12/23/2006


I finally made it along to the refurbished Kelvingrove Museum in Glasgow the other day - it's right around the corner from where I used to live on the edge of the West End. I particularly enjoyed the display of traditional African weaponry - shields, spears, and a very prominent AK47 in the centre of the case. Nice one.

Something occurred to me as I toured the exhibits and paintings with a friend: that it's easy to spot Scottish art, particularly traditional Scottish art, because everybody looks utterly miserable. There's the painting of a young child's funeral, outside a bleak cottage on a bleak hillside while bleak clouds sail overhead. Or the bleak last stand of a clan defending some miserable looking crag, or waiting bleakly for a ship to take them to the New World and away from the old, etc, etc. I can't remember too many of the details beyond that because it was all getting a bit bleak. Picture some corny chocolate box illustration of a Victorian street scene except everyone looks suicidal and you've pretty much got the picture.

I have a habit of missing the boat where particular online memes are concerned, but this is partly because writing deadlines are just about the only deadlines I meet in this or any other life. There was a recent blog-a-thon thing over Carl Sagan, and memories thereof, the idea being to commemmorate him. Two things I can say about Carl: when I think about his tv series Cosmos, the thing that always cracked me and friends at school up wasn't the way he said 'billions and billions', it was the way he said 'organic soup'.

Second memory: I'd almost forgotten about this one, shockingly enough. Sagan gave a public lecture at Glasgow University in the mid-Eighties.

I was there. Weirdly enough, the above link appears to imply he did quite a few lectures here, but I only recall one. Perhaps it was a paid thing and I couldn't afford any more than one, although I could have sworn (and of course memory fails me) it was free.

I remember it rapidly turned into a war between the Enlightenment and that Old Time Religion. Some bloke behind me and my then-girlfriend were arguing over exactly how many wings different types of Angel had, according to their Heavenly ranking system. Sagan batted through their arguments and shouted promises of salvation in the next life like Arnie in Terminator 1 drilling his way through a police station full of surprised cops. Now there's a memory.
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