Wednesday, August 30, 2006

“The creation, not the benefit others derived from it.”

The title to this post is a quote from The Fountainhead, which was written by Ayn Rand.  The quote is fresh in my mind today for two (2) reasons.  First, because Billy Beck, of the blog Two Four, linked to an outtake of Howard Roark’s courtroom speech, from the movie adapted from the book, in a post titled “Yes, I think So, Too”  Billy hat tips to another blog, There Is No Government Like No Government, for the outtake.

The second, and more driving reason, for utilizing the words spoken by Roark, but penned by Rand, as the title to this post, is this story, “History Claims Her Artwork, but She Wants It Back.”

The story, pulled from The New York Times, relates to us the story of Dina Babbitt, an Auschwitz survivor, and artist, who was coerced by Joseph Mengele to paint pictures of Gypsy prisoners, in order to live.

The pictures painted by Ms. Babbitt currently hang in the Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial and Museum in Poland.  Though the museum fully acknowledges the paintings were indeed painted by Ms. Babbitt, it claims the paintings as their own property stating,

...we do not regard these as personal artistic creations but as documentary work done under direct orders from Dr. Mengele and carried out by the artist to ensure her survival.

A convoluted reasoning which is, in my mind, undigestible.

Neither The New York Times, nor the writer of the story, Steve Friess, evidently understand that the paintings are Ms. Babbitt’s, as evidenced by this quote from the story,

Mrs. Babbitt’s case is unusual among the property disputes to emerge from the Holocaust because it involves artwork created under the duress of Nazis, not property confiscated by the Nazis.

Though the NYT acknowledges the artwork was “created” by Ms. Babbitt, the NYT and Mr. Friess evidently think; and I use the word think facetiously; that since the artwork was created “under the duress of the Nazis,” it is not property.  Which I guess is not “unusual,” considering the story comes from the NYT.

What ties this story even more closely to the words I chose for the title of this post, though, are these words from the NYT story,

The Auschwitz museum, which considers the watercolors to be its property, has argued that they are rare artifacts and important evidence of the Nazi genocide, part of the cultural heritage of the world.

The “cultural heritage of the world,” of course, being nothing more than the collective.

These paintings, created by Dina Babbitt, are hers, and hers alone, to do with as she pleases.  Dina Babbitt understands this;

I created them. Who else’s could they be?

Why doesn’t the museum, the NYT, Steve Friess, or the other thiefs of the collective understand this?  Because they cannot reason for themselves.

Link to NYT story via Fred Lapides’ website GoodShit.

For your further reading enjoyment and enlightment, here is a link to the entire courtroom speech of Howard Roark as taken from “The Fountainhead.”

The NYT requires registration to read their story online.  Feel free to use for login “nytimesoops,” and “nytimes” for the password, if you are not registered with the NYT, and do not want to bother with registering.

Posted by John Venlet on 08/30 at 01:37 PM
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