Monday, August 1, 2016

Museum Fitness + The Dangers of the Louvre

I lack the endurance necessary to run around museums. I'm simply not fit enough.
True, I am able to run for miles without tiring, but this doesn't help me one iota inside the cavernous art exhibits of Europe. I lack what medical doctors refer to as "Museum Fitness."


So now I'm by the pyramid entrance of The Louvre, gazing from the outside at the planet's most prestigious museum; for art lovers a visit to which is comparable to the the biggest sporting event on the planet, a game they refer to as the "Whatchamacallit" as their memory is solely devoted to the works of Leonardo, Donatello, and Raphael; names which only serve to remind me to pick-up a pizza on the way home.
the pyramid entrance to the Louvre + her courtyard

Standing outside these hallowed halls, I feel like a football player on Superbowl Sunday- it's the biggest game of my life, but for some reason the adrenaline just isn't flowing.
Immediately I start altering my physiology, jumping up and down, doing breathing exercises, envisioning myself paying rapt attention to each piece of historic and stunning art, fully absorbing their meaning and significance.  If I thought I could pass the mandatory doping tests of the AAL (Art Appreciation League) I'd pop some Adderall.

I sprint out of the Louvre locker room out of my mind, totally psyched, pounding my chest as I burst through a red, white, and blue banner held up by security, .
And for the first 20 minutes, I really am absorbing everything, rapt attention, taking in the centuries of cultural heritage, these masterpieces which have survived to enlighten us what life was like back in the Middle Ages- "harsh."
magnificent art- the Mona Lisa. A portal to another world
magnificent art- the Mona Lisa. A portal to another world

But after a half-hour my attention starts to wane. I need a pep talk from Coach Da Vinci so I go and gaze at one of the greatest works of art ever produced- The Mona Lisa. Her lightly smiling countenance drawing me in as it does millions of art lovers every year. It truly is a magnificent piece and I understand why estimates of its net-worth are 1.5 billion; it also makes me wish i had the artistic talent to counterfeit such masterpieces.
"Mona Lisa, for sale cheap. Check it out. I got Rembrandts too if that's what you want. 99.9% off. I'm practically giving them away- a million dollars a piece."

I head back out into the famed corridors of the Louvre with a bit more steam, and gazing up at photo after photos of Jesus and his Mom (Did he really just call them photos??)  I find my life-force abating.
I start to feel dizzy, almost drunk- what any medical doctor will tell you is a sure sign of "Gallery Syndrome."
Bravely, I discount the bodily signs, waving them off as delusions of the mind. A guard with obviously no medical training sees me swaying and curtly questions if I'm drunk.
"It's just a sprain," I retort.

I see the green-lit human figure- the exit sign, doing my best to ignore the siren song echoing in the hallways. Looking around, everyone else appears to have had their ears plugged with wax.
I take several more steps forward, nodding my head approvingly at this stunning artwork which has withstood the test of time, an attempt to fake myself out into absorbing more of it.
But I'm at my physical limit and now the symptoms can no longer be ignored. I start retching, the first signs of serious onset of the disease. According to medical textbooks I have but twenty minutes before I'm dead.
I race towards the exit, following the pointed direction of the green figures, my only allies in escaping this gorgeous, treasure laden dungeon. A poisoned dart misses me by inches. I speed up my pace, guards yell, "No running!"

My head is spinning as I sprint past the Egyptian exhibit which curiously, according to the Paris Guardian, has recent new additions to its collections- two day old mummified bodies of art patrons who succumbed to Gallery Syndrome.
I slide out of the Louvre and into the fresh air. It takes 15 minutes before I fully regain my senses, as on site medical staff treats other hapless visitors (mostly Americans.)
I'm chided by a nurse for my lack of Museum Fitness. "You really have to develop a stronger regimen," she suggests, handing me stack of art history books.
Borrowing from the playbook of American medicine and college students alike I ask for a prescription to Adderall instead.
I rise and exit out of the Louvre courtyard, and looking back briefly at my near death experience I have but one thought, "Man, that artwork was tremendously impressive."
selfie I took after exiting the Louvre

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