Madrid | thoughts about man-size

By Limor Shiponi

Our first stop in Spain was Madrid: Museo del Prado, Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza (which I skipped), Museo Naval de Madrid (which I visited on my own instead), Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia and a lot of sight-seeing, looking at architecture and sensing life in general. This tour was about learning and the rest of the group was bashing its way from picture to picture to statue to museum to building to discussion to flamenco to… you get the idea. I allowed myself to drop out once in a while and take it easy.

Where does man-size end?

Plaza Mayor in Madrid. Resting for a while in one of the many cafes I started imagining – how was this place years ago? How was life? Many events took place here, all of them involving a large crowd. How large was large then, hundreds? Thousands? How many really? My estimation is around ten-thousand; many, but in comparison to 300,000 people in one square in Tel-Aviv during the last demonstration that’s a small number. On the other hand, the TLV demonstration could not feel so personal without the aid of social-media. You have no chance to know what people think or feel when they come in such large numbers; which also serves in a way the sense of freedom from responsibility one might feel – if you’re not that sure about what’s right or wrong. Standing in Plaza Mayor then, easily spotted out by means of simple recognition like clothing and other status symbols, you might have needed to be way more careful. On the other hand – you didn’t have such high pretentions which in most cases today are just non-realistic, thinking about man-size and modesty.

Modern life facilitates intensity – like 7,000 masterpieces only in the Prado museum and still counting. Something about this feels unreal.

2 thoughts on “Madrid | thoughts about man-size”

  1. What is it about old cities that make one think such thoughts, I wonder? One of the many benefits of travel being the salutory reminder that one’s ‘usual’ experience of life is highly contingent – it doesn’t have to be like that, and other people’s ‘normal’ can be very different indeed.
    I agree about the intensity, but I have a feeling that the majour difference for the modern crowd participant (for want of a better phrase) might have more to do with the size and complexity of the world we’re all carrying around in our heads, rather than anything external as such.

    1. I think the oldness is only part of what makes us think such thoughts. Another part is that traveling you get the time to think…
      I can’t tell if it’s internal or external really, everything seems such a noise. Maybe noise is the new quiet?

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