Monday, August 23, 2010

Sacsayhuamán, August 18

The walls are made up of huge stones, taller and wider than me, fitted together perfectly and with every edge rounded to fit the curvature of the structure. Doorways are over 3 meters high, with lintels that dwarf me completely. Their size and architectural perfection laugh at our modern notions of the possible; I find it difficult to conceive of the labor that went into building these massive walls. I wonder at the sheer brutality of these structures, how blunt and aggressive each curved stone face is despite its almost seamless integration into the hills. The walls appear almost natural from a distance, rock faces rising from the hillside and surrounding an immense open space like sentinels. But as you move closer, you realize how absolutely artificial this giant vertical puzzle is. What a majestic monument to the extent of human domination of the natural world…and in the context of its conquest and subsequent human subjugation, what a monument to empire and hegemony brought low by yet another hegemonic order. It really makes you think about how society and culture is subject to the whims of power, and how easily the kind of power valued by emperors changes hands. Somehow, though, those of us who don’t seek it always end up subject to the same abuses, the same corruptions and contortions of those attempting to hold tightly to a transient and illusory gem.
I think that was rather cliché…but sometimes you stop being able to find fresh ways to describe what is somewhat beyond your comprehension (and better that it remains that way).

1 comment:

  1. I met a traveller from an antique land
    Who said: "Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
    Stand in the desert. Near them on the sand,
    Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown
    And wrinkled lip and sneer of cold command
    Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
    Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
    The hand that mocked them and the heart that fed.
    And on the pedestal these words appear:
    `My name is Ozymandias, King of Kings:
    Look on my works, ye mighty, and despair!'
    Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
    Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare,
    The lone and level sands stretch far away".