A Tyrannosaurus Rex [Tyrannosaurs baatar] skeleton ostensibly excavated in Mongolia, and allegedly illegally transported therefrom, was sold at auction on Sunday for just over a million dollars by Heritage Auctions of Dallas, Texas to an unnamed phone bidder. On June 19th and 20th, London will host the International Colloquy on the Reunification of the Parthenon Marbles, also known as the Elgin Marbles, even as Greece teeters on the brink of withdrawing from the Euro-zone. Lord Byron graffitied his thoughts on national patrimony and plunder on a plaster wall at the Parthenon.
“Before bidding on the skeleton began, the auctioneer announced that the sale would be ‘contingent upon a court proceeding dealing with this matter.’ Almost immediately, Robert Painter, a lawyer representing Elbegdorj Tsakhia, the president of Mongolia, stood up with a cell phone held to his ear and yelled, ‘I’m sorry, I need to interrupt this auction. I have a judge on the phone’ … Despite the ruckus, the auction continued, and the considerable artifact sold for $1,052,500, to an unidentified phone bidder. The small audience, slightly confused, applauded.”
—Laura L. Griffin, “T-Rex Wreck: Mongolian Representative Disrupts Skeleton Auction,” The New York Observer, 21 May, 2012.
“The neo-fascists are hunting down immigrants in the middle of downtown Athens, in the streets north of the central Omonia Square. They call it cleansing. They hunt people like Massoud, a 25-year-old Afghan from Kabul. He has been living in Athens for five years without a residency permit, even though he speaks fluent Greek…The gangs also hunt the dark-skinned man pushing a shopping cart filled with garbage and scrap metal through the streets. Or the woman with Asian features, who now grabs her child and the paper cup with which she has just been begging in the streets…The Greeks may have come to terms with the fact that the luster of antiquity is long gone. But the notion that Athens, a once-proud city, has now become synonymous with political failure and mismanagement is difficult to take.”
—Julia Amalia Heyer “Amid Debt Crisis, Athens Falls Apart,” Der Spiegel, 28 March, 2012.
“Quod non fecerunt Goti Hoc fecerunt Scoti. [What the Goths left undone has been done by the Scots].”
—Graffiti on the west side of the plundered Athenian Parthenon, source of the so-called “Elgin Marbles,” attributed to George Gordon, Lord Byron, circa 1810.
Let Me Recite What History Teaches (LMRWHT) is a weekly column that flashes the gaslight, candlelight, torch, or starlight of the past on something that is happening now. The citational constellations work to recover what might be best about the “wide-eyed presentation of mere facts.” They are offered with astonishment and largely without comment. The title is taken from the last line of Stein’s poem “If I Told Him (A Completed Portrait of Picasso)."
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