fool some of the people

Artists on the snooze of reason

What's the nation's current mess mean? We asked a few literary and artistic experts. You might be surprised.

THE PAST FEW DAYS HAVE BEEN FILLED WITH NEWS BOTH ANTICIPATED AND SHOCKING, news that’s had the airwaves, opinion columns, and social-media sites chattering with outrage and occasional glee. As the man who could saunter down Fifth Avenue with a smoking gun in his hand has been set free to frolic once again in the Florida sun, the whole disaster’s kept our political commentators and cultural prognosticators hopping, trying to figure out everything from the strategy to the morality to the long-range meaning of it all. Is the sky falling? Could the small folkloric chicken have been right?

To get a fresh perspective on the whole nasty business, we asked a few arts observers whose insights we admire to comment on the proceedings. Our French correspondent, Honoré Daumier, responded with an illustration of the actual trial proceedings, in which the legal team made its impassioned argument while the judges/jurors listened with keen attention, eager to sift through every piece of evidence in order to arrive at an honest and well-reasoned verdict. In M. Daumier’s penstrokes you can see their ardor and determination in the alert postures and earnest facial expressions they present for the world to see. Truly, a model of the judicial system at work!

Honoré Daumier, “- Yes, they would plunder this orphan, whom I cannot necessarily describe as being young, since he is fifty-seven years old, but it is no less an orphan… yet ….. I am, reassured knowing that justice always keeps an open eye on all guilty manoeuvers….,” plate 11 from “Les Gens De Justice,” 1845, lithograph in black on white wove paper, John H. Wrenn Memorial Collection, Chicago Istitute of Art