The Breakfast Table

Keep the Dung: It’s Good Fertilizer

Dear Ted:

Your trip sounds wonderfully dangerous. Looks like you got your story. So are you going to do it up for someone? Could even be a book (you might know I’m a fan of art journalism and don’t pass up a chance to promote the idea). The Taliban is terribly important. A Taliban with nukes is even more so. Let us pray. And have a smart foreign policy. We here in the United States don’t think much about the rest of the world. As yet we don’t have much reason to think about them, except when we want to start bombing people after they rise up against the awful regimes we support (saw the film Three Kings last weekend. It makes that point beautifully).

Speaking of Taliban-type folk, that’s what we’re seeing in Mr. Giuliani here. How great for him to not only find another victim to bully but also figure out how to get all the Catholics to jump around wanting to burn something. I think it’s all right for museums to have awful art. If Rudy’s reading this, please Rudy, open up the Times “Art and Leisure” section on Sunday and look at all the cultural stuff going on that you never hear about or go to. It’s amazing, isn’t it? This, like it or not, Rudy, is a vibrant, alive, happening culture where all kinds of garbage is allowed. And bless it. We need the crap. It’s good fertilizer. Because a small percentage of anything any culture at any time winds up qualifying as good. But you need the bad stuff to keep the pipes clear. In this vast Times listing, how much contains sexuality, blasphemy, pornographic violence, vacuous, gratuitous abuse of one kind or another? A good amount. If we want museums and theaters and libraries, we have to fund them. If we want to fund them based on a vote of how much we like and don’t, then we have some work to do. Let’s start with the New York Public Library. You know there’s plenty of blasphemy there. Let’s have Cardinal O’Connor go through the books and pick out the stuff he doesn’t like and doesn’t want us to see. Perhaps we can use that percentage to cut the funding for that institution. By the way, implied in all this is, I think, the acceptance that the picture is of the Blessed Virgin Mary. I’m shocked to see Catholics all in agreement on that point. What if I took a photo of a ‘56 Buick and called that the Blessed Virgin Mary? Can we conclude that this is, to the non-museumgoing public, all about a caption?

More soon,