I just acquired this lovely carving


I saw this carving by a local carver with my brother and one of my best friends in an eclectic shop. I was enthralled with it and kept thinking about it for days, so I returned and picked it up. That the cataclysmic civil war subject matter always intrigues me wasn’t what kept me thinking about it; it was the posture of the confederate soldier, the missing star on the rebel flag that evokes something meaningful, a sad wisdom about human frailty. I don’t know. I wonder if there is a sympathetic connection between the British empire loyalists and the confederates because they’re both losers- Like Al Purdy said, the country around Belleville is a land of defeat because the Loyalists settled here after they lost the Revolutionary war, and both fought a lost cause that was tied to tradition and honour and duty, but also a government and social system that was deeply stained with brutal oppression (though I think many of the loyalist and confederate fighters were probably just fighting for their homes- many poor, barefooted confederate soldiers didn’t own slaves or think much about politics but ended up in a war on their front porches). 

The carving really seems to be another moving example of the Dying Gaul, one of the first examples I can think of in art where the loser is beautiful and the pathos is powerful. It’s a paradoxical mix of human strength and weakness. Leonard Cohen had some very wise things to say about that kind of thing.

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