Friday, May 15, 2009

The Double Dark

They talk about it with reverent tones here at Cirque.
The Double Dark.
At first I thought it was some snazzy gourmet chocolate bar.
(People talk about chocolate in these same hushed tones nowadays. Simple pleasures I guess)
At Cirque Double Dark is the magical code word for not one but two days off. In a row. Imagine.

With one day off all you have time for is laundry, an Epsom salt bath and a quiet evening of rest and recuperation. Two days off and you might even be able to see a little of the city you’re in.
Double Darks are rare at Cirque. But much appreciated.

I tried to squeeze the most out of my Double Dark by seeing two Broadway shows (from the rafters) and went to the Metropolitan Museum of Art where I spent four blissful hours of pure gawk.
(I did not do my laundry. Maybe next Monday.)

After paying five dollars to get in- (I affected my best Serbo-Croatian accent and said “Enough, this?” and offered a crumpled fiver. The bored kid at the ticket counter rolled his bespectacled eyes and said “Sure.” And I was in. He may or may not have heard me when, not three paces away, I asked a kindly docent in perfect English “Would you be so kind as to direct me to the Japanese Armaments?”

I live for Danger.

And it did say “suggested” in fine print under the ticket prices.

An Actual Twitter

Brittle Mystery

For the next four hours I floated amongst the masterworks, my body a pedestal for the squishy sculpture that is my brain

"Come back! I'll knee you to death!"

A strange dance is under way here at the Met on this quiet Tuesday afternoon. People are distractedly swirling about the art in eddies of quiet, willful confusion.
And I noticed something interesting. Not about the art. But about the way people look at art. What it does to their bodies.

Why do people cock their heads to one side like a cocker spaniel puppy hearing a harmonica for the first time?

Is it to help the sweet honey of the golden mean pour into their being?
Are they trying to angle themselves to better receive the brittle mystery of beauty as it spills off these masterpieces?

Why do I see so many people stand with their hips cocked, one toe poised and lower lips bit in consternation?

And when we look at art is the art looking back at us?

Is that why we tilt our heads just so?


They say the greatest gift you can give another human being is your attention.

Is the same true of art?

The Man Who Understands by Klee

The Prison

While we ogle away, are the paintings busy envying our three dimensionality?

Do the Etruscan dancers tire of endlessly circling the urn like goldfish in a bowl?

Immortals from the Han Dynasty, partying.

Does that elegant katana long for battle with the Celtic sword crucified across the hallway, only a couple of layers of plexiglass separating them. Forever.
(Or until the exhibit changes.)

Perpetual Grin Lock

In the Oceania wing I watch NYU students lose staring contests with Whale Masks. On the second floor Caravaggios are pointing out stigmatas to a woman in a wheel chair and Modiglianis mope and look down their impossibly long noses at Dutch tourists. I swear a Burgher of Calais winked at me as I passed.

I stroll past all this drama in a state of engorged bliss, knowing each masterpiece may indeed represent the work of a lifetime. Or two. Or three.
Lifetimes distilled into an object.


Human hands carved this wood grain into gossamer, forged that steel into filigree.

To walk these halls is to be a witness to a kind of alchemy. The alchemy of turning marble into muscle, pigment into flesh.

Welcome to the Met.
A prison where immortals hunch on pedestals and hang on walls, where the admission price is only suggested and visiting hours are six days a week.

Tilt your head.

Picasso's The Actor
"I do so to have an ass."

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