June 20, 2007
Jam-packed flight with everyone in a good mood. Lots of different kinds of people traveling—a large group of mostly high school age singers (and their parents) with matching t-shirts going to build good will by singing around Europe (I thought of Beth’s similar experience a few years ago). A less obvious group of Stanford MBA students on the way to celebrate graduating by checking out how the Russians do it. I talked with the spouse of one for a while. It was an interesting conversation. His wife is a pilot and he’s a firefighter. He described being the nurturing parent and how much he loves and misses their daughter (who isn’t along for the ride). I thought—yeah, just wait ‘til she leaves home if you want to experience missing your kids!
One is: Why aren’t you traveling with your husband? This is actually an interesting question because it can mean so many things. It can mean precisely what it says. It can mean “Your marriage much be in trouble or you wouldn’t travel alone.” It can mean either “You should stay home to take care of your husband” or Your husband should come and take care of you.” Point being—it’s an oddity that needs to be explained. When I started planning, though, I didn’t think of what I was doing as unusual, simply pragmatic.
The other question is: Why do you want to learn Hebrew? This is much harder to answer, because I don’t really know why. I just know I want to do it. I want to be competent to speak and to understand—I feel inauthentic without that capability, somehow. I’m not even sure what I mean by inauthentic—as a Jew? As a scholar? I don’t know. And why this area in particular as opposed to intensive Talmud study, say? But “inauthentic” isn’t quite right, because I don’t feel like I’m going out inferiority, but out of love, out of pure love for the language. So I have no reason. It’s enough for me to really want it, without needing to explain it, but I know that we humans like explanations (which are really stories about our life and world) and not having a good “story” is a bit unsatisfying.
I tried to take a picture, but it didn’t work—I can’t get the flash to turn off. The sun has never set this whole trip. It dips below the horizon and pops back up. I missed all of
I’m sitting on a bench overlooking the
This is the “
On the way, I stopped at the
The Tate—one really interesting exhibit on cities. Nicely done, showing where the urban population comes from, how it’s distributed, how people get around. A 3-D “map” of population density illustrated how dense Mumbai and
Then I wandered off to see the art, but what really interested me were the incredible number of school groups touring the museum. We’re not talking bored high school kids. We’re talking six year olds, sitting politely in groups, being made to pay attention (one little girl let her attention stray—she wasn’t doing anything, just not looking at the docent—and her teacher pulled her attention back to the front), but also actually engaged in learning. Older kids (say, ten) observing museum etiquette as they wandered about with sketch pads. And we’re talking boys as well as girls.
Continued down the road to the new Globe, where there were tons of school groups, all in different uniforms and many groups segregated by gender. I decided to go ahead and spring for the tour, largely because they were rehearsing and I wanted the chance to see how they did it. They were rehearsing the end of Merchant of Venice, which was a jolly jig. The guide explained that all of Shakespeare’s plays ended with a jig…there was a lot of competition, so you wanted to send your audience out dancing in the aisles, as it were. Which raises the “Shakespeare in Love” question: what happens when your two protagonists have offed themselves (as in R&J)? Or “that’ll have’em rolling in the aisles.” Well, it turned out that you just manage to dance around the bodies. In the case of Romeo and Juliet, the parents lifted up their dead children, had them join hands, and they participated in the dance. The docent assured us it was very effective performance. Oh, and in the case of Othello, they just pushed the bed with the dead bodies on it to the rear of the stage and danced in front of it. Yeah
Turns out this is the third Globe (the first burned down, the second was torn down by the Puritans). It was made as close to the original as legality allows (as in, the reed roof has been fireproofed!). The joints are held together, not with nails, but with wooden dowels. The walls are plaster and goat hair (go figure).
Othello and Love’s Labour’s Lost are both playing August 19, the one day I’m in
Oh, and I didn’t really think I looked like a guy. Not once, but twice today I have been addressed as sir. Huh?
I'm posting from a suburb of Paris now, but too tired to fill in those details now.