Sunday, February 28, 2010

Les Musées

Museum: n. A building, place, or institution devoted to the acquisition, conservation, study, exhibition, and educational interpretation of objects having scientific, historical, or artistic value. [L mūsēum place sacred to the Muses, building devoted to learning or the arts (referring esp. to the scholarly institute founded in Alexandria about 280 b.c.)

The Muses were the daughters of Mnemosyne, a Titan who was the deification of memory. These nine (or three) daughters of memory are typically known for being in charge of art, but they actually had domains in history, science, literature, drama, music (which name comes from 'muse'), etc. The Muses taught Hesiod to sing and Homer asks them to tell the tale of Odysseus. Whenever someone working in any of these branches was about to create, he or she would invoke the name of the Muses to guide them in their work.
Painting of a Muse, probably Erato, guiding Hesiod the poet.

It is interesting to me that the Muses are the daughters of Memory, for it is through memory that we learn everything and anything. It is very fitting that museums should be named after these nine sisters, as museums today house objects that are generally derived from these branches of culture, and are places where we can learn many things that are essential to living full, educated lives.

It is sad, then, that so many people today do not see the relevance of museums. Take, for example, the thoughts of a girl who was lucky enough to visit the British Museum (taken from said museum's website):
"Everywhere you look there's
old artifacts no one has seen before
but what they forget is that its so old
its not important! I feel like we should
focus on important things like life
and what we are doing NOW!"
When I heard this, I was shocked. I then read it to my brother, who proceeded to say, "Yeah, I agree." This shocked me even more, and even saddened me a bit, because he and I had nearly the same exposure to the past and its importance as children, but somehow got lost along the way. I may have a biased point of view, working in a museum and majoring in the study of ancient cultures, but I sincerely believe that without learning about those who have come before us, even if we are not related to them, greatly expands our knowledge and understanding of the way people have lived, do live, and will live. It increases compassion and empathy for others in ways it is difficult to describe. For example, I am very interested in the way certain societies have been able to live off of the land, growing closer to it and treating it with respect. I feel that we can all learn a great deal from these people, who might be long gone.

I can provide numerous quotes on the importance of learning from the past. Not only can we foresee possible outcomes in certain situations (the whole "Those who forget history are doomed to repeat it" concept), but it also makes us better individuals. Humans are the only living organisms blessed with obvious self-awareness and an ego, which makes us want to better ourselves indefinitely. And we should! People always talk about how they want to be "cultured," exposing themselves to art, plays, music, etc. But what they sometimes fail to realize is that if they skip over learning about human past, not just history (because humans also exist outside of history, which is defined as the recorded past-- some cultures do not or did not have written records) they greatly deficit themselves in knowledge.

I searched everywhere for a really good quote that might crystallize the point I'm trying to get across, and the closest I could find was one by some author I'd never heard of in some book I'll probably never read:

"No matter how much time has passed, these things still affect us and the world we live in. If you don't pay attention to the past, you'll never understand the future. It's all linked together."
— Sarah Dessen, Just Listen

I think that many times we will, such as the case with my brother, be exposed to museums and their goodness as children, but as we grow older, we forget that learning about these sorts of things is important. At the Museum of Peoples and Cultures, where I work, really the only visitors we get are Cubscouts or private school groups. Why is it that this type of learning has become extracurricular? I think that, in this world so fixed on math, business, and physical science (What? The Space Race is over you say?) it is even more important that museums be visited and history and culture be taught, and not just to our youth. This obvious lack of care for museums is evident in the museums on the BYU campus. The only museum that really gets any attention is the Museum of Art, and this is probably only because it has the most money and a classy-ish cafe on the second floor. The Life Science Museum gets visited by people who want to laugh at weird stuffed animals. The Paleontology Museum is a bit of a joke amongst the geology department (most people don't even realize that the study of dinosaur bones is even part of geology-- another oversight). And the Museum of Peoples and Cultures' existence is often forgotten, at least by 98% of the students on campus (I can't speak for the staff). It is sad that the MPC has been so neglected, especially financially, that certain bathrooms have to be used for material storage, that the building is so old that humidity and light conditions are difficult to control in certain areas, and that certain of the staff gets paid less than what they might get paid elsewhere on campus (not me-- I'm happy with my wage). Despite all of this, however, the staff is dedicated to their work, and try to make it interesting and even fun for anyone that might wander in.

