Friday, September 25, 2009

Written on 13 September 2009 at 8:57 Montpellier Time

Today was another good day. This afternoon, Suzanna and I went to the Musée Fabre, a Montpellier art museum in the center of town. It was very nice. I still do not have the eyes for modern, abstract art. No matter how hard I try, I can't see anything more than a couple of splotches of paint here, dabs there, and random swipes all over. I know they are made to convey a message or have a certain vibe to them, I just can't put it together. I always come away thinking they have come up with with their designs on accident. They picked up a cardboard slab from the floor of the garage, saw some streaks of paint had seeped over from the neighboring paint cans from last month's kitchen project or a shriveled piece of tin, and there it is, your income and the beginning of countless interpretations made by art gallery visitors such as myself. I know that is not the case, I know, or at least I assume, it is a labor intensive, detailed way of work. A way of crafting a piece of art or sending a message through once erratic and chaotic elements. It's just not for me. I preferred the older art. The impressionists and romanticists of the past. The scene is there for you. I relate to these better. I can see these situations in my own life. the skyline, the landscape, the people, the buildings, can all be transcribed to a feeling or experience I once had that mirrored it. For me, it links the past with the present, the unknown with the known. The painting of the farmer laying in his fields one morning surrounded by his dog and cattle, although in a different context, reflects a similar feeling I would have one lazy Sunday morning after breakfast, at the farm. I found most, if not all, of the paintings as worthwhile to have seen and I was pleased with the visit. After the museum and a stop at a café, I walked the streets of Montpellier and returned home in time for the chinese dinner, part two. I found out a little more information on the meal, it is called a chinese fondu. The sauce is still a mystery, but I learned how it is used. They create the sauce in a large pan, not unlike the large bowl of cheese used in the fondus I am used to, and cook each course item separately in the sauce. First, was the meats, second, the potatoes and noodles, and last, the vegetables. While you are dining, the upcoming course is stewing in the fondu and the course following that is sitting on the table in front of you, rare and in water. Once again, the food was great and filling. One thing that struck me as odd though, the music we listened to at dinner, the conversations we would have about common interests in various subjects, and many of the clothes we were wearing were American. Televsion stars, songs, televsion shows, actors, and actresses, brands of t-shirts, were almost all made in or come from the United States. The conversation would converge on these topics even without me in the lead. Often, what my german and chinese friends found common ground on were American and often subjects I had not seen or heard or comment on knowledgeably. Each one of us has a uniaue culture deriveed from our situations back home. I thought the conversation would be more polarized, involving far differrent examples revolving around a central genre. We would share our country's shade of classical music or drama television. However, it was not like this. Many of the things they mentioned come from the U.S. Two things really struck me. First, the ability of our communications and broadcasting systems to reach distances across the globe and several time zones away. I guess, I really never thought of the tv show Heroes having an international, at least not chinese audience. Second, with such an influence over so many parts of the world, I caught a glimpse of the responsibility of U.S. citizens, government, private sector, entertainment, media, and communications outlets (others as well). What we do is seen by more than those that inhabit our country. We are here to make an example for all of the world. What an awesome responsibility and one that cannot be mishandled. We have the oppurtunity to set the stage in world affairs, under a common cause and by certain, over-arching principles. I hope we can live up to the awesome task or industry and hard work, in the past and present, has created for us.

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