On the Wisdom of Banning Images (very topical)
"He sat at the edge, carving, shaping, sculpting, but he realised the marble was not turning out to be ample and motherly. It was taking on the shape of a young woman. The hair he had intended to resemble the style of the ancient donii [goddesses] he had given away - a ridged form covering the face as well as the back - was suggestive of braids, tight braids all over the head, except for the face. The face was blank. No face was ever carved on a donii: who could bear to look on the face of the Mother? Who could know it? She was all women, and none.
"If I could draw her to me, overcome her resistance and capture her spirit?
"Capture her spirit?
"(...)Why did they engrave the image of an animal on a weapon, or on the Sacred Walls? To approach the Mother-Spirit of it, to overcome her resistance and capture the essence.
"Don't be ridiculous, Jondalar. You can't capture Ayla's spirit that way. It wouldn't be right, no one puts a face on a donii. Humans were never pictured - a likeness might capture a spirit's essence. But to whom would it be captive?
"No one should hold another person's spirit captive. Give the donii to her! She'd have the spirit back then, wouldn't she? If you just kept it for a little while, then gave it to her... afterwards.
"If you put her face on it, would it turn her into a donii? You almost think she is one, with her healing, and her magic way with animals. If she's a donii, she might decide to capture your spirit. Would that be so bad?
"You want a piece to stay with you, Jondalar. The piece of the spirit that always stays in the hands of the maker [my italics!]. " (Valley of the Horses, pp. 540-2).
In the light of the recent global crisis, there seems a certain wisdom to the Islamic ban on images after all, especially of the sacred, as a way of honoring the sacred, by respecting its spirit and allowing it to remain sacred, by not trying to 'capture its spirit'. Much as Christian art started off western art by supposedly 'glorifying the spirit', it has also ended up all too often just with parodies, spoofs and silly caricatures and send-ups, that don't even seem very funny ;-P