Saturday, March 13, 2010

"Piss Christ"

It takes a delicate touch to keep God from becoming problematic. The truth is that God is an amalgam of Eros and Thanatos, which melt together to give life the creative force that is anathema to the corporate state. God can only be brought into politics if we emphasize Thanatos and force Eros into the background where it will hopefully wither and die. This is why the theocratic right has corrupted the pro-life movement by unleashing a rage that shoots doctors and bombs abortion clinics instead of affirming a compassionate ethic of life and empathy. Violence is more easily exploited than compassion; the negative attracts more attention than the positive.

Here is an an example of how we serve God by destroying Him. In 1989, the photographer/artist Andres Serrano put on display a photograph titled Piss Christ. It showed a crucifix suspended in a gallon container of the artist’s urine.

The religious right went bonkers. They had to attack the work because Serrano had done nothing less than produce a deeply profound work of religious art that opened up to the viewers a deeper understanding of the wholeness and unity of God’s creation. The religious right couldn’t allow this to happen. Here was Eros trying to kick the door down. They had to barricade it.

Piss is a victim of bad press. We hide it in our toilets and pretend it doesn’t exist by never mentioning it in polite society. And this is as it must be, for the truth of the matter is that piss is a life-sustaining fluid. Piss nurtures life by flushing toxins out of our system. It is an integral part of God’s creation.

And this was the problem with Serrano’s Piss Christ. The crucifix was suspended in a life-sustaining fluid. The last thing the right wanted was a public popping a bunch of epiphanies in which they saw the all-embracing nature of God’s creation in which even the ugly and despised are as important to life as the beautiful and the sublime. For in piss, Thanatos and Eros are a unified whole.

The religious right’s strength is the belief that God’s creation is selective. The belief that it is all embracing is a heresy that must be suppressed. As always, God rides into politics on the Devil’s back.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Case. Just read about the crucifix in piss. I remember that, and I agree people get upset about things that don't matter and then bring more attention to what they don't like thereby giving it more press than it ever would have received by itself. The media of course feeds this so they have something to write about.

    i get what you are saying about piss as a life giving fluid. I mean piss and crap are both very necessary functions created by God is one believes in the Hebrew/Christian creation narrative. To think though that piss or crap are the metaphorical equivalents to good is a stretch. This is the chance the artist takes of course. Most artists work is not understood because it requires the observer to think beyond the norms of their culture. Most of us have no desire to do that. Add to that the fact that piss is not "normally" thought of in a good way and the cross is so the mixture of the two for many is sickening.
    I won't say more for fear that my comment would be longer than your article.