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“Revolution in art lies not in the will to destroy but in the revelation of what is already destroyed.”
Taylor, an astronaut, is successful, but disillusioned. He gets into a rocket and flies away. When he returns, everyone in his former circle is mute and intellectually dead. The apes are the cultural masters; his people are slaves.
The apes deny Taylor’s intelligence; they challenge his powers of speech. In turn, Taylor scorns their “primitive” expressions of culture. He thinks he has landed on a different planet, the wrong planet.
And what about Lady Liberty, up to her ribcage in sand? She started out on an island in the New York Bay. But there she is on a beach in California. (It could have been shot for cheap in Miami, but no one would have believed it.)
Aha! Taylor figures out where he is. There is a right place to be and a wrong place to be; it turns out they are the same.
Really, though, would you look at that final image? Shocking. Such an important symbol will never be tilted, submerged, and forgotten. It represents too many grand ideas. It inspires noble and transformative feelings in all who behold it. But it’s also just a tired monument, a gift from France, a rusty statue that sometimes smells of fish.
Whatever it is, it belongs to New York. There’s no escaping it.
(For references and acknowledgements, please see #63 on Notes page.)