From Walter Benjamin's "The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction":
"The uniqueness of a work of art is inseparable from its being imbedded in the fabric of tradition. This tradition itself is thoroughly alive and extremely changeable. An ancient statue of Venus, for example, stood in a different traditional context with the Greeks, who made it an object of veneration, than with the clerics of the Middle Ages, who viewed it as an ominous idol. Both of them, however, were equally confronted with it's uniqueness, that is, its aura. Originally, the contextual integration of art in tradition found its expression in the cult. We know that the earliest works of art originated in the service of ritual -- first the magical, then the religious kind. It is significant that the existence of the work of art with reference to its aura is never entirely separated from its ritual function. In other words, the unique value of the "authentic" work of art has its basis in ritual, the location of its original use value."
I spent the day first at the National Museum of Women in the Arts, debating the very raison d'etre of such a thing with my dear friend Matt Ambrose, who put up with my ranting on about the cloying nature of "women's art" with admirable equinamity. Then, the National Gallery of Art, where I saw a gorgeous exhibit of platinum prints by Irving Penn and a roomful of phantasmagoric El Grecos, among other things, while listening to the "Naughty Nails" playlist in the iPod. I'm sure those of you who know how naughty Nails can be can probably imagine. I felt like a predator stalking my prey in the sculpture garden! It ruled.
Pictures later, I guess.
Plus, PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION; and very hot, humid weather, which, surprisingly, as long as the evil fucking sun is not pounding down upon me using all of it's powers of torturous, superheated brightness, is tolerable... perhaps even pleasant.
Less than a week before I leave the continent.