Date: Tuesday, July 29th, 2008
Today we went to Les Invalides, home of the military museums, ex-Veteran's Hospital (of sorts). I wasn't feeling too well and my stomach was bothering me (I think it was the lack of breakfast or something funny in my staple diet of morning Madelines that was stirring things up). I wasn't exactly enthralled to walk through aisle and aisles of armor but I do have to admit, the museums were excellent. (Mostly because the exhibits all had descriptions in three languages, including English.) We started with the Arms Museum (one of the two) and there was lots of cool stuff in there... LOTS of it.
After that I took a break while some people headed to the World War I & II museum. I thought I was going to sit it out entirely but I started to feel better and managed to get through the museum. (There were lots of videos playing in the museum so I didn't really even have to walk that much... Just walked then sat.) I felt kinda bad because I guess I kinda latched on to Zak and, if you know Zak, he was in his element. I liken his being in a military museum to me in an Impressionist museum... And there I was clutching my stomach like a helpless nuisance. In any case, he ambled through the museum and I followed along, sometimes hurried ahead to watch the next video. It would have been a great museum for me to walk through (there were lots of cool exhibits on weapons, different uniforms, etc. all in chronological order) but I was not feeling good. We both wanted to see Napoleon's Tomb before leaving though, so I dragged myself there and sat, soaking in the splendor of man's egocentricity while I let Zak wander. We found a stop (something Xavier) and made it back in one piece.
By the time we got back, I didn't really have time to rest like I wanted to because we had dinner at a Moroccan restaurant at night. I thought I was feeling better by then (I wasn't) but that night's dinner made up for everything... Awesome salsa-esque sauce with bread, couscous with stew, plenty of chicken to go around, fresh oranges for dessert...and best of all, dinner entertainment: a belly dancer! The belly dancer got several of our group, including Professor Herbst and Zak (on separate occasions) to hit the dance floor! I have some incriminating footage if anyone is interested in viewing it ... Hee hee hee. But for the sake of preserving dignity, if you wanna see em, you'll have to leave a comment with an e-mail that I can contact you at. Suffice to say with the food in my belly (despite basically living off of Madelines for the day) and a nice walk back and a good night's sleep, I felt tons better. What a great day!
Although, in retrospect, whenever I see these grand buildings built for one man alone, I think of, well first of all I think of the Futurama episode where Bender builds a huge monument to himself so that no one will ever forget him. But secondly I think of one my favorite quotes ever. It's from an excerpt that I read from an English class textbook in 9th grade:
“Language, in the mind of a poet, seeks to transcend itself, ‘to grasp the thing that has no name.’ It seems reasonable to suppose that the unknown people who left this record of their passage felt the same impulse toward permanence, the same longing for communion with the world we feel today. To ask for any more meaning may be as futile as to ask for a meaning in the desert itself. What does the desert mean? It means what it is. It is there, it will be there when we are gone. But for a while we living things—men, women, birds, that coyote howling far off on yonder stony ridge—we were a part of it all. That should be enough.” –Last paragraph of Desert Images, by Edward Abbey
It puts things in perspective for me, just another human who constantly worries about death--when it will come, what it will feel like, where I will go...