Heraklitus Lives

January 10, 2009

Paragraphs like this are why I don’t feel like I waste my time occasionally reading exhibition reviews of galleries I live nowhere near, and will not see in the manner described (from the Dec. 08 New Criterion):

“The result is an unruly mixture of disparate objects that might normally never be seen in the same wing of the museum, much less in the same gallery. A fine fourteenth-century Turkish carpet coexists with Vincent van Gogh’s superb, textbook 1889 canvas of a wheat field with cypresses and a fragment of an Egyptian head of a priest; a sheet of fluid calligraphy from China’s Song dynasty cohabits with a tiny suit of armor made for an eighteenth-century Spanish princeling; a radically simplified lamé evening gown by Paul Poiret has been placed not too far from a shimmering Jackson Pollock; a series of Hilla and Bernd Becher’s photographs cataloging present-day industrial structures lives in the same gallery as an early quattrocento altarpiece by Lorenzo Monaco; ancient ceramic pots from the Cyclades islands, as eccentric and inventive as any modern sculpture, make perfect sense near twentieth century photographs. And so on.”

Which seems to instantly place that weird old philosopher in the Met, his presence seeming to confirm his statement that: 

“The most beautiful arrangement is a pile of things poured out at random.”

Or, perhaps a better version is what I take to be Guy Davenport’s loose translation in Apples and Pears (p. 242):

“Reverberant bounce must be the Harmony’s dance, difference caroming off difference, energy jostling energy.”


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