Sunday, April 5, 2009

Home sweet home

So the seminar is over, and normal life has quickly reasserted itself as the only reality. I brought home with me a lot of thoughts about time and travel and maybe I'll write something about those one of these days.

I finally got to visit the Acropolis, which was something of a disappointment. Currently it is really just a big construction site. And although I understand and agree that you can't let millions of tourists to mess with the ancient monuments if you want to preserve them, being forced to look at them from a safe distance leaves me cold. It reminded me of my experience of Stonehenge. After trekking across the fields along the Avenue, it came as something of an anticlimax to circle the henge with dozens of tourists. These places leave me depressed rather than impressed.

If you think places like Acropolis or Stonehenge as landscapes, they are landscapes in the most sterile meaning of the word - something to be gazed at from outside. Maybe it has to do with the materiality of experience. You need to physically engage with the monuments to experience them - to walk among the columns, to see and feel the worn stone, to use yourself as the scale to begin to appreciate their immense size and the achievement it was to raise them. I am beginning to wonder if all this restoration and protection - an attempt to somehow keep the sites frozen in time - is really worthwhile. Maybe we should just let them decay and wander about the ruins.


megglesmcgoo said...

Very interesting. The first time I saw the Acropolis it actually took my breath away. We approached from the agora and up through the propylia. I was not expecting to be shocked but when I saw the Partehnon and Erechtheion I was awestruck. The next time I was less so but I think that had to do with a) the heat and b) the approach from the side.

I've never been to Stonhenge but will take you to Newgrange when you come and you can see the difference

Vulpecula said...

Now the propylia and half of the Parthenon were completely covered in scaffolding, there were big cranes in- and outside the Parthenon, there was even a small rail for transporting the blocks of marble and what seemed to be a more or less permanent building site hut, and there was a constant sound of drilling. I really enjoyed the Roman Agora much more - there were no construction works and very few areas were roped off. Of course, I also went there in the morning which meant there were very few people around.