Thursday, May 05, 2011


It was my turn to cook tonight so I don't have a lot of time for mindless yapping, but if you have any taste at all for museum shows and if you are hanging around in Washington DC, here's a must-see: "Echoes of the Past: The Buddhist Cave Temples of Xiangtangshan,"  I'd seen thousand-Buddha caves in Western China a couple of years back--rather too much of them, it seemed at the time.  These are same-only-different: slightly different artistic styles, although the same uncanny capacity to arrest the attention.  It's accompanied by some supercool displays of computer-graphic reproduction, suggesting that it's only a matter of time before we use 3-D imaging to reconstruct whole garbage mounds.  "Garbage mound" may not be too far off: unlike the Western China stuff, Xiangtangshan is near the  coast and so its treasures were vulnerable to looters and hustlers from the imperial West.    It's a wonder--and a blessing--that any of it was preserved at all.

Undocumented extra: the Sackler (together with its twin, the Freer) is a pleasant respite from the hordes of schoolchildren in the more popular venues across the Mall.  Nothing against schoolchildren, nosiree, but they do get, well, hordish, at times.  In the Sackler/.Freer, the crowd is mostly over 50 and except for the guards, often one person to a room.  

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