Swan Lake

For an image of the huge “Swan Lake” painting (1.3 x 2.9 metres) see: http://www.flickr.com/photos/gideonpolya/4291171221/ .

"Swan Lake" painting. Fear, Greed, Lying & Values, Biosphere & Market Collapse

Gideon Polya, “Swan Lake” (based on Tchaikowsky’s famous ballet score). My article is entitled ”Swan Lake” Painting. Fear, Greed, Lying & Values, Biosphere & Market Collapse”, MWC News, 10 October 2008.

For an image of the huge “Swan Lake” painting see: http://www.flickr.com/photos/gideonpolya/4291171221/ .


“Swan Lake” Painting. Fear, Greed, Lying & Values, Biosphere & Market Collapse”


Everyone is familiar with the gorgeous Tchaikowsky score for the ballet “Swan Lake” that represents a pinnacle of the 19th century European Romantic musical tradition. I have painted a huge painting to tell the story of Swan Lake. In turn I am going to use the painting to illustrate the tragic perversion of Man’s intentions that mimic the tragic story of the ballet.


The story of the classic ballet is told in 4 Acts. In the First Act Prince Siegfried dances at the Court with beautiful princesses and is expected to make a choice for marriage. In Act 2 the Prince flees to the forest, upset because he cannot marry for love. Hunting for swans he encounters Odette who has been transformed into a swan by the evil sorcerer von Rothbart, as have her fellow swan-maidens. Siegfried is moved by her story and falls for Odette. In Act 3 Siegfried returns to the Palace and encounters von Rothbart’s black-clad daughter Odile who he mistakes for Odette in declaring that she will be his wife. In the final Act 4, the Prince realizes the deception and his mistake, returns to the Lake and he and Odette commit suicide by leaping into the Lake. This act breaks von Rothbart’s power and he also dies. The curse is lifted and the world can hopefully recover and renew.


My huge painting (1.3 metres x 2.9 metres) was painted on specially doubly-primed, quality canvas in acrylics. The complex geometry underlying the painting is a fusion of pure geometrical medieval Islamic Art patterns (as employed in the Moorish Spanish Alhambra, mathematically defined by mathematician George Polya, and utilized by Dutch lithographer M.C. Escher) and the Fibonacci Sequence-based Golden Rectangle (Da Vinci Code) geometries (used by the Ancient Greeks and Ancient Egyptians and which have been widely exploited by painters since the time of the Italian Renaissance). This mixture, plus figurative elements, generates a complexitiy reminiscent of paintings by post-war abstract expressionist Jackson Pollock. The beautiful Idea underlying this cultural admixture is that if diverse cultures can co-exist within the 2 dimensions of the canvas, then why not outside the canvas?


Peace is the only way and this type of contribution called PEACE (for Pólya, Escher, Alhambra Cultural Ecumenism )  through ART is one of many possible ways to increase empathy for the Other that underscores amity and understanding between human beings. I have previously painted a series of huge paintings as part of this commitment to Art for Peace, and for respect for Woman and for Mother and Child (for detailed discussion see “Isfahan Matisse” Painting. Art for Peace and Iran-West Amity”: http://mwcnews.net/content/view/14417/26/ ).  All of these huge paintings have been published on MWC News and an updated series of links to these works is available on the Web via an essay entitled “Truth, Beauty & Saving the World. Science, Art & nuclear, greenhouse & poverty threats”: http://blog.360.yahoo.com/blog-NvVV9NY2cqLwKJxdb8JAymVZRA--?cq=1&p=1 .


The “Swan Lake” painting involves 2 Golden Rectangles, each involving 2 intersecting Circles that encompass the 4 Acts of the Ballet. Reading Left Hand Side to Right Hand Side  (LHS to RHS), in Act 1 the Prince (in a suitably royal purple costume) dances with the maroon-clad princesses at the Court. At the far left we see the green-clad von Rothbart and the bewitched, white-clad swan-maiden Odette. In Act 2 the Prince dances in the Forest with white-clad Odette and her fellow swan-maidens (floating and flying white swans complement the swan-maidens). In Act 3 the Prince dances with the wicked, black-clad Odile back at the Court. In the final Act 4 the Prince returns to the Forest and plunges despairingly into the Lake with his beloved Odette. The despair of Odette and indeed of von Rothbart is evident. The ballet-painting concludes Bottom Left with the dying swan-maiden Odette  gracefully expiring on a dried up Lake bed.


