Piecing Together The Fragments Of The Past

From fragments sifted from the dirt
We piece together what was here
An image forms, a poor mosaic;
Some details never will be shown.
The evidence of daily life—
A broken lamp, a shattered vase,
A stairway worn with countless steps,
The profile of a woman’s face—
These buried pieces, lost to time
We may discover, quite by chance
While off in search of something else—
An accident of circumstance.
So, too, it seems, with memories;
Forgotten, lost, for decades hidden
But then, while on another search
They spring to present mind, unbidden.
They feel complete, in every way,
As if no more than hours old
But how much is illusory?
It could be quite a lot, I’m told.
We reconstruct our precious past
And fill in gaps, the experts say,
To fit our present narrative
And lead to what we feel today

I found this verse—well, half of it—
I’d written several years ago;
I’ve reconstructed what I meant…
Or maybe not. We’ll never know.

Frieze fragment

Frieze fragment – image: Cuttlefish

So, yeah, I literally found the first half of this verse, in the back of a notebook I was using in Greece. I must have written it after visiting one of the many archaeological museums or digs we went to (the above image is, I believe, from Pella). The verse stopped after the word “Forgotten”, which (as you can see) is immediately after the shift from literal to metaphor, and a bit of an ironic place to have to reconstruct from. Some of the museums had pots that were considerably more filled-in than original shards; some were nearly complete. Sometimes you knew, or believed you did, exactly what the artist or crafter had in mind; other times, the effect was equal parts their imagination and your own.

Did I complete the thought I had started over 5 years ago? Probably not. Maybe. I’m a different cuttlefish than I was then.

Nike of Paeonius

Nike of Paeonius – image: Cuttlefish

Heh… if I were cruel, I’d link Schubert’s “unfinished symphony” as the autoplay music for this post.

Olympia, mostly.

You might think me a bit frightened, seeing this menu–looking at it now, I just want to be back there. (This pic is from Nafplion–all others are from Olympia.)

The helmet of Miltiades. At the Olympia museum. I remember reading, last year, how the flames of the wildfires were surrounding this museum; seeing the charred stumps this past summer, I was, and remain, humbled by the dedication of the museum staff. These truly are priceless artifacts, and yet lives were in danger. Miltiades is known centuries after his death, but the people who saved the museum? Anonymous… at least to the vast majority of the world, including visitors to the museum.

The frieze from the Temple of Zeus… a stunning bit of work, and a grand example of the severe style. Note the serene, almost blank look on the face of the Lapith woman…

… while the faces of the Centaurs…

… are contorted with effort and pain. A sculptural morality lesson; the higher motives of mankind (rationality, logic, etc.) will always win over the bestial animal nature.

Beyond this arch is the … erm… THE … Stadium at Olympia. The original Olympic Stadium. Where the Olympic Games were originally held. Yes, I ran there. No, you don’t get to see that photo.

Also at Olympia. Without words.

I have hundreds more pictures, of course. Thousands, really. Seriously. The temple of Zeus at Olympia was one of the wonders of the ancient world, and very deservedly so. Today, of course, the magnificent columns are strewn like so much cordwood, the result of an earthquake. Even what you see here is not “what remains” so much as “what has been restored.” The gods have all died, and left the rocks to fend for themselves. Anonymous museum attendants save their memories from random wildfires.

No, no verse with these pictures. Nothing I could write would do justice.

Happy New Year!

Thank you all, all of you, for 2008. I could not have envisioned a better year if I had been able to plan it all out for myself in advance.

I have tried putting a year-end thank-you to verse, but it was all just too trite and nasty, not representative of the deep gratitude I feel toward so many of you. So, consider yourselves the ones who left Cuttlefish speechless. And instead, I’ll just post a few pictures for you. None are remarkable for any reason other than that I took them. I was there. Finally. And some of you reading know that I could not have done that without you. So… completely inadequately… thank you.

So very much.

And have a great 2009!

I just realized that an unusually substantial number of my memorable moments of 2008 occurred in Hotels. Not that unusual, given the amount of time spent living in them this year, but still… so if you are one of the people who crossed paths with me in a Hotel, consider yourself doubly thanked. New York, Chicago, Sofia, Bourgas, Thessaloniki, Delphi, and especially Athens. And I am sure I am forgetting some. I love you all.

(click pics to moderately embiggen)

Chicago (not my favorite view, but the best I have a pic of):

A close-up of a Greek vase…

My favorite statue:

I love this shot–a column from the Athens agora:

The back view of the Parthenon. No photo will ever do it justice.

A simple pot… but it was the casket for an infant. I can’t imagine being the parent… or the person who found it.

The size of these columns simply does not come across in photos.

The changing of the guards in Athens. A beautiful ceremony–of course, in the past few weeks there have been protests here.

The theatre at Epidaurus. Acoustically perfect; I could hear every word spoken from where I took this pic. Standing where the speaker is standing, it sounds like you are in your own bathtub. You hear yourself perfectly. An amazing place.

Nafplion. I can’t do it justice, so I will just post one image. The water is bluer, the mountain is higher, the everything is everythinger…

I think I’ll cut this short here–I took (literally) thousands of photos, but I suspect evil spirits will prohibit me from posting all of them on this post. More later… or perhaps sooner, one never knows. These shots are reduced in quality, but some of them (I don’t think any of this post’s) I use as desktop images in their higher resolutions. Anyone who wants anything here in hi-rez, just ask.

The Year In Cities

I am not one to often do memes
(It’s just so hard to rhyme them, it seems)
But this one I’ll try
Cos the year that’s gone by
Has been better than even my dreams!

So, Chad Orzel at Uncertain Principles (love that dog!) propogates a meme: list the places where you spent at least one night in 2008 (other than home). Any other year, I would be too depressed at how short a list it was, to actually post it. This year?



Veliko Turnovo

New York City
Canastota, NY

Yeah, next year is gonna suck, but I have my memories… So, where did you go this year?