With all of this, I hope that you will start visiting museums more often, especially smaller ones that might be struggling to get by, or at least learn to appreciate their existence or significance a bit more.

Post Script: I want to know your opinion! Do you agree or disagree? Did I get something wrong? Tell me all.

Friday, February 26, 2010


Half the time I post on this blog I feel like such a dork. This is one of those times.
Have you ever seen "Meet Joe Black"? If not, stop reading and go watch it right now. Seriously. It's a great movie, and the music is beautiful.
While searching for a song from MJB to add to my soundtrack playlist on youtube I came across this video. Okay, no, actually, I was looking for clips from "Giant" with James Dean and there was a clip compilation with this music and some other dumb song that totally ruined it or I would've recommended it. Anyway, that led me to the search to add it to my list, and then I found this video, which is really cool. In my opinion. But hey, it's my blog, so I can say what I want, right?
Music is "Whisper of a Thrill" by Thomas Newman (from Meet Joe Black)
There's a "real" post coming soon. Sorry for the randomness this time around.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Goats in Trees

Yesterday I was with Adrien and we opened an email (in the library-- unfortunately for anyone that had to listen to us laugh while they were trying to study) that had pictures of goats in weird places. Several were of goats in trees. Goats in trees, yes. It looks like a tornado came through and plopped all the goats in a tree.
So I looked it up.
Apparently in Morrocco they have these trees (called Argan trees) that are knobbly and hard, which the goats naturally climb to get at the fruit, which have little nuts in them that the goats can't digest, and are subsequently collected by goat herders and pressed for oil that apparently smells terrible but tastes really great and also will keep you young forever.
Not sure how I feel about that.
But goats in trees? Someone will have to get me the calender next year.
Don't you feel great now that you know something useless about goats? I sure do.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Percy Jackson: The Lightning Thief

Last night I saw Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief. I have a lot to say about this movie, mostly because I'm a dork for Greek Mythology.
The German poster; because unlike in the American one, this scene actually happened in the movie.

I realize that the movie is both for children and based off of a book, so I tried to suspend my disbelief, but some things really bothered me with the mythology. Here we go:

1. Medusa. People always get her wrong in movies. She's supposed to be super ugly, but people always make her really beautiful. Although I guess the only really consistent description of her in mythology is the snake hair, it's supposed to be her frightening appearance that turns you to stone. And yet there she was, looking as beautiful as ever:
A beautiful Medusa.
Another thing that really bothered me was that she was still alive even though they mentioned on more than one occasion that Perseus had killed her, that the head was still good for killing things after it had been cut off, etc. If she'd never been killed, how would they know these things? And even though he wasn't in the movie, how could Pegasus exist? One thing I did appreciate that they got right though was that Athena was the one who had cursed her and that she (Medusa) used to "date" Poseidon (it was for being with Poseidon in Athena's temple that Medusa was cursed).

2. Athena. This portrayal actually made me kind of angry. Athena has a daughter (named Annabeth...the main female character in the film). Seriously. Athena, who is known for being a complete and total VIRGIN. Now you can tell how much of a dork I am when I get so mad when Athena is improperly portrayed in a kid's movie. Haha. Anyway, you know the Parthenon, Athena's main temple dealy? The word Parthenon comes from "parthenos" which means-- guess what-- virgin. And they definitely cover the fact that the Parthenon was Athena's temple in the movie. They even go to the one in Nashville (which by the way, they say is an exact replica, but I didn't see a reflection pool...). And even though I can't recall any instance when she punished guys for trying to take advantage of her (unlike her half sister Artemis), rape attempts definitely happened, and she deliberately escaped them. So why would she voluntarily go have a child with a mortal?
Athena Parthenos. Never had any kids. She's too vain and proud anyway.

