About the Blog

I recently accepted a position from Teach and Learn with Georgia, a Georgian Ministry of Education program designed to bring native speakers of English into classrooms around the country. I will be moving to Georgia in August of 2014 to begin my assignment.

Before this latest adventure, I studied at Bogazici University in Istanbul Turkey and at Azerbaijan University of Languages. I speak English German Spanish, Turkish Azerbaijani and Uzbek and am currently trying my hand at Georgian.

Monday, May 20, 2013

The compelling nature of ruins

Sarajevo at Sunset

Hello everyone! So this is a bit out of order, but that's how I roll. My mind occasionally brings good material to the surface so you have to run with it. I wrote this piece up for my Material Culture class about a week ago and presented it in class today. I decided I quite liked how I had stated things in it and how it described the city of Sarajevo, Bosnia and the nature of the Balkans as a whole, so I'm sharing it with you. I hope that you enjoy.

There is something eloquent about ruins. Their mute testimonies compel us to listen to words emanating not from them, but from deep within our own consciousness’s, words trying to make sense of disaster borne of natural or human desires, destruction beyond our imagination. Ruins can come about organically, through disuse and time, or they can be the work of an instant, an earthquake, flood or explosive device that erupts at just the right moment leaving only remnants in its wake. It is the latter that most intrigue our minds, for nature’s destruction is always senseless to our humanity, yet when we find it is our fellow men who have carried out these acts, we balk. We are logical, thinking things, and we turn our backs to logic. These structures can be repaired or demolished, or they can bear witness. In Sarajevo, they have a history museum devoted to the story of Bosnia-Hercegovina through the ages, and the more recent tale of the siege of Sarajevo. An outsider would not know of the purpose of this building but for the lettering pasted onto the side. Some of the building has had to be repaired, so that people may walk free of the tangle of twisted metal, or the jagged skylights whose creation was not borne of elegance. Yet much of the exterior has been left untouched. Bullet pocks fleck the exterior, naming a survivor of the horror just as surely as the scars of smallpox would have done 200 years ago. The stairs are marred by missing chunks of concrete, making the walk up hazardous, giving the visitor the tiniest sensation of danger, and the necessity for care. The garden grows wild with tall weeds pushing through cracks in the courtyard, none beautiful enough to bloom. Military vehicles are strewn about, slowly collecting rust, but still giving the impression of an event temporarily interrupted, to be resumed at a later date, for if it were finished our minds tell us, there would be order. The entire museum gives a feeling of time suspended simply for your benefit, and that once you leave again, it will resume its natural course. The interior is spartan, the walls and
One of Sarajevo's many ruins
floors repaired but this is not a luxurious space. It is a place of action with no time to mess about with frou-frou. The inner workings of the building remain exposed, with pipes and wires creating a Gordian knot above your head. The space is clean but not sanitized. The building reminds you that this is not over, that the wounds and animosities have not yet healed, for when you walk outside you see similar buildings, yet these do not hold museums. These are ruins that will not be reclaimed, instead bearing their testimony ignobly as stray dogs wander through and the last rays of the sun shoot through perfect circles in their masonry, the jagged cracked edges the only sign that they were not intentional. A conventional history museum would speak of the conflict as history, yet the ruinous nature of the building invites the visitor to see it as reality, to view it not with the detachment of wandering through an exhibition and then popping out to hit the next tourist attraction. It forces the viewer to consider the implications and walk away unsettled, because our minds detest the scars on buildings as much as on human skin and yet in our perversity we cannot look away from either.

No comments:

Post a Comment