22 August 2011

The Answer

I left off my last post with a poser: What exhibit is the snagglepuss, bronze lion duo looking at? As there were no takers (even with serious Scotch riding), I'll tell you: They are looking right at the case that contains the origin of writing. Sumerian cuneiform script. And, what's more, the original Gilgamesh tablets—the first, if you will, novel. The kind of thing I bow down to.

Then there was this gem ("clearly highly trained"—click it, yo):

And the first thesaurus:

It's remarkable how vast and wide was the plunder of the British Empire. Its museum, the British, gives an accounting of the places they well and truly looted. Yes, it was theft; but the well-preserved and -curated booty is on display free for the world to view.

No visit, though, would be complete without an homage to the Rosetta Stone, perhaps its most famous, and important, artifact:

Which allowed people to be able to read this sort of thing:


Frances Madeson said...

"Like Noah", huh? Too, too!

I was in Athens in 1980 and the museums were empty. Everywhere there was litter in the galleries and signs on the pedestals that read: "On loan to the Tate" or "On loan to the Met". Fascism had impoverished the country. It was devastating to see.

Jim H. said...

Yes, authoritarian regimes cannot tolerate the free expression of many specific arts and the culture in general. They squelch them, silence them, and destroy them. It raises the interesting question: are these things better off in the fairly safe (nowadays) galleries of places like the British, or in their original loci? I recall how the Arab Spring Egyptians barricaded the Egyptian Museum against looting whereas the Rumsfeldian hooligans ransacked the museums housing the Iraqi/Babylonian heritage collections. Unlike the Brits, are we Yanks, then, poor preservers of our collective human heritage? Of anything that smacks of the 'collective'?

Randal Graves said...

I had no clue as to the answer, but the answer is swanktacular.

Was about to say something along the lines of 'if we (meaning the Us of A) can't appropriate something blah blah blah' but we're only the latest in a long line of empires to do so. The idea of the museum on some level, primarily art ones, are too gatekeepered (it is a word, internets, dammit), but I don't want this cool old stuff to vanish.

Which of course dovetails into your anecdote about Egyptians protecting their cultural heritage whereas our folks didn't give a fuck about that of someone else because we couldn't make use of it, I guess. Not saying that little bit of PR wouldn't have covered up our crimes, but sheesh.

Jim H. said...

Swanktacular, indeed!

Gatekeepered: yeah, that's why the Leake St. Tunnel is so differently cool: Fuck you, Banksy, I'm painting over that shit. But ossification and preservation will one day, I 'spect, hit there too. Gatekeepering.