Head

Preclassical Greek art is located at the bottom floor of the Denon wing in the Louvre. It’s a place to have a little rest and to try to figure out ways of explaining why Modernist sculpture looks like ancient sculpture. One of the things I specifically wanted to see was this head I once saw on the cover of a book:

Source: Wikipedia

I never could figure out the reasons behind the link between modernity and the ancients, but I did manage to get quite depressed looking at this piece. What I usually do in these situations is turn depressive things into something slightly mysterious and/or noble, give them a veneer that speaks of emotional depth and try to make everybody feel good about themselves for realizing this valuable quality hidden behind the thing in question. But here I think I’ve met my match. It’s really no use trying.

It’s a head of a female idol from the Cycladic civilization and it’s dated 2700-2300 BC. It was probably attached to a body something like this one before it got decapitated:

Source: Wikipedia

The date would make it early Bronze Age, when life sucked really hard. It looks like there might have been some paint on it, but we can’t be sure. It’s actually quite thin. Looking at it from the front you might think it has much more depth, but it’s pretty flat. That takes most of the edge out of it, but from the front it remains intimidating.

Mitch Hedberg used to tell a joke where he said that no matter how good you are at tennis, you’ll never be better than a wall. That’s the exact same thing that’s going on here with this idol, except it’s a staring contest, not a tennis match. This thing has been at it for thousands of years and hasn’t lost once. For all intents and purposes, it is immortal.

Source: Wikipedia

Who knows how many thousands or hundreds of thousands or even millions of people it has stared down during its existence. I’m not going to be one of its little toys, however. I’m not going to play this game anymore.

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