Sentimental Journey


Came across this painting dropped into a discussion thread at Radix Journal.  I saw so many things in it at once I could not put them to words or even clear thoughts. I smiled instead. Perhaps this is what an epiphany is; multiple simultaneous insights coming faster than syntax can posses them.

I want to learn the art of the short post, so will not go on as I could about this painting and how much it means to me. Sufficient to say this image portrays something primordially sacred. It speaks of course of America, and European expansion across that great landscape. But if this alone, then the paining’s no doubt numerous detractors would be right (in a way); it would be merely sentimental—romantic.[A] It is of course both, and we on the Right side of things are granted the luxury to drink from both of these cups. Rejuvenating elixir forbidden the disciples of nihilistic materialism. To us there is never mere sentimentalism. Sure there are trite forms, but this cheapness is to be found in the soul of the receiver not in the object received. Moving deeper into the profundity of the sentimental allure of this image we are confronted with the  the metaphysical truths the object is portal, both to and from.

We are prompted to think of this as Mary and Jesus on the horse. The iconography obviously predates the Christmas story, and the Madonna and Child in this frontier context shows just how primordial this generative nexus is in European society. It would be easier to travel without the woman and child. They are a burden. But this is only true in the immediate. In truth they are the reason for the trip and the prompt for the vigilance, the cause for the merciless shots that will be fired at savages thieves or beasts. We see in the many subtleties of this work the natural relationship between men and women, the very heart of our continued becoming. This relationship becomes obvious under times of distress such as we see with this company traversing from known to unknown habitation.

We are a generation that has spent a long time at ease in known habitation. The necessities, the primordial  narrative of Wyeth’s company is not conscious today. If so it is deliberately denied or derided. But this is hatred of our very being. How can a people despise the underlying truth of their becoming and survive? We would say, naturally, they cannot. And so, to survive, we must traverse wilderness in search of a new homeland. but our nomadic saga will be different than our frontier ancestors represented by Clan Boone here. There is no place to go that is not already settled. Our wilderness must be found in projecting ourselves toward a hoped-for but unrealized political landscape. A social order that only knows a place in our hearts and minds and, seminally, in our families. More than this though, a social order that is founded on the natural order; the metaphysical, yea, meta-social will we see projecting from that swaddled child through the mother beholding him carried upon the horse guided and protected by the vigilant men at the perimeter. Each has a reason and a place. None act for private interest. Together they are what we always are—our ever becoming.

[A] This painting was an advertisement for The Home Insurance Co. in 1940. This speaks to the state of art in the 20th century. We might be tempted to see it then as deception intended to make people associate the primal need of frontier men and women for shelter with the safety of a coddled bureaucratized world. And we might be right. Better. if we look at the rest of NC Wyeth’s work, we see a man with a very traditional sense of the romantic, sentimental and heroic working in an age of the rejection of these very values. I is good his considerable talent and intuitive connection with the underlying truths of our folk had a platform.


Image: NC Wyeth (Bio and Work)

Daniel Boone, The Home Seeker, Cumberland Valley; The Home Insurance Company Advertisement.




5 thoughts on “Sentimental Journey

  1. This actually happened in the early 1800s. Lewis and Clarke and their men, on the first Euro-American expedition of discovery across the continent, were accompanied by a young Shoshone woman, Sagacawea, and her newborn baby, Jean-Baptiste. The mission was long and very dangerous, but Sagacawea did not need their protection as much as they needed hers. She guided and fed them on native forage, and treated their wounds and illnesses with medicinal plants (they nearly killed her with theirs). This adds a whole new level of Christian analogy to this beautiful painting… a native, captive, forgiving, generous madonna.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Very nicely written. You definitely have a talent for the poetic. The root symbolism of the painting is clear to anyone open to seeing anything other than ‘Patriarchal oppression’.


    1. Thanks. It is a cover for shoddy academic carefulness. I would be curious to know how intentional the Madonna and Child imagery was. I looks so clear to me. If she were in all blue that would be too obvious I suppose.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s