Wednesday, June 20, 2012
Victory, London, UK
Winged Victory, Paris, FR
I captured this winged image of “Victory” atop the Queen Victoria memorial while waiting for the changing of the guard in front of Buckingham Palace in London. I had noticed the ascending jet out of the corner of my eye as I was shaping the photograph and was elated when my shutter caught it just as two eras of human history intersected in my camera lens. Many ancient cultures have left behind amputee sculptures amid the sands of time depicting winged personages that can defy the gravity that keeps all of us from floating off into mid air. And yet, it has only been within the past two generations that mankind has been able to free themselves from the ubiquitous pull of that unseen force. Until that time, human beings could only gaze heavenward and imagine in their mind’s eye what an exhilarating experience the birds aloft must be enjoying as they soar and glide across the skies.
Just a few days later, we were standing before “The Winged Victory of Samothrace” in the Musee du Louvre. This depiction of the Greek goddess of Victory, Nike, was unearthed from its original location within a rock niche that had been dug into a hill overlooking the theater of the Sanctuary of the Great Gods on the small island of Samothrace in the Aegean. The sculpture is considered one of the great masterpieces of the Hellenistic period.
We don’t create figures with wings as much these days, with the possible exception of angels in Christmas plays and Victoria’s Secret fashion shows. Perhaps that’s because we can now go on the internet or dial up a cell phone, purchase an airline ticket for a reasonable price and fly that very same day. We’re whisked off into the blue horizon in an aluminum cylinder at dizzying speeds and impossible heights over and through drifting clouds while sipping a drink, eating peanuts and listening to rock music on our iPods. So, we no longer seem to associate spiritual beings with the need for feathered wings any longer. In fact, I suspect that I’ve actually met an angel or two in my lifetime, but the absence of wings didn’t give them away at the time. And I’m quite all right with the concept that their wingless spiritual bodies, like that of the resurrected Son of God, are very capable of transporting them wherever their mission calls them to victory.