Friday, October 17, 2008
I live in Minnesota, as you might be able to surmise from my profile. The above portrait is the official portrait of Former Governor Jesse "The Body" Ventura. Every governor of Minnesota (with the exception of the current incumbent--maybe they just haven't gotten around to putting Pawlenty's retarded mug on a canvas yet--maybe he's too busy being an asshole to sit in front of an artist for a few hours--back in 2005, he vetoed a bill that would have established a poet laureate position for Minnesota) has one of these. At the end of the post is the official portrait of Fmr Governor Arne Carlson for comparison.
There are many things that are remarkable about the above painting (especially when juxtaposed with the banality of ol' Arne). But let me point out a few. Firstly, look at how he's dressed. The tie with the stars and stripes. The pins might mean something, but I'm not sure what. He's holding a cigar.
He's not looking at the viewer. His eyes are fixed on some point ahead. Some point above. He's looking maybe to the future. His expression is stern, composed, thoughtful.
But let's look closer. His right hand rests on the shoulder of Le Penseur, The Thinker. This calls up memories of his adopted moniker, "The Mind." But since The Thinker sits behind, there is a suggestion that he is pushing it back. That he stands ahead of, and perhaps is superior to, mere thought. He's done thinking. He's a man of action.
Look at the horrifying landscape that spreads out behind him. The roiling clouds. The capitol building overgrown in the forest. Is that an aqueduct? What can it all mean?
It is my contention that this painting is proof positive that Jesse Ventura was, not only a theatrical sort, but also a highly insightful person. And he had balls. Arne? Look at this pandering laugh factory. He looks like he's trying to actually "be" Minnesota. Jesse is trying to be something more.
Maybe it doesn't mean anything. All I can say is, though Ventura did some incredibly unproductive things with his all-too brief tenure as my governor, he did some very good things as well, and goddammit, he did it with some fucking style.
I just wish politics was fun again...