Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Happy Birthday to Me!

So Sunday was my birthday, and I am now 45 years old. At first my lack of accomplishment or experience was making me feel both sad and guilty -- wasteful idiot! What a stupid way to treat the only life you will ever have! But I stopped that, and I have decided that I am going to live to be 90 years old (not such a difficult thing to strive for; my grandfather died at 95) and so I have just reached the halfway point of my life. I'm only halfway through it! So there. Plenty left.

Anyway, as a birthday celebration, my cousin took me to the Portland Art Museum to see the R. Crumb exhibit of the Book of Genesis. I understand his position on the Bible -- he says that it is the single most important work of literature in the world, since it is the foundation for the cultures of so many of the world's people, and has made them who they are today, whether they are still Christian or not. I get that. What I don't really get is the "and therefore" part -- and therefore he needed to draw a cartoon delineation of the entire book. Every verse (that means sentence). Really?

He was not intending to make it into a humorous story, or even into a story. He was just following the verses, in the order they were laid out. So that means that he also covered the "begats". You know, there's nearly a chapter of those -- "and Eber lived four and thirty years and begat Peleg. And Eber lived four hundred and thirty years after he begat Peleg and begat sons and daughters. And Peleg lived thirty years and begat Reu. And Peleg lived after he begat Reu some crazy number of years and had lots more kids. And so on -- " Pardon my irreverence, all you religious types who take this very seriously as the word of god.

Anyway, although it was a hard job, and he did it all very consistently and well, I didn't really care for it -- I think because of his style of drawing them. He made sure that they were not beautiful people, but were, in fact, Semitic-looking early-tribesmen types, with the whole R. Crumb version of sexuality in the background -- women who were considered attractive by the storytellers had large round rumps and enormous erectile nipples. So there was that degree of not taking it seriously, but not enough to say he was mocking the Bible -- I don't know. Perhaps that is just what I should have expected to see, knowing the sort of guy he is. And I don't want to be giving the stories any added importance, but just their historical cachet -- so it's hard to say why that degree of mockery spoiled the enjoyment for me. Perhaps I am still reacting as someone who was raised by Christians. And it didn't spoil the experience at all. I loved being back in the PAM -- haven't been there for about twelve years, and I wandered around and looked at all the art. It brought the National Portrait Gallery in London back to mind, even though it is nothing like that -- just the walking around a temperature-controlled building and looking at paintings and statuary is all they had in common -- but that memory, in combination with some really great pictures brought a smile to my face that I wore for several hours.

And then Katie and I had about forty-five minutes to sit and talk with one another as Mickey made her way page by page through the whole darn book, which was very enjoyable as well. And then we walked a few blocks down Park to South Park, and had a delicious lunch accompanied by Kamikazes and followed with some not-as-good-as-it-should-have-been panna cotta. Still pretty enjoyable, though. And the appetizers were absolutely delicious -- light and crispy polenta fries and kalamari, with spicy mayo or black truffle cream to dip them in. YUM.

So happy birthday to me!

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