Friday, December 07, 2018

layers of history

while in istanbul a few weeks ago, i visited the ayasofya. it must be one of the most magnificent human made structures in the world. built by justinian starting in 532, it has stood stoically through regimes and wars and earthquakes and fires, shifting religions and rises and falls of empires. it remains, implacable, its scars visible, but none able to mar its beauty.

the layers of its history are there to be seen - mosaics of kings and saints side by side with enormous quotes from the quran in arabic. tiles on the floor that saw the coronation of emperors and sultans. stone staircases worn smooth by the feet that trod on them for millennia.

we got in at the very end of the day, so there weren't many people. it was quiet and monumental. and in the quiet it felt like if you listened hard enough, you could hear the whispers of the stories that vast, ancient place had seen - the multitude of voices which had passed through, the games played, palace intrigues conducted, prayers said, speeches and sermons proclaimed. all of those stories whispering from the walls. i wanted to hide in some corner and stay after closing, to hear them all...

* * *

i'm so sad - andrei bitov is dead. 
i wrote my master's thesis on pushkin house and
had i finished my Ph.D., i would have written on his work.
but 81 is no bad age. my dad nearly made it there as well.
and today he would have been 85.

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