In rainbows

I would like to congratulate the United States and all Americans on this historic day. The Supreme Court has said that not allowing same-sex marriage is unconstitutional. It only took ten years after the rest of the world but still. I thought it would take a lot longer. I didn’t even know the case was before the courts until I got a text from a friend this morning.

“When everyone is treated equally, we are all more free,” [Obama] said.

There are a lot of celebratory rainbow flags out there. The White House logo is a rainbow. A sock company I like posted rainbow socks. Rainbow flags are flying proudly all over.

Rainbows always make me think of a lesson from an art history class I took in university. It was about 18th and 19th century Dutch art. The professor was one of the best I ever had. Part of why I liked him was that he believed in the importance of understanding and applying concepts, not memorization. For our tests we were given an image we’d never seen before and asked to analyze it using ideas discussed in class. It was easy and perfect. He was a gifted lecturer and the ideas stuck.

There weren’t many details to remember and certain symbols came up a lot. Like skulls and rainbows. The Dutch of the time were a depressing lot obsessed with their inevitable deaths. If you were stuck it was easy to guess that something represented the transitory nature of life and the inevitability of death. Skulls, fruit in a still life, rainbows. Yes, rainbows. To me they don’t represent gay rights or beauty or happiness or the passing of a storm. They remind me of that class and the transitory nature of life and the imminence of death.

Skulls make sense. Fruit rots so that’s the association with death. To the Dutch rainbows were fleeting. They were around just briefly before disappearing. Like everything else in life including our bodies they would wither and die. Whenever I walked along Davie I was thinking about the transitory nature of life and the imminence of death and trying to stop myself from laughing.

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