By MICHAEL ELIA
This rather striking piece of sculpture is “The Peace Monument”
It was commissioned after the Civil War by the Secretary of the Navy. It was intended for the Naval Academy at Annapolis. It was not called “the Peace Monument” either.
It has a most remarkable story.
It is “unfinished” and has never been formally dedicated.
It is said to be “unloved”
Well….geez…I wonder why. Perhaps it is in its formal description by the Architect of the Capitol.
Two classically robed women: “Grief (America) weeping on the shoulder of History”
I (f’ing) kid you not…
Where is this piece (before going on)?
It stands at the foot of the Capitol (Hill) at the end of Pennsylvania Ave, which avenue connects the White House to the Capitol. (So, the marchers/protestors, etc. on 1/6, marched from the Ellipse in front of the White House, down Pennsylvania Avenue, to the Capitol, passing …..this piece, called …..”Peace”
Beneath the iconic female figures—a woman, designated “Grief (America)”…..weeping…..on the shoulder of ….History”
….”As God is my witness” (from the film, “Gone with the Wind”)
“History” holds a tablet. This is for the names of those who have “given their lives for their country” The inscription beneath them reads, verbatim, “They gave their lives so their country might live”
Beneath these two is another classically robed female figure, “Victory,” who holds outstretched a Laurel Wreath.
At her feet are two “Cherubs”: One is Mars, the Other is Neptune. Little Mars, holds a sword; little Neptune holds a trident.
Remembering this was originally intended for the Naval Academy at Annapolis, Mars represents the MARines, and Neptune, the Navy, or more generally, War and the Sea (i.e. naval warfare) and meant to memorialize those who fought for the Navy/Marines in the Civil War….
But the piece got re-directed from Annapolis to the Capitol and the designer was told to add another figure at the back of the work, another female figure, named Peace. She faces the Capitol, as Grief (America) and History face west toward the White House. The figure Peace (whence the Monument’s name) is half naked, robed from the waist down, bare breasted. She holds an olive branch. At her feet, on one side, are a collection of instruments, representing “Industry” and on the other side (at her left foot), sheaves of grain, representing Agriculture. In the original design notes, there is supposed to be a dove alight on the sheaves of grain, but that has never been done. Also, one of the Cherub’s arms is missing and never been replaced/repaired. In addition, all of the faces of the figures show significant weathering degradation of the marble, which was supposed to be Carrara marble (as this was crafted in Rome, Italy) but maybe not….a bad “patch job” is seen especially on the face of History. All of the women figures show “bandaid” repairs…..
But I am fascinated—despite all that—on the two Cherubs, Mars and Neptune.
Mars and Neptune in the U.S. natal chart are square. Neptune, in Virgo, is at the top of the U.S Chart, in the Ninth House, the most “elevated” planet in the natal chart. Mars, in Gemini, is in the 7th House.I know you have an interesting take on the feature in the U.S. psyche, which is our capacity for self (Mars) delusion (Neptune). So,
We invent our enemies. (And we are they). Helier Skelter. Stepping out of 10-story windows, thinking/believing we can fly….
In the most positive way, Americans excel at highly creative narratives, which, as entertainment, are unexcelled in the world.
So for example, there is a line in Guilliani’s speech on 1/6/21 where he uses the phrase “trial by combat.” As many noted, because it is so well known, this is from “Game of Thrones”—the most popular TV series in American history. It is a fantasy story, of course, but riveting to many millions of viewers worldwide.
You get the idea. No need to belabor the obvious, “stories as old as rhyme.”
Anyway…..In the Peace Monument, Mars and Neptune are conjunct (ie. Sitting next to each other astride Victory’s feet.)
This is, to my reading, and from one of the most classic pieces of American horror storytelling, “When a Stranger Calls.”
Climactically, the Heroine (who emerges Victorious) realizes that the menacing “Call” IS COMING FROM INSIDE THE HOUSE…..
It is stand out, hair-raising classic cinematic terror—domestic terror on steroids, albeit in a dark theatre—wrapped in the moment of your mind…..
We “love” this, when it is unreal, to faux terrorize ourselves……
But then too, we sometimes cannot tell the difference…..(if there really is one) to you point about the digital….