‘…a very stable genius…’
DONALD J. TRUMP, Tweet 6.1.18.
One of the prints hanging in my grandmother’s
bedroom was Waterhouse’s ‘Echo
and Narcissus’. In a bosky, rather
English landscape, Narcissus and Echo –
before he became a flower and she a sound –
lie and sit respectively: she entranced with him,
and he with himself in the slow brook.
As a boy I thought it a picture
of a good looking chap and a pretty girl
with water and lilies, that might have featured
in one of Busby Berkeley’s productions,
which flickered across our nine inch telly.
Though most of the people I have met since then
have been angels in waiting it would have been
helpful, I know now, for some exegesis
of the painting, to see beneath the masks
of the few egomaniacs I have known,
uncover immediately their seeming charms,
their rhetoric of self-righteous blame,
their instant shifts into public self-pity
and paranoia, their betrayal of friends,
their creation of their very own doomsdays.
The narcissist’s narcissist, Adolf Hitler,
echoing Horace to an extent
consciously or not, opined the year
Rommel was defeated and Stalingrad
relieved, “Wars are all very well. Art lasts.”
By the time he was Chancellor there were
so many ‘Village with Mountain View’, ‘Lake
with Mountain View’ and ‘Village and Lake
with Mountain View’ signed Adolf Hitler
and on sale as the genuine article,
that the artist decided it was time
for a definitive catalogue. Agents
were dispatched across Deutschland and Österreich
to purchase all paintings attributed
to him. Sadly, for posterity,
the artist was not able to determine
fake genius from true.