When Auguste Rodin sculpted “The Thinker”, he broke the exalted false image of the Classical thinker of the age before and the Renaissance man of ages back that had so lingered into contemporary society.
He sculpted what I would argue is to this day the truest portrayal of a thinker ever to have emerged out of the hands of man.
The thinker is shown, a man seated on a rock in the wilderness, strong and muscular, yet, something in his face just cries out a torn and disheveled reality. His arm supports his head, a head that is worn with thought; his body closes in, fearful perhaps, of what lies beyond himself.
It is also perhaps not a coincidence that the thinker is nude, like a shamed street beggar, or even symbolic of an exposed charlatan: what is perhaps allegorical of a man who has lived a lie, veiled his unfortunate state in the face of society, hidden “the thinker”, tried to masquerade into society like just another average joe. Alas we know too well: that who we really are always catches up with us.
Is it by mere coincidence that Rodin had him seated on an olden rock in the wilderness? Or is he an outcast, banned beyond city walls, with only a desolate stone to accommodate a man that nature has cheated with a perverted gift: his mind that wanders, perhaps too far down the desolate path of the mind and soul?
What mystery does this sorry man hold? What in this gaze has enchanted the world? What man of the wilderness has dared to wander into the world of prestigious art salons, into the profanity of luxury Parisian cafes, only to find himself misunderstood by an even more pretentious society?
Will we ever understand him? Rather, does he understand himself?
It is a sorry truth, that all men who’ve met and shall meet the thinker shall turn their heads, unknowingly deceived. And though we’d argue differently, we’ve all been deceived.
We’ve all been deceived.
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