We haven’t been making specific plans for the most part, but we decided to take a museum day. Sasha almost blew a fuse when we told her of the Van Gogh collection at the Musee d’Orsay. She got a book on Van Gogh at Shakespeare and Company, as Van Gogh is her favorite painter. (I had no goddamn idea that Van Gogh was her favorite painter. Holy crap, she’s a teenager. I didn’t know she had a favorite painter.) So we headed over in the morning to do at least the Orsay, and maybe the Rodin museum as well. They’re pretty close together.
Naturally it was raining. Not a minor rain this time, but a serious soaking downpour. Going around town, you can do a good job avoiding rain just by hugging the buildings. We had a small umbrella to help with the rest. We took the metro over and when we surfaced, it was raining harder. We clung to the buildings on out walk over to the museum, and the line was fairly long. It was also out in the courtyard, in the rain. This sucked. We got in line and were immediately besieged by Umbrella Pirates who were walking up and down the line selling cheap umbrellas. The girls had one, so I said no. Then the next guy asked me to buy an umbrella. I said no. It was raining harder, but by the fifth guy trying to sell me an umbrella, this as a matter of goddamn principle. I’m not going to buy your fucking umbrella. Rethink your career choices.
I was soaked to the bone once we finally made it in. But again, my clothes were synthetic blend travel clothing, so it all dries really fast. I was dripping nonstop everywhere I stood as water pretty much just ran through my clothes onto the floor.
We got some tea to warm up in the café, and went through the galleries. Sasha was enthralled with the Van Gogh gallery. We hit that right away. We skipped over a lot of the big sculpture, as we wanted to spend more time with paintings, Impressionist work, and of course Van Gogh specifically. Sasha took time with each painting, but none more than La nuit étoilée [Starry Night]. She spent more time staring at this one painting than all others combined. You don’t always get to see art moving someone first hand, but this was one of those times.
The moment was ruined partially, by the rest of the tourists in the gallery. It was a goddamn moshpit around us. People were shoving each other, pressing up against the safety ropes. Everyone wanted a closeup of every painting. And the selfies. Despite being not allowed, there were far too many selfie sticks. And watching fat Americans back up through a crowd at a priceless work of art is one of the scariest things to see. These people looked at the art like running into a famous sports star at the local Wing Dome. “Pics or it didn’t happen!” If you didn’t get proof that you were there with the art, it just didn’t matter.
Seriously folks, that isn’t how this works.
You don’t run into the Louvre, see the Mona Lisa, then spike your artistic football. You being there isn’t fucking important. It isn’t about your *being*. It’s about your *feeling* How does this art make you feel? What do you see here? What did the artist intend and where do you see more or less? Does it speak to you at all? No one cares about your picture with some slab of oil on canvas, but collectively we all care about the emotion that art brings to us. Even if we never actually agree on what moves each of us specifically. It’s not just at the museum, it’s everywhere. People photograph every damn thing in front of them. They take non-stop walking videos of going through galleries and other events. They become so focused on the viewfinder, they aren’t looking at the actual view.
In fact, just Stop. Sit. Watch. Enjoy. Listen. Do something that gives you a memory to reflect on before you choose to record it. There’s a whole life out there beyond the viewfinder. Live it.