Abandon Hope

Posted: April 21, 2018 in Uncategorized

Auguste Rodin
The Gates of Hell (unfinished, 1917)

Through me you pass into the city of woe:
Through me you pass into eternal pain:
Through me among the people lost for aye.
Justice the founder of my fabric moved:
To rear me was the task of Power divine,
Supremest Wisdom, and primeval Love.
Before me things create were none, save things
Eternal, and eternal I endure.
All hope abandon, ye who enter here.

Robert Rauschenberg
Treasury of the Conscience of Man (1970)

Treasury of the conscience of man.
Masterworks collected, protected and
celebrated commonly. Timeless in
concept the museum amasses to
concretize a moment of pride
serving to defend the dreams
and ideal apolitically of mankind
aware and responsive to the
changes, needs and complexities
of current life while keeping
history and love alive.

  1. Collin Andersen says:

    I don’t envy the local door-to-door salesman. Also, while that poem would make for a great inscription above in Gothic letters, I content it would make for an equally good doormat.

    Through me you pass into the city of woe…

    Is that “the Thinker” as the top centerpiece? I always assumed he was pondering the mysteries of the universe, but maybe he’s regretting every life choice.
    Not sure if “unfinished” is supposed to be part of the title, but when I thought about it in that way, the “unfinished” part seemed to suggest that the reader is the finishing touch. As in, “there’s still space left, and you’ll be joining us soon.”

    • Yes. That’s the famous ‘Thinker’. It’s interesting to see how the ‘modular’ addition of the figure to the Gates of Hell puts a whole new spin on its possible meaning. In accordance with today’s discussion (which I will admit was a tough one for me), it is the scholarly attempt to establish the definitive original article, which inadvertently imposes the current moment’s unique sense of what makes something ‘authentic’. And this sensibility will always be at odds with whatever might have felt right back in the day. The more we try to excavate back to discover the original ‘aesthetic moment’, the more we craft the past into our own image. Where scholars would like to locate the “Ur-text” or “achetype,” there exists no authentic original, but rather a void around which our compulsive labors or conjecture, emendation, and revision continuously revolve.

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