At the Metropolitan

May 1, 2010

Some images from my most recent visit, all taken in ambient light, so pardon the fuzziness.  Flashes are not allowed.  Some images are linked to others if you click them.

L) My kind of interior – dizzying, isn’t it?    R) Lombard tryptich – click for more info.

Back view of a Chinese  stele with multiple images of the Buddha.

Samurai daggers and sword, objects of incredible beauty and precision.  Click to enlarge.

From an altarpiece by Lorenzo Monaco, one of my favorite artists.  Note Abraham with the flaming sword, and Isaac, in the upper right.  Click for more info.

Those northern mannerists!  They’re weird, but I love them.    Oil on copper plate, for a piece of furniture.  Click for more info.

A favorite of mine, Antoine Lavoisier and his wife, Prima della rivoluzione by that propagandist for 1789, Jacques Louis David.  Carlyle had fun with him and his revolutionary fervor.  Antoine was not so lucky.  He, a liberal, was guillotined by the radicals – dare I call them terroristes? – just leave it at Jacobins.   His wife survived.  Madison Smartt Bell has written a nice capsule biography of him, his monumental contribution to the creation of modern chemistry, and his destruction in those chaotic times, Lavoisier in the Year One.

The imminence of the divine, by an artist in Verrochio’s worshop [full image], a teacher of Leonardo.  From here to 2001 is not such a stretch – click to see why.  And to the right, the floor, mundane, just for balance…


July 21, 2009


Yes, I remember the moon landing too.  I thought it was cool, but despite the fact that I loved building models of the rockets, watching them take off on TV, read endless sci-fi stories, and was truly fascinated by the idea of space travel, I found the event itself rather unexciting.  Uh, well, that’s me.

I find myself a little dismayed at much of the hoopla over the 40th.  There is much nostalgia, which I don’t share.  I try and avoid nostalgia, but, again, that’s me.  If people want to get dreamy over their bygone days, it’s not my business.

No, what dismays me, and also amuses me a bit, is the prevailing spirit of declinism. Everything’s just going to the dogs.  The country has just gone to hell.  We were so much stronger in the past.  Yada, yada, yada.  As if people haven’t been saying that since history was first written, and I mean that literally!

Two examples from Watts Up With That, a blog that I read because it is very informative about global warming, or the lack of it, but which has a wide audience among various right-leaning people with whom I probably agree on nothing at all except that the Kyoto Treaty is a bad idea.

For a moment, let’s take time to think about earlier generations:

Some of our grandparents lived through the advent of the first automobile, the first aircraft, World War 1, the Great Influenza Epidemic, the Great Depression, World War 2, the Korean conflict, and so on. Some of them even lived long enough to see the first man walk on the moon.

My grandparents and and my parents’ generation were sensible and strong. In comparison, recent generations have become weak and frivolous.

No offense to The Greatest Generation, but they also brought us The Great Depression, Jim Crow in abundance, lots of pollution, the Red Scare, prohibition, the Teapot Dome Scandal, Al Capone,  McCarthyism, and lots of other unsavory things.  I’m not sure what strength is shown by “living through the advent of the first automobile.”

Following, we have an example of what is sometimes called The Politics of Resentment, that fertile soil for all sorts of nasty political movements:

For All Mankind.
The documentary. [on the moon walk] Watch it and be proud.
Notice the great bold letters U S A as the behemoth Saturn V rocket lifts the best of this great country into the future.
Notice the very large US flags worn proudly on their space suits.
Ask yourself . . . .
Would this kind of unabashed visible pride in country be permitted today?
Ask yourself . . .
Would the words ‘men’ and ‘mankind’ left behind on the plaque be permitted in today’s PC world.?
Ask yourself . . .
Do we still have the right stuff?
If your response is a concerned furrowing of your brow I suspect you’re not alone.
My admiration for these men and the great country that made their success possible swells my heart to bursting.

People today wear flags on everything.  To be a government employee practically requires it.  How terrible if we went to Mars and left a plaque commemorating the “human race” instead of “mankind.” Yes, how terrible our fall has been.  Things change, isn’t that awful?

I wish we could return to The Golden Age, but unfortunately, according to the ancient Greeks, who lived when things were really good, it predated them by centuries, and was sometime during the late Stone Age or early Iron Age.  Have fun!