Friday, October 12, 2007

Dzien dobry from Polski...or something

As a so-called 'foreign' correspondent, yours' truly feels a very mild need to be odd, to be, as it were, foreign.
At first, this seems a very easy thing to be in Eastern Europe, specifically, in rural