Monday, July 2, 2007

Ugly and Beautiful

When one walks around Prague listening to Regina Spektor, it would be impossible not to have unique experiences; today almost seemed like a reflection of Soviet Kitsch. The music that I listened to seemed to correlate with the situation almost as if I was in the middle of a well directed music video.
It’s weird how memories work. The Czech Republic was a jumble of random images before I returned this summer. The metro, the theater, Cesky Krumlov, Milena’s summer house, our apartment, making spaghetti, Charles’ Bridge and souvenirs. Now, these images seem to connect with what I see today and the effect can be quite immense.
Absurdity seems to stick out in one’s mind. We remember the ‘horrible’ rather than the ‘beautiful’. At a carnival, the image of a three-legged man will stick in our mind for years while the image of an elephant joins our minds’ idea of the Elephant. We have seen elephants before, we will see them again. Their existence follows a pattern; they are a normal part of our conscience and, though impressive, they continue to be one of Plato’s forms. The three-legged man, however, what a sight. Our brain needs to stare to comprehend what sets this man apart. How can it fit into our idea of Man? Similarly, architecture seems to fit into the norm, or what is ‘beautiful’, and those things which can’t be categorized. Today, I ran into such an absurd building that was burned into my memory years before.
Why would babies crawl up towers? It seems like a dangerous situation. If they fall, they must fall to their death. Is their no mother to stop this dangerous profession? These questions, and more, are immediately asked when you come upon Mahlerovy Sady. This building can’t really be truly explained in words. Nor can it be summed up in pictures. But I will try a combination of both. It is a modern building, with huge pillars and almost a Radisson-like restaurant at the top. Up and down there are big black-colored babies crawling up and down. Their faces, however, are not baby faces, but rather flat, featureless sculptures. I rediscovered this building today. While listening to the climax of Regina’s “Ode to Divorce”, I turned the corner to discover this absurd architecture. It was quite an emotional experience; I felt a sense of familiarity and absurdity. I had been to this before and with my family. My sister and my mother for sure, and it is quite possible that I was with David, Sarah, Chris and John. But memory fails us, and the only truth I know is that Anna and my mother were there. Combined with this comforting feeling, I also couldn’t get over how alien and absurd this building was. Combined with a musical climax that occurred at the perfect time, I almost felt like crying. It was so ugly and so beautiful...

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