October 27, 2006

The proverbial clam.

My housemate Aaron is a classics major. This semester he's studying ancient Mesopotamia, the history of architecture, and the Greek language. I am, as you all know, essentially an archaeology major. I've studied the history of architecture. I've studied ancient Mesopotamia. I've attempted to teach myself an ancient language, albeit with limited success. It's already been established that when Aaron and I start talking about anything older than a thousand years it's a geekfest of truly epic proportions.

I'm not even sure what started us off last night, but by the time the rest of the house finished dinner and started to drift out of the dining room we were talking animatedly about empire consolidation in the Ur III period and the Qin dynasty. We hit cylinder seals, divinized rulers, propaganda, and systems of military control, and when we got to the material resources of the cradle of civilization my roommate tried to join the conversation but could only give up in the face of its intense arcanity.

By 8:00 the dining room had pretty well emptied out. There were two people studying on the dining room couch, one person cleaning up the remains of dinner, and Aaron and me now clustered around the public computer arguing about whether Stonehenge is sexy. We were trying to cast a joint vote in the New 7 Wonders election, but got tied up in debating whether the candidates should be iconic, mysterious, historically significant, politically significant, fairly representative, notably old, in good repair, aesthetically appealing and/or simply personally exciting. We threw out the Statue of Liberty and the Sydney Opera House without discussion. I argued passionately for Angkor Wat and against the Great Wall of China. He would stand for no doubt about the Colosseum but balked at Chichen Itza. Our collective soul-searching about the Alhambra required the consultation not only of the website's fact sheet but also of Google and Aaron's architectural history textbook.

We finally cast our vote and called it a day around 9:00 with his Greek unstudied, my archaeology unread, and our housemates' tempers fraying from listening to us. I returned to my long-abandoned reader and announced in somewhat strong language that spending evenings this way makes me extraordinarily happy. My housemate Christina, who had been patiently studying at the dining room table throughout this, gave me a look usually reserved for small fuzzy baby animals and started writing something in the margins of her anthropology book. I looked over her shoulder.

As happy as the proverbial clam -- she had written -- Dianna, on geeking it up about the wonders of the world.

Yours truly,
the exuberant shellfish.

Posted by dianna at October 27, 2006 03:56 PM

On a totally different note, here is an interesting video about a man who shows that one man could have built the Stonehenge!


Posted by: anshul at October 27, 2006 08:47 PM

What's your metaphorical beef with the Great Wall?

Also, I'm not certain how well it meets your criteria, but in terms of raw "what a piece of work is a man!"-factor, I'd have to go with the system of re-directs and hydroelectric plants that allow us to turn Niagra Fall off. It's the ultimate one-upping of Nature. Years ago, someone looked at Niagara, resplendent and awesome in its magnitude, and said, "You know what? We can totally put a stop to that." And now we can totally say to Mother Nature "Hey, you think your waterfall is grand and majestic? Well, we can fucking TURN IT OFF! How you like them apples? Huh?"

Or, if you want a big thing, how about the Hoover Dam? That's pretty huge and a triumph of engineering and such.

Ooo, or the Tennesee Valley Authority! They hydroelectriced up the whole durned South! Everything put on electricity and run on a payin' basis. Out with the old spiritual mumbo-jumbo, the superstitions and the backwards ways.

I guess I just think hydroelectric power is neat.

Posted by: Zach at October 27, 2006 10:48 PM

oh, architecture. meh. how about:

the internet
the printing press
the airplane

Posted by: didofoot at October 28, 2006 11:04 AM

Why signed the exuberant shell fish?
One could of course argue that shellfish are not at all exuberant but that would be a complete and utter waste of time on my behalf...
Why am I even writing this???
I should be in bed thinking about hot chocolate and whether I should ship a pairing rather than post this rediculous comment on the internet...
Come to think of it, this isn't much of a comment anyways seeing as i seemed to have comfortably deviated off course and managed to talk about myself mostly...
Ahh, the wonders of human selfishness...

P.S. could someone please tell me how I can post things on this site????

Posted by: ColdoX at October 29, 2006 04:54 AM

This site meaning Snoqualmie? You can't. It's my blog. Who are you and what are you talking about?

Kris and Zach, we weren't creating a list from scratch, we were voting on an already-created list of 21 candidates. So it doesn't matter how much of a hydroelectric power fetish you have, or how much you enjoy stuffing foods into other foods, you (and therefore I) cannot cast a vote for something which isn't on the list. Otherwise I'd skip this whole monument business and vote for chocolate peanut butter soy ice cream.

Posted by: Dianna at October 30, 2006 09:55 AM

i know, i was quibbling with their list, not yours.

Posted by: didofoot at October 30, 2006 10:13 AM

Oh, okay. Though you'd probably quibble with my list anyway. I'd probably toss Hamlet but include Lascaux, and I just can't see you going for that substitution.

My problem with the Great Wall is basically that it isn't a single entity; it's the (awkward in places) joining of six or so local walls that were never built with any intention of unification. In fact, they were probably built with a fair bias against unification. On the one hand, it's enormously iconic and much-admired. On the other, it's no more a discrete thing than, say, a city. I'm ambivalent and ultimately unconvinced by it.

Posted by: Dianna at October 31, 2006 03:17 PM