The other night laying in bed at the Hotel Herodion I saw Andrea get up and pull the curtains. I have seen this before. She is a light sleeper and when she wakes up for whatever reason she focuses on something external that is not allowing her to sleep. Maybe it is a streetlight outside our window, or a blinking diode on a computer or a battery charger, or the face of a clock, or the sound of water running through the pipes, or the air conditioner
or a fan. I
can sense her
anger and even though I am awake I pretend to sleep in case the thing that is keeping her awake happens to be me.
So as I see her pulling the curtains I know she is annoyed because there is a light that is bothering her and keeping her awake. I know right away what the light is that is disturbing her sleep. It is the Parthenon. The symbol of our civilization, man's greatest architectural achievement illuminated in all it's glory so that the whole of Athens can see it. A beacon to the rest of the world that says 'Come to Greece for this is where it all began' has been reduced
to the status of a
barking dog or a buzzing mosquito.
It has become an irritant. Like many things, the Parthenon is getting on Andrea's nerves.
In a way it is symbolic of our lives. Here we are in a beautiful hotel with a view so fantastic that I can lay in my bed and see the walls of the Acropolis with the Parthenon itself just slightly above so I see pretty much the whole thing. Laying on my side with my head on two pillows I can see where they have replaced stones, the new ones so white to make it obvious that they are replacements and I wonder how far the archaeologists will go in their efforts to preserve
they rebuild the Parthenon
completely? For thirty years I have watched the scaffolding make it's way around the building and it is now on the southwest corner where the Franks had built a small fortification tower within the Parthenon. Will this tower be dismantled to preserve the purity of the original building? I can see that two columns have been removed
and are now being reconstructed in the section that would have faced the brunt of the cannons below. Will they fix the damage caused by the Venetian cannon balls back in the 17th
century? I look at the building from my bed and try to imagine the night when a lucky shot hit the ammunition that the Turks were storing in the building and the cataclysmic explosion blew giant stones and humans miles away. The night they blew up the Parthenon must have been the most unforgettable event in the history of Greece since the explosion of Santorini. Was anyone on the Acropolis left alive? What did the Venetians think when they saw the building explode? Did they cheer or did they look at each other
and say "Oh my God. What have we done?"
I look at the ruins of this great building, and I don't care what other people think, the Parthenon was and still is the greatest architectural achievement in history. There is no building more influential.
I think about Greece in it's current economic crisis and right next door in Turkey it is like the California gold rush. Could there be a better time than now to approach the Turkish leaders and the good people of Turkey and say "Remember about 500 years ago when you were using the Parthenon to store ammunition and it blew up? Well you never really paid us for the damage. Do you think you could help us out? We would ask the Venetians but they don't really exist
anymore and the Italians
are almost as fucked
as we are. We would settle for a mere 400 billion euros (not TL) paid in easy monthly installments."
When you can lay in your bed and look out the window and see the Parthenon it is easy to imagine solutions for the problems of the world.
Meanwhile Andrea has fallen back asleep. I get up and quietly open the curtains a crack. Just enough so I can see the SW corner of the Parthenon but not enough so it wakes her again. I'm thinking that if Andrea has been kept awake all night by the Parthenon, she will be intolerable tomorrow. And this tiny sliver of history is enough for me.