Text and photos by our correspondent from Didyma, Glenn Maffia.
There appears to be few pertinent ideas circulating within our present age, an age of mass media disseminating dogmatic ‘information’ across the political and financial arenas of this ever shrinking world.
I have noticed that conversations I overhear in public are generally in broad agreement with each other, as the kernel of that ‘news’ invariably arrives from the same source, albeit across possibly differing mediums. Such be today’s viral propagation.
This has also infected my sphere of interest; that of history, aesthetics and archaeology. I hope that you have the patience to tolerate me whilst I endeavour to redress the equilibrium to a level of sanity.
In reference to restorations
How can one explain an emotion, a passion, by the limiting breadth of mere words? One cannot, one can merely evoke an obscure feeling. Though even that evocation can flail and fail upon minds less enlightened.
We have returned to the existential question of the apparent direction being pursued to fashion archaeological primary source finds into diminutive shadows of their former glory by moulding an artefact into a ‘fair-ground’ attraction.
Many ancient structures were, partially or utterly, extensively damaged by either natural forces or malevolent human hands. Initially, these ravaged structures would have been contemporaneously rebuilt with the edifice possessing the calm and harmony of the original, not only in spirit but also with the precise devotional reverence being permitted to resonate.
Imagine walking into a church or a mosque and the guise one immediately adopts, that is the attitude one should be attaining herein an ancient site. Its people have earned that respect. One has to feel empathy to the archetypal, and that requires wearing the spirituality of this bygone age. I am proposing that that particular cohesion is now unattainable, in essence and definitely in practice. Therefore, desist with futile attempts to rebuild that which one cannot emotionally feel, hence reproduce, without the prototypical manifestation.
One must be naïve to ponder the material or physical alignments of an inanimate arrangement of stone without sensitive recourse to the authentic beating of the ancient’s human spirit or soul. One cannot feel a ‘reconstruction’ as much as one can touch the ambiance of a genuine atmospheric ruin, an experience of time and distance in which purveys a solemn gravity and an intense sensibility of almost melancholy.
I experienced those intrinsic emotions within the cave of Miletus quite recently, that tangible closeness to Cybele, the Mother Goddess of pre-historic Anatolia. Not in any belief entity, for I am not a religious person by any stretch of the imagination, though I am able to perceive and attune myself to an empathetic mode of thinking.
The Temple of Apollo here in ancient Didyma also exerts a similar manifestation of euphoric splendour. I appreciate its wonder as an art form, which was once tangible to a people who have now dissolved with the passing of many, many tides into equally fantastical manifestations in our collectively closed and closeted existence.
Let us not allow the materialists to deconstruct the finer points, the intangible elements of our imaginations, conjuring the most glorious visualizations within our mind’s eye. Black and white has its mediums, but here, cold bleak logic subtracts from the vibrant hues of our creative faculties.
If an archaeologist does not possess such reciprocal emotions, then either he or she is profoundly in the wrong occupation. One has to resign oneself to insensitive people, they are in such abundance, though having to constantly ‘steel’ against such cold apathy is an arduous task.
Illusion and allusion
I tend to believe that the commercial world is the antithesis to the responses I’ve attempted to articulate, and that is the reason why the materialist world of accruing financial rewards shall always remain impoverished to the ethereal domain of empathetic enlightenment.
Yes, aesthetics was one of my chosen modules at University, along with art and history. This essay may sound otherworldly, but nonetheless it is valid.
Language restricts the parameters of expression; which is precisely where art, in all its forms, fulfils its essential criteria as an emotive force that ranges outside of the material and into something intransient and knowable whilst being immensely articulate. Not merely an illusion, but also an allusion.