Monday, November 12, 2012

Aimless Reading: The W's, Part 15 (Lawrence Weschler)

Mr. Wilson's Cabinet of Wonder
Weschler, Lawrence
Mr. Wilson's Cabinet of Wonder

Purchased online after having visited one of the two greatest museums in the U.S. (the other being Graceland). I am talking, of course, about the Museum of Jurassic Technology in Los Angeles. If ever you need a reason to visit Los Angeles, this is it. It is so startling, so original, and so maddening that I remember almost every single thing I saw when I went there.

I remember the Proust machine, with its inhalers that you stick your nose into in order to take a whiff of tea and madeleines.

I remember the room full of books on Napoleon and the Napoleon sculpture built inside the eye of a needle.

I remember the taxidermy dog or wolf or coyote or whatever it was with a holograph projected onto its cranium of a man sitting in a chair, then standing up and barking every few minutes.

I remember the room full of models depicting folk remedies such as mice on toast.

I remember the room dedicated to mobile homes and the objects collected by people who lived in them and how there was a banner suggesting a connection between the mobile home and Noah's Ark.

I remember the display of decaying dice.

I remember the exhibit of various machines used in the practice of the ars memoria.

I remember going upstairs to where they had a Russian Tea Room and hearing voices, all of which were speaking Russian and how I started to feel a little unnerved about this and chose not to go into the tea room. And then I walked into another room whose walls were adorned with portraits of dogs painted over brightly colored backgrounds. I got even more freaked out when I read the cards and realized that all of these dogs were Russian dogs that had been sent on space missions. I started to feel like I was in a dream, where all kinds of incongruent things seem to make sense until you try to make sense of them and then they stop making sense and your realize that however tantalizingly near meaning seems it will never actually show itself in the form of a connection between these things.

I remember stepping outside onto the sidewalk and immediately being accosted by an insane homeless man and thinking how appropriate that felt.

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