Serious Museum Faces
26 June 2001
Interview morning! Garth Nix will be calling me from his publisher's in two hours. (What the heck am I doing up and showered? Well, our apartment complex is turning off the water at 9:00 a.m. We need to get everybody in and out of the shower before then. Ick.) I'm looking forward to it. It'll be cool. I haven't used shorthand in a long time, anyway.
So yesterday we did not, in fact, make it to Alcatraz. When we got to that end of the Embarcadero, there was a sign on the Alcatraz-stuff-selling building reading, "Next available Alcatraz tour, Wednesday." Not optimally useful to us. So we had sourdough bread, and some of us had clam chowder, and that was good. And then we went to SF-MoMA.
Oh. They had this room full of Klee sketches that were funny. They were meant to be funny. The room was labeled "Wit and Words" or something like that. I was laughing. Scott and Mark were laughing. (Timprov had stayed home to read slush and make his back feel better, and Michelle was in another room.) Nobody else was laughing. They all had their Serious Museum Faces on. The "How Wonderful Great Art Is" faces. You could have put a neon sign reading "Funny!" up and pointed it at the room, and they would have looked with Serious Museum Faces at it and pondered the nature of American culture and humor. Or pretended they were pondering. Klee went to some trouble to make those drawings funny. He could have just sketched, "Woman in Blue" or whatever. He didn't have to make it, "Operation (Nearsighted Anatomist," where the surgeon's nose is very nearly in the patient's abdomen. He didn't have to draw vegetation attacking. But he did. The Serious Museum Face people are dorks.
It was even labeled witty. I don't understand. Usually if you label something funny, people laugh at it too much (and honestly, only some of those drawings were really funny, some were only smile-funny, not laugh-funny). Like comedies. People will label something a comedy and then laugh reflexively at it, even when it's not particularly funny.
Evidently someone labeled me a comedy fairly early in my cousin Darcy's life, because she laughs nervously at everything I say. Can't imagine meaning any of that stuff seriously, I suppose.
So the best geek thing there, I thought, was the eye drawer. It was a device that recorded eye movements and drew them on paper. I was more interested in it as a science tool than in the results as art. But it was quite interesting. The artist (?) had recorded all kinds of different things: his reading of the newspaper, looking at a painting, at a sketch, at pornography; his blinking, bright lights...lots of stuff. And it was all different. There was a physical difference in the way he looked at pornography and the way he looked at paintings. (That may have been a difference in his choice of porn and not in porn in general, but I digress.) And you couldn't tell at all what the paintings had been of, but you could follow the lines that they try to show you in art appreciation classes. The eye really does do what they say it does -- it's not just the brain filling that in.
We're going to head down to Santa Cruz for lunch with Tim after I finish the Nix interview, and then we're going to the shore. It might be the beach. I don't know yet. I don't know what the weather will be. I'm wearing a bikini under my long dress and a sweater over it, to cover all contingencies. (I do not believe for a moment that it will be comfortable swimming weather, but I don't want to have to worry about holding things up if I want to dip my toes.) My contention is that anywhere I can't comfortably wear a bikini most days in the summer is not a beach. It's the shore (which my Oregon professors said was Eastern) or the coast or something. But not the beach. If we have time, we might head down to Monterrey. Or not. Many things are possible. Last night we had red jungle fowl's joy (link to come soon -- it's one of my favorites) and then went for Ghirardelli sundaes. Mmmmmm. Raaaaaspberries.
(It is now only a month to my birthday, in case you want to start your own little countdown. And I'm not allowed to buy any more books between now and then.)
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