but I do know if you are a member there are many things you can see, prints and drawings, too, which are not on display. At least it used to be like that.

    ReplyDelete
  17. This story about "The Thinker" is completely new to me. I really must pay more attention at the back. I suppose my excuse is that I was only 14 when it happened. I must find out more.

    ReplyDelete