Tuesday, 2 September 2008

They wrestle with snakes

... not ordinary snakes, no: pythons. I saw them. Not all of them do, but some. I am sure of that.

The certainty came to me on a lunch break last week in London's West End. Lunch at the Victoria & Albert Museum opened my eyes. To Frederic Lord Leighton's Athlete Struggling with a Python.

Leighton's Athlete struggling with a python - study
Sketches of Leighton's 'Athlete struggling with Python'
Bronze, 1877, V&A

So manly, so strong, so determined. Do you see his stare, the muscles on his arms, the strong legs? All enframed by the glittering body of the snake, so smooth, so strong. And still: held at arm's length, they struggle, they stare. Who wins? Because a victory it has to be! The athlete, the snake?

Leighton's Athlete struggling with a python - study
Studies in pencil

So, I went back with the sketchbook, after having watched more wrestling with snakes over the ensuing days. I sketched and giggled. Pictured those academics as snake wrestlers. And giggled some more.

But they do. They wrestle with snakes. At least some of them do.

Conferences, hey.... festivals, road crashes, snake fights... can't help but watch, or participate even? Now, how did it happen that it suddenly looks as if I may be going to Las Vegas next spring after all? I knew there was a problem with watching too closely...

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