Dog's Dinner

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Monday, September 26, 2005

THE SLEEP OF REASON

One of my favorite scenes in film-- the scene in Triple Cross (Terence Young, 1967) where a wizened, bearded Trevor Howard tells a cynical, flippant Christopher Plummer that "The private war of Eddie Chapman has come to an end" and persuades him (sort of) to commit himself to helping British intelligence-- takes place in a museum-- the British Museum, I suppose it probably is-- among prehistoric mollusks. (I think it may well have been inspired by the foreign spies meeting in the aquarium in Hitchcock's SABOTAGE.) Is that why I like museums? Anyway, except for zoos I think I love museums best of all, more even than movies. Here, minimally revised, an e-mail I wrote yesterday to my good friend Jon about one of our local museums:

There's actually a quite good museum in Katowice (35 min. train
> from
> Gliwice, big transpo hub and not known for any kind of beauty)
> which is
> showing, until the end of this week, an exhibition of Dali's
> illustrations,
> as well as a group of Polish replicas of Western European cave
> paintings
> flanked by actual detritus from central European caveman
> culture-- little
> "Venus" fetishes with big breasts, earrings made from bones and shells, etc. and real mammoth bones. The Dali
> was what
> drew me 2 weeks ago and I was quite favorably impressed-- the
> illustrations for
> Alice in Wonderland, Carmen, Don Quixote, and Chretien de Troyes'
> Quest for
> the Holy Grail have the occasional melting clock, skull crawling
> with ants
> etc. but without the teutonic pedanticism or academic rigor of his paintings-- some of
> them actually
> looked like Miros. Came back today and found it a little less
> revelatory
> however. Actually I think the most interesting part was "Dali's
> Goya," where
> D. defaces prints/lithographs/gouaches/whatever of Goya with phalluses
> including
> huge noses and tongues bending over Goya's squat, stocky figures, or with pastels (reminding me of Welles's
> supposed
> near-last words: "Keep Ted Turner and his goddam crayolas off
> 'Kane'!")
> and/or weird titles such as "Heisenberg's Law" or "Dali and
> Cezanne get in a
> fight with Francois Millet" or something. Interesting palimpsest
> after being
> shocked and convulsed by the real Goya in Berlin last July.

********************** ADDENDUM ***********************

Actually, the most likable parts of the exhibit, which I typically forgot about, were some multimedia photocollages of the type made famous by Joseph Cornell. Darkness.

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