Wednesday, April 26, 2006

GREETINGS FROM OUR NATION'S CAPITAL. Sorry for the delay in posting, but for this year's edition of Edroso Faces Mortality, budget considerations have forced me to take lodging at a Days Inn in Arlington, VA, which does not have computers available for use by guests. I'm entering this from a clinic waiting room at the National Institutes of Health, Building 10, where I am about to have something called a Dopamine Test. I'm not sure what it is but it sounds bad. Of course, one time they pumped me full of glucagon to make my heart race, then pumped me full of clonidine to slow it down, so this could hardly be worse, unless it involves a catheter. I hate those things. (Last time one of the doctors wanted to give me a test in which a camera -- a very small one, I was assured -- would be sent up my urethra. They couldn't get an anaesthesiologist, so this guy wanted to just do a local and go on ahead. Though a mere layman, I surmised that cramming a camera up my cock with nothing but a little Campho-Phenique to dull the pain was something to be avoided at all costs, and promised to get it done by my own doctors as soon as I got back home. (I still haven't, though. You rush to schedule such a procedure for yourself!)

I have so far had the usual revolting solutions, injections, and scans, but also a bit of liberty. Some of it I have spent traipsing the Mall. The high point so far, not likely to be topped, is the "Cezanne in Provence" show at the National Gallery. I'm not only ignorant but pig-ignorant of Cezanne, but I think this show, despite the absence of didactic signage, taught me a lot about him. The show is mostly landscapes, ranging from youthful effulgences like the Chestnut Tree and Basin at the Jas de Bouffan (in which a stunning lake of peach signifies the sunlit portion of a dirt path) to the severe abstractions of his old age. (A quote by Cezanne implies that deterioration of his eyesight enforced this approach -- he seems to have been resigned about it. Has someone written about the effect of optical disorders on great artists? I still remember an old medical ad that asked whether El Greco painted as he did because he was a genius or because he had astigmatism.) It was wonderful to see how many ways he could make foliage -- dabs, diagonal streaks, little impasto'd chips. Maybe because I'm simple-minded, it never ceases to amaze me that some little dark-green line in a pale-lime cloud of oil can make such an obvious mass of leaves, or that the table in The Cardplayers, which I took completely at face value for two minutes, is just a mass of burnt umber. This is mastery as observed by the children it makes of us.

Nuclear Medicine has paged me. More later.

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