When you see an artwork that is a parody of a work you haven’t seen appropriated before, the first thing you do is perform an image search to see what it is that’s missing from your experience. It might not be found on Pinterest. In the case of Renner’s Faun, the image search took us to the Glyptothek in Munich, where the Original Faun sprawls passed out upon his marble cape, inviting his frat brothers to write all over him in magic marker. I should not say “original”. It was not until a few hundred years ago that people even thought originality was a good thing. Remember what Caliph Omar said about the library at Alexandria: “If those books are in agreement with the Qu’ran, we have no need of them; and if these are opposed to the Qu’ran, destroy them.” To be original is to be heretical.
Somewhere in Greece, sometime around 200 BC, somebody carved a very realistic statue of a drunk satyr. This either found its way to Rome, or a copy of it did, where it lived at Hadrian’s Mausoleum until soldiers threw it down on the besieging Ostrogoths. Expensive ammunition. It laid buried in the moat for the next 1100 years at which time it was found during a remodel and put back together, what was left of it.
If you don’t value originality, then you also don’t value what it means to be original. This whole business of keeping things the way they were when they were made, dates back only to the 19th century. The restoration of the faun has proceeded over the course of the last 400 years, carving and discarding limbs without having any evidence of what they might have looked like in 200 BC, and there are copies around the world, including the gift shop.
There is a ton of other marble there, too. When you’re a king there are no limits to what you can collect.
Munich is also the home of Dennis, who is about the best friend I have whose profile resembles the way sculptors represent Socrates at the Glyptothek. We stayed at his apartment. He and Paulina worked during the day, so Dave did, too, using Dennis’s monitor. The first night that we got into town, he met us at the train station, and we walked with all our suitcases to a Persian restaurant called Shanzi to meet Paulina. It made a pile on the bench behind the table. Shanzi is nice but I don’t remember the food because we were talking. I think when people have a good time, they generate unuseful Tripadvisor reviews. Dennis’s friend Ralph joined, later. Dennis’s social circle seems to include a lot of people from when he worked at Frog Design and they are all pretty neat, even in a noisy restaurant where you can’t fully make out what they are saying.
The next night we ate at a German restaurant, Görreshof Wirtshaus. Dennis says he doesn’t go out for German food much because there are only about fifteen dishes. But we had an enlightening disagreement about the waiter, which highlights differences in the American and German attitudes toward work. The waiter was unnaturally cheerful, to where you would suspect brain damage. I thought that it must be his first few days on the job, before disillusionment had set in. I’ve seen that in boxboys at Whole Foods, and Hare Krishnas — a complete buy-in to the cult, the phase of belief in which you are in danger of becoming a truck bomber or to give up masturbating or to stand around in airports handing paper to strangers (except airport proselytizing has gone the way of airport life insurance vending machines, due to security reasons).
Dennis thought it was that the waiter had just been there for six months, and was happy because he could no longer be fired without cause.
Once again on this trip, (more than once in Salzburg as well) Dave’s watch tap payment gesture was the first the waiter had seen, even though the machines have presumably been programmed for it for a year. Card taps are only that old. It made the waiter giggly, as did just about everything.
The food was good.
Friday (we’re up to October 13 now), we took ANOTHER delayed train ride, this time to Paris.