Tuesday, February 5, 2013

on crying while reading research papers

I teach honors writing occasionally. Because of this, someone enlisted me in judging a research paper contest for the school. This means they sent me a zip file with 20 papers in it. I tried beginning this task a 2am last night after finishing another project. This wasn't smart because I hated all the papers and couldn't even read them.

But, this morning found me weeping over a paper about saving art in Europe during World War 2. The thing about it was, as the writer pointed out, the museums knew even before the war started, even before their governments would provide funding, that they needed to come up with a plan. And, so they did. And they saved the art. Or most of it.

The Mona Lisa is such a small thing in terms of human life. Original paintings by Monet—so tiny. I would rather people live than art be saved. But, somehow, it was a metaphor for doing just that, saving lives. And all the work put into escape plans! Art hidden in barns, in cellars, as far away from Germany as possible, being moved and moved again in ambulances. It didn't matter how many times.

To think what all those curators thought of the political unrest. For years leading up to the actual war—all the signs of aggression meaning something totally different for them (on top of their own lives)—preserving art for the rest of the world!

The work that can happen because people love.

1 comment:

  1. Have you seen the documentary "The Rape of Europa"? It is about that very subject, and it made me tear up in a few places. Like when they talk about trying to get "Winged Victory" down the steps of the Louvre to keep her safe somewhere. You should watch it sometime. It's fascinating!


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