The Traditional (Conservative) Contrast between Macho-Tough Manliness and Mermaid-Femininity

“Capricorns are usually successful in business… Capricorn is a sign ruled by Saturn, the planet of adversity.”


Max Ernst, “Capricorn”, model 1948 – cast 1975


This photograph has registered the moment when Ernst was telling the interviewer, that when he “had ‘Capricorn’ cast in bronze and exhibit it in Paris, the reaction of the papers was blunt.”
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The more extremely masculine a man is (to the degree of being a macho, a thug, lout, or a right-wing politician-war-pusher) – the more extremely feminine his woman should be (to the degree of being his consolation spot, admirer or/and a flower-follower). When a man’s psychological degradation and dehumanization into machoistic condition transforms him into a bull-king, an equivalent transformation for a woman will be to become something like a mermaid with a sharp hairpin in the image of a fish (extreme femininity needs a thorn for self-defense).

As we see in Ernst’s sculpture, bull-king cannot share the throne with his wife – he is too tremendous (his throne uniquely belongs to him). And he is so psychologically despotic that he can reproduce only through daughters. He couldn’t tolerate the presence of a boy, the future king near by, although he desperately needs a male successor. For him to look at a male child can only mean one thing – to see in the child’s eyes a reminder about his, king’s, death, but death cannot happen to him – he is the only one, he is immortal, at least he deserves to be. But, as Ernst suggests, he can tolerate on the very margin of his throne a daughter who is already marked by her only function – to reproduce for the sake of her father, to inseminate the future with his genes. Her little breasts are not real, as a hysterical pregnancy they are just markers of her functional role in the life of her father – the bull-king.

His daughter is a miniature copy of his wife. If mother’s facial expression is a combination of feminine meekness, the shadow of fear (that is always near with such husband), the innocence of a creature who never took responsibility for anything, and the dull predatory predisposition, the girl is all shining openness to the world. She is simultaneously greedily incorporating the light and shiningly reflecting it. According to Ernst’s “Capricorn”, the essential difference between the queen and the princess if the king is a bull, is that one appropriates all the energy of light like a sponge the water, and the other appropriates light and irradiates it at the same time (that is typical not only for the daughters of bull-monarchs but for Hollywood super-stars [daughters of bull-monarch named commercial success] whose magic is that the more light of fame they absorb the more shine they irradiate back giving a chance to the plebeian women to identify with and feel like them).

But what’s happened with the hip region of king’s body? Why is it so disproportionally larger than his already too wide torso? And why is it so hard edged and solid like a safety box? May be, because it is a chest that holds the bull-kingdom treasures? And, may be, Ernst discovered a much more helpful for the success of monarchy use of the bull-king’s intimate part to be a solid lock on the treasure chest and not just an organ of spreading the majestic royal genes into eternity?

Bull-king’s rod is as massive, heavy and mighty as the modern weapon systems. Even the magic buttons in Kremlin and White House that can activate nuclear weapons can be signified by this magnificent staff Ernst has added to the image of the super-monarch. And how powerful is the monarch’s right arm that holds it! But why the Saturnine king’s left arm which caressingly lies on the pet dog (sharing with his daughter the margin of the throne) is so small, with such gentle fingers not matching the athletic fingers of king’s giant right arm? And who can be symbolized by the pet dog? By the exaggerated contrast between king’s right and left hands, Ernst comments about a historically worn out solemn difference between the two hands of the sovereign (with the right hand he punishes and fights while with the left he rewards and protects). So, who is hiding under the metaphor of the pet dog with bulging eyes and ecstatically zealous (ready for passionate licking) tongue? Of course, it is masses of self-sacrificial loyalists-royalists, all these flag-riots admiring the leader as their super-ego and ego-ideal, the numerous groups of people with pre-democratic mentality and silly soul of lucky lackeys in all societies. They are the real object of monarch’s demanding but sentimental love, not his mermaid-wife and mermaid-daughter who are both just necessities of kingship.

Indeed, what for the monarch is a love of the human fish (admiring female who just receives, obeys and contains him)? As a creature with an inexhaustible (narcissistic) self-passion he needs love which only the masses can shower him with. On their self-sacrifice and belief in his infallibility, with their blood and sweat he will grow like a bubble, like Stalin did on the Soviet and Fuhrer on German masses, like Bush-mander-in Chief did on Bushmerican flagriots (jingoists), and like today’s wealthy bosses (the two percent of the American population) grow fatter and “nutter” on the American poor who unconditionally trust the “wisdom” of these cracking rocks of success.

Lets take a look at the monstrous mug on the tip of the bull-king‘rod. Is it a face of the corpse very well on its way of decomposition – the leader’s warning to his enemies? Or is it a face burned by one or the other of today’s high-tech weapons in the assortments of civilized nations? In his “Capricorn” Max Ernst who suffered through two world wars in the 20th century represents the monstrosity of the very orientation on money and power (military-industrial and unlimited financial profit complexes) that are also the reason of coming wars and destruction in the 21st century.


Rare view at the Ernst’s “Capricorn” (from the side) emphasizes some important aspects of the sculpture – the weapon-like might of the bull-king’s rod, the sycophantic tongue of macho-power loyalists, the possessing/caressing them hand of the monarch, and the mermaid tail of the bull-kingdom’s queen.