The Indiana Memorial Union—reading rooms, bookstore, cafeterias, conference rooms, hotel, and a bowling alley (this bowling alley)—is absolutely beautiful and looks like a castle. And this sits in a prominent spot right inside one of the main entrances:

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"This sculpture was sent to the United States in 1948 aboard the 'Merci Train' to the State of Indiana by the citizens of France as an expression of gratitude for the 'Friendship Train' which was sent earlier to their country," reads a small framed sign near the statue. "The sculptor, Jean-Baptiste Carpeaux, was one of the most noted in the Second Empire of France."

The piece is named "Ugolino and His Sons," and it was completed in 1861, and this isn't the original—it's a plaster cast. (That's French gratitude for you.) The original is in the Louvre. Anyway, here's what this statue is all about:

"The subject, Ugolino della Gherardesca, was an Italian statesman of Pisa; died about 1288. he was ruloer of his city and head of Ghibellines. He was thought to have betrayed his city by negligence in battle... he was arrested and imprisoned, and later shut up in a tower; there he starved to death with his sons and grandsons. Carpeaux's inspiration probably came from Canto XXXIII of the 'Inferno' of Dante's 'Divine Comedy.' In this passage, Dante tells of meeting Count Ugolino who tells of his misery and suffering as he and his four sons slowly starved to death. Ugolino says: 'In anguish of despair, I bit my hands.'"

Here's Count Ugolino biting his hands despairingly...


...and here's one of his four sons. His sunken cheeks are a sign of starvation...


...but hunger didn't sink all of his cheeks...


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That's a nice butt for a dude who's starving to death. Anyway...

This has to be the single most depressing statue of a man starving to death with his sons and his grandsons that I've ever had to walk past four times a day for two weeks. And the mystery is... why here? Why so prominently displayed? It's just a plaster cast—you couldn't spare the original, France?—and it's defuckingpressing. Couldn't they have tucked this plaster plop in some obscure corner of campus? Someplace where it wouldn't terrorize the whole student body and visiting sex-advice professionals? Or couldn't France have sent a cheerier plaster cast? They hold big student dances at the Indiana Memorial Union—so, hey, how about a cast of this Carpeaux instead?

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