We Now Resume Our Semi-Regularly Scheduled Broadcast

Alas, the blogging-from-London bit didn’t pan out quite as well as I’d hoped — in no small part because I was having too much fun to stop and reflect on the fun that I was in the midst of having.

Now that I’m back in the SoCal heat, and in the thick of semester-startup, and no longer having any fun whatsoever, I can stop and do that reflecting. So, a few thoughts about London:

London is a good place to turn 36. We spent my birthday at the Tate Modern, and then walked up Fleet Street, through the Strand, to Somerset House, where I made my second visit in four days to the Courtauld Institute Gallery (thanks for the recommendation, Corey!). The best things I saw were the mesmerizing Bill Viola pieces, Five Angels for the Millennium, and Edouard Manet’s A Bar at the Folies-Bergère. Though very different, each has a way of just slightly disrupting one’s perceptions — the discrepancies between the scene and its ostensible reflection in the mirror behind; the uncertainty about the direction of the surface of the water — while simultaneously introducing a profound sense of melancholy. Very appropriate for the birthday at which one has arguably hit the statistical midpoint of one’s life.

London is also a good place to have one last night of being 35. We went to see the Royal Shakespeare Company’s production of Brand, which was either pedestrian or monumental, depending. (We found the performances breathtaking, but the play itself painful. But that’s what you get for going to see Ibsen.)

It’s good, in a sense, to be back in California — good to be back at work, good to be back online. London is, however, a difficult place to leave, particularly when you’re leaving someone behind there.


  1. Yes, welcome back. Did you happen to see the Freud exhibit at the Tate? Is it still there? Wasn’t it in LA for a while? I think I’ve now just missed it in both places…

  2. You know, I didn’t see any evidence of the Freud exhibit there, so I must have missed it (in fact, I think it was at the Tate Britain in 2002…?) — but fortunately, I caught it in L.A., twice. It was deeply disconcerting — much has been made of Freud’s grotesqueries in approaching the human body, but I still wasn’t prepared for this image, which haunts me months later.

  3. Wow. I hope it’s not too Freudian to say I think that’s a beautiful painting. I’m not sure I’d put it on my wall, but mainly because one does occasionally have guests.

    The agonizingly taut man manages to hold his fingers apart just so around the animal’s tail. And the animal responds with perfect repose. Parenting.

    Yes, I see the legs under the bed, but who doesn’t have a pair of those hidden somewhere?

  4. Incidentally, the painting is entitled “Sunny Morning–Eight Legs.” And the dog appears in multiple such paintings, always in that same state of repose.

    Maybe it’s just being a girl, though, but those legs under the bed are the stuff of nightmares for me. I prefer to think I don’t have them, but now I’ll have to go check. Thanks.

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