Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Awaiting Artemis

I'm here in London. Been up about 30 hours, but still ticking! I'm staying in a little dorm room at the London School of Economics in Bloomsbury. Couldn't get into my room until 2pm and I arrived at 8:00 (after a successful ride on the underground,) so I went out exploring. London was cold and cloudy today, but filled with that downtown charm. Lots of brick flats, with tiny, flower-adorned balconies, parks and squares with massive, old maples, pink and red roses, and vining plants hanging off trellises. It was so much fun to watch people strolling along the walkways during lunchtime, enjoying the tiny bits of sunshine (or raindrops) depending on the time of day. I ate lunch with a few pigeons at the cafe in the park at Russel Square-- mushroom pizza (just for you Nova!) My body is tired (legs and feet ache!) and the breeze and cheesy slices did me good. I met a nice couple from Spain and I am once again astounded by the bridges that language makes (it worked with an Italian couple on the plane, too!)

Today I visited three fantastic places: the home of Charles Dickens, the British Library,and the British Museum. I was in awe to be in the home of Dickens. To see the very study where he wrote OLIVER TWIST and NICHOLAS NICKELBY. There was something magic about being there. Something still living in the walls, in the creaky, wooden floors. Could it be that creativity and imagination never die? It felt like that to me. And to be surrounded by thousands of copies of his books, his masterpieces. They gave me hope and inspiration. It's almost as if each one gave me a little pep talk--every one with a little bit different version of "never give up!"

The British Library gave me even more inspiration. To see the authentic work of Shakespeare, Wordsworth, Jane Austin, Lewis Caroll,Charlotte Bronte, Virginia Wolfe, Leonardo da Vinci, Beethoven, Mozart, Paul Macartney and John Lennon (yes, they had the original cards, notes, etc. that the Beatles first wrote on for those songs!) To see their script, their original drafts with notes, cross-outs, edits, made me breathe a little easier. Da Vinci's early notes/sketches on how the moon reflects light from the sun were so compelling, yet he progressed in his thinking with each set of drawings.Sometimes I forget that these intellectual, creative-genius storytellers were real people. Real, struggling writers the go through the same process that I do. People that took chances. The library really humanized the classic thinkers for me--and now I want to go and read them all again--can someone please give me a little extra time in the day???

The antiquities and artifacts at the British Museum are breathtaking. The Egyptian galleries were incredible. The original Rosetta Stone is there--a black basalt slab bearing from 196 BC. Scientists used it as a key to first decipher Egyptian hieroglyphs, creating the foundation of modern Egyptology. The stone was discovered in 1799 near Rosetta, Egypt by the French troops in Napoleon's military expedition. It has been in the British Museum since it was ceded to the British under the treaty of Alexandria in 1801.

The ancient Asian artifacts were amazing, too. I really enjoyed the variety of Buddhas(and the art mediums.) Each one took on a varied personality--almost as if they could whisper a different secret to life in your ear.

The Ancient Greek sculpture was one of my favorites. Statues and artifacts from the Parthenon--rescued in the 50s to it could be protected (come controversy there.) Full size statues of Zeus, Venus, Hercules. Sculptures, tombs,hieroglyphics from Ancient Egypt were awesome. They talked about how there was residue in most of the nasal cavities of the mummies, making it obvious that they had taken the brain out through the nose after death! OOH! DNA and cat scans reported that one older woman showed signs of emphysema in her lungs. The hearths/fires produced toxic smoke that damaged womens' lungs, even at that period in time!

I did, however, find myself looking for Artemis, the Greek goddess of light. She is, of course, the nemesis in my novel, SUPER NOVA (which i only have three chapters to go...YAY!) I did not see her at the museum, walking around the London, or at the "It's All Greek" shop (Elinor the owner was a previous Greek/Latin teacher and very nice.) Once in a while, I thought I caught a glimpse of her shadowy fog moving through Greek sculpture or architecture. I will find her. And when I do, I will shout out to the world that "creativity and art live on!!!" The light of imagination never dies. It lives on and on in the artist, the mathematician, the musician, the author. In old maple trees. Creaky wooden floors. Celestial maps built 500 years ago.

We are thinkers. Let us never forget.

Tomorrow I'll go on the hop on and off bus. I will visit Buckingham Palace, Westminster Abbey, Big Ben, Trafalgar Square, and more.

I miss you all--talk soon!

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