Wearing myself inside-out

I rarely look at myself in the mirror. It is more of a useful tool to check no detritus exist on my face. I stare at myself when I brush my teeth, and I notice that I brush my teeth faster than without a mirror. I hate looking at myself. I see a reflection of someone I recognize and I like him – I think. I don’t mean that I like or don’t like who I am, but I try and imagine how I look like to others, and how I look like to myself. Cannot quite explain it in any way I am confident won’t be misunderstood. In a sense, I think that my scruffy and shaggy, second hand torn and sewn clothes is appealing and unappealing at the same time.

Moving on. My wardrobe is varied, but consists mainly of hand-me-downs from my Dad and brother, some of the clothes I wear have been in the family nearly a decade. Others even more! And they date back to when my Dad was my age, fashion is circular, that much is known already. My Dad’s 40 year old leather pilot jacket looks brand new, and my brand new jacket looks worn and dilapidated after a year or two. He certainly takes care of things better than I ever could. But, then, my wardrobe is that of second-hand, used and so-last-season. With this wardrobe, I am a walking relic of fashion, and so I always look too old for the clothes I wear, a youth’s outfit, in an older shaggy-scruffy bloke. Perhaps, people think I spend too much time smoking weed and playing video games. Chill dude, otherwise.

But there is something of my inward. I don’t like ‘new’ shine of things. I don’t mean that I don’t like new things, and I especially don’t like new things that are made to look old. I want these scars on the furniture, clothes, books and shoes to be earned by my abuse of them. It is my inner self, not a purchased temporary projection. I am what I wear for years.

People like me then have a natural tendency towards old stuff, antiques and archaeology. The survival of these objects, through the trial of their life time when used by people like me who abuse their stuff, or things kept precious like my Dad does. That they may at times, survive the earth’s crushing force into the present. Saved, at the last moment, within a few decade or centuries close-shave at times, these objects are the cracked, dusty, old remnants of past human generations, and for us, they are also hand-me downs, worn, used, broken, repaired. Life can persist through these objects, and on occasion when people want to feel memory, nostalgia, history, a sense of self, then seeking the past is often one course, but more importantly, the past unchanged is satisfying. The past unchanged, remains the most grounding notion of ourselves in this society that exists. The past that you return to when introduced to it at school, then revisit as an inattentive adolescent, bewildered student, young parent, older parent and so on, their appreciation in our eyes is satisfying in a sense to see that some things in our time have stayed fairly similar. Renovating a museum is a tricky game. If you design a museum for a new audience and highly interactive environments and so on, it is a difficult challenge to keep up with at the same time. In as sense, archaeology remaining fairly old and dusty and still, is part of its charm, yes, the satellite and radar scans are hugely useful, the scientific methods indispensable to the purpose of our discipline, but to its character, to its aesthetic and mnemonic appeal it is temporary and in flux. Archaeology is always in flux, however, much more slowly than other things, like medicine or computer engineering.


Gentle slumber

You have walked many miles with your mind yet. You are tired, and wish your journey to be over. You faced challenges and difficulties, and were put to the test with the barely acquired knowledge, and you escaped with your life. Winds of theorems and voluminous mountains you have faced, the slice of your colleagues and superiors, and through this perilous journey I hope you have found a fellowship, comrades to carry on the journey. If so you choose. The choice is entirely yours, and this quest does not fall unto you, you may pick it up and take a little further for the next person. Here, we say our farewells, and may we meet across the land in halls, taverns and roads, or out by a stream on a gleaming morning.

Conversation with Kleio – part 2

Kleio: You have come again. Why?

Interlocutor: I have become because I seek your grace, I seek your wisdom and your knowledge. I would humbly hope that I may see even but a fraction of all of humanity’s past you keep in your chest.

Kleio: So you have come to be tormented…by me. I am your mistress and you are my needy and passive worshiper. Worship then! Get down on your hands and knees and pray, beg, plead, weep like the dog you are. That you would think that I would give you a single truth, to think that you can even comprehend a fraction of the knowledge I carry. You are an arrogant and pathetic man. Weep, extol and be hurt, knowing that I will never give you the light!

Interlocutor: Why then did you seduce me? You have lured me into your cave with promises of knowledge understanding, and then cursed me like Cassandra – unintelligible – and only you can understand me, and yet I cannot understand you. I scrape, dig, plough and pierce. I weave, knot and tie, compare and review the shreds of history that we collect in our Houses and yet, not a single truth seems to have been borne out of this endeavor, not a single lesson to be garnered, and all warnings have gone unheeded. Like knowing the future, knowing the past gives insight into the future, yet it seems no one can hear, and no one will listen.

Kleio: Your plight moves me. And believe, I do not do it because I hate you, but because I love you. Your cause is too great for you, and you are too few to stand up to those who mislead using your knowledge, who lead more women, children and men to death, misery, starvation, disease… Your work seems to do more harm than good and you cannot be trusted to be a guardian of that knowledge, but merely an announcer.

Interlocutor: But have we not understood more about our past, our real time as human beings, have we not helped shed the shrouds of control and found some freedom from the knowledge of ourselves?

Kleio: What do you think?

