If you are ever in London, you would do well to visit the hallowed halls of the British Museum. It holds, among other invaluable items, the Rosetta stone and the carvings from the Parthenon. I wandered there today, in endless halls of anthropological significance. Egyption mummies, the great artwork of Darius I’s Persian empire, the Minoans and Myceneans–Athens! Lycia! Assyria! Japan! There is also quite a bit from Europe 300-1100 AD, and a respectable collection from 800 BC. (Mark, it is practically a crime that you missed this, considering how you love history; we will have to come back). I think I was most awed, strangely enough, by the Roman mosaic tiles…though Greek statuary is utterly breathtaking to behold. There is soul in old objects; they speak. I suppose that explains my penchant for material culture (birthing machine again). The thingness of life.
While having a cranberry-brie baguette in the Grand Court (updated for the new millennium), I met two gentlemen from Switzerland. They noticed that I was sketching the museum lion in my notes, and so struck in. One of them remarked that he did not think experiences (like the ones we get traveling) are translatable. How do we share them? They live inside us. It is a good point. And yet, I feel that we do share them– that same sense of longing and desire for old and new things lives in everyone: the thumbprint of God. We are part of collective human experience, and I think poetry and music proves that the soul can be moved by inarticulate wonder from great distances of space and time (I am thinking of the composer Gibbons again). I am no great composer, of course. I am not a trained photographer, either. But I do believe we can share great gifts, and even great travels, through story, poem and song. And perhaps a blog counts for something, no?
We may even find there is a subtle likeness between us and those who have passed before. Mom, this one’s for you–I am standing next to “Amazon Woman.” I am sure you will appreciate the similarity. [There is a family joke wrapped up in that comment, for those not in the know]. The trouble I have in museums, therefore, is not difficulty connecting to the past or even trouble sharing it. Rather, I get mind-fog–a kind of fatigue from looking at too much amazing work at a time (I think it could be fatal at the Louvre). And so, naturally, I sought out another spot to have tea. In fact, I rather find my way around by frequent stops at tea rooms, coffee shops and pubs. Ants, you know, follow a chemical scent to find their way around (as several varieties are actually blind). I am a tea-shop ant. Go too far along the path without stopping in, and I am utterly lost.
Ant Invitation: Have a look at the snaps, and pour a cup of some friendly brew or other while you do it.