There is, of course, more to this than mere thwarted love. Man is represented by the Prince who searches not just for a Life Partner but for Solutions to Risk Management problems – how to deal with life and minimize risk. However political realities intervene and he must make compromises. He flees to the solitude of the Forest and finds Truth and Beauty through introspection.  However the Prince must eventually return to the Real World and is diverted from his True Path by the pragmatism, greed and deceit of Society (specifically by Odile and the Sorcerer). Pressured to make a choice the Prince makes the wrong choice. Realizing that he has been mistaken, the Prince reunites with Truth and Beauty – Odette - but it is futile and Goodness, Truth and Beauty perish. But the evil Sorcerer also perishes and out of the dried Lake bed will spring new life.  Perhaps new Princes will learn from History and not repeat the mistakes of Prince Siegfried.


This interpretation can be applied to a number of Big Picture human endeavours. Fundamentally, our intelligence has evolved to deal with Risk (see Richard Dawkins’ “The Selfish Gene”) but we have become too smart for our own good. Non-genetically transmitted Ideas (called “Memes”) can override behavioural priming from DNA-composed, mutable, selectable and physically transmissible Genes –and this over-riding can be for Good or Evil. While his more primitive mammalian relatives such as wolves will offer their necks in submission to a merciful Victor (read Nobel Laureate ethologist  Konrad Lorenz’s masterpiece “On Aggression”), Man will knowingly and deliberately incinerate 100,000 innocents of Hiroshima and then, several days later, incinerate a further 100,000 innocents at Nagasaki.


Jewish people have suffered several millennia of persecution (mainly in the Christian world) but sensible risk management lead to sensible systemic adaptations. Jews left areas of severe persecution and entered into economic niches (e.g. lending money and akin investment in jewellery) made available by the anti-usury edicts of the other Abrahamic religions of Christianity and Islam. A powerful adaptation was the notion of the Kingdom of the Mind – a beautiful spiritual kingdom requiring no empires and armies for its protection. With the Enlightenment and the opening of the ghettoes in the 19th centuries came Assimilation and Universalism. Unfortunately, in the late 19th century a number of thoughtless, ignorant  and secular Jews turned their backs on this 2 millennium Kingdom of the Mind and saw security in copying the European Nation State and racist Colonial model. The Zionists thus turned their back not just on the Kingdom of the Mind and nascent, anti-racist Universalism but also on orthodox Jewish theology that for 2 millennia had said that return to Zion (Jerusalem) could only occur after the Moschiach (the Messiah) revealed the Glory of Adonai (the Lord) to all the World. The outcome has been the race-based invasion, occupation, devastation and ethnic cleansing of Palestine. The Occupied Palestinian Territories has been converted into a Bantustan-style, military-guarded  Prison in the view of outstanding anti-racist Jewish leaders and scholars such as Ronnie Kasrils (South Africa) and Professor Noam Chomsky (MIT, USA). Post-invasion excess deaths in the Occupied Palestinian Territory total 0.3 million, post-invasion under-5 infant deaths total 0.2 million and there are 7 million Palestinian refugees, these constituting the largest single component of the world refugee population.


The horrendous, continuing injustice of racist Zionism  has been sustained by huge US investment (about $3 trillion) and has been accompanied by sustained, fanatical and virulent Zionist lying in the West with a consequent appalling collapse in hard-won Memes or Values. Thus, while colonialism was finally rejected as racist in the West by the 1960s, anti-universalist, differentialist, exceptionalist,  pro-Zionist propaganda (especially from the late 1960s  onwards in particular) defied UN Security Council Resolution 252 for Apartheid Israel to quit the Occupied Palestinian Territory and in effect said that invasion, occupation, devastation and colonization of foreign countries was OK if done by the State of Israel or the US. The inevitable consequences of this suspension of decency and reason have been the Bush Wars that have been associated so far with 9-11 million avoidable deaths in the period 1990-2008 (see “9-11 excuse for US global genocide. The real 9-11 atrocity – millions dead in Bush Wars” on  MWC News: http://mwcnews.net/content/view/25184/42/ ).


