Ringo Enters The Dragon’s Lair

July 16, 2014

The work in the Penn Museum Archives never ends. The backlog resists attempts at taming it. The archives is happy to have a number of interns and volunteers who are willing to help organize, catalog, and preserve the documents, drawings, and photographs in the collections. Alyssa Velazquez is one such intern, who is presently reorganizing the storage of the old glass plate negatives. The Museum has at least 30,000 glass plates, in sizes ranging from 3×4 inches to 11×14 inches. Many of these were originally transported into the field, were shot and developed there, and were then brought back to the Museum. Others were taken in the Museum’s photo studio, which was established by at least 1902. The Adventures of Ringo and Sobek is a social science satire centered around the Museum’s old records, surroundings, and areas of study.

In The Continuing Adventures of Ringo and Sobek:

I did as you suggested Sobek
I decided that you were right.
My next order of business should be in aquatinting myself with the museum.
After hours, of course.
It was so still.
A zone of social abandonment.

Right in the middle of night class
As I read my way through the mission statement
There appeared a rather sizeable rattus rattus laden with a collection of arts and crafts
Heaving his way along the outskirts of admissions.

Well aren’t you a chipper chirper!
Come here my little friend
I’ve got just the thing to renew your song
Said he

Hello. Are you native to these parts?
Said I

And neither is you Jiminy,
But for the sake of making us both more comfortable let’s call it a truce

He was the most peculiar rodent that I had ever seen.
He wore a scrap of robe emblazed with flames and oriental filigree.
On his head was forced a crown of feathers that appeared to be a product of the creature’s own gnarled teeth.
He had an affected limp from encumbering weight.

Whatever brought you to this institution Jiminy, does not matter,
It is what you take back with you.
And I’m not talking enlightenment
Everyone is claiming that-
It’s cost effective.
Said he
I’m speaking in terms of tangible property.
Enter, if you will, into my personal treasury.

I followed this marauded riddling pirate into his marked territory.
An almost unnoticeable hole in the nearest storage cabinet
How such an animal was able to squeeze through that loophole I will never comprehend.

What is it you desire?
Asked he

If strength is your aim behold: a sword sheath.
No sword.
Just the sheath.
For weapons are rarely ever worth the price.

Or power?
I’m brimming with slinging stones.
No slings, but what does that matter when you have a handcrafted rock to admire?
Seller’s honor, everyone is unique.
If you don’t believe me, that is not my fault- not I
It is because you lack an archaeologist’s eye.

Or do your tastes lean towards aesthetic beauty?
Abandon your search little one.
For here I will sell onto you, the fragment of an unknown Crock.
Beautiful in its cracked condition.
This part is worth more than its whole.
With no one around anymore to boil,
A pot or bowl would be just a toil.

But wait-The_dragon
I think I misjudged you Jim.
I can see you crave a connection with the divine.
Purely spiritual relationships go awry.
Conversions need commerce;
Apostles need not try.
I am in possession of a bundle of beads
Unmarked by province.
Fair organic trade waiting to be reborn.
Rosaries, Shaman malas or Magatamas,
In time you’ll see what you made them to be.

Humans can be great companions too
As a partial specimen or as a set
Bones are the least troublesome of pets.
Said this scrambling scavenger and hoarder.

I was too overwhelmed.
Human remains carpeted the floor
Dolls poured out of crates
You pillaged the museum’s surplus population I exclaimed
They’re priceless.
Not to be sold or exchanged!

Anger crept into the objectifying traitor’s eyes
Like a good auctioneer he explained:
I’m in the business of accessible public knowledge
Desuccession-they call it, which you might have known if you had gone to college.
A little share here
Bit of a share there
Its all legit my self-righteous beetle.
I lend to borrow and sell
Even after I empty their refrigerators they can’t tell.
There are more items then there are shelves.
So I play the role of the collective dragon that waits for profiteering knights to stumble upon my trove.
To crowd around my round table for a civil plunder and pillage amongst this drove.
Without my services, all these treasures as you are so quick to elevate, stay buried beneath the mark.
Sustained by the pedant’s lark.

As I knew that I did not seek a share in The Dragon’s civic service
I thanked him for the capitalist tour and bid him adieu.
Thankful that I lacked the funds and the need,
For a pair of tinted spectacles he determined this beetle: Jiminy, should rightfully own.