Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Photo of the Day: Summer’s Next Supervillain?

Well, not exactly—though given recent trends, Hollywood will surely, at some point or other, consider him for a future blockbuster. This is actually one of a series of artworks in the Puffin Sculpture Park, in the parking lot behind the Puffin Cultural Forum in Teaneck, N.J., not far from where I live. This particular fellow is known as the “Warrior of Cadmus.”

Cadmus, if you’d really like to know, was, according to Greek mythology, a Phoenician prince who killed a dragon, then sowed its teeth. (Why he did that, I dunno. Stop with the hard questions, willya?) 

Anyway, what happens but that, instead of only one dragon, there’s now a whole slew of warriors that spring up all the earth, all loaded for bear and ready to kill him (like this fellow), and they set off clattering  and making the most unholy disturbance you’ve ever seen. Someone tells Cadmus that the best thing he can do if he wants to live is throw a precious stone among them, and with no other useful ideas at hand he figures why not? All of a sudden, they’re so anxious to grab that stone that they begin killing each other, until there are only five left, and these survivors help Cadmus build Thebes.

Ever since, “sowing dragon’s teeth” has come to mean the law of unintended consequences in matters of war and peace, applied to such situations as Germany’s seizure of Alsace-Lorraine from France in 1871, the punitive peace of the Allies against Germany after WWI—and, more recently, the Iraq War.

I wish I had written it down so I could tell you the sculptor's name, but now you have an excuse to go to the park and find out for yourself. When you’re done checking out this and the other outdoor artworks, you walk behind them into the Teaneck Creek Conservancy. I’d call it a nice way to kill an hour or so, except that this warrior fellow here looks like he has the “killing” part well in hand, thank you very much.

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