By the time I moved to Cairo to research Forster’s years in Egypt, late in the summer of 2018, I was already familiar with his cabinet of lost artifacts and vanished statues.
“Respectfully submitted for your perusal—a Kanamit. Height: a little over nine feet. Weight: in the neighborhood of three hundred and fifty pounds. Origin: unknown.” So begins Rod Serling’s characteristically clipped voice-over narration near the beginning of “To Serve Man,” a 1962 episode of the cannily uncanny half-hour television series The Twilight Zone, in which one such Kanamit arrives in his spaceship in New York City and soon afterward appears before the Security Council of the United Nations. There the hyperintelligent giant, speaking perfect English (though without moving his lips) offers Earthlings freedom from war, hunger, and disease—problems that the Kanamits themselves, he says, long ago overcame.
“The task of a museum,” wrote Italian critic and curator Pietro Maria Bardi in 1951, “should be to make resound, to interpret with perspicacity and appropriate technique, those monuments that sing: thus will be avoided the risk of useless sentimentalities, dangerous neutralities, hybrid educations, and eclecticism.”
In 2011, the Japanese government designated Yasuda Yukihiko’s Camp at Kisegawa (Kisegawa no jin, 1940-41) as an Important Cultural Property (Jūyō bunkazai). The left half of the painting, which portrays Minamoto Yoshitsune (1159-1189), a famous warrior from the Kamakura period (1185-1333), was initially produced and exhibited in 1940 as The Arrival of Yoshitsune (Yoshitsune sanchaku). The right half, which depicts Yoshitsune’s older brother Yoritomo (1147-1199), was added later, and the artist then titled the completed work Camp at Kisegawa (Kisegawa no jin). The finished painting, executed in ink on two paper folding screens, shows the much-desired reunion between the two men before their battle against the rival Heike clan.