Friday, November 2, 2007


Time is such a constant part of a journey like this. What is time? When is the sun going to set? Where can we get to in that amount of time? How are we going to remember these times? Why don’t we spend more time somewhere?

But time as history is our companion and tour guide. We are in This time, the dawn of a new century, the beginning of the information age, the age of globalization, and one takes a trip like this as a bookmark, a reminder, an annotator of how it is now. In our eyes. But we are also taking this trip through That time; to see, feel, learn about history as all travelers throughout the ages have. Indeed, it is the part of the definition of traveling to observe history because it is impossible for everything to be all new, all the time. Even if one only chose only Shanghai, Las Vegas and Dubai to circuitously travel to, the recent past but the past nonetheless would be present.

We think of Alexander the Great as part of history, but he was a traveler, a tourist, a student of history. When he came to Troy he sacrificed 1000 oxen as a tribute to the memory of the glorious fighters of a previous time. This is different only in scale to my raising a glass in salute to my ancestors at McCrea castle on our travels.

Without spending time observing history, this journey would not be so interesting or even worthwhile. The major experiences of trips such as this is to see new scenery, observe and meet new people and cultures, try new food, and observe history. There is also shopping, but Clara could speak better than I to that. Other than that, it is just asphalt,
beds, gas and maintenance.

Time and scale are interesting concepts. The first years of my life were spent in New England where history is very important, and goes back about 400 years, with some really important things happening 200 years ago. On this journey, we first went south and visited Mayans who were doing things an astounding 1500 years ago, but recent history was shaped 400 years ago by the Spaniards. We are now in the neck of the world which reached a peak an amazing 2000 years ago. Recent history was shaped 1700 years ago, or 500 years ago, or 83 years ago today with the beginning of the Turkish Cumhuriyet by Ataturk. Or maybe it was shaped last Sunday by the PKK raids against the Turk army?

The entire recorded history of mankind is perhaps 5,000 years. What is that? What do we have to show? I see many examples of the hypocrisy and hubris of man. Sacred burial chambers in their time were disturbed by grave robbers throughout the ages. But isn’t grave robber just a less fancy, but maybe more accurate name for archeologist? At what point in time is it acceptable for someone to dig up someone else who it must be assumed was buried, for eternity, in accordance with his wishes? The reality is that who ever is in power at the time may give permission for “modern” people in the name of science to dig up these graves. But no matter how you slice it, it is for the enrichment of the person or persons digging up the grave that this sacrilegious act is carried out. It often makes it that much easier that the dead believed in disproved Gods such as themselves, Zeus, Isis or Mother Earth. I feel so much better now that our modern theologians have figured out the proper God to honor. Which one is it again? Jesus, Buddha, Mohammed, Shiva, Mother Earth?

Proper perspective was given a couple nights ago in the deserted resort town of Patara, where you walk past dozens of ancient robbed Sarcophagi (or whiz past in an aircon bus)
on your way to the beautiful beach. We were sharing a pension with a young Turkish PhD candidate in geology. When asked what his specialty was, he responded that it was plate tectonics, but only for the last 5 million years. Only 5 million years? Only 1000 times all recorded human history? We talked about what a short time that was, in comparison to the Jurassic, and other truly ancient events. Think about that the next time, or maybe only time, you spend a ton of money on a Mausoleum!

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