Hey folks. I’m out of town all day today (again actually) and so no more posts until this evening. I look forward to seeing you then. But until then:
On this day in 1898, the great surrealist painter Rene Magritte was born. Over the years I’ve really become fascinated by him. Paintings like The Human Condition that put together the nature of reality with the nature of art never seem to lose their interest. Sadly, most people just remember him as the guy who paints hats and green apples. He did not become popular until later in his life. Most of his life he spent working other jobs. These included art forgery and currency counterfeiting. A man’s gotta eat! Anyway, in the 1960s he did finally break through in a big way, but nothing like what happened after his death in 1967.
Other birthdays: baseball player Stan Musial (1920); actor Marlo Thomas (76); comedy writer Harold Ramis (69); actor Goldie Hawn (68); businessman George Zimmer (65); and actor Nicollette Sheridan (50).
The day, however, belongs to the great enlightenment philosopher Voltaire who was born on this day in 1694. The great thing about him is that his thinking evolved over time—becoming more liberal. Unfortunately, it also means that people can generally use him to justify pretty much anything they want to believe. What I find most interesting about him is that he has become a big deal to a lot of modern conservatives. The funny thing about conservatives is that they love to grab onto liberals of the past. The idea seems to be that of course they would have been liberal back then but now things have just gone too far. More than anything else, it’s just silly. The very definition of a conservative is someone who thinks the liberals of previous generations were right. A conservative is always behind the curve of history. All they can see is the past. The only future they can see is a straight one where nothing changes. If today’s conservatives were around during Voltaire’s time, they would have been apoplectic about the thought of religious freedom or democracy. Hell, many conservatives today are against those things. Leave Voltaire to the liberals who are the only ones who deserve him!
Happy birthday Voltaire!