Voilà a rather flighty (but I'm sure well meant) editorial on icons, specifically the Byzantine exhibition in New York City. Strange how the New York Times can spend an editorial and a feature article on the show but neglect to breathe a word when Bart paid a visit.
The piece displays the condescension of vague understanding so common in contemporary politically-correct journalism:
The gestures vary, but each specific pose expresses a different state of being, a different projection of authority and grace. It's as though one could become a different person by choosing to point with the left hand rather than the right.
When it comes to religion, especially weird mystical ones with the word "Eastern" in front of them, poses don't have to do with painting technique or narrative or emotive effect, but, of course, "being." Can they pick a more abstract or less portentous word? And speaking of being, shouldn't that be what grace and authority are, instead of a "projection" or a "pose"?
That second sentence is a real hoot. The dear editorial writers seem to think that people are as flat as the icons themselves. Surely they understand that people have different characteristics that can be expressed through non-verbal gestures like pointing? Pointing in this way or that doesn't make one a different person, it just reveals this or that aspect of him.
Yo, face it, icons are pictures of real people; people who have complex personalities; people who are sometimes terrible and at other times tender. And, gasp!, they use social conventions (in this case, the visual language of gestures) to communicate those variations.