Saturday, June 16, 2012

Reading on a Cruise

... checking out art in the stairwells ...
I was afraid that I might have some spare time on this cruise – times when there was nothing to fill my mind with, so I perused Rebecca’s bookshelf for some reading material. Instead of taking one of the 25 books she had to read while sitting on a book jury this year, my eye fell on Gilles Deleuze’s Cinema 1: The Movement-Image.

I picked up Cinema 1 and Cinema 2, but laid one back on the shelf, knowing that in all probability, I could only make it through one volume of film critique in 14 days.

"I like it!"
I see people with books on the cruise.

Yesterday the Champagne Lounge was the meeting place for an Art Walk Around the boat.

Many couples were already sitting in the lounge, books in their lap, when I got there five minutes ahead and not having mine, I looked at the art on the wall getting myself warmed up to “art on the boat”.

At 5 past I wondered where the art tour guide was.

At 10 past I began to get frantic, wondering if I had missed the “gathering of the interested”, since I was studying the walls, not looking for people to be meeting I began to go from couple to couple, asking, “Are you here for the art tour?”

... variations on The Scream ...
The first couple just looked startled that anyone would speak to them.

 I woke the man from the second couple when I spoke to his wife.

Apparently he was just there to sleep.

I could feel my heart starting to beat faster and I scanned the rest of the couples sitting there.

Apparently the books they were holding are meant to slip off of their laps as signals they had fallen asleep.

... details of the scream ...
I saw one couple pacing up and down outside the lounge, quizzical looks on their face, so I approached them next?

“Art tour”, I said, now unwilling to give the fuller description of why I was going around waking all of those couple at 11 am in the lounge.

Apparently those are the sleeping couples were just lucky to be alive, and not really “up” for the day yet.

... the universe ... in a stairwell ...
“Yes”, they said, “we have just been walking the corridor here but haven’t seen anyone else.”

Rebecca and I visited with them for a while, and then went straight to the heart of the matter, stopping a cruise personnel to ask about the tour, which wasn’t materializing.

Five thousand people on a boat. Four wanting an art tour but even the guide to the tour had forgotten about it.

That is how we got a telephone call yesterday, an abject apology and an offer to the four of us for a private art tour at a time of our choice. Nice.

Rebecca has been doing the tour on her own, I say to defend our interest in this tour.

Twenty eight stair wells are filled with paintings, each at least six feet wide and who knows how high. The curator has placed artist statements on the left side of these paintings and as well as hanging copies of traditional works on which the modernists have built.

Rebecca and I have lingered in the stairwells more than once, taking notes and discussing the collision of the images and the texts. “I would love a guided tour of this art?”, she had said much earlier in the trip.

So there is no wonder that I haven’t had time to pick up the Deleuze book. I have read through the bibliography of Suggested Readings that accompany Gerlinda Melchiori’s Destination Lectures, the titles of which are interesting on their own: Rome and Florence, Centers of the Italian Renaissance

1. The House of Medici: Wealth, Influence, Intrigue and Power in Florence

2. Irresistible Provence

3. Lisbon, Capital of Portugal

4. Sites Less Visited in Great Britain

The booklist is annotated with just enough words to peak my interest:

The House of Medici: Its Rise and Fall (1999). Covers 700 years of the Medici Family Dynasty

A Distant Mirror, the Tumultuous 14th Century (1978). Covers the Great Plague and other dynamics of the 14th Century

The Borgia Bride (2005). The novel plays against the background of 15th century Rome and Papacy, the decadences and indulgences of the Borgia popes, cardinals and their off-spring.

The list goes on for 22 books – all carefully referenced and annotated. Only Tonia will know the angst of being offered so many books to read, and having so little time to turn the pages.

I was telling Rebecca that when I first started working at the university library I would see one of a kind lectures sponsored by The Mediterranean Studies Group. I would arrange my work day so that I could attend the lectures and listen to the discussion afterward. When the lecture was finished the department took everyone out to dinner. “Come on with us to dinner now you have done all of the hard work of the lecture,” someone said to me. I was naive enough to think that I would be invisible in a group of twelve.

Here is to reading more books on the Mediterranean, and to more visibility of the Mediterranean ... via cruise ships.


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