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Thursday, October 22, 2009

So Near, So Far

A recent conversation with a friend made me think of some things around us that are at the same time very near to us but also far because of insurmountable barriers. See for example Mount Ararat for the Armenians. Those who have been to Yerevan know that the mountain and the peaks are a mere 30 km away from the city Turkey. And the relations between Armenia and Turkey are not exactly the point of closing the common border. So Armenians keep looking at those beautiful pyramidal peaks knowing that they cannot even come close to them.

Mount Ararat as seen from Yerevan (2005)
- Greater Ararat (5,137 m) and Lesser Ararat (3,896 m.)

Ararat is a holy mount for Armenians. It used to be a part of Big Armenia as indicated on the map below. Everything in Armenia is called Ararat - hotels, restaurants, dogs, people. Even Noah's Ark was docked there when the trip was over and the rains stopped.

I would call the Armenian disease 'longing for the sky'.

Old Armenian Map, 1729

There is a similar situation in Bolivia. Because of historical reasons Bolivia is now a landlocked country. Bolivia had a small chunk of land at the Pacific Ocean but it lost it to Chile in 1904. It seems the Bolivians cannot get over it and they still keep a fleet and ships at the Lake Titicaca. Apparently they also have a day of the sea each year that is more important than anything.

Bolivia nowadays

The Bolivian sickness is 'longing for the blue ocean'.

Territorial loss map of Bolivia

The Hungarian immune system is not that strong either. Everyone who lives in Hungary and who is not a Hungarian nationalist by nature is a bit (or a bit more) tired by seeing the pre-WWI map of Hungary on cars, motorists' leather jackets, T-shirts....It includes a good chunk of the Adriatic Sea in nowadays Croatia (the blue part on the map below). These must have been cool times for Hungarians but....

Map of pre-Trianon Hungary

I would call the Hungarian disease 'longing for the glorious past'. It comes together with a kind of swine flu called 'longing for the Southern Sea'. It is a dangerous condition.

I think we all (including the collective national psyche) need to long for something lost and something past. It must be a kind of piece in the psychological puzzle. I guess we especially need the psychological equivalent of a southern sea - warm and refreshing at the same time and opening to the wider world.

Unfortunately, this psychological need comes handy to cunning politicians who easily exploit it need and call for action. the better case - distract the collective attention from trivial robbery and mismanagement - here and now.

I think we'd better know that these things should remain where they are - so near, so far.


Lone Grey Squirrel said...

A very interesting post. I have learned a lot about national psyche here.

I_am_Tulsa said...

Very interesting indeed!

I will have to think of what the Japanese sickness is...but there might be more than one!

By the way, how is everyone? I have been away from my home computer these past few weeks because of too much work...

I send my best to you guys!

uncafediarte said...

very cool

Ruslan said...




Is it good news or bad news that you are working too much?

Un cafe di arte,

I'll have a look at your blog.