Posted by pancho from ? (220.127.116.11) on Friday, March 22, 2002 at 10:04AM :
...the more convinced I am that this entire experience surrounding the making of the monuments represents some sort of watershed for us in the modern era. If we had any history of investigative reporting or true journalism or literacy even, someone else would be probing this thing, not me. But since you have to be a walking Brass Band to get anything done among us...playing every instrument yourself, with a broom stuck up your arse to clean up as you go along...I'll have to do this part myself as well.
Stand back...far back, or imagine yourself hovering above the earth from another planet entriely watching this thing play out.
You have a guy who sets out for New York to study his beloved European Masters and follow in the footsteps of all the artists who go to that city. At the Metropolitan he sees his own Assyrian Art for the first time in his life and forgets about everything else. He spends years copying and learning how to make bronze sculpture in order to keep his costs low.
He moves to California, gets it into his head that it's time to let other people know about what he was so moved by and discovered, as if for the first time. He is able to find a similar desire in a growing number of his own people who for the first time in our history, pony up thousands of dollars and out their trust in him. The more he begins to succeed, the more people join in the projects, the more another group...all of them "leaders" begin to work to undermine his efforts. They present themselves as experts to city governments and demand the monuments NOT be installed, they try to derail his projects by saying he is a poor artist, an ignorant one, motivated by a lust for money,...they write to people behind his back spreading lies intended to damage his credibility. When that isn't enough, they try to stop him from earning the income he needs to do his work and care for his family. And they blame it all on him because he would not submit to the ways in which they felt more qualified to direct him and his work.
This all culminates when one of these "leaders" after doing all she could to quash him, sues him for bothering her...adding perjury to the list of things done over the last several years.
Do I sound paranoid? Do the Assyrians of Iraq have a reason to feel "set" upon?
Just what has been going on? When you realize that other people, people who know how to value Art, do not require obedience and meekness from their artists...on the contrary, know enough to stand out of the way and if they can't help, to at least not hinder...you begin to understand that something else has been going on.
This "something else" is what we have to focus on if we want to understand what has happened and how this thing will play out. The monuments would be just chunks of metal by themselves...a testament to my ego or the egos of those who wanted to use them to propel themselves further in whatever careers they think they have as amateurs among us.
I said there was a spirit to the monuments...something behind them that gave them meaning. What would have been the point in kissing ass in order to get them installed? Where would be the hope, the pride, the enhancement of anything in that? Why would I gut the very core and soul of these monuments I gave so much to build? Just to see my name up there?
In the end, the real monument may just be all the "other stuff" that has gone around their creation and suppression. A true monument speaks to something grand and noble...at least it is supposed to. It happens to be made of material such as stone or metal...but that's just the skin, the surface.
These monuments could only have happened if there was faith and trust and a willingness to take a risk among some in our community. That was their essence, their soul. And it worked. No one said, given our experience, that people from within the community wouldn't rise up and try to steal them or crush them failing that. That is something we are all too well aquainted with and well used to. What we didn't know...what we discovered, what we caught just a bare glimse of...what was the true monumental achievement here...was the willingness, the deeply hidden yet strong desire in our people to do something like this.
No one else to my knowledge has gotten as much money from our people as I have...I don't mean by offering them wild riches in return...I mean for legitimate purposes. That could only have happened if people trusted and believed and desired the final outcome I promised to deliver. Their hope and trust was the soul of these monuments...and I don't think, ultimately, that will have been destroyed by the final outcome.
I will not be the last person to try what I did...I have to believe that. My example may point out pitfalls to another...may teach them a better way to proceed. I went where no Assyrian has dared to go before...and did it better than any who tried it before. That was only possible because the people I approached, people who had promised themselves they would never believe in such things, where we are concerned especially...could see that I meant it...that I really was not out for personal glory or cared for money. You KNOW if there had been the slightest doubt, people, especially someone like Narsai, would not have trusted me for a minute.
In the end, the only way to undo my work was to attack me at that level...at the trust people felt for me. Among us that is an easy thing to do, and really the way I had to operate I was on the barest of margins so that it would be easy to cut off the cash flow and leave me looking like someone who doesn't deliver. That was always a risk I ran, as anyone would who worked with our community.
Nothing else could have stopped me...and really nothing did. People can see the Ashurbanipal in San Francisco forever...and we will install the Shumirum in San Jose in spite of Jackies best efforts to stop it. There is at least a photo of the Hammurabi so people will always see what might have been...and know exactly where to lay the blame...at the feet of Atour Golani the wimpiest damn Assyrian I have EVER known.
Let the suing and counter suing begin and last as long as it will. The work that could have been done, has been done. One man can't do it all, especially not in this Nuthouse. There is no reason at all for any of us, certainly not for me, to feel we failed anywhere. We beat the odds by a long long shot.
We still can claim the credit for having created, funded, installed and appreciated the first Assyrian public monument in over 2000 years. I think I can rest easy on that...and would be an ungrateful fool if I expected to do much more than that.
I gave the lie to all the people who said it couldn't be done...as one old Assyrian gent told me years ago that no Assyrian would ever pay $5000 for a sculpture...made by an Assyrian no less. It CAN be done...and the next time you hear of kid or a young man trying to do it again...lend him or her a hand and we'll move slowly but steadily forward. After all, Assyria wasn't built in a day.
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