Saturday, December 08, 2007

Dragons and Woody Allen

Visited the Natural History Museum by Central Park to see an exhibition for creatures that have never existed. Mythic creatures such as the Kraken, unicorn and dragon are covered along with lesser known creatures such as the mermaid water goddess Mater Wata and the giant eagle Roc. The exhibition is interesting but like most things in the US it feels like a lot of style over substance. I wanted more information, more history, more ideas but all I got was a lot of pretty pictures. It also feels as if the curators are laughing at the ideas rather than understanding and expressing the social and mythical meaning of such beasts.
Back down to the village after with a trip up and down Bleeker St. looking for a comic shop that seems to have vanished. But I did stumble across a club, The Bitter End, which is one of the places Woody Allen started out back in the early 1960s.

After lunch in a bar we end up down town and pass by Ground Zero. It’s still a big hole in the ground, though building has started on the skyscrapers that will replace the lost twin towers. It’s a poignant reminder of the world we now live in, a world of our own creation.


Wunderlost said...

That's interesting you should say that the mythic creatures show was style over substance. I went a few months ago, and thought that for a show so clearly geared toward kids, it really offered a lot of well-conceived ideas about myth in society. I actually expected the show to be basically laughing at myths as anti-scientific, but I found it to be really nicely sensitive to the anthropological reality--and value--of mythical animals. Sounds like maybe you're just USA-bashing.

Marlowe said...

I hope I don't come over as just USA-bashing. I love the US, I think some of the most interesting and original thinkers of the 20th Century have come out your country and I particularly enjoy NY (I would't visit every year if I didn't).
I just felt that the exhibition lacked authenticity. I mean most of the exhibition space was taken up by large plastic replicas. That doesn't tell me anything.
I know what a unicorn looks like, but they don't exist. So how come I have such a clear mental image of something that doesn't exist? Why do people all over the world know what a unicorn looks like? That's what I wanted to understand, how these ideas had perculated down through the centuries, the unfolding stories and ideas that kept these creatures alive in our imaginations, and in that area I felt the exhibition failed.