The Course of Empire
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopediahttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Course_of_Empire
The Course of Empire is a five-part series of paintings created by Thomas Cole in the years 1833-36. It is notable in part for reflecting popular American sentiments of the times, when many saw pastoralism as the ideal phase of human civilization, fearing that empire would lead to gluttony and inevitable decay.
The paintings are now housed at the New-York Historical Society, and comprise the following works: The Course of Empire - The Savage State; The Course of Empire - The Arcadian or Pastoral State; The Course of Empire - The Consummation; The Course of Empire - Destruction; and The Course of Empire - Desolation.
The series of paintings depicts the growth and fall of an imaginary city, situated on the lower end of a river valley, near its meeting with a bay of the sea. The valley is distinctly identifiable in each of the paintings, in part because of an unusual landmark: a large boulder is precariously situated atop a crag overlooking the valley.
A direct source of literary inspiration for The Course of Empire is Byron's Childe Harold's Pilgrimage (1812–18). Cole quoted this verse, from Canto IV, in his newspaper advertisements for the series:
There is the moral of all human tales;Collapse of the American Empire: Swift, Silent, Certainhttp://finance.yahoo.com/banking-budgeting/article/109027/collapse-of-the-american-empire-swift-silent-certain
'Tis but the same rehearsal of the past.
First freedom and then Glory - when that fails,
Wealth, vice, corruption - barbarism at last.
And History, with all her volumes vast,
Hath but one page.
by Paul B. Farrell
Tuesday, March 9, 2010(Despite mention of the CFR, I thought the conclusions based on the above work by Thomas Cole was telling and vivid.)
Now, Harvard's Niall Ferguson, one of the world's leading financial historians, echoes Diamond's warning: "Imperial collapse may come much more suddenly than many historians imagine. A combination of fiscal deficits and military overstretch suggests that the United States may be the next empire on the precipice." Yes, America is on the edge...Collapse of All Empires:' 5 Stages Repeating Through the Ages
Ferguson opens with a fascinating metaphor: "There is no better illustration of the life cycle of a great power than 'The Course of Empire,' a series of five paintings by Thomas Cole that hangs in the New York Historical Society.
Cole was a founder of the Hudson River School and one of the pioneers of nineteenth-century American landscape painting; in 'The Course of Empire,' he beautifully captured a theory of imperial rise and fall to which most people remain in thrall to this day. Each of the five imagined scenes depicts the mouth of a great river beneath a rocky outcrop."...
As Ferguson continues the tour you sense you're actually inside the New York Historical Society, visually reminded of how history's great cycles do indeed repeat over and over. You are also reminded of one of history's great tragic ironies -- that all nations fail to learn the lessons of history, that all nations and their leaders fall prey to their own narcissistic hubris and that all eventually collapse from within...