This is a follow-up to my recent blogpost Travelogue from England and Spain – Part I
I’ve never seen this remarkable town but it well illustrates Spain’s boggling landforms.
There’s no place on earth without its wonders. Whistling shoreline vents, Neolithic tunnels, Gothic cathedrals. Let a Hopi child or a Hottentot take your hand and lead you to a hidden cave with petroglyphs. If the cave is near Angkor Wat you may pay money to walk the ruins and never learn about the cave.
I came to Spain prepared to feast on the arts but ended gobsmacked by the land itself. Gravid hills, flinty shoals of merciless rock. Crops laid out on near perpendicular hillsides. What if you tip your sack of olives over? Rappelling ropes and tweezers?
In one region the mountains are lined up like round disks on end — some of the land so bleak that plants fail to get purchase. You can walk the boulevards of Madrid and gawk up at grandstanding monuments and never dream the brutal life in the Spanish outlands where many an aged town clutches a hilltop, some already being swallowed by the crushing vines of an abandonment. In each and every town a church, always a church. Tallest structure in sight, a magnetic draw for the scant scatter of habitations.
I understand the densities of suburbs, cities, even a seasonal second-rate mountain resort, but to live in such isolation with a random grab-bag of personalities, squeezed up on your steep hill with views for miles and miles of emptiness? Our notions of 24/7 decompose into quicksand. Now radio, television, DVDs, the mighty Web all dangle a vision of Another Life in front of youth. How you gonna keep ’em down on the farm? National Geographic will show you a Casbah vendor hawking illicit videotapes.
Imagine a pale sari with one corner dipped in a vat of crimson. The dye seeps up warp and woof, slowly little trees of color overtake the cloth’s original pastel. Globalization seeps like this. And it’s being sold by masters to rubes. Madison Avenue and Hollywood and Bollywood know how to grab you by the collar. There you sit contemplating a Buddha and someone plays you an MTV hit. Beats, flesh, boogie, flash. What if you’re Snowball the dancing cockatoo? Do you choose contemplation or stimulation?
…sold by masters to rubes: this deserves comment. Pretty much all of us are rubes, we take in a jingle and pluck the product from the shelves next day. Or at least linger over it longer than before. If you’re on guard you aren’t manipulated as often but our environment is as full of advertisements as microbes. If you’re in modern society they’ve got you. Cereal boxes, billboards, backsides of airplane seats, doctors’ offices with angles on your condition written by Big Pharma. The price of consuming mass media is a commercial bite of your consciousness. What’s it say on your t-shirt? Your running shoes? Your pantyhose and camera and chewing gum wrappers and laptop with its logo? Someone sings or drawls or reads off a radio station’s call letters hourly or more often by law. Gonna sneeze? Hand me a Kleenex. What’s it mean when advertisers can make their product’s name a ‘household word’?
That is spoken in your household.