Precepts to use in everyday life

1. Think for yourself, 2. Be yourself, 3. Speak up, 4. Feel free to agree and disagree, 5. Be honest with yourself and others, 6. Be open-minded, 7. Avoid being judgmental and 8. Question everything - even your own thinking.

TOK Essay Titles May 2019

Thursday, August 23, 2012


The Arts

November 2012 Q4: What counts as knowledge in the arts?

Click on the image to view a film by David Hathaway entitled ‘The Rape of Europe’. If you don’t want to watch the whole thing, start at about 58 minutes, where Hathaway summarises the earlier part of the film and makes his final point.

The purpose of the film is to explain the collapse of Europe and, it soon becomes clear, that the perspective from which this explanation is given is religious. Hathaway is introduced early on as an ‘International Evangelist.’ Now don’t let this put you off, because it’s not so much what he says that’s interesting for TOK, but HOW he says it.

Hathaway uses a combination of biblical references and, importantly for Q4, a series of art objects, as ‘evidence’ to support his explanations for Europe’s demise. It’s sometimes hard to get beyond his impressionistic interpretation of the symbolism of these art works and to get hold of the central arguments, but the gist of Hathaway’s film is to defend the belief that everything that’s happening in Europe is part of a predetermined course of events leading to the second coming of Christ.

So how does he do this?

The film is divided into three parts. Each part focuses on tracing the connections between biblical references, art works and the modern re-invention of the symbolism associated with them.

Part 1: Explores the following two images:

Bruegel’s ‘Tower of Babel’

EU Parliament building, Strasbourg.
 The warning: Against European unionists who are invoking demonic symbolism with which to brainwash the population against Christian belief.

Part 2: Explores these two images:

'The Rape of Europa', Titian

‘Europa riding Zeus’ statue outside Council of Members in Brussels.
The warning: Against Muslims who worship a false god and are actively promoting the downfall of Christian belief.

Part 3: Explores these two artefacts:

The Altar of Pergamon, a sacrificial altar for satanic worship.

The Gate of Istar, supposedly a gateway to hell built in Babylon, renowned as the ‘Seat of Satan’
The warning: Against Germany whose leaders are planning, and in fact have always aimed, to overhaul Christian belief.

The overall connections: Babel & Babylon & the biblical resonance of the ideas associated with these.

We don’t know where this film would lie on the scale of Believing Bullshit (see previous post), but try to trace the strategies Hathaway uses to defend his beliefs. “Pressing your buttons” and "Piling up the anecdotes" are certainly two of them...

Finally, Hathaway’s film isn’t the only place where these connections between art and modern politics abound. Many websites seem to be devoted to tracing them and weaving a complex web of conspiracy theories around an interpretation of the symbolism associated with the art works.

It just goes to show how art can be used (and abused) to present someone’s version of ‘knowledge’.

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