“Zero tolerance for racism” and “never again to anyone” are the core messages from the World War 2 Jewish Holocaust (6 million dead, 1 in 6 dying from deprivation), the World War 2 Western Theatre Holocaust in general (30 million Slav, Jewish and Roma dead) and the World War 2 Eastern Theatre Holocausts (35 million Chinese dead under Japanese occupation in 1937-1945 and 6-7 million Indians starved to death by the British in India in 1943-1945). These core injunctions are adhered to rigorously by decent people but are grossly violated by the racist Zionists and the neocons, Bush-ites and neo-Bush-ites involved in the Bush War on Terror that is in reality a War for Oil and Hegemony, a War on Women and Children and, more specifically, in horrible reality a War on Arab, Muslim, Asian and non-European Women and Children. Exaggerated “fear” and “terror hysteria” are still  offered as the key justifications for the Bush Wars (9-11 million avoidable deaths in 1990-2008) – yet in comparison 7,000 Westerners have been murdered by Muslim-origin non-state terrorism in the last 40 years (this figure including Israelis and ignoring evidence that the US and Israel were complicit in the 9-11 atrocity that killed 3,000 Americans) (see MWC News: http://mwcnews.net/content/view/23294/42/ ).


The suspension of decency, reason and rational risk management in the Western Murdochracies has now led to an economic catastrophe. According to the 2001 Economics Nobel laureate Professor Joseph Stiglitz (Columbia University), the $3 trillion accrual cost of the Iraq war alone has “bankrupted” America. Decades of neocon greed, deregulation and foreign borrowing-based war have finally culminated in the Wall Street crash and global financial meltdown. The sensible risk avoidance mechanisms that Man has acquired through Genes and Memes have been perverted through lack of regulation, public feedback and public honesty. Rather than economies of “needs” we have greed-based economies of “desires”. It is insufficient to be millionaires, now Americans must aspire to be billionaires. Outstanding, anti-racist, humanitarian Jewish Israeli writer Gilad Atzmon has joined with other outstanding anti-racist Jewish thinkers in condemning the greed, exceptionalism and dishonesty that has led us to this pass, and in particular is concerned for fellow Jews, QUOTE: “Furthermore, the current economic disaster endangers the security of millions of Western Jews who have really nothing to do with global economy, banking and global Zionism. It would be devastating to see innocent Jews being implicated collectively by the crimes committed by a very few tribal nationalist enthusiasts.” (see: http://mwcnews.net/content/view/25599/26/1/1/ ).


However the departure from Decency and Reason and  from Truth and Beauty driven by fear and greed of the Zionists and neocons is set to have consequences far more dire than the 9-11 million avoidable deaths of the Bush Wars or the global financial meltdown. Industrial profligacy, driven by greed and enabled by entrenched racism (albeit often “politically correct racism or PC racism) and public dishonesty (lying by commission, lying by omission by the media of the Western Murdochracies), is threatening the very biosphere. The Planet is facing a Climate Emergency and a Sustainability Emergency (for details see the Climate Emergency Fact Sheets of the Yarra Valley Climate Action Group: http://sites.google.com/site/yarravalleyclimateactiongroup/Home ). Top US climate scientist Dr James Hansen (head of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies, New York) says that with mass species extinctions and the melting of the Arctic the atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2)  concentration is dangerous at the current level of 390 parts per million (ppm) and must be urgently reduced to no more than 350 ppm.  


There is no clear evidence that the World is moving significantly in this non-carbon power direction except in China, California and parts of Western Europe. Optimism says that science, technology and rational business will enable a cross-over point between the cost of renewable or other non-fossil fuel-based power and fossil fuel-based power in only a few years, and that the world and what is left of the biosphere can be saved. But the entrenched LYING in the United States of America (aka the Zionist-dominated United States of Israel) and in the other Western Murdochracies make a pessimistic outlook more realistic. 16 million people already die avoidably every year from deprivation and this is being increasingly impacted by climate change. Top UK climate scientist Dr James Lovelock FRS says that billions are currently threatened and that over 6 billion people will die this century due to unaddressed climate change.


Odette is dying, the Lake is drying up, the Prince is doomed, and even the Sorcerer is dying. Truth and Beauty are wounded. One is reminded of Shelley’s poem “Ozymandias”:


I met a traveller from an antique land,
Who said--"Two vast and trunkless legs of stone  

Stand in the desert....Near them, on the sand,  

Half sunk a shattered visage lies, whose frown,

And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command,  

Tell that its sculptor well those passions read  

Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,  

The hand that mocked them, and the heart that fed;  

And on the pedestal, these words appear:

My name is Ozymandias, King of Kings,  

Look on my Works, ye Mighty, and despair!  

Nothing beside remains. Round the decay  

Of that colossal Wreck, boundless and bare  

 The lone and level sands stretch far away."


Yet we must have hope that Humanity will learn from its mistakes – and that means respect for Truth and Reason and indeed love for Truth and Beauty. In addition to the World War 2 Holocaust injunctions of “zero tolerance for racism” and “never again to anyone” we must insist on “zero tolerance for lying”.