Monday, June 20, 2011

"Warnings All Ignored Again"

Back when my wife and I used to spend a lot of our vacation time in the Southwest, I started collecting bolos.  Every now and then I would come across one by a contemporary Native American artist that was so off-the-wall in its modernism that I could not resist it, even if it lacked any sense of “folk quality.”  The artist who always seemed to interest me the most in this regard was Bob Haozous, son of the Apache sculptor Allan Houser.  Haozous, a Vietnam veteran, has strong political feelings about being Native American in our culture;  and they often percolate into his work in disquieting ways.

This morning I found myself thinking about one of the bolos he designed.  It presents an image of Red Riding Hood, whose lower half is already entirely in the jaws of a wolf (and whose upper half is entirely unclothed).  Along the side of the image are the words “WARNINGS ALL IGNORED AGAIN;”  and the expression on her face is more one of bliss than of horror, almost as if she is taking pleasure in the fulfillment of her fate.

I was reminded of this piece because the caption applies to so many things these days.  They include violent climate conditions, desperate economic conditions (most of which have to do with unmanageable debt), and the new wave of proliferation of malware throughout our networks of digital technology that were supposed to provide the entire world with a new utopia.  Nevertheless, at the level of governmental leadership, we see at most minimal concern that any of these problems demand not only attention but also action informed by that attention.  It is almost as if world leaders are comfortable enough with their positions of power to achieve the same sort of blissed-out state that Haozous depicted in his Red Riding Hood.

The point is that there have been no end of warnings, probably for at least two decades.  There also seems to be a deliberate lack of attention, perhaps because those in power fear that their positions would be jeopardized by such attention.  The problem is that the rest of us are likely to become “wolf food” before those in power realize that they are also part of the menu.

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