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I was down the bottom of Bloomsbury the other day, when I was stopped by a little Japanese girl who was looking for directions to the British Museum.
I've gotta say, there's next to nothing more becoming than a girl holding an A to Z written in Japanese.

Have you ever looked at a map of Central London (or anywhere, come to that) that's written in incomprehensible characters??  It's impossible to know where you are and hence anything is.

So, as we were 2 minutes walk from the Museum, I took her there.  Her English extended as far as "British Museum" and "OK", which is fine by me but, perfectly formed as she was she came up to my waist which is below minimum height requirements.  I'm a man of the world. (Ahem!)

Walking home, it occurred to me that the BM might provide an agreeable ambience and I should maybe go down and check out the Japanese girl density and suchlike.

The next afternoon I did and as part of my exploration I went inside.

Quickly, I found myself in the "Assyrian Room".  I was drawn to it by the huge, mythical, winged beasts outside.  I have a penchant for that kind of thing on account of wanting to become one myself.

Inside, there were all these friezes on the wall,  carved pictures, highly stylised.   Some of them had a banded pattern across so I looked hard at the pattern to figure out what was going on.  I guessed, after a little while, that the triangles and squares on them were actually writing and so it turned out to be.  But while looking at that I began to see more and more detail in the pics.  They were narrative.  And then I was captivated for over an hour.

The pics were from a palace and portrayed the life and accomplishments of the king.  Whaddja expect??   And in them was shown the lie of the land, what the produce was and what the people did, how they lived.  The battles the king had fought and the artifices employed, how things had gone and how he'd recovered from setbacks to come to victory.  The spoils from war, the king at sport, making obeisances to the gods and being duly protected by them.  All that sort of thing.

There on the walls, plain to see, was 25 years of history from 3000 years ago.  Fantastic!!

 

What you couldn't hear was the king addressing the troops from the battlements before a campaign.  How their enemies were unscrupulous people who didn't husband their own resources but instead took their neighbours'. They lived off loot. 
They had no legitimate right to their territory, their cities were places of infamy, They acted without care or conscience. They were a threat to the security of the nation.

etc. etc.

But you didn't hear that. 

What you saw was how they lived and what they got up to.    History.

 

 

So it got me thinking about history and how it's recorded and how we'll be viewed.  The narrative in art dropped well out of fashion when 3D came in, kinda renaissance days.  But I guess that's nothing in view of the lack of durability of our recording system.
We don't have anything that can be dug out of the sand 3000 years hence and pieced together to gather what was going on.  I know of plenty of monuments but not much narrative between now and Trajan
OK, OK we've got the Bayeux Tapestry and we like to keep things on parchment but you know what I mean.  One dropped match and it's a Library of Alexandria situation. 
(And those church frescoes just don't touch what I'm talking about.) 


Whatever, it isn't going to last.


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