Sunday, October 22, 2006

Athens is a city where history and modernity come to an awkward head, meeting exactly at the gates of the Acropolis where the winding streets of Monastiraki are lined with shops for tourists. Cafes with outdoor seating offer locals and visitors alike a view of this seam where ancient life and street life come together. Athens is a city built on a city, the modern structures superimposed onto a place of deep history. Seventy years ago, when it was decided to uncover the Roman center of town, 400 modern homes and shops were lost to the efforts. The question became not whether to do this, but where to stop. Any new construction can take years because of the complexity of what is encountered underground. As a visitor, it is easy to be distracted by the ruins, and rightfully so. They are not only beautiful, but they are literally the corner stones of Western civilization. However, life here today is something else entirely. It is a life of pushing and parading, speaking loudly and passionately, staying out late, and smoking many many cigarettes...

excerpted from The Hive, essay in progress.


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