Friday, January 18, 2008

The Essence Of Metaphor

Excerpt from The Bush Tragedy, a new book by Slate's Jacob Weisberg.

"In an April 1995 memo, Bush invited his staff to come to his office to look at a painting. … The picture is a Western scene of a cowboy riding up a craggy hill, with two other riders following behind him. Bush told visitors—who often noted his resemblance to the rider in front—that it was called A Charge To Keep and that it was based on his favorite Methodist hymn of that title, written in the eighteenth century by Charles Wesley. As Bush noted in the memo, which he quoted in his autobiography of the same title: "I thought I would share with you a recent bit of Texas history which epitomizes our mission. When you come into my office, please take a look at the beautiful painting of a horseman determinedly charging up what appears to be a steep and rough trail. This is us. What adds complete life to the painting for me is the message of Charles Wesley that we serve One greater than ourselves." Bush identified with the lead rider, whom he took to be a kind of Christian cowboy, an embodiment of indomitable vigor, courage, and moral clarity."


He took the painting to the white house and hung it in the oval office, pointing it out to visitors and added some stuff to his narrative:

"He came to believe that the picture depicted the circuit-riders who spread Methodism across the Alleghenies in the nineteenth century. In other words, the cowboy who looked like Bush was a missionary of his own denomination."

But the reality of his favorite painting is somewhat different:

"Only that is not the title, message, or meaning of the painting. The artist, W.H.D. Koerner, executed it to illustrate a Western short story entitled "The Slipper Tongue," published in The Saturday Evening Post in 1916. The story is about a smooth-talking horse thief who is caught, and then escapes a lynch mob in the Sand Hills of Nebraska. The illustration depicts the thief fleeing his captors. In the magazine, the illustration bears the caption: "Had His Start Been Fifteen Minutes Longer He Would Not Have Been Caught."

Title of Pantload's autobiography?



Anonymous nick z. said...

Nice post. The last part of that title becomes ironically obvious.

"A Charge to Keep that which has been stolen"

19/1/08 4:17 AM  
Blogger nolocontendere said...

Haha, with the subtitle
"the christopath to the white house.

19/1/08 5:41 AM  
Blogger spooked said...

That's an awesome find. So typically illustrative of Bush.

19/1/08 8:03 AM  
Blogger Lesley said...

That is so funny!

BTW, I hear that Bush in reality is terrified of horses. Who ever heard of a cowboy being terrified of horses? What a poser.

19/1/08 7:18 PM  

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