Museums have become amusement parks where instead of looking at the works on display, you spend your time taking pictures.
I don’t have a passion for museums. Generally, I get bored like a crocodile in a sauna. The paintings make my face, the sculptures contemplate me with disgust and the guards sniff me as if I was about to commit a sacrilege.
I do not know why, but I am insensitive to pictorial art, to painting in general – a kind of aesthetic atrophy which prevents me from tasting with the desired ardor the splendors of the displayed canvases. It is so and I am not proud of it. I perceive their beauty, but I remain incapable of transforming it into ecstasy and I go to a museum as to a funeral home, overwhelmed with being who I am.
The other day, invited to the congress of Jewish writers suffering from early baldness, I was in New York and by force, I was dragged to MoMA. It was raining, the year was coming to an end and the entrance to the museum looked like a Paris station hall on a day of the unannounced strike.
To tell the truth, I did not know that modern art could arouse such enthusiasm. Who were all these good people gathered at the door of the museum-like so many Cerberus who came to celebrate the glory of an unknown god? Tourists, of course. Hundreds of tourists. Thousands of tourists. Whole legions of tourists from around the world have come to admire the best of the human spirit.
At least I thought so.
As much to say at the outset, in my life, I have never known such a sinister experience; a disgust so deep for humanity that a passer-by at the exit of the museum would have offered me a rope to take me, I would have accepted it with the relief of a patient at the end of life suffering from an incurable disease.
I have not visited a museum: I discovered the depths of the human species when it wallows in the most absolute vulgarity and imbecility.
Jackals would have had more regard for the works on display than this band of woodlice whose sole occupation during their visit was to take relentlessly dozens of shots, when they were simply not posing in front of the paintings, in this oblivion total modesty or restraint that characterizes individuals with mental blindness. They didn’t waste their time looking at the paintings; they photographed them as they had just photographed their sushi eaten at lunch or their new pair of pumps purchased the day before.
I will never forget this mother posing with a smile with her toddler in her arms in front of a Van Gogh painting posed there in the background, like a poster of Britney Spears, to which she only gave a vague look before s ‘go and ask elsewhere. I will never forget this fauna of outstretched arms from which dozens of mobile phones hung, which crackled together to better photograph a Picasso painting.
It looked like a vision of hell, a pagan ritual of any ethnicity versed in the trade of idols. What good is it to photograph a painting whose reproduction is found everywhere on the internet? What feeling can animate a visitor at the moment when, instead of getting lost in contemplation of a canvas, he prefers to grab it with his laptop before continuing with the following painting, as if it were there a chore which it was necessary to free yourself as soon as possible?
Is he only aware, this individual, of spitting in the face of the centuries which dominate him, of dishonoring the whole of humanity, of admitting the idea that the human being is worth nothing, if not to participate in absurd wars where we fight for a piece of land which, once conquered, will no longer interest anyone?
So is it our time with its abundant new technologies, its narcissism brought to its peak, its imbecile thirst for being recognized, which could have engendered such indigence, a mediocrity so ferocious that we sometimes come to want total eradication of the human species?
I do not have the answer to these questions.
I only know that that day, coming out of MoMA, I felt like a big void. A deep despair over who we were and what we were doing on this earth. A discouragement, too. And infinite weariness.
The next day, the sun shone like never before. I wandered the aisles of Central Park. It was mild. The trees, despite their winter deprivation, shivered with pleasure. High in the sky, the birds swirled, light and airy, while a few squirrels hurried across the paths. The walkers were going at a good pace, children accompanied them and dogs followed them, docile, impatient to run around. So little by little, I felt life reborn in me and I smiled.
And I vowed never to set foot in a museum again.