Friday, April 16, 2010

Slaughterhouse 66

END TIME: 10:30 PM

"Elaborate on the 'Turtle vs. Hitler's Skull' question; Briefly explain why you would rather display Hitler's Skull than keep a pet Turtle and what you find to be interesting about the idea of Hitler's Skull as an artifact. Then, pick an historical artifact that you would actually like to display in your living room without coercion and explain why."

From the Chuck Klosterman book "Sex, Lies, and Cocoa Puffs" here's one of the questions he asks to determine if he can really love someone:

"3. Let us assume there are two boxes on a table. In one box, there is a relatively normal turtle; in the other, Adolf Hitler’s skull. You have to select one of these items for your home. If you select the turtle, you can’t give it away and you have to keep it alive for two years; if either of these parameters are not met, you will be fined $999 by the state. If you select Hitler’s skull, you are required to display it in a semi-prominent location in your living room for the same amount of time, although you will be paid a stipend of $120 per month for doing so. Display of the skull must be apolitical.

Which option do you select?"

(I chose Hitler's skull, because I have a hard time with pets with my schedule the way it is.)

I’m not sure that my home is the appropriate place for the display of historical artifacts, but given the premise of the question (which I’m assuming has to do with what value someone places on money, and if they’re willing to do something socially repulsive in order to make a sum of money, versus performing a simple task against the threat of a fine)

My concern about choosing a historical artifact for display is it would have to be interesting enough that I would be willing to look at it all the time, but not so interesting that it would draw throngs of people, or require armed security, or lead to me being interrupted at all hours of the night by even the benignly curious. This rules out most religious artifacts or anything relating to Elvis. It’s also why Bill Gates had no issues with buying Leonardo Da Vinci’s notebooks – he already lives in a gazillion dollar compound that you can’t just stroll into.

If I had to choose something that were aesthetically pleasing, it would probably have to be small, to be displayed properly. For instance, there’s a Star Wars toy in my curio cabinet, from one of the newer movies that I haven’t seen. At the bottom of it, there’s the word “Coruscant.” If you open it up a little plastic figure floats up and down for a few seconds. Why? What does it mean? It looks and behaves like a little snow globe. Why do I have it?

Because several years ago, my then-wife and I lost a game of Uno with three other couples, and the penalty required us to display said object in a prominent place until the next game. Well, much like Robin Williams in the game “Jumanji”, one of the couples moved back to the Midwest, another player moved to California, we split up and I’m somehow forced to follow these rules as if they were some sort of a blood oath. I’m going to be stuck with this damned thing well into the next life. So the question’s not if I’m capable of doing it; that’s been answered. But what should it be?

I think it would be interesting to have something that looked fairly ordinary, but had a terrific story behind it. I thought that the first wrist watches that were displayed in the Louvre Museum were fascinating, and the knowledge that those were crafted without the benefit of modern tools or even much in the way of lighting or magnification boggled the mind.

Maps would be excellent. How on earth did Lewis and Clark know that river went in that direction? I have a GPS-enabled phone and I can’t find my way through clearly marked neighborhoods with signs. These guys found prairie dogs! I’m not good with vermin, so when these guys hauled off and sent one to President Jefferson as a gift, that might have been taking the exploratory spirit a little too far.

Ultimately, my home is a spectacularly bad destination for a historical artifact, and I’m more of a “going places” person than a “collecting things” person. But I think an early draft of a map or an early attempt at a clock that you could wear on your wrist would be amazing.

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