Friday, November 2, 2012
The Bronte museum. In Haworth, Yorkshire, is maybe my favourite museum - partly, I think, because it is housed in the actual Parsonage where the Bronte's lived all that time ago in the 1800's. So the couch, on which Emily uttered her famous last words "I shall see a doctor now," is still in the front parlor, and the father's bowler hat still rests on the table beside his chair. There is no touching, of course - the single most thing I dislike about museums. I want to touch so badly, I find myself sizing up the thickness of the glass, the paces it would take for the curator to get to me from his post at the door. Wherever possible, I can't help but ignore the "Please do not touch," signs - there's too much at stake. Being there turns me into a medium who needs to wrest what she can from the objects: vibes, a sense of the people who long ago touched them. Emily's painting set is just the way she left it, with a depression in the block of black ink that she made with her paint brush. I look out at the rolling hills she saw from her window, and I am Kathy listening through the wind for Heathcliffe. It all comes rushing in, down to the weak limbs that come from her last consumptive days. Houses, objects, once owned, I firmly believe, absorb a sort of psychic energy. It's there for the tapping, and it is one of the reasons I keep going back to Haworth to find the Brontes.
The other museum I went to this week, "The Burns Experience," celebrates the life of out great national bard, Robert Burns, author of "Auld Lang Syne," sung by all on New Year's Eve, but understood only by a few. Oddly enough, there's not that much to experience at The Michael Jackson Experience, sorry, The Burns Experience. It is just trying too hard, with verses writ large on the walls and on the glass cases wherein lie the letters you are trying to read unsuccessfully. The constantly running tapes of readings and songs squeezes out what might otherwise have been gleaned from his walking stick or his jacket (I reached past the sign and closed my fingers around the edge of his desk.)
I'm sure he's there somewhere, waiting to get a look in, but he's more present in the "neeps and haggis" in the restaurant than in the spirit of the place.
It is important, I think, to look back and bring these greats from the past into our company. They represent a pinnacle of achievement for our race and wait to provide stepping stones for us to go further, or at least step along with them. I like to think they take an interest in us. That's why I take the opportunity to wander around the parsonage in Haworth waiting for something to catch a spark, a little flame once harbored in the hands of those sisters, a little something to light my way.