Saturday, December 03, 2005

The Art of War

More Dispatches from the Public Library Front
We have an exit strategy for Operation Enduring Disbelief, er, Freedom, thanks to this Enoch Pratt Free Library patron. Following is a verbatim recounting of a reference query received by a co-worker I'll call Librarian 1 at Baltimore's finest bibliographic resource center. He received this call from a regular we will call Patriotic Patron of the Arts. It concerned a painting, an object so dynamic that it could mesmerize all who looked upon it, much as Dostoyevsky was transfixed by Holbein's The Body of Christ in the Tomb. And like the Holy Grail or the Ark of the Covenant, gazing upon this mystical inanimate object could change the very course of human history. Could it be the classic post-modern masterpiece, Bigfoot Meets UFO (pictured above left)? We'll have to wait until the next call to confirm. In the interim, here is the full dispatch from the reference trenches at Pratt Central:

Patriotic Patron of the Arts:
"…ah, hello. Is this the library? Well, I’m needing information on…well, you know here in America we have IQs and I was wondering if you have any information on the IQs of the Iraqis. You see, I have this report that I need to give the Army. The Army laughs at me, but those people are killing our boys. I have to, you see, there needs to be recognition that the Iraqis are - are they dumber than the United States? Anyway, you see where I’m going with this?"

[Of course. Isn't it obvious?]

Patron:
"Today, 10 troops died and it didn’t even make it into the morning papers. I have to get this information into my report. I have a painting, you see. This painting is…you know, not Picasso because they wouldn’t even know who Picasso is…but this painting can’t be emotional like the “blue period.” Have you heard of Mark Rothko? Well, my painting has four colors and I can’t tell you or let them know exactly what’s behind the painting. I need to get this painting into the house of every Iraqi. In fact, you should have it in your house, you see…there’s four colors. Am I getting through to you?"

[Of course. Isn't it obvious?]

Patriotic Patron of the Arts:
"Let me tell you why. With all this religious crap—I mean, don’t get me wrong, I love religion and that’s just what’s in these paintings. The Iraqis are dumber than the western world, are they? Do you know what’s on their walls? Nothing! It’s dark in there and these paintings will bring light, as well, and leave our boys alone."

Upon hearing Librarian 1 recount his tale, Librarian 2 commented, "I've talked to this guy before, I think. He told me that he wanted to give paintings to every soldier in Iraq to boost their morale." Librarian 2 then recalled this previous phone call to the library:

Patriotic Patron of the Arts:
"Once the Army sees this painting, they're going to want to give a copy to every soldier. And they can duplicate like ten thousand copies in one day. I have no idea how that's done but the Army has the technology to do it... they have to, right?"

[Of course. Isn't it obvious?]

Librarian 2 added, "He was the guy who wanted me to give him direct contact info to the Army because every time he called one of the numbers they make easily publically available, they never get back to him about his idea."

It's a shame that the pre-war planning for Iraq didn't tale into account the obvious importance of oil-on-canvas. Oh sure, we thought about safeguarding the natural oil bubbling up under the desert sands, but didn't appreciate the shock-and-awl value of the painted variety. I'm sure that had the patron gotten through to the man at the top, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, Rummy would have no doubt agreed that "Ars longa vitas brevis." Isn't it obvious?

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