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Today’s lesson: curiosity, not congruity

May 12, 2007

Here’s the new part of the Royal Ontario Museum, currently under construction. Some distrust it. I welcome it.

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I’m into it because it’s NOT, as far as I can tell, a postmodern piece of architecture. To me, it has much more the feel of proper, sincere modernism, which might still be alive. Fixing a bloody great crystal onto the side of the original museum is the best way to deal with the fact that so much of “old” Toronto is, architecturally, just a mix of different period pieces made for bored or lonely colonialists. The city is already a fairly camp mess of incoherent styles — so why not have a big angular space-shape crashed into the side of the ROM?

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Given how happily the whole globe comes together in Toronto (this is what the city’s celebrated for, anyway) it takes something genuinely alien — the outer-space type of alien — to pass as real exotica. Museums are best shaped as exotica. And museums are really just collections of stuff placed side by side without much thought for congruity. Real museums, that is — the type that’s just an overgrown cabinet of curiosities. I imagine that Walter Benjamin says something about this, somewhere… I can’t remember.

Speaking of things incongruously put together, here’s some proof that I’m lazily at work on some new songs for Rose, my female persona.
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Rose’s songs are one-minute womandolin pieces. (Excuse the piano — it’s just posing.) They usually yoke together the start of one joke, and the punchline of another, so what you get is the nice, clean form of the joke, with all the disappointment of real life.

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