Wednesday, March 24, 2010

The Musee Imaginaire, Napoleon, and Wedding Invitations

So I've been listening lately to all the back episodes of the National Gallery's podcast. I highly recommend it. Today on the way to the university health centre, I listened to an episode from early 2009 that mentioned a concept called the Musee Imaginaire. Basically, it the veritable "museum" of images and sounds and stories that you have in your mind that you prize highly. It can range from stuff like Titian's Man With A Glove (which I remember seeing for the first time in the National Gallery of Art in D.C.) to a really pretty candy wrapper that you can't bear to throw out.

I'm now officially toying with the idea of creating a blog dedicated to my own Imaginary Museum. If nothing else, I could keep track of a lot of the things I find from day to day that interest me while practising my descriptive writing skills for my dissertation. It's a strong temptation. Not to mention, it's a great exercise for proving that you really *do* use all of the "nonsense" you learned in school in your daily life. Of course, I'll give it a better name than the imaginary museum before I get started.

In other news, after a rousing stint at the gym today (I kept my eyes firmly shut when stretching to avoid the sight of Tiny-Asian-with-Tiny-Shorts's legs. Seriously - be considerate!) I'm now back to "home-turf" in my historical studies: yup, another paper about Napoleon. This makes goodness only knows how least four by my count, including my undergraduate thesis. Of course, in my new-found love of something vaguely resembling (read: stealing from) art history, I'm looking at portraits of Napoleon rather than the very Old-Boys'-Club approach to just listing his battles and important legislation while refusing to dispute his importance to history. (Yes, my Historical Methods module is leaving me well-informed and cynical about my chosen field of study, but that's another rant for another time.)

I'm sure that I should expand my horizons somewhat, but I've known for ages that the French and American Revolutions and the general time period in Europe and America surrounding them has been my favourite bit of history. The battles still seemed to have some element of glamour amongst all the carnage and violence and cold brutality, but I didn't have to learn Latin or remember how many different Crusades were made to take the Holy Land until Christendom just stopped trying. There's still pageantry in the painting of the long Eighteenth Century - it still feels like a historical era, that is to say, remote from my reality - but there's enough of modernity in it that it doesn't feel completely alien. It's easier to wonder what Emma Hamilton or Antoine-Jean Gros or Joshua Reynolds or the men of the Armee d'Italie thought of their world than the try and fathom the likes of King Baldwin IV of Jerusalem or the entertaining hermaphrodite we read about during the Spanish Inquisition. (For the record, she was a woman who claimed to push out a penis along with her baby during childbirth. So she lived like a man for a while, married another woman, and eventually "saw the error of her ways" and tried to have her "penis" surgically removed. One impressive yarn, if I do say so myself.) Anyway, hermaphrodite Inquisition victim aside, the time of Revere, Jefferson, Nelson, and Napoleon is where my interest lies. (So there, Paul Simon, I *do* know where my interest lies. This references a song I don't know that I entirely recommend despite my love for Simon and Garfunkel.)

Finally: wedding invitations.

Yup, that's not quite how I feel, but it's close enough. The end is so near, and yet so far. I've been cutting out tiny squares of cardstock for ages now - I think I'll be a permanently hunched little old woman if I dutifully bend over that paper guillotine for another hour like Penelope at her loom in the Odyssey. I do love my invitations - they're turning out lovely - but I will love them much more once they are in the mail and speeding (or crawling since the post is so slow) away from me and towards the mailboxes of those few, those chosen few, who have been invited. Okay, so the vague literary reference aside, I don't have nearly the degree of conceit required to talk about my wedding with such pomp and gravitas. Really, I just want the time to breeze past until it's all over and I can relax somewhere in the Alps with Sebastian and lots of snacks.

I'm being good and eating healthier and exercising more. Both just in general and so that I look really good in my wedding dress. However, much as I love my exercise and my healthy eating, I look at junk food sometimes with an air of longing - especially if I'm Shopping While Hungry. (No!) I ate an entire bag of Doritos by myself in two days, and polished off a pint of milk (skim, to my credit) and two Krispy Kreme doughnuts this afternoon. Like Keats, I could now write an Ode to an inanimate object. Not to a Grecian Urn, but to a Chick-fil-a Salad or a carton of Take One Chinese's Beef Lo-Mein and Sesame Chicken. Alas, Provo has no decent Chinese take away places, but Christmas with my parents this year means I can indulge my Chick-fil-a craving at long last. Hurry, wedding! Hurry and get here so I can spend a week being lazy and eating junk food in the Alps!

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