Friday, 30 March 2007

The Lady Vanishes

What does it mean to be “free”? If we are free, what does this freedom allow or entitle us to do? One of America’s best known symbols of freedom has stood proudly in New York harbour since 1886, reminding US citizens that they are resident in the land of the free.

On the centenary of the Statue of Liberty’s erection (steady on…), magician David Copperfield made her disappear. In his uniquely smarmy way, he used nothing more than the power of his mind and a few tonnes of hydraulics to vanish Lady Liberty and remind America of what this monument symbolizes. In designing this grand illusion, he told the millions of TV viewers watching, he had explained to his co-conspirators that it was important that the statue must reappear. Yeah, right. Like he could figure out a way to make it “disappear” that didn’t mean it would have to “reappear”. Twat. He implied that without the Statue of Liberty, the USA would no longer have it’s Freedom. As I say… twat. It would appear that nobody told Dave that if the Statue disappears then your freedom doesn’t disappear along with it. (Check out Dave's smarminess and silver jacket as he makes the Statue disappear on youtube.)

(By the way, I presume I don’t I need to point out that this is not the same David Copperfield written about by Charles Dickens. Nor is it the same one who was the star of the 1980’s TV sketch show Three of a Kind, supported by Tracy Ullman and Lenny Henry.)

On our visit to Liberty Island, we too found this remarkable monument to be a worthy reminder of the “freedom” we so often take for granted. Especially as we had to pass through two airport-style security checks to reach the statue.

But the question still remains. What does it mean to be “free”? I found an interesting answer to this question in a quote from Jean-Paul Sartre displayed next to one of the exhibits in the museum in the Statue’s pedestal. It read “Liberty is not the power to do what one wants, but it is the desire to what one can.” Wise words mate.

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