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Tuesday, September 01, 2015

The current Cultural Iconoclasm

What is happening to Palmyra makes my soul ache. It is a place I had always wanted to visit (once the situation calmed down). My husband went years ago when he did an overland expedition in the mid 1970s. It all seems so senseless as what have the stones done to the so-called Islamic State.
I had a short conversation with an archaeologist friend and he had said -- we have been here before. Think about the Reformation for instance. The destruction of monasteries. Or going further back, when Christianity really took hold and various pagan temples were destroyed. Think the Library of Alexandria's destruction.
And I thought. Sometimes history can really hold up a dark mirror to today.
 And then there is the monastery of St Catherine's in the Sinai which I visited a few years ago. Its library has been the source of many books, books and icons which survived the Byzantine iconoclasm by sheer virtue of its remoteness. It is now surrounded by fundamentalist Islamists. \i fear it won't survive.
This is not something new and only Islamic. But rather a peculiar madness which infects people, particularly people of a fundamentalist religious bent. A fury. And while it is happening, it destroys everything in its path.It becomes a whirlwind. And hopefully after a few years, it blows itself out but society is changed forever.  From the dissolution of the monasteries to the Restoration when knowledge and reason were once to the forefront took over a hundred years though. A blip in humanity but generations of humans.
I don't know the answer. Wholesale cultural destruction is never right.  All I know is that I still weep for  the Library of Alexandria and all the knowledge which was destroyed there. I now weep for Palmyra.

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