George Friedman’s Thoughts: On Viewing Rembrandt’s ‘Aristotle Contemplating the Bust of Homer’

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Last weekend I was in New York City, with a rare moment for indulgence. I chose to visit an old love, one who taught me about my life and what it would cost me. That love was a painting by Rembrandt, the centerpiece of an exhibition of Dutch masters at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. It is called by several names, but for me, its name will always be “Aristotle Contemplating the Bust of Homer.” It is a painting about philosophy, politics and beauty, and the longing for what no one can have: all three. (click to enlarge) Aristotle is at the center, dominating the painting. He is dressed lavishly in cloth of extraordinary luxury, with an ambiguous hat, barely visible, atop his head. But the true center of the painting is a magnificent gold chain that encircles his body. It is sensuous in its beauty, but the beauty can’t hide its strength. What it surrounds it controls, and it surrounds Aristotle. The reason he is wearing the chain is at first a mystery; he is, after all, a philosopher, a scholar who studied under Plato. Such men neither have the means nor the appetite for such ornaments. Then, if […]

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George Friedman

George Friedman is an internationally recognized geopolitical forecaster and strategist on international affairs and the founder and chairman of Geopolitical Futures.

Dr. Friedman is also a New York Times bestselling author. His most recent book, THE STORM BEFORE THE CALM: America’s Discord, the Coming Crisis of the 2020s, and the Triumph Beyond, published February 25, 2020 describes how “the United States periodically reaches a point of crisis in which it appears to be at war with itself, yet after an extended period it reinvents itself, in a form both faithful to its founding and radically different from what it had been.” The decade 2020-2030 is such a period which will bring dramatic upheaval and reshaping of American government, foreign policy, economics, and culture.



His most popular book, The Next 100 Years, is kept alive by the prescience of its predictions. Other best-selling books include Flashpoints: The Emerging Crisis in Europe, The Next Decade, America’s Secret War, The Future of War and The Intelligence Edge. His books have been translated into more than 20 languages.

Dr. Friedman has briefed numerous military and government organizations in the United States and overseas and appears regularly as an expert on international affairs, foreign policy and intelligence in major media. For almost 20 years before resigning in May 2015, Dr. Friedman was CEO and then chairman of Stratfor, a company he founded in 1996. Friedman received his bachelor’s degree from the City College of the City University of New York and holds a doctorate in government from Cornell University.