Sunday, April 4, 2010

Human Nature

The Preacher has a lot of knowledge about the ways of people. These prints look at some of the negative aspects of humanity, a theme he explores thoroughly.

One dies as well as the other

3:19 NA "For the lot of man and of beast is one lot; the one dies as well as the other. Both have the same life-breath, and the man has no advantage over the beast; but all is vanity."

I was hung up on this quote for a while, trying to come up with something involving literally man and beast. Then there was a period of a few weeks where there was a back and forth between Israelis and Palestinians every couple of days. Nothing was really being accomplished but a lot of innocent people on both sides were dying. I felt the image fit within the mood of Ecclesiastes enough to be included and well suited the shortened quote I used for the title.

People save up their money and then lose it all

5:13-14 GN "people save up their money for a time when they may need it, and lose it all in some bad deal and end up with nothing left to pass on to their children."

I'm not into gambling myself, but I had job that used to take me into Atlantic City casinos a few dozen times a year. Casino related imagery has worked itself into a lot of my art over the years as a result. Some people here and there will be lucky, but for most casino gambling is a bad deal.

Days of sorrow, vexation, sickness, and wrath

5:16 NA "All the days of his life are passed in gloom and sorrow, under great vexation, sickness, and wrath."

I keyed on the sickness part of the quote, and recycled an image from a previous body of work, expanding and colorizing it. Today if you have money HIV is often a dangerous, but manageable chronic disease, but back when the quilt project was started it was practically a death sentence. The early days of AIDS inspired a lot of negative emotion.

Who can make straight what God has made crooked?

7:13 NA "Consider the work of God. Who can make straight what he has made crooked?"

Variations on this quote appear twice in Ecclesiastes, and I had once used it years earlier in a print relating to trying to control river flooding. I took a very different approach this time, applying it to a disturbed mental state. All of the pills depicted are various anti-depressants or mood elevators. Not something really talked about in Ecclesiastes, but I felt that something about the idea that seeking happiness is at best a temporary and often futile pursuit fit within the overall theme of the book.

The sinner will be entrapped by her

7:26 NA "More bitter than death I find the woman who is a hunter's trap, whose heart is a snare and whose hands are prison bonds. He who is pleasing to God will escape her, but the sinner will be entrapped by her."

Qoheleth seems to have a mixed opinion of women in general, but I wanted something that most people would agree on to go with this quote. To me the prostitutes were a clear symbol of temptation and sin.

Crime is committed because it is not punished

8:11 GN "Why do people commit crimes so readily? Because crime is not punished quickly enough."

This one was inspired by the then current Enron scandal, in which market manipulations and some illegal bookkeeping got some top executives rich while gouging customers, and when it all came down most company employees lost their jobs and their pensions. The behaviors at Wall Street investment banks over the past few years shows that the image is still relevant.

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