Tuesday, September 14, 2010

I'll Sprechen Your Deutschland

Wouldn’t it be cool if we could pull an Inception-style hijack on the world’s brain and dictate which words get to be used to describe us? I think if I had that power—or more accurately, when I have that power, mwahahaha—the adjective that hopefully isn't entirely out of my reach to achieve on my own that I wish to be used to describe me is "electric.”  In fact, if I had my way nearly as often as I ought, I think electric is the one word that would be absolutely synonymous with the conception of me.

Yes, the choice of that word may have more than a little to do with my obsessive attachment to Oasis’s song “She’s Electric.” On top of that positive association is the slightly more bizarre childhood love I still have for the way John Travolta exclaims “it’s electrifyin!” in the high-brow favorite “You’re the One That I Want.” And yes, Joe, this whole section of this post was inspired by you drawing a flattering connection between me and MGMT’s “Electric Feel.” Way to be.

But aside from my permanently fabulous music and friend taste, I want that word to equal me because I think it encompasses so very many things that I consider valuable in a person: vitality, excitement, stimulation, bombastability, dynamicism (just made that word up), galvanization, a general idea that lying flat and letting life go by just isn’t an option for an electric person, and that anyone in contact with said person would be either shocked or energized by their presence.

So, there it is, the goal: not just to team up with Leo and take over people’s minds while having his babies, but to keep on gaining static stores from the daily friction I encounter in classes, work, and the five minutes of ‘life’ I get every day until I can be an absolutely electric personality. I may be a little weak on the physics of that analogy, but I think I have enough of a working understanding of people to implement it.

And now, for the main attraction, the best example I have of what kind of experiences I think really juice up the wires on the road to a truly electrifying presence/mind/soul: Seeing beautiful, wondrous, and life-changing art.

That’s right, I just said that my visit to Denver’s King Tut exhibit was positively life changing, and no, I don’t think that that hyperbole is too grandiose for the event--in fact I would argue that it isn’t a hyperbole at all.

I have, in the past, future, and present, waxed pretentious about art. This is not news. But I have reserved the right in the midst of my massive superiority complex to loath people who try to be more/differently pretentious than me. For instance, I have always have a twitchy semi-Tourette's reaction to those who pompously declare that you “simply must see it in person, dahling, or else you just couldn’t understand what the piece really is.”

This bothers me because it often is in conjunction with a long braggish description of a recent trip to Europe from people who don’t really know how to tell stories. Also, I believe my intellect and capacity of understanding can fathom a painting even if I wasn’t in that little nook of Eastern Europe. And I still stand by that. But now I’m amending my previous position just a leetle bit: because when it comes to ancient Egyptian art, you sorta really have to see it in person! Go ahead and hate me for that reversal and lack of integrity of approach.

Or maybe it was just me that had to see it in person to get completely swept away in what they were able to accomplish. In all my art history classes I enjoy the Egyptian section, but inevitably find myself comparing their works to the Greeks, and since Greece is later in time and in fact builds on what the Egyptians were doing, Greek art is undoubtedly more advanced in realizing the human form in a naturalistic setting. So, in short, Egyptians=cool, Greeks=Egyptians plus extra strength awesomeness.

And then there I was, staring up at a fifteen-foot bust of Akhenaton, completely enthralled with the stylized shaping of his ear for a good twenty minutes. I couldn’t get over it, I couldn’t contain or express the awe I felt for all that had been done four thousand years ago. The muscle and tears and sheer inspiration these people used to grind and coax and compel unyielding rock into holding a piece of their culture, their souls, their sheer stubborn insistence that people remember that they were there, not just doomed to fade away into the sand.

I'm sure I was a sight to see at the museum, a little girl of indeterminate age with my pigtails and combat books making me looking like a combat-ready Rebecca of Fort-Sumter Farm, dashing about from statue to stoneware, a look of part glee/part incomprehension/part geek-out of unchartable proportions on my face.

In fact, as I scurried from the bust of Hepshetsut to a tiny but lovingly formed statuette of Imhotep a security guard stopped me in my tracks and asked "What is it?" I was confused and just stared at him. He elaborated: "What is it that you're reacting to right now? Which piece?" I was the least articulate person on the planet in that moment. I finally spit out a befuddled "Wah--wel---Everything!!" and got back to what I wanted to be doing, which for once didn't have anything to do with the people immediately around me.

There were many quiet moments, usually as I looked at the smaller pieces of statuary and the inlaid jewelry, that tears welled up in my eyes. I couldn't tell you exactly their source, there seemed to be a lot of confusion in my brain, but I know at least part of it was an overwhelming feeling of kinship and love with these people who cared for beautiful things in a way I am still aspiring to.

One thing is for sure: as I walked out of that gorgeous museum, I was positively crackling with electricity.