A wee rant: Why must we have statues of “famous” people? Can’t we just have art instead?


Rather than argue about which statues to remove and which to keep, I’d rather have a discussion about why humans deploy statuary as propaganda markers to begin with, a habit that strikes me as similar to dogs marking territory with urine.

Face it, there’s a considerable difference between art for the sake of art and statuary for the sake of establishing what is “true.” Michelangelo’s David is an idealized male form. It celebrates itself. Southern cities dropping statues of Civil War “heroes” during the 1960s? That’s so-called art for the sake of societal control.

Why do we do this? The planet is filled with statuary capable of being defined or redefined into repugnance, because after all, doesn’t each triumphant victory arch ever erected have the side purpose of provoking the defeated?

Ordinary working men and women have created the planet’s wealth — and the rich folks (generally men) who exploited them get the statues. The same goes for street names; the best are simplest: Main, Market, Oak, Riverside and the like. Naming them for actual people is fraught with peril if objectivity is the aim, because those chosen are flawed by nature.

As I’ve pointed out many times, a person born in Berlin during World War I, and residing in the same building until his or her death in the mid-1990s, might have enjoyed as many as five different street addresses based on which ideology ruled at the time.

One of these days, our munificent municipal mediocrity will generously allow his fans and campaign donors to erect a statue in his honor.

And I will figure out a way to topple it.