25 October, 2005 at 12:33 am (film, literary, performance)

Ceremonial robe given to T.E. Lawrence, and a photo of him with the the type of motorcycle he died on.Lawrence of Arabia is, in my opinion, the best film I’ve ever seen. It’s magnificent to watch, and compellingly unusual in its characterization. I have vague memories of my great-aunt Edie having a bit of a thing about T.E. Lawrence, and one of these days I will have to make sure I buckle down and overcome my habitual resistance to reading non-fiction so that I can further investigate the man and the politics in which he was embroiled.

Given the chance, I’d love to start this journey at the exhibit that just opened at the London Imperial War Museum, all about Lawrence and his life, his career, and his bizarre death — in fact, the exhibit includes the very motorcycle on which he died, a particularly macabre piece of inclusion that only a war museum could probably get away with. It will be open for a respectably lenghty period of time, and if I started saving money today… I still wouldn’t have enough for plane fare by the time the exhibit folds in mid-April. Anyone interested in getting me an early graduation present is hereby duly winked at.

Nominally, the exhibit has opened because of the seventieth anniversary of Lawrence’s death… except that the seventieth anniversary doesn’t seem all that numerically significant. Apparently it qualifies for “Platinum Jubilee” status, according to the Big Book of Anniversary Proceedings, so apparently when something has lasted seventy years, we’re less picky about the manner in which we carve up the number one hundred. I merely mention that being dead for a long time isn’t actually much of an acheivement, as everyone will be able to do that with certainty.

However, the War Museum seems to be getting significant mileage out of the fact that Lawrence, in his unique position as cultural ambassador, had a particular understanding of the conflicts and peoples of the region, and was bitterly opposed to the way in which Araby was divided by the European governents. A map with Lawrence’s alternative proposal is on display at the museum, and the implication seems to be that the Mid-East conflict would be significanly different today if the map had been drawn by someone, like Lawrence, who knew “the facts on the ground [and] the people of those areas.”

In totally unrelated news, I have no idea how, precisely, to interpret the juxtaposition of this image and the accompanying title, but it’s my favourite new web-thingy. EDIT:The Beat has switched publishers, and the archive of that post no longer exists, but I believe it was the headline “This is going to be one of those days” and then this picture.

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