Oxfordian collectors, on the bus

On the top story of a traditional English double-decker bus, heading from Oxford to London, surfing via a wi-fi connection onboard. It’s the first time I’ve personally seen on-board wireless on a bus, but Cyrus, a friend and colleague who was recently in Estonia tells of a similar service there on a bus to Latvia. The Baltics are naturally ahead

We’ve spent the last few days in Oxford, come to see Anders, who has adapted an old Polish absurdist play about totalitarian police so successful that they’ve had to start arresting each other to stay in business. We’ll see the play tonight. He’s on his way to being a brilliant playright, bitterly funny, intellectually far more honest than most writers of left or right, struggling to find a way to critique, expose, eviscerate capitalist and consumer assumptions. His next is a torture comedy. Stay tuned.

We visited here the Pitt Rivers museum, essentially an unorganized closet of all the curiosities collected by generations of culture-deaf imperialists: shrunken heads, arrows, musical instruments, mummies, swords and model boats, sleds, all packed into a small dark room that’s barely organized by rough theme. An exemplary note, over a skull with a spearhead through it, reads something like: “Found by the collector on a wooden window-shelf.” And presumably stolen while the owner of the house wasn’t looking. With little or no context for the articles, it’s less of a true anthropology museum than a snapshot of the collector’s mind: cluttered, obsessive, as uncaring of propriety or property as a magpie. Everyone should see it.