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The Broken Sword of Stupid

February 26, 2013

Pirate Doug:

doug

Above is a page from my upcoming picture book, Twenty-Six Pirates. On this page, Pirate Doug (D for Doug—26 Pirates—get it?) needs a hug.

The back story, in my mind is that he’s lonely; maybe he want’s his mommy. But I like slipping “Easter Eggs” into my work, so I gave Doug one of my favorite symbols in all art history: The broken sword from Picasso’s Guernica:

picasso_guernica_detail

I love the broken sword. The man holding it fought his oppressors with courage. Even after his weapon was broken, even after all hope was lost (see the flower? Hope!), he continued to fight. Even in death he grips his weapon and fights.

I remembered a lot about that sword from my art history lectures—but it’s been more than 20 years!—was it the Sword of Truth or the Sword of Justice? I better know this shit. This is the internet age. Try getting even your grammar wrong on Reddit these days … fuck.

So I Googled it.

First stop was Wikipedia.

I was surprised to read a totally different account of the sword: The guy holding the sword, according to my computer screen, was a soldier and he died because …

… wait a minute.

I read on a bit, and realized something was wrong. The Wikipedia article was full of nonsense. “The painting was black and white to express sadness.” What… ? No it was to make the painting appear like a newspaper—the vehicle of information/propaganda of the day!—I was getting myself exasperated. Then I remembered I was on the internet and moved on.

I went back to Google.

And this is when I realized how fucked we are as humans. Every other entry I found about “Picasso, sword, Guernica,” copied—make that—cut and paste, the Wikipedia article verbatim, making it the “truth”. Yes, the sword of “truth” is now in the hands of a dead fascist soldier?

Picasso must be rolling in his grave.

Or at least … I bet he needs a hug.

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