Wednesday, May 10, 2006


Trip dist: 29 kms. Trip time: 2 hrs, 22 mins. Tot dist: 1070 kms.

Arrived to Oviedo at 11ish and after lunch, hotel find, and shower, headed downtown to admire the Cathedral, which is kind of cool because it is Gothic, but a rather excessively adorned Gothic, which I very improperly but quite eloquently (ha ha!) call "Gothic Churrigueresque" :). The adornments are really cool too, because within the typical Gothic arches, you find lots of trellis-like patterns, with curves, so not regular at all, but rather free-handed and beautiful. A bit hard to describe. You can take a look for yourself at the pictures here.

Inside the Cathedral they have these amazing, very well made holographic displays of valuable treasures of the Cathedral (which you can then, luckily, still admire at the museum after paying a small fee). Way cool concept (and nice poetic contrast to have them inside this centuries-old place of worship, of all things), but I really do hope the time never comes when this is all we have left to admire. Even though these days all sorts of carvings and sculpture is forbidden to the touch, it is infinitely better, to at least touch the real thing with the eyes, than just the 3D image, no matter how perfectly executed.

Anyway, I afterwards headed up to the museum to take a look at the treasures for real, and of course, one of the first things one notices of these things is the expense and effort people went through to make them. When I saw similar (and far more grandiose) displays of these kinds of things (relicaries, custodias, altarpieces, crosses, you name it) in the Vatican Museums, I couldn't help wondering, why it was that while the Church keeps preaching "help the poor" here you have millions of dollars in emeralds (the Emerald Cross donated to the Vatican Museums by the nation of Colombia was really something jaw-dropping), diamonds, gold, silver, ivory and precious woods sitting in a museum for a handful of people to see (after paying a hefty entrance fee, by the way, in this particular case). A family member once replied to me: "Well, this, this grandiosity, this awe, this magnificence, this is why people believe". (Does this sound familiar, by the way? What did I tell you about Dostoyevski a couple of days ago?)

{shrug} The more I see this grandiosity in favor of these kinds of displays, the less I do.{shrug}

The other thing that is a bit upsetting about these kinds of visits is having to suffer through, via said displays, the fascination, again, with carrying around bones of dead (possibly unknown or not of the identity you would think) people. What else are relicaries for? As if carrying around the metatarsal of a dead someone will make God listen to you harder. What's this whole infatuation with death, anyway? What with all the crypts in the cathedrals, graves behind churches, not to mention the praying to pieces of bone. Religion, and I dare say Catholicism, even, should be about life! Yeah yeah, the Resurection, life eternal, that's the whole thing Christianity is about. But I think it shouldn't be. It would be better, I think, if Christianity were about Christ's life (there were some good things there) and one's life here and now. Not with fear and guilt about deeds to be punished in the future, but with appreciation for the miracle and beauty of existence and the joy of the good things done for others now. Not for redemption and retribution once humanity is dead and there's nothing to care about. Not the rewards of 72 virgins once you're gone and don't have a brain with which to feel pleasure anymore (or the strumming of harps bathed in glorious light too bright for my eyes--though what eyes I'll have once I'm dead I can't imagine--to even turn to, which is the Christian version). What? If my parent's religion forces me to worship a corpse, I'd much rather pay homage to the memory of His (this!) life. {shrug}

Anyway, after stewing about a bit in the Cathedral's museums, I headed for the Museo de Bellas Artes de Asturias (Oviedo is the Asturian capital, in case I forgot to mention this before), which houses a rather eclectic (everything from Spanish Renaissance to 20th century), albeit rather small, collection of paintings. Ever seen a Picasso up close? His paintings range a bit in type, depending on his "periods" so it is hard to generalize, but the one I caught here of "Mosquetero con espada y amorcillo" shows him to be a rather careless, or, at best, hurried, painter, which was interesting.

Anyway, I enjoyed my visit to this museum very much, short and varied. Art museums, especially, can be such time sinks (I could always spend days in them, not counting re-visits of the same works), or overdose (overstimulus) dispensers. Anyway, another painting that kind of tied in nicely with what I said before about the Cathedral museum was Cecilio Pizarro's "Ayer y hoy". He's got the right idea, in the "hoy", doesn't he? :)

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