IX. A Dark Room

It should have been Doryphoros, the man I was thinking of—it would have made all the sense in the world if it was him—but it wasn’t. Against all logic, principles and pretty much everything I stand for, it was Barberini. It’s always Barberini

For as fun as it would be to write that I had some exotic tryst with unusually-named men, it’s really just a reference to that point in engineering when I’m sitting on the floor, arms crossed and with a very unattractive, almost desperate pout, crying for the days when I could think deeply about naked marble men and get marks for it.

And I literally mean, naked marble men—ancient Greek statuary that at one time I was expected to admire and write admirably about, in return for A’s in art history and other such classes that had no use for numbers.

If I were to rank the statue Doryphoros (or Spear Bearer) on a chili pepper scale, he’d register as fairly mild, I’d say, but a very logical choice if my mind had been on math like it was supposed to be. Inspired by Pythagoras’ idea of describing perfection through harmonic proportions, Polykleitos of Argos sculpted Doryphoros to illustrate the perfect man laid out in his Canon—one essentially based on the mathematical principles of ideal proportions, balance and symmetry. It is considered one of the dominating figures of Classical Greek art. Admittedly, though, he’s not my favorite.

pepper1Click for Doryphoros

Going from mild to mostly medium, we get Hermes and the Infant Dionysus, usually attributed to Praxiteles or his progeny from the Late Classical Period. Slender, alluring, less concerned with perfection and more with human emotion, Hermes dangles (or used to dangle, before his arm popped off) grapes in front of the baby god of wine. The mischievous god stands in a pose as if to say, “Yes, I know I’m sexy, but I’m also good with children,” which makes him my middle pepper pick.

pepper2Click for Hermes

And then there’s the spicy Sleeping Satyr, often called the Barberini Faun after the cardinal who [I’m sure had only the love of the Lord in his heart when he…] owned the statue. When seen for the first time, the Barberini Faun has the presence to make one say “Oh…hello” in a way unlike most other historical art, and yet theoretically, he’s basically bad news in a basket. For one thing, he’s a satyr, so he’s technically not even a man, meaning we’re already pushing the boundaries of the “no goats” policy. He’s also passed out drunk and stuck in a restless dream, carved in the Hellenistic period when the ideals of rationality and discipline were giving way to wild fantasy. (It’s also around this time that we get statues like the Dying Gaul and the Defeated Boxer so historically, you can almost see society’s not making very good life choices here in regard to setting life goals.) He’s also my absolute favorite.

pepper3Click for Barberini Faun

But he can be my favorite precisely because he’s a statue. His whole purpose is to be looked at, and admiring the mechanics of a man is something I’ll do gladly in the right context. If he were real I probably wouldn’t like him at all, because then the context changes entirely and he would have a lot more he should be doing with himself. I really have no interest in playing Mommy Dearest to some drunken goat in the hope he’ll turn his life around. As a statue, however, he’s definitely a spicy pepper.

I feel like it’s worth mentioning because people get wildly Hellenistic in their speculations concerning my own relationship and what I find attractive (Sugar? Dominance? Exotic tryst? Freudian fetish? Are you a home wrecker? Or a prostitute? Throwing your life away with reckless abandon? Why/how for 8+ years? Is it Stockholm syndrome?), and it gets really tiring. It’s especially disturbing to me that those things are so many people’s go-to responses for defining the context of desire in a relationship. Yes, those things could be interesting to imagine or write about like the faun was probably fun to carve, but that’s not the reality of my life.

If I were to think of a relationship in the context of art, I’d say I much prefer the process of developing film and fixing negatives, long after the drama of acquiring the image. That, to me, is when things start to get sexy. When the door to the developing room closes and the room goes dark, not even the faun can compare.

Next Post: Sparks Flying