Well after the utter disappointment of Hadrian we weren't sure what to expect from Babylon, then we noticed that it was co-curated by Irving Finkell who we'd heard lecture at [livejournal.com profile] treadwells on Babylonian magic so we were a little more hopefull. The exhibition was fantastic!!!!! It had lots of really cool artifacts and great explanations. They mixed in some Biblical and western interpretations of Babylon so in addition to containing lots of great ancient artifacts it also contained 2 paintings by my favorite painter, John Martin, Balthzar's Feast and The fall of Babylon.

As well as several paintings by William Blake.

The first room had on loan from the Pergammon Museum in Berlin some of the dragons and lions from the Ishtar gate (Which made Bill and I really want to return to Berlin).

For some reason since we first saw him in Berlin this monster has always reminded us of Floyd..

There would have been too many references to Biblical accounts of Babylon except that the texts were always referring to what the Bible said, then what actually happened, and used Biblical accounts to talk about Babylonian magic and beliefs. There was even a big astrology part, with Islamic astrology books from the 11th century. ([livejournal.com profile] sahra_patrones I think you should totally go!)

Despite being sold out timed entry it wasn't overly crowded like Hadrian and there was a lot of chances to go and see things close up, though we did have to wait awhile to get a good view of one of the John Martin painting. It ended with a rather tragic look at how the archeological ruins had been damaged when the US decided they'd make a great place for a base in the Iraq war in 2004, and they talked about how they were trying to recover and rebuild a little. Though they did mention how Saddam Hussein had also been damaging the ruins by building on top of them and constructing a new palace nearby.

It was really lovely. We ended up buying the catalogue as there were so many cool things in it. I'd really very highly recommend going.
I really really loved this book. I wasn't sure what to expect, being about the Beats but not by Kerouac, but it was phenomenally good. Holmes doesn't have Kerouac's beautiful prose but he has an intensity that I found really appealing. He gave so much insight into his characters and their inner battles. The dialogue was great, their were so many memorable scenes even though so much of it was a whirlwind of parties and bar hoping.
Despite being published in the 50s it was full of sex and drugs and jazz.

I'm not sure how much I liked Holmes, I thought it was a bit telling that the only scene he made up was his wife sleeping with Kerouac, which seemed rather mean. But it was told so beautifully, and her explanation and feelings about it the next day when talking to him, and him not getting it was perfect. I feel like I had that exact conversation with one of my exs. I think that was part of the appeal to me was that it reminded me so much of my life in my 20s and it was lovely to read about the lives of people 50 years earlier and having them do the same crazy things, and go to exactly the same parties and have some similar dramas. In fact the only thing I wasn't expecting was the car chase, but then I suppose no book is perfect.

His portrayal of the beats was different to Kerouac's they seemed rawer and not as nice. Particularly Neal, though I loved his portrayal of LuAnne, and their last fight. I think Kerouac came off most like himself. Ginsberg was interesting in that the homosexuality didn't really get mentioned till about 3/4 of the way through and then it was only hinted at as to why he was so depressed. I think one of my favourite scenes was when the fag and the junkie sat around and talked about their different opinions on society's rejections of them. I don't know if it was a reflection of the author, or society, that made it ok to talk about all the drinking, drug taking and sex but yet homosexuality was still so taboo.

The book was such an amazingly intense ride, even when it was at it's most aimless wandering around in search of tea the characters seemed so vivid. While it was obviously based on real people and real events it felt like a novel rather than an autobiography and I think this really worked in it's favor and added tension.

It was full of psychology and social commentary, without being blatant about it, just in the way the characters were trying to cope with life and get by the best they could.

I totally loved this book, I can't recommend it highly enough. ([livejournal.com profile] gypseymission I am particularly thinking of you here.)I am definitely going to read anything else I can find published by him.


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