Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Interesting illustration

A few minutes ago, in the recently-created French news website called Rue89 [a curious blend of the word for "street" and the year of the French Revolution], I accessed an article concerning the disturbing demand made by the German minister of Culture in the Hesse Land to include so-called "intelligent design" themes in high-school biology courses. I was intrigued to discover that the article is illustrated by an image that appears to have no connection whatsoever with what is related in the article. [Click here to display the article.]

I suspect that a prankster has found a way of hacking the Rue89 server. This doesn't surprise me, because I was struck by the technical naivety of the folk behind the Rue89 project [redundant journalists from Libération] when they described publicly the structure of their future website, shortly before it was launched. I remember saying to myself that it was inevitable they would get screwed in one way or another.

It's quite possible that my interpretation of the situation is totally off the mark. Perhaps the author of the article, a certain Pierre Rouchaléou, actually chose this image to illustrate his account of the conflict between serious science and the so-called "creationist" movement, whose members believe that Genesis provides a factual description of the creation of the universe and living creatures. After all, if you were seeking a striking image that is intimately connected with the creation of human life, it's harder to imagine a better choice than a close-up of a hairy vagina. In any case, it's a perfect strategy for luring people (like me) into reading attentively every word of the article. Maybe it's an image of Eve stretched out under an apple tree in the Garden of Eden.

My guess, though, is that it's a prank. Maybe the prankster is using this image to point out that he regards the minister of Culture in the Hesse Land as a [expletive linked to female genitals]. If I find further information concerning the use of this image, I'll include it immediately in my blog. After all, the article and the image seem to form a truly antipodean duo.

Last-minute news: Mea culpa! Straight after publishing the present post, it took me a few minutes to discover that I'm an ignorant philistine. The huge closeup image is a well-known painting (well-known, that is, to everybody except me) by Gustave Courbet [1819-1877] entitled The Origin of the World, which hangs in the Orsay Museum in Paris. So, it's an appropriate, if not ideal, illustration for the article, in that this image and its title should be acceptable for both scientists and Genesis nuts.


  1. A little anecdote related to this painting:

    it has had several owners, one being Jacques Lacan, the famous French psychoanalyst. His wife (ex-wife of George Bataille, the writer) thought that it should be hidden because the neighbours, or patients and particularly the cleaning women wouldn't understand it. So she asked her brother-in-law, who happened to be André Masson, to paint a landscape that was then hung in front of Courbet's painting.

    Only certain close friends of Lacan were allowed to see it from time to time.

  2. It's amusing to see that psychoanalysis is associated with the image of practitioners who've made so much money that they can invest in naughty paintings, only to find themselves obliged, by a bourgeoise spouse, to hide this art from view so that visitors won't be offended.

    In the psychoanalytic domain, today's strip at http://www.dilbert.com is delightful. Alice is a brilliant engineer whose only weakness is her obsessive desire to punch idiots in the face. Hearing this, her charming psychoanalyst is starting to get worried...