Interlocutor: I think we are but children, born into a prison of our culture, society and history, and while some of us have maybe seen these bars, and possibly even seen the face of our geoliers, we do not know who runs the prison. Those who have left, have never come back. History is our emancipation, but emancipated people cannot return. So, we must remember prisoners, and our thinking as prisoners, and then think of how each prisoner is different in their prison. An escape plan will only be understood by those who are from a place that can understand it. But once we are gone, and free to live in the wild, naked and free in our minds we run so far and fast from our jail that we may not remember the way back.

Conversation with Kleio – part #1

Interlocutor: My dear Kleio, who and what art thou? History-muse, daughter of thunder and memory. Your scrolls, dusty and worn mostly by time, contain the electrifying charge of history’s momentum. Your recounting carries with it the fires of violence, war, and politics. The echo of the thunderclaps that rendered the air, remembered through dense and foggy accounts of our times, and of other times. You have a long history, you have all of our successes, failures, aspirations, fears and courage noted down, and occasionally you seduce and inspire some of us mortals to undertake a solemn pilgrimage into the depths of forgotten and remembered memories. Many question your use in society, in human existence. Many doubt that the lessons to be learned from history are never learned – doomed to repetition – or that by the time our time turns into history, the lesson is learned too late. Time, Chronos, is both our blessing and our curse, and while we are as historians, fans of Kleio, of our time, our history is always a time too far.

Kleio: Thank you mortal, for your kind concern. It tickles me neatly to look at you and your kin [humans] struggle with the very memory of yourselves through the ages, it also saddens me. You see, you are blessed and cursed at the same time with the gift of memory, and the turning of the wheel of time. You only half remember things, and those poorly, and while you forget who you are with time, your know that it is happening to you. You live in an inescapable present, shedding the many masks of your past self, and predecessors, but keep encountering the same series of masks as you move forward.

Interlocutor: Interesting, quite. I then wonder, why do you then inspire and seduce us mortals into the quest of tracing the fossil, fragments of our ages? Why is finding, discovering, understanding and learning about the past incarnations, the capsules of generations for which entire lives worth of thought, understanding, love, as well as hate, violence and misery so important? If then we are cursed at our constant circle of generational capsules, why strive for your favor and historical beauty Kleio?

Kleio: Simple! It is because you are driven to find a way to break free. As one epoch reaches as an age, it recognizes itself in every other epoch in the past when it was at that age.

Interlocutor: In history, we always see ourselves yes, but here you also mean that we actually see our ancestors, previous mortals and their age because we are in that age too?

Kleio: Yes.

Interlocutor: Are we able to see beyond our own epoch, our own age? Can we see ahead by looking at the future of a past society? Is the account of history given us a roadmap to our fate?

Kleio: Yes.

Interlocutor: Why then are we prisoners of our fated doom?

Kleio: The circle of history is long, large and almost imperceptible. You know now the pattern of things, you know the inevitable consequences of actions today, because of their result in the past. You mortals are even subtly suspect the stages of your ages your culture and society is in. However, your problem is that you have no idea where on the circle you are, and at what stage of the epochal age you are in. Your historical coordinates, unlike your maps, have no point of reference in time. What shades of trees did you enjoy in your life? What trees do you leave for the next children?

Airline of the Gods

Today, 200 economy class gods cruised through the sky from Britannia, across to Hellas – airlines. The cleared Heavens from start to end, one could see as far as the horizon. The landscape was that of the chariot-men, farmers, river and forest folk; flat-lands, filled with farmlands, woodlands, long snaky rivers and hamlets all along the way, curlicue of those whose lives takes them across muddy lanes, streams, fields of wheat and cabbage, herds of thick cows and hogs, foul marshlands and fens. Every step they take fills the world with the tales of human existence, and we now can gaze down on our world. As we reached the sun-baked rocks of the southern end of the Balkans, the mountains began to rise from the earth. The sharp, strong and edgy mountains, testament to Earth’s forces that lifted these titanic boulders from the planet’s crust with the slow, tense violence of tectonic collision – millennia, a blink of an eye. The we reached the opalescent beauty of the sea’s fury, and the lives of those seafarers, who dauntingly danced with the vitriol of the aquine  aquatic remorselessness and changeability.

This, my friends, when you gaze down through the window, does it not fill you with a strange energy? Riding in the chariot of gods.

Look away then from duty free shopping, from inane magazines and ponder the meaning of your physical presence, speed, matter of fact of the unlikely scenario you are experiencing with as much interest as a poor coffee-house experience, an unfortunate coach ride. Magnificence!

I wonder then, with all that pontificus maxima, if the gods in the days of yore, when zipping up and down, across and through the sky and clouds ever felt turbulence? How did they deal with changes in the atmospheric pressure? and, would they have found their constant flying back and forth to deal with the woes of humans eventually redundant, dull and a boring? When Hermes flies to and fro, how long does it take him, minutes, hours, days? and if so, how long until he refuses to deliver yet another message. Flying across the same landscape on and on? Tedious? Only for some.

Feel next time you are flying all the gods of all the people of Europe, or anywhere you are flying above – that is all I ask.