Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Ideas Have Consequences

In Bulgaria, ideas really do have consequences.

History. Literature. Culture. News. It all comes from ideas, things getting built and played out over time. "Before the War" could mean before WWI in this context. While in Serbia, people talk about Clinton as if he were the most recent president rather than in office almost two decades ago. The movement of the Austrian-Hungarian empire (waaaaaay further back in my knowledge of European History than I'd care to normally traverse) has in the flesh consequences for how my current residence relates mentally, socially, economically to the EU.

"The Changes" that seemed to have happened yesterday? That was the fall of Communism.

It's not just that time seems to move its way differently through this part of the world. It's that the long term consequences of a few ideas are still playing out, will continue to play out.

Take some architecture.

Someone (may he be ever restless in his grave) came up with the architecture that reflected Soviet values. And up it went all over Bulgaria.

This is the old communist headquarters in Dobrich. A massive, hulk of a building. More like something meteoric that fell from the old and rocky heavens, or something that sprang out of the earth. Mountainous. Immovable. Lots of box like right angles. My friend Irina said last night over coffee, "They wanted us to know that we were all the same." Or, perhaps, they wanted everyone to know that they were very, very small.

Above is my apartment building. A toaster-shaped, 8-story mistake.

Even the old soviet values of economy and functionality disintegrate with time. But with what kind of result? Above is one of the sorely neglected buildings tucked under the trees alone the Dobrich city center. The soviet architecture looms. This gently stands, an elegant survivor. It's Romanian and survived the overhaul of the city into soviet architecture.

This building assumed that a little bit of detail and a curled balcony railing was good for a person, more good than the economy of an apartment building.

And this is the abandoned train station from a Bulgaria older than the one the communists left behind in the 90s. Red shingle roofs. Paint peeling off stone arch doors. With age and deterioration came elegance and poise.

I'm not a student of architecture. I read building the way I read a new poem, surface words, instinct filling in the holes, feel instead of word parsing. I'm sure many of my friends could give a more historical read on what I'm seeing every day now. I'm a student. I have a lot to learn.

What I can say is that ideas and values made the very buildings of this town that I now live in. What was thought up centuries ago, half a century ago, affects my daily life. In fact, it always had. I just get to see it and appreciate it a lot more directly.


Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

The abstract to the concrete influencing the abstract. Ideas impact environment which influences emotions, responses, and ideas. Nice observation Dana.

Aunt Chele