Aug 12, 2009

Travels in Siberia - II ((empathy))

The swarms afflicted animals, too - descending on young foals in such numbers as to kill them, suffocating reindeer in Yakutia by clogging up their nostrils, tormenting cattle on the Barabinsk Steppe so that the herdsman had to paint them all over with tar. Some of my Siberian notebooks still have squashed mosquitoes between their pages. The Lonely Planet guidebook to Russia that I consulted before I went on my journey states, in the section about Siberia, By August, the air has cleared of mosquitoes. From my experience, this is no longer the case.
- Ian Frazier, The New Yorker (August 10th & 17th, 2009)

70 mosquitoes
bog crew, crashing

If you see this issue around, read this piece. It is long but worth it and we could talk about it. The descriptions of the vast strangeness of this part of the world resonated with my own recent experience. The contraditions in geography, in architecture, in lifestyle are fascinating, born from cultures so different from our own. My friend Leene in Estonia studies semiotics. She believes that language is essential to ones beings: one cannot understand a concept that cannot be described, cannot understand a word that is unreciprical in his own tongue. Nuance and subltety become essential. John had told me before about studying architecture, how the standardization of manufactured materials in a country (specific heights, widths, weights, etc), and the subsequent building codes, broadly limit what can be produced. This is part of why there is so much similarity to how buildings and furniture look. If the essential building blocks are limited, the way the world looks is too.

1 comment:

virginia said...

I read this. Really magical - parts were hard to imagine - so far from my reality zone.

AND I cant believe you survived those mosquitoes! (!)