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America is associated with modernity, and the creeping Americanization of Germany is suggested by the pack of Camels on the table next to Schad’s Sonja (1928) and the jazz band in Dix’s To Beauty (1922) and Metropolis (Triptych) . Americans are known (or used to be) for their put-up-or-shut-up practicality — the same hardheaded approach as a straightforward photograph. But there is a good deal of subliminal Sturm und Drang in New Objectivity portraits — a sort of expressionistic hang-over, conveyed by the hot-under-the-collar character of many of them — that suggests an unresolved and unhappy relationship with reality. More particularly, uncertainty about industrial reality, and perhaps hatred of modern reality per se. Dix’s nostalgic use of Old Master devices, such as the reflection in Mayer-Hermann’s X-ray machine, an echo of the reflection in Jan van Eyck’s Arnolfini Marriage Portrait , hints at this.
Karl Hubbuch’s The Swimmer of Cologne (1923) makes the point brilliantly. The female swimmer — an ironic Rhine maiden? — stands on a steel bridge, barely holding her own. For all her spunkiness, she looks vulnerable and small next to the huge, well-built bridge. She is hardly its equal in strength. She’s caught on the horns of a dilemma — or rather trapped between the pincers of the rising girder and the platform to which it is bolted. She’s all the more pathetic because the Old Germany, symbolized by a ghostly Cologne Cathedral, is pictured behind her. It exists in the space between the girder and the platform, as though about to be crushed. Certainly it is fading into oblivion — a souvenir of the German medieval past. Caught between the religious past, with its old construction of reality, and the technological future, with its new construction of reality, she can only dive off the bridge into the river below. Will she survive?
Am I free associating too much in comparing the space in which the cathedral appears, like a hallucination, to the sharp-toothed punitive machine in Kafka’s The Penal Colony ? Will the swimmer also be punished for a crime she hasn’t committed, or is she a new Hercules able to rescue herself from the jaws of the powerful lion represented by the modern bridge? The New Objectivists are clearly psychosocial allegorists.
Commercialized vice appeared early in colonial America. Prostitution was most often connected to urban, maritime, and, especially, wartime societies.
Prostitutes plied their trade individually in nearly every community, ranging from the large to the small. During times of war, it was common for prostitutes.
to follow the army, sometimes in groups as large as several hundred. Most of these prostitutes were probably widows who turned to selling themselves for.
lack of other employment, but the trade certainly attracted all types of women.
The patronage of ladies of pleasure encouraged the opening of disorderly, or bawdy, houses in most cities. Some towns like Boston were infamous for the.
number and openness of their bawdy houses. In addition, mariners’ wives often worked the streets near Boston’s waterfront.
In other cities, prostitution was limited to specific areas, like the platform at the Battery in Manhattan, where the streetwalkers were known to openly ply.
their trade. New York was said to have many prostitutes but no bawdy houses. In Charles Town, the many women of ill report, most of them cast-outs.
from England’s Newgate prison, candidly approached men nightly on the streets.
There were many variations of the bawdy house. Dorcas Griffiths of Boston was caught operating a bawdy house in the back of a grocery store, using a.
liquor license as a cover. Also in Boston, for over twenty years, Hannah Dilley rented out rooms in her husband’s house to whores and even procured.
work for them. Prudence Sherrald was able to run her bawdy house openly in Philadelphia, because city officials, military officers, and city elites.
commonly frequented it. Newport had the only establishment run by a black woman, a Madam Juniper. Elsewhere, it appears that bawdy houses were run.
exclusively by whites.
The men who frequented prostitutes were not limited to the lower sorts or to sailors and soldiers. Many respectable colonials consorted with these.
women. Lawyers, sea-officers, journeymen, gentlemen, merchants, apprentices, and various officers of the government patronized the most respectable.
bawdy houses in a town. The most notable (or rather notorious, considering the details he documented in his secret diary) person known to frequently.
associate with prostitutes was the famed diarist and planter, William Byrd II of Virginia. Even Increase Mather, son of the famous New England preacher.
Cotton Mather, was once caught during a raid at a Boston bawdy house.
In Puritan New England, legislative attempts to regulate disorderly conduct within private homes were difficult to enforce. Since employing a host of.
officials to keep close watch on each home and make presentments for each infraction was impossible, persecution depended on informers. Since the.
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