Saturday, June 21, 2003

A Trip to the Met

I drove my oldest daughter back to New York City last Saturday. She has moved from Williamsburg, Brooklyn to the East Village in Manhattan and has more room than before and wanted to take some stuff back. We had a high-speed blowout just west of Allentown, PA, with her driving. She did great, got us off the road, then I got to change the tire with semis whizzing by 10 inches away.

Sunday, we had a nice outdoor brunch and then went to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. I had not been there (nor ridden the NYC subways) for 30 years. I had forgotten what a fantastic museum that is.

It is really great going to museums with Erica, who is an artist. She had wanted to see an exhibit of photography by Charles Sheeler. Lots of urban and industrial shots, but focusing on small parts rather than the whole. I learned from this, that doing that, focusing on a small part rather than what we would normally perceive as the whole image, is a flavor of found art. There was also a series of nudes of his 50ish, somewhat overweight wife -- but 6" by 10" sections or very odd angles. Some of them looked like dunes on Mars -- they could have been anything.

We next looked at the statuary court, with the Rodin Burghers bronze. Unbelievable, bronze with eyes that seem to be looking back at you.

Next stop, Oceania and Asmat (New Guinea) ancestor poles. These things were really scary. They are beautifully complex, with human figures one atop the other. From the top person, this thing projects -- the soul, phallus, you couldn't tell what -- a web with a person at the apex. The cards said, the Asmat did not believe in natural death, except in the very young or old. All other death was caused by rival tribes headhunting or sorcerers. When you got down a few tribe members, you would have a big ceremony and carve one of these. If you were down three tribe members, then you left three alcoves or spaces in the carving for the shrunken heads of the enemy tribes you would take to even the score. These things really were haunting -- these people were not running the same software that I am.

We then hit the Impressionists -- unbelievable, a room of Cezanne's, 2 rooms of Renoirs, etc. Then we headed for the modern section. We weren't there long before I knew it was time to go. My brain was starting to hurt. Two hours is about all I can do -- good art really is capable of delivering a psychic shock.

I was somewhat relieved that the next day my mind seemed to be working fine. When I first saw the movie "Brazil", my mind didn't work right for the next couple of days. After I got back from 5 days in France in late March, the French language thread I was running also made my mind feel distinctly different. It really seems like there should be techniques to tweak our software, far more effectively than drugs, meditation, or the other techniques we have. What would those be?

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