Sunday, March 08, 2009

Crackpot schemes involving the 19th century

-This afternoon Jo and I went to the Neue Galerie, a museum that is 10% about the art; another 10% about a tempting bookstore; 20% about the cake (oh, and the $85 cake server in the gift shop? wanty!); and 60% about the building itself, an Upper East Side mansion, filled with early twentieth century German and Austrian objects, along with two stunning, out-of-Belle-Epoque-Vienna cafés.

It occurred to me that the Neue Galerie should take the period-piece aspect of the place further, offering visitors to the museum or café some period-dress jackets or accessories. Jo remarked that this sounds like something that already exists, which is true. But, I want to know, if there are Renaissance fairs, why not turn-of-the-century Vienna (I'd also accept Paris) fairs, where you can eat strudel in the nude, or smoke a pipe, or whatever it was people did back in the day, should Expressionist paintings be believed? Why are there no historical reenactments, other than military reenactments, of the 19th or early 20th century? Or are there? If so, do tell.

-The most absurd reality show of all time, "The City", has plot-lines that could not be simpler (model might have eating disorder, rock star boyfriend might be sleeping around, etc.), but that are nevertheless driven home to the point that it is in fact impossible not to follow along. But what makes the series truly great is, as I've noted here before, that every time a character appears on the screen, his name pops up, as does his relationship to one of the main characters, assuming he's not among Whitney's inner circle.

My question is: Why can't this feature be added to long, nineteenth century (Russian and other) novels? Such that every time a character reappears, a little summary would pop up (if, as Clementine suggests, this were to go on a Kindle) or simply appear in parentheses, giving you the relationship of this character to the protagonist. There has to be a way to cross "The City" and Anna Karenina, "The City" and L'Education sentimentale. A show with three characters does not need to constantly remind us who's who, whereas a novel with 300, each referred to in five different ways, just might.

5 comments:

Andrew Stevens said...

Off topic: If you haven't seen it already, you should make sure to watch this video.

Paul Gowder said...

Steampunk?

Phoebe said...

That's probably the closest thing--I hadn't thought of that. But according to Wikipedia, and to what I'd heard elsewhere, that has a futuristic/sci-fi angle. What I want to know is, are there people anywhere just altogether recreating, say, Viennese café life?

Matt said...

I love the Neue gallery, for many reasons (one is that it's the right size- you can really look at and enjoy all the pieces in an exhibit w/o being exhausted or it taking all day) and their food, especially the strudel, really is wonderful. But I'd certainly not like to see most of the people who go their in the nude. Maybe if it were all a bunch of Klimt models or something it would be okay, and I'd wear some sort of crazy Klimt-style smock while holding a cat or something, but please, not the normal crowed there. (I do wish I could afford to shop at the design shop, too.)

Phoebe said...

True enough - the strudel-consumption should be fully clothed, albeit in period dress. Although according to the Expressionism exhibit, there was a good amount of outdoor nudity at this time, and not just in paintings.