Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Same Shape, Different Associations

Furniture maker Craig O’Connor, from Bensalem, Pennsylvania, spotted what he views as a Jesus-shaped discoloring after procuring this slab of New Jersey pine tree from his buddy’s yard. According to this CBS 3 report, some are calling it the “divine pine.” O’Connor, a Catholic, had no doubt about the shape: “When I seen it, I was just in awe, I think it's Jesus, Jesus' head … it looks like he is ascending into heaven.”

Philadelphia Weekly blogger Daniel McQuade thought the image resembled “a ghoul, a character in a Tim Burton animated film and, most definitely, that one prisoner at Abu Ghraib.” McQuade’s comparison is meant to be ironic, but it drives home how deeply embedded (another Iraq-war cultural artifact) images can become, where a shape harkens to a religious prophet or a symbol for torture. While Biblical iconography has been with us much longer than the imagery and lexicon of the current war in Iraq, both have infiltrated our minds, making them recognizable, no matter how we feel about either.

In O’Connor’s case, he seems to feel pretty good about wanting to make a buck off his discovery. Apparently, the wood was placed on eBay for a moment and got a quick $500 bid, prompting O’Connor to shut down the auction, eager with hopes of being able to raise awareness about his stump, resulting in a sale of at least $100,000. You guessed it, O’Connor’s pricing is based on the fact that Diana Duyser’s Virgin Mary grilled cheese sold for $28,000 on eBay, as documented in Madonna of the Toast.

Maybe O’Connor should stick to his day job and make a table out of the wood . . .

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