One day while teaching I was showing a bunch of slides to illustrate the properties of lines in visual art, as I always do. See, horizontal lines convey a sense of rest, vertical lines create a sense of potential action or energy, while diagonal lines are the ones that convey a sense of action. One of the prime examples I use to illustrate this concept is El Greco’s depiction of Jesus driving out the Temple moneychangers, one of the few times – if not the only time – that Jesus got really pissed off.

(You can see it at http://metalab.unc.edu/wm/paint/auth/greco/greco.christ-traders-temple.jpg)

So I was explaining to my students, as I had plenty times before, that the action is conveyed by the angle of the figures, especially the angle of Jesus’ upraised arm. If his arm was horizontal or vertical, you would think he was at rest, but since it is diagonal, you think – and I swear to God I didn’t plan to say this, it just popped out – that Jesus is about to bring his arm down and bitchslap somebody.

Naturally, the class burst into uproarious laughter. Despite the positive reaction I was still a bit leery about the appropriateness of my comment, and I have yet to repeat it in class. I have done plenty of other inappropriate things, but that’s a matter between me and the sexual harassment committee…

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