welcome to Spain

history here is a conflicted terrain- even more than usually. were they Moors, these people who now are 'Arabs'?

there are areas still known as "the Jewish quarter", five hundred years after they were burnt as heretics or radically encouraged to leave. why? why even mention them anymore?

call them what you will, there's no ignoring the impact of Islam in Andalucia.it seems that the only things they didn't build are the shopping malls and the condominium projects.

god is light - photo by dugg

the Civil War is rare enough to remark upon too. how different it seems to someone who's come from just north of America, where the Civil War is celebrated, mourned and otherwise reflected upon with the kind of nostalgia only found in an empire at the dawning of its' own awareness of its decline.

here the plaques are rare, and the conversations rarely turn that way. more than 70 years later, perhaps the wounds are still too fresh, and there are too many other issues pressing...

it disturbs me, and not only because of the MacPaps and Bethune and others from my country who came here to make a difference and whose bones now mingle with the soil that grows these olives and this jasmine...

dark rider - photo by dugg

in every major town and city, there is a cathedral. often, it was first a mosque although to be fair sometimes it was a Visigoth temple or annointed to some Roman god or other.

but without exception, they are magnificent. old beyond imagining for a new worlder, they inspire in me an urge to look up, look up, look up until my neck cricks with recriminations for my appreciation.

my grandfather was a bricklayer, and i learned early to wonder uponj the piling of stones up into the sky, the craft of doing it well and the sense of work that is much about tomorrows one will never see but which will come regardless.

i cannot help but be amazed by the skills of these long dead men, the excellence of their craft and its evolution into Art. i'm more or less able to check my own spiritual questions at the door - to lay aside my questions about whether or not i'm entitled to know the3 name of the creator of the universe, or why he/she/it might speak one on one with me and respect the fact that right or wrong, untold thousands of people have entered thru these doors and charged these spaces with an energy that only an insensate idiot would deny.

sacred geometry - photo by dugg

respect. even if i would deny it to those who commissioned this work to be done, i give it up for the men who crafted these wonders and the women who made it possible for them to do, and for their sons to do so, and so on, and so, world without end.

part of what is so bewitching about history, hypnotic even is the way we see ourselves in the faces they have carved, the canvases where they commanded paint to reflect light back into all of our retinas in ways we can understand without a guide or a book. we are not so dumb even yet that we cannot recognize ourselves when we look into these mirrors.

and it is here, at this very locus of meaning and connection, that the contradictions rise like wraiths. if i am to be honest about my respect and my own reactions to these skills and beauty, then i have to be just as honest about the vertigo it all induces, and urge to vomit, to shriek, to weep and despair that causes me to leave.

sacred geometry 2 - photo by dugg

who paid for this?

in a culture so fond of counting costs and so unskilled in the counting of benefits, it's a fair question, isn't it?

but here the question never comes up... because it is at the heart of that conflicted terrain.

was it worth the pain of everyone who wasn't greedy? who was not 'well to do' or who did not name that god who may or may not exist? was this magnificence worth millions of lives? was it a good exchange for entire civilizations?

i am arrogant enough to say no, but i don't expect what i think to matter that much. what is beyond negotiation, i think, is that the contributors to this 'magnificence' should be named. they should be included in the descriptions of all this 'beauty'. people died for this, often horribly and for no good reasons.

without them, this beauty would never have come to be. without their names, this beauty has no real meaning. in the absence of remembering what they gave for this to be, this beauty is worse than useless. it is an obscenity, and a blemish on the face of god.

solid silver Mary - photo by dugg


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