Wednesday, 2 April 2014

Some disappointments and an early night

Quite frankly, even I'm ashamed of myself, but it's half past eight and I am going to go to sleep immediately after writing this blog. The others are out enjoying empty Japanese orchestra but I have had 6 hours sleep in two days. Besides, I couldn't carry a tune in a bucket, as some of my nearest and dearest will happily attest.

However: I am utterly packed and ready to go tomorrow and I'm going to sleep for ten hours, which is just about the best thing in the world right now. Recapping my day very briefly: I wrote, I headed out, I spoke some French with a woman from Mali who owns a boulangerie, and I went into a cathedral.

I am - and once again those close to me will attest to this - an atheist. I don't belong in churches or cathedrals, and yet you will read on the pages of this blog hundreds of words about cathedrals. I am an absolute sucker for them. Blame my upbringing. I don't know what it is, but there's something about them, so with no further ado I present the Cathedral of Saint John the Divine, and the statue outside it which seems to feature your brain on acid.

The views from the sides are, though strange, not too terrifying. I mean fine, there's a lot more giraffes than one normally sees with angels but hey, maybe the artist likes giraffes. He finds their necks graceful and their tongues indicative of peace with the world. I don't know. And sure, there's a face on either side who's clearly been smoking something illegal and relaxing and yes, okay, the whole scene is taking place on a crab but quite frankly there aren't enough crustaceans in religious art, so I'm all for it. Then you get a little closer and things get...peculiar.

For example: who's this figure whose head is literally hanging by a thread? One assumes it's Satan, but you can't tell much from the sculpture: just that he got his head inexpertly hacked off by a psychopathic angel. How do I know he's psychopathic? Because look at his face as he cuddles the giraffe.

I mean he really, really likes that giraffe. The fingers, like Satan's, are very long - look at how they're wrapped around the hilt of the sword. Either his pectorals are popping like crazy or those are his ribs, but in either case it just feels a little unhealthy. You certainly can't fault the design, or the dedication to detail - those feathers, for example, are absolutely exquisite. It's just that clearly there's a lot of emotion and expression in this sculpture, and one of those emotions seems to be passing between the angel and the giraffe. In a...forbidden...sort of way. You know?
At last...we can be together now.

I don't know. Maybe I'm just projecting.

The cathedral was absolutely gorgeous, and there were phoenix hanging from the ceiling. Not real phoenix, obviously: there's no evidence they existed apart from some writings thousands of years ago and it's not like that's sufficient evidence to believe in anything at all.

That being said, they were gorgeous. The cathedral, too, was incredible - a gothic masterpiece in a city that wasn't even around for the Goths. Was I full of culture? Not quite.

So after the cathedral, what next? Naturally, I went to the Natural History Museum which is, in essence, a shrine to Teddy Roosevelt.

(It should be noted that there isn't a whole lot wrong with that; the man was pretty epic. It's just a bit...startling.)

In any case, the atrium was full of wise words from the man himself and enormous dinosaur skeletons, and this set the tone for the rest of the bony exhibits. It was something of a struggle to get all the way round: there's a lot to see and I didn't manage it all. I did see something which convinced me that perhaps there was, once, a Satan-shaped monster. Behold:

Alright, this has taken three days. That's how tired I am. I hope you enjoyed it nonetheless.