I’ll try to keep this short and snappy, but I have the feeling it will run away on me.
After my last update I headed to Zurich and did a walking tour of the town. The points of interest are as follows:
1) Grossmuenster Church: This was the church that the eminent Zwingli presided in. If I had to pick a Christian hero, tops would certainly be Joan of Arc. But a *very* close second would be Zwingli. His teachings were very much in Jewish Rationalist tradition (eg Rambam, Spinoza), if not intentionally. Also, rad statue of Charlemagne (likely my 3rd Christian hero) in the crypts.
2) Fraumuenster Church: Former abbey that has a a ton of beautiful stained class windows done by Marc Chagall. You know, the nice Jewish painter…
3) Zurich Synagogue: I found it, but it was locked and I couldn’t go inside. Looked to be more of a Sephardic construction, which interested me. Also, the iron work on the outside was a repeating pattern of pentagons-inscribed-within-pentagrams. Where’s the Mogen David, WTF? Kissed the mezuzah and left.
4) Rietberg Museum: Zurich has 50 odd museums so I had to be a little choosy. So I went for the one that was only a moderate hike though a park (I kid you not) called the Arboretum. The museum featured mostly Ancient Asian works, with a smattering of works by indigenous populations of Africa, Pacific Islanders, and the Americas (including Inuits!). They had a really good selection of Japanese wood cut prints, which is something I am very into. I love the idea of inventing a method for cheap, mass-produced artwork and then immediately using it for porn. The best quote off of one of these was “Going home or living abroad are the same thing“. However, their rotating section was even cooler. It was an illustrated (using old paintings from the 16-1700s) walk-through of the Ramayana. This of course being one of the oft-overlooked highly influential pieces of ancient mythology. One of the better museum exhibits I have ever seen.
In summary, I may have been a bit harsh on Switzerland before. It just took me a few days to adjust. The real proof to this was that my last night there was of course the night that I started dreaming in German again. (Not that my dreams weren’t still nightmares, but eh, you can’t win em all.)
Zurich is a really neat. I would totally go back. I am even toying with the idea of applying to CERN or PSI post-grad-school, assuming I pass my quals. You know, get out of the country for a while and as an alternative to Los Alamos or some Academic thing here. There are a number of Asian institutes that are very good as well, but I can at least pretend to know the language in Switzerland. Also, they have the benefit of not being in the EU, which I can talk more about later.
And on one final note: whoever moved my table and couch while I was away, please refrain from *ever* doing this again. I know it was only by a couple of inches. However, I navigate around my place with the lights off at night. I rely heavily on my mental map to do this, so…