austin_dern (austin_dern) wrote,
austin_dern
austin_dern

And pounced upon its prey

We'd buy tickets to the museums within Le Château de Caen, and we started with the Normandy historical museum. We managed to misunderstand the layout of the museum. There was this general progression through the centuries as you went from room to room, but there was a point we were expected to take the elevator up to the next floor. We didn't imagine that, so we backtracked and went upstairs and so ended up taking 19th and early 20th century Normandy the wrong way around and twice. This was made a little more confusing by the fact the museum didn't have very much about area history from between about the 12th century through to the 18th. It almost gave me the impression they didn't want to talk about Normandy going from one of the major political entities to being just a district within France. But I might be misreading things. They might figure museum-goers are mostly French folks who know the Hundred Years War and the Bourbons and the Revolution perfectly well, and they can focus on the eras before the nation got organized and the times that get to what their grandparents might have talked about.

The thing most intriguing to me was the ``Statue of the mother-goddess''. It's a figure of a sitting woman, dated to the late 1st century BCE, and found at the bottom of a well abandoned in the 4th century BCE. Besides being a piece of a human culture that just doesn't get attention except from the locals (unlike, say, the Romans or Greeks or Egyptians of the time), the statue was discovered in 1943. It seems like such an ordinary and little thing to happen in the midst of such a busy time.

Also quite interesting but relegated to the last couple rooms were discussions of local culture and customs. It was only here, for example, we learned the area has renown for cider, or that it was up to the early 20th century the custom for brides to prepare massively oversized cabinet-chests to be shown off at their betrothal. The area used to be one of candle-making prowess too. One corner of the room showed off artifacts from a candle-making firm that came into existence in the 1770s and only finally went out of business, putting its last six employees out on a pension, in 1974. It's small but touching stuff.

We also went to the fine arts museum, in that modern building. This had your classic series of paintings, mostly, in progression from medieval art to the modern day. We started off in the wrong direction and had to examine closely to find the gallery numbers. Most of the galleries had nice, big laminated sheets explaining at least some of the artwork in the room and what sorts of features made the era or the style significant. In at least one gallery we weren't able to find a painting they were describing; we have no explanation for this phenomenon.

The major temporary exhibit was of ... I've forgotten the artist's name. But his work was heavily based on mathematical stunts and numerically-based artwork. One was a series of squiggles that encoded the digits of pi in the angles between line segments. That is, given a base angle, such as of ten degrees, there'd be an angle of 3 times ten degrees between the first line segment and the next; then 1 times ten degrees to the next line segment; then 4 times ten degrees to the next, then 1 times ten degrees, then 5 times ten degrees, and so on. It's a neat structure, not quite a random walk but reminiscent of it.

We left the museum without using the bathrooms, which we weren't able to find. We had assumed we would be able to find some. Not so much. One in a cathedral was locked closed for the night. The one in the historical museum we couldn't get at because they were closing. The arts museum told us there was one just over towards a bridge in the castle wall. There was, but that was closed. I went across the bridge in the vain hope there might be another bathroom on the other side of the bridge. I found some fascinating views of the castle, including parts under renovation, and more paths to walk, but had to declare some point to be the ne plus ultra and go back to more pressing questions.

The arts museum had a restaurant. We couldn't get in. It might've been closed. We would discover later there was a public restroom not apparently closed for the hour past a parking lot that we had written off as unpromising and that, in hindsight, the person at the arts museum might have been trying to direct us to.

No matter. We walked back to the only bathroom we could find, which was the one in our hotel. And that's the dinner we would take in our hotel, too, because we didn't feel like tromping farther to find dinner.

Trivia: Between 1840 and 1860 the United States government subsidized fifteen naval exploratory expeditions around the world. Source: Sea of Glory: The Epic South Seas Expedition, Nathaniel Philbrick.

Currently Reading: Outland: The Complete Library, Sunday Comics 1989 - 1995, Berkeley Breathed. You know how the last years of Bloom County: The Original Series show, in hindsight, how much time Berkeley Breathed spent cartooning at clouds? Outland has a lot more of that.

PS: Fibonacci's Biased Scarf, reblogging a neat crochet project with some recreational mathematics topics. Two.

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