Thursday, June 29, 2017

Cupid as Link Boy

This painting was the inspiration for my lastest novel, The Link Boy. How, exactly, does a 19th century oil promote 21st century science fiction? I have only guesses. If I knew how my mind worked, I’d fix it to work better. Here's what I think about the link --

Cupid as Link Boy (1771) was painted by Sir Joshua Reynolds (1723-92), hangs at the Albright-Knox Art Gallery in Buffalo, it’s one of those works that lingers in you, despite the hundreds of other works your pass to view it, and long after you’ve left the space.

The painting is a dialectic. It suspends contradictions in one time and place. Link boys were there poorest of the poor, making a few coins a night by holding torches – or links, as they were called – for people leaving clubs or playhouses. They would provide light so the rich could navigate home. They would also lead people into dark alleys and waiting thieves.

Link boys were the playthings of gentlemen pedophiles. Which makes an association with Cupid – God of Love – obscene. The batwings, the phallic torch, the tattered clothes and the pensive look on the innocent little face, redirect the whimsy of the painting’s base. Something wonderful like Cupid, debased by class and industry and birth of our modern society.

Somewhere in there, I found a book about the direction of our modern society, and how the pressures of industry and class can turn a sweet, sweet cherub into a devil.