3. Poseidon. He was just as prolific as Zeus and had something in the neighborhood of 56 children. So why would he care about one measly half-mortal son? I mean really, he built an entire "half-blood camp" just so that son could train and become a hero. And they never even mentioned he has a wife (or at least a permanent consort). Aside from Medusa's brief mention to Percy Jackson that "I used to date your Daddy" (see above), everything pointed to Poseidon's being totally in love with Percy's mother and almost becoming human to be with her and his son, but having to leave only because of his godly duties.
Poseidon in his armor on Olympus, looking longingly at one of his several dozen children.
And the whole concept the movie is based on, where the gods aren't allowed to have contact with mortal offspring, came from Zeus trying to punish Poseidon for his actions. Silly.

4. Zeus. He mostly acted in-character but for one thing at the end. Percy asked him to get his friend Grover the satyr out of Hades and Zeus was all like "Eh, no prob." Even though part of the whole thing with Zeus, Poseidon, and Hades splitting the heavens, sea, and underworld was that none of them could intervene in the others' realms. That's why it's such a big deal when people return from Hades; it can't typically be done, even for gods!

5. Olympus is in New York City?!? Since when, really? On top of the Empire State building? And why is it that Percy's mother, a mortal, knows exactly how to get there but can't get out of the elevator because of the barrier? Also, the entrance to Hades was in Hollywood, which I think is pretty funny.

6. I just checked something on the Twelve Olympians on Wikipedia and guess what they said? "If interested in Greek Mythology, read Percy Jackson and the Olympians: Lightning Thief. Ha!

7. The demigods spend so much time training they never take a mythology class, which, it turns out, would be incredibly helpful in living in that world. They'd know not to cut off Hydra heads, not to eat Lotus flowers, that they need to pay the ferryman in Hades, and all sorts of other useful things.

Things I liked that they included:
1. The gods were huge, as they should be. The opening sequence is particularly awesome, when Poseidon walks out of the ocean and a teeny-weeny fisherman on the pier stares in awe.

2. Annabeth mentions that her mother and Percy's father hate each other because of the contest in Athens. I'm glad she remembered that.

3. Chiron was there teaching everybody. And he really does teach everybody. The only thing wrong with this is that he's supposed to be dead. But I guess that's not really a problem since he's technically immortal anyway.

Um, well...that's about it. Sorry if I totally spoiled the movie for anyone. You should probably still see it though, it's a good movie aside from these sad oversights (I don't know whether to blame the author or the scriptwriters. I guess I should read the books). The score was good, the special effects were pretty cool, and it's still about Greek mythology!

Also, I'll probably have to skip Clash of the Titans. There's no way I can watch Perseus battling minions of the Underworld trying to take over everything. My eyes would get tired with all the rolling they'd do.

Urban Farming

This morning my aunt sent out a family email with a link to a website that supports living liberally. I scanned through the site and found this lovely video on urban farming in the Bronx and thought I'd share it with you:

How do you feel about urban farming? I think it's a great way to get kids (and anyone else) involved in their community, provide some nature in a city environment, and also provide some responsibility and pride in your actions. Plus you're helping to provide for yourself! I also think urban beekeeping falls under the same categories, but perhaps with a bit more responsibility involved, since you are dealing with animals that are potentially dangerous.

Original site where video was found.
Also, read about urban beekeeping, since I sort of randomly brought that up.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Boy with a Coin

I discovered this song today, and while I don't typically listen to Iron and Wine, I really like this song.
It makes me wish I'd followed through with taking that flamenco class a year and a half ago.

Thursday, February 11, 2010


I haven't really had much to blog about lately, but I didn't want to be neglectful, so here's a little cartoon I drew in church (I'm such a bad person, I know) about an actual experience I had at the grocery store: