21 May 2008

What's so great about old?

What's so great about old?

I know I am probably going to get a lot of flack on this one but I'm going there*.

I also know that I just announced that I'm going to see the new Indiana Jones. But that's not because I agree with Indie's love of relics. That's because of my love of a certain relic. Yeah, that's me: smitten kitten. And it certainly ain't because he's old. But, sigh, let's face it, he is.

Anyhoo... I don't get what the big deal is with historical-type museums. Oh, I love (or "lurve" as Celine Dion would sing) art museums. And I very much like seeing unusual things like the Hope Diamond or the Foucault Pendulum but the mere fact that something is old does not add value to my assessment of it.

My typical museum experience:

Museum: Behold! Here's this broken, faded piece of a jug from 12 A.D. Oooaaahhhhh.

Me: Yeah? *blink* And??

Even if I was WAY into jugs**, why does it matter that this tired, incomplete piece of crockery survived way longer than all the other tired, incomplete pieces of crockery from that time? Is someone, 3,000 years from now, going to dig up a piece of my tired, incomplete $4.75 Target ceramic pitcher and think that it is somehow significant? Will it supposedly tell them something about the (likely presumed) cheap, tasteless society that is 2008 Washington, DC?

Man, I hope not. I don't want to represent.

* Do people still say "don't go there"?? It's still in the Urban Dictionary
but no one has said it directly to me since 2001, and then it was by someone who wasn't all that, um, fly. Do people still say "fly"?? Okay, I am way too suburban and old to use the term "fly" but it, too, is still in the Urban Dictionary. , §

The Urban Dictionary is the ish.

Maybe the Urban Dictionary isn't the ish.

§ You ever notice how when us old codgers use the hep cat slang we just sound tired?

** Maybe I should have rephrased that.


AbbotOfUnreason said...

In general, one hopes that museums are not displaying something simply because of its age. In general, there is some sort of context provided. Sadly, most of us grew up with museums that weren't very good at making that context interesting or obvious. I think museum folks used to be a lot like Unix folks: it's really cool, but you if you can't understand why, I can't explain it to you and maybe you don't deserve to know.

I like old things because they are touchstones for stories about the way people used to go about the business of life. They're like little clues sent forward from the past. I usually prefer the kinds of old things that were created to be functional because I like to think about the people who interacted with the thing and about what forces might have driven the creator of the object to make it more or less decorative.

I suppose that's why I tend to prefer art that is realistic or surrealistic. I don't understand the interest in the sculpture or abstract expressionism.

lacochran said...

Maybe there should be t-shirts:

"It's a museum thing, you wouldn't understand"