Shouldn’t Michelangelo’s David be circumcised?
After all, the biblical king depicted in the statue was pretty famously Jewish—a hero of the faith, in fact, ranking up there with Moses and whoever invented bagels.
Yet Michelangelo sculpted a Gentile foreskin for his David. It’s almost as though we can’t trust 16th-century European Christians to represent those of other religions and ethnicities with accuracy. At least ol’ Mike gave David a great set of abs instead of horns.
The important subject of David’s uncutness, by the way, was brought to my attention by my friend Andrew when I returned from a trip to Florence several years ago. I didn’t recognize the penile error when I saw the sculpture in person. My eyes of course drifted crotchward sooner or later (okay, immediately), but I didn’t think, Huh, look at that historically inaccurate foreskin.
I thought something along the lines of, Well, I guess it is kind of chilly in here.
As a Southern Baptist turned Presbyterian, I really have no reason for being circumcised, and yet here we are. In my experience, cut is the default setting for penises attached to American men of my generation (I was born in 1979).
If I had had a choice, I probably would have opted to remain intact. But what are you gonna do?
I have wondered on occasion, though, what sex feels like for the uncircumcised, specifically whether the sheathed dickhead is more sensitive because it isn’t out there unprotected and rubbing against your underpants all the time.
John Updike wrote a passage about this topic (because of course he did) in one of the Rabbit Angstrom novels. As I recall, the hero muses over whether the foreskin is like an eyelid, protecting the precious organ beneath from getting all dried-out and chafed.
Like I say, what are you gonna do?
I’m certainly not going to join the street-corner protesters I’ve seen carrying signs decrying what they call “male genital mutilation.” And I don’t even like thinking about the skin-stretching devices I once read about—wincing and with my legs crossed—in an article about “foreskin restoration” in The Village Voice.
I say learn to accommodate loss and appreciate what you have left. As the old adage goes, there’s no use crying over spilt milk or snipt skin.
I have a souvenir refrigerator magnet that’s a close-up of David’s junk, but I didn’t acquire it during that Florence trip I mentioned earlier. I got the magnet from my friend Mario, who was going to throw this priceless heirloom out if you can believe it. I rescued the treasure from the trash heap.
Or maybe I stole it. I don’t remember the particulars. All I know is, it’s the tackiest thing I own. And this is coming from a person who, at this very moment, has four Golden Girls ornaments dangling from his Christmas tree.
Unfortunately, the tip of the penis on the David magnet got scuffed somewhere along the way, so it’s difficult to tell whether the item’s creator stayed faithful to the covenant of Abraham or the vision of Michelangelo. Or perhaps the magnet maker wanted to leave the matter unsettled, knowing that ambiguity is one of the hallmarks of a great work of art.