Rouch Rider (1922) by Phimister Proctor

Rough Rider (1922) by Phimister Proctor

Recently, I went on a walk around Portland with Mr. Blake, and we visited the bronze statue of Theodore Roosevelt in the park blocks across from the Portland Art Museum. This inscription below the statue reads…

“He was found faithful over a few things and he was made ruler over many. He cut his own trail clean and straight and millions followed him toward the light. He was frail; he made himself a tower of strength. He was timid; he made himself a lion of courage. He was a dreamer; he became one of the great doers of all time. Men put their trust in him; Women found a champion in him; Kings stood in awe of him, but children made him their playmate. He broke a nation’s slumber with his cry, and it rose up. He touched the eyes of blind men with a flame and gave them vision. Souls became swords through him; swords became servants of God. He was loyal to his country and he exacted loyalty; he loved many lands, but he loved his own land best. He was terrible in battle, but tender to the weak; joyous and tireless, being free from self-pity; clean with a cleanness that cleansed the air like a gale. His courtesy knew no health, no class; his friendship, no creed or color or race. His courage stood every onslaught of savage beast and ruthless man, of loneliness, of victory, of defeat. His mind was eager, his heart was true, his body and spirit, defiant of obstacles, ready to meet what might come. He fought injustice and tyranny; bore sorrow gallantly; loved all nature, bleak places, and hardy companions, hazardous adventure and the zest of battle. Wherever he went he carried his own pack; and in the uttermost parts of the earth he kept his conscience for his guide.”

“Dedication,” A Biographical Sketch of Theodore Roosevelt

Hermann Hagedorn, 1919

So powerful, so evocative of everything a truly great man should embody. I’m sure Roosevelt had faults and did things I wouldn’t agree with, but those words capture what I mean when I write about the need for powerful masculine heroes who exude strength and inspire men. Our modern world, in its haste to do away with traditional gender roles, never bothered to think about replacing an idealism this potent and beautiful with anything even remotely comparable. Mishima might say that we replaced poetry with bureaucracy.

Hermann Hagedorn Inscription - Theodore Roosevelt Statue Portland OR

Cutesy Shopping Mall Art - Roy Lichtenstein "Brushstrokes, 1996"

Cutesy Shopping Mall Art - Roy Lichtenstein "Brushstrokes, 1996"

Mr. Blake and I agree that old Teddy is clearly sneering at the cutesy art across the way.

This piece of shit is an eyesore. It belongs in a shopping mall food court. A old guy passed us on the street while I was taking the picture, and he said something about it looking like bacon. Technicolor bacon. This is a really expensive doodle by a famous artist who phoned it in. Its presence insults the architecture around it, like someone fed a kid a Pop Tart and let him loose in a museum with finger paints.

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2 Responses to Wherever He Went He Carried His Own Pack

  1. Trevor Blake says:

    “While Roosevelt was campaigning in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, on October 14, 1912, a saloonkeeper named John Schrank shot him, but the bullet lodged in his chest only after penetrating both his steel eyeglass case and passing through a thick (50 pages) single-folded copy of the speech he was carrying in his jacket. Roosevelt, as an experienced hunter and anatomist, correctly concluded that since he wasn’t coughing blood, the bullet had not completely penetrated the chest wall to his lung, and so declined suggestions he go to the hospital immediately. Instead, he delivered his scheduled speech with blood seeping into his shirt. He spoke for ninety minutes. His opening comments to the gathered crowd were, “Ladies and gentlemen, I don’t know whether you fully understand that I have just been shot; but it takes more than that to kill a Bull Moose.” Afterwards, probes and X-ray showed that the bullet had traversed three inches (76 mm) of tissue and lodged in Roosevelt’s chest muscle but did not penetrate the pleura, and it would be more dangerous to attempt to remove the bullet than to leave it in place. Roosevelt carried it with him for the rest of his life.”

    [Who in US politics today is a ‘Bull Moose?’ – Trevor]

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