Looking at the past week, my major project was finally finishing an article on the interconnections, over a thirty or so year period, between Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, the physician Franz Anton Mesmer (of “mesmerize” fame), Benjamin Franklin, and the musical instrument the glass harmonica. I had been putting together this blog post over the last several weeks, and had about eight segments that were independently pretty interesting. But organizing them into one coherent narrative proved to be, to put it mildly, a challenge. If you’re a writer, you know very well the kind of problem I was facing! A straight chronological scheme certainly wasn’t going to work, nor would separate segments on each of the four subjects, or any other logic-based arrangement I could think of. What I ended up doing was letting the histories of these four intertwine almost at random, which was more or less what had actually happened historically, the only criterion for my arrangement being that one segment of the story led more-or-less seamlessly to the next. Feel free, if the subject matter interests you, to check out the result and see if I succeeded in creating a coherent story.
As for the coming week, I have a couple of posts in the works, including a review of Thomas Christensen’s 1616: The World in Motion, which I’m well into now and enjoying greatly. For fun I read the first of Henning Mankell’s Wallander novels, Faceless Killers – it was interesting to see how fully formed the Wallander character and the “feel” of the later novels already was at the beginning of the story. Now I’m also reading The Roads to Sata by Alan Booth, documenting his 2,000 mile walk from the northernmost part of Japan to the southernmost. Booth’s pleasingly gruff persona, amazing powers of observation, and deep sense of humor have made the book a treat so far. Knowing that Booth died prematurely – colon cancer took him at the age of 47 – I really regret the books that he didn’t live to write.
One last note – among my most anticipated art exhibitions of the year is Out of Character: Decoding Chinese Calligraphy at one of my favorite places in the world, the Asian Art Museum in San Francisco. Opening on October 5 and continuing through January 13, 2013, the exhibition includes dozens of both ancient and modern works. While I’ve seen and appreciated examples of calligraphy from China and elsewhere, I’ve never been quite confident about knowing what I was looking at, or how to interpret it. I have a feeling this exhibition will be quite a revelation in this regard. The Museum has posted a slideshow of the installation process, which is quite interesting in its own right. From my old days helping out on installations as an employee of the Nevada Museum of Art, I know how hard and painstaking that process is. They do excellent work at the Asian Art Museum!