In Ovid’s Metamorphoses (in Book X), Pygmalion carves a female figure out of ivory and falls in love with it:
And I couldn’t help but notice, in this Interview magazine cover promotion, the ivory-skinned Megan Fox making of herself a Pygmalion aesthetic object:
Ernest Renan once wrote of the Anglo-French Enlightenment that “after having walked for long ages in the night of infancy, without any self-awareness . . . [humanity] took possession of itself” (quoted in Zeev Sternhell’s The Anti-Enlightenment Tradition, pg. 74). And Sternhell, on pg. 80 of the same text, says this:
[Johann Gottfried von Herder’s] critique of the Enlightenment was a barrier against the encroaching forces of destruction, as religion had been replaced by deism, which he saw as a by-product of mechanistic philosophy and an ally of enlightened and antinational rule. In that world going to its ruin, all vital forces were sapped by rationalism, the search for happiness had replaced the idea of service, and the idea of progress had undermined faith as well as the cardinal virtues of obedience, self-denial, and respect for authority and the family.
Herder and [Edmund] Burke both knew that modern thought was born at the moment when man took the place of God.
I think that the above video would have terrified Renan, Herder, and Burke (even as it secretly aroused them), for moving into the third century after the Anglo-French Enlightenment is this glamorous fruit of its movement: Megan Fox as the human form divine, her body capable of assembly and disassembly at will, divorced from limitation, and foreshadowing an internationalist aesthetic that is on the cusp, via genetic engineering, of going posthuman.
What, afterall, does it mean for humanity “to take possession of itself”—to take the reins of history from tradition, from authority, from God?
Maybe Pygmalion is one of the things it means.
And Megan Fox.
Look at the video again. Does the future scare you?