What I like most about the Ashmolean is its approachability and navigability. Compared to the louvre for example, there is much more that can be experienced with a smaller museum. I once read that 80% of the collection is in storage at any given time, and I believe it, since I saw many things today I did not see three years ago when I was here with Lisa. It reminds me again of how personal experience changes things. I will see different things from the next person, I will walk a different path in the museum, and treat it differently for having been there before. What is new to me I will treat differently than if I had seen it first on another trip. This time, the early writing, clay seals, and money really spoke to me because of research for my writing that I had done in the intervening time.
I wonder how much of the university experience (including the much different museums) 70 years ago affected Lewis and Tolkien as they worked and researched and played in the environment of learning that oxford fosters? The sculpture of the satyr and nymphs in the Ashmolean reminds me of our discussion of sweet Mr. Tumnus who might not have been so innocent in his motives, and the connection between those “horny bards,” (scholars?) Such as rape, pedophilia, and the worship of the flesh as a god in Greek times snaps into focus. How terrifying really is the image of little Lucy alone with a satyr in the woods who admits to “dancing” with dryads and escorts her to his home, even mentioning the bedroom. Lewis takes us to the edge of impropriety, but in such a way that the young reader might miss it, while still understanding the betrayal that almost was, while the learned and perceptive adult might actually understand the possible horror that could have been narrowly avoided by the fawn’s conscience overriding his nature. Did Lewis gaze upon such a statue? He certainly read and taught such things. Again it is the influence of others and of things that captures my mind tonight.
I could write of such discussions and connections that were made tonight at the café rouge (among we classmates and our professors), the above being one, but I know that if I tried I would twist the reality into a fiction, misquote, misattribute, and misspeak. So I will instead stay silent, but to say that I know that the connections made tonight are now internalized, and will inevitably come out. If not in this journal, then somewhere and sometime else.