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Boskone, MFA, Acoma, Unholy Angels, etc.

March 6th, 2006

So… what have I been doing, then?

Went to Boskone. That was good. Got some crazy Allen Steele stories. Heard an evocative little SF tale Tobias is getting published in Nature. Had some in-depth discussions with Jeff on the state of the publishing industry. Found out the Green Line inbound is free from Prudential. Sweet!

Paid a long, rambling visit to the Boston Museum of Fine Arts in which I almost completely ignored the hip new exhibits of the moment (some Picasso sketches, I think, and some Degas), in favor of rambling through the usual humdrum ancient artifacts. And damn, did I have a good time. I mean, these are exhibits I must have seen a dozen times in the course of my life, and yet… Well, seeing them again under a writer’s gaze is just a completely different experience. I could probably fill several entries talking about it. Maybe I will. Here I’ll limit myself to one example:

There is a suite of rooms on the second floor devoted to 18th century Chinese furniture. Doesn’t sound too interesting does it? Furniture? No, not really. The kind of thing that on an 8th grade field trip might make me want to gouge my eyes out. Yet somehow I was fascinated. At one point there’s a mockup of a little courtyard in the Chinese countryside at dusk, complete with crickets chirping and distant music. I sat on an authentic three century-old decorated stone stool and had a genuine moment of zen mind-blanking buddhist bliss.

I’ve also been working on a big ole organizational/graphical update, an mjd.com 2.0 so to speak, using new-learned MovableType arcana discovered in the course of working on FeatherfootFarm.net and Chessmaine.net. It’s going to be much easier to navigate, administrate and update. And prettier too. You’ll like it, I promise.

Reading up on the history of the pueblo of Acoma, an ancient cliff-top city in New Mexico–in particular on a pair of consecutive massacres visited by the Pueblo Indians on the Spanish and by the Spanish on the Pueblo Indians. One of those events in history where it’s impossible at this point to figure out what actually happened, but boy, isn’t it fun to speculate? One tertiary source claims the Spaniards had attendant on them in their righteous siege an honest-to-goodness, blazing-eyed, sword-carrying, avenging angel. Following their victory, their punishment of the surviving Indians involved cutting off the right foot of every adult male, enslaving every person over the age of twelve, sending everybody else off to the convent, and forcing the slaves to build a church. Which church remains one of the oldest colonial structures still standing in North America.

Hoo. You just can’t get fiction like that! Damned if I’m not going to try, though.

I don’t see how I can not use this story in a piece of fiction. And don’t doubt I will totally be influenced by that angel. A lovely opportunity to experiment with the formation of myth out of reality, the nature of oral history, the play between belief and self-delusion in the conversion of fiction to fact.

I’ll let you know how it goes.

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3 Comments »

  • Michael says:

    And he writes again!!

    Museums that really try and transport you back to a different era are wonderful experiences. Too bad in 8th grade we did not see things in a different light, then we may have appreciated the opportunity a bit more.

    Spaniards ravaging Indians in the name of Christianity and an avenging angel… lots of room to play with those, fact or fiction wise.

    Hopefully we’ll hear more from you before the tumbleweeds start piling up again.

  • Justin says:

    Hee Hee.

    I was just about to come by and post the sound effect of a shutter squeaking in the wind and a leaf finding its windblown way to the Earth.

    But, no… he has arisen!

    I actually feel worse for not going to Boskone because if I had gone I could have rambled the MFA with you. I don’t know if I’ve ever been in that Chinese room, but I do remember the medieval chapel and the 17th century Colonial room. There’s also a handful of paintings there that are like old friends. I haven’t seen them in awhile.

    A cool museum you may want to check out is the Peabody Essex Museum up in Salem Mass. It’s mostly nautical along with Asian decorative arts and some south seas stuff. There’s an actual chinese house in the courtyard and tours leave every half hour. My favorite thing though is the ship captain’s room, where they have portraits of the old captains and the mast heads of (some of) their ships. You can type into a computer the portrait number, then it gives you the captain’s bio and points to which items in the museum case he brought back from Asia. So many of them get lost at sea…

    Sounds like you’re on to something with those Indians.

  • Ridler says:

    Mike,

    I echo Justin’s thunder. Good to see your words again.

    That museum sounds cool. Saw a similar chinese one in Quebec city. Had ancient secret message and code machines made of stones and jewels, terracotta warriors (models), and a gang of kung fu folks doing sword dancing. Neat!

    More DeLuca stories soon. Fans are waiting.

    JSR

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