After this afternoon’s department meeting I went to the library and had a look at some student sculptures that were on display. Normally I make snap judgments about the quality of the work by asking myself, “Does this look like the art teacher stole it from a gallery and snuck it in?” But not today.
Today I imagined archaeologists looking at these very same sculptures a thousand years from now, when Jacksonville is either thirty feet under sea level or buried under the foundations of an unimaginably more advanced city. They’ll be digging around under Jacksonville 3000, looking for the stadium (”What was the Nuffle? And what did it have to do with a floating spotted cat’s head?”) or the remnants of ancient San Marco or petrified grits and then they’ll come across one of these sculptures.
What will whichever egghead discovers these sculptures deduce about us? Will it be anything approaching truth?
I am reminded of A Canticle for Leibowitz, when monks 600 years from now discover a list of things someone meant to pick up at a deli 600 years earlier. They had no idea what pastrami or a bagel was, but that list ended up in an abbey as an artifact of Saint Leibowitz.
I hope to eventually find out how badly we misunderstand our ancestors and their trinkets.