In 1933 nuclear physicist Marie Curie had outgrown her lab in the Latin Quarter in central Paris. To give her the space needed for the messy task of extracting radioactive elements such as radium from truckloads of ore, the University of Paris built a research center in Arcueil, a village south of the city. Today it’s grown into a crowded working-class suburb. And the dilapidated lab, set in an overgrown garden near a 17th century aqueduct, is sometimes called Chernobyl on the Seine.
My oldest daughter made a comment about how I resemble The Librarian in my mannerisms and philosophy on things, except that I didn’t wear bowties anymore.
That was good enough inspiration for me to open up my dusty drawer of memory-imbued bowties I have collected, bought, been given by students, and gifted by friends over the years. During my time as a Middle School teacher, the bowtie became my talisman and an important part of my costume that I would put on every morning (and squirrels… but that’s a different blog post). My students would voice their disappointment when they showed up to class and I had on a “regular” tie. I started receiving handmade bowties made out of duct tape, squirrel-themed bowties, and everything in between. My official portrait done by the 8th graders in art class included the bowtie as well. I taught numerous young people (of all gender identifications) how to tie a bowtie. High schoolers would come by my graduation before picture day or a school dance or graduation to have me help them tie their bowties.
So I was incredibly sad and then frustrated this morning when I went to tie one of my favorite bowties and realized the muscle memory was gone. It was as if I’d been a concert pianist for years and then I sat down to play Fur Elise and had no idea where to move my hands.
I stopped myself, looked myself in the mirror, and resolved then to never forget how to tie a bowtie. The muscle memory slowly came back, and I made a pretty good knot.
It’s time for me to get back to where I once belonged and not forget the power of the bowtie.
Very much agree…
As for the future, I believe owning your domain name will become increasingly important and that experiences like mine will become more commonplace.
Pretty cool kids…
It’s always been my conjecture that the Dura Europos Baptistry had images of Jonah present as a representation of the 3-day Resurrection event in a Jewish/Chritian context. There were depictions of Adam and Eve in the Baptistry area (along with Jesus as the Good Shepherd as well as other common representations from the Old Testament/Hebrew Bible in places such as the Catacombs in Rome).
Here’s an image of the Dura Baptistry from the original printing of Dura Europos and Its Art by Prof. M. Rostovtzeff (1938, Oxford Press)… one of my favorite books and possessions:
The top register includes a depiction of Jesus telling the disabled person by the Bethesda Pool to grab their cot and get up and walk off (John 5). It’s a terrific passage.
The amazing (and frustrating thing) is that the register literally flows the pool into a depiction of Jesus walking on water on the Sea of Galilee and getting Peter to hop out of the boat to walk towards him (Mark 6, Matthew 14, and John 6)… which doesn’t turn out well for Peter. The depiction here actually shows Peter sinking in the waves!
Here are the two panels we have with the earliest depictions of Jesus that we know of …
While a grad student at Yale, I was fortunate enough to spend a couple of years working at the incredible Yale Art Gallery with Prof. Susan Matheson and the talented staff there. One of my “jobs” (it was more like dream assignments) was working in the basement to catalog the Dura Europos collection with digital photography. I got to see this fresco on a pretty regular basis and we became good pals. If I knew then what I know now…
However, the frustrating part is that the water continues to flow to the next register… which has been lost to history after the sack of the (then) Roman Dura Europos in 256-257 CE by Sassanians and subsequent abandonment of the fort / town and eventual disappearance into history before the complete looting of the site by ISIS over the last decade. It’s a sad tale and I had always hoped to travel to Dura and participate in a dig where we’d uncover the other pieces of the top register in the Baptistry that would almost certainly have included Jonah being regurgitated from the fish and therefore seal my case about Jewish-Christianity extending well into the 3rd and 4th centuries. Alas.
Again, Jonah shows up quite often in early Christian artwork and imagery as a signifier of the Resurrection (the Catacombs especially), but I always wanted to see what those genius artists who designed the Dura Europos Baptistry did with the rest of the panels and the water theme as they perched between the edge of the desert and overlooking the Euphrates River.