Monday, September 19, 2005

the Met

I spent 4 hours at the Met on Sunday. First, the medieval wing, with stained-glass and ceramic figures (yes, those are women with the bodies of beasts!):

Then, a variety of very lovely settings of what living rooms would've looked like, in the Victoria era. I love the different colors of walls.

I purchased the audio guide (because Dan did). Some of the paintings didn't impress me overly at first, but became more intruiging when I learned their story. The one below was commissioned by a woman who had the romantic favor of the king. She wished to keep herself in favor by sending him these enticing portraits, but keeping her mystery via the little corner of cloth that drapes over her nether regions. Apparently this was only sufficient for 6 years, and then he lost interest.

I liked this painting of Washington crossing the Delaware. It was wrong in all sorts of ways, such as:
1. They are crossing in the wrong direction.
2. The water is filled with icebergs which would've made it impossible to cross.
3. It would not have been possible to have horses and cannons in the small boats.
4. The boats are floating too lightly for that number of men.

but the spirits shows through! I recently read a biography of Washington in Newsweek which made me marvel that history was not more fascinating when I learned it in high school! Because this account of George Washington was riveting! On Christmas Day, they crossed the Delaware, becoming so tired and soaked that their guns didn't even work and they just stabbed the British with their bayonets. They were 4 hours behind schedule. But that's not what history remembers! The flaws are forgotten in the glory.

It reminds me of how things look so grand and magical from the outside, but they are so fraught with mistakes and peril from the inside. In Lord of the Rings, Frodo was wracked with weariness, fear, grumpiness, but later his deeds become an epic song. This is the way with actual life as well. Google looks so impenetrable to some outsiders, so miraculously able to deliver innovative products on a very rapid schedule. But on the inside, it is actually quite imperfect.

I also enjoyed how the Met has a mezzanine in the American Wing which is just crammed with objects. An entire row of silverware. Another entire row of portraits. This is the secondary collection, the less-important works which would probably be prominently displayed at any other museum but which are crammed along with hundreds of other similar objects at the Met.

Lastly, I like this picture. I can imagine being an early pioneer (glorious from the outside, but probably filled with fear and flies at the time!) and coming upon this scene.

I would have liked to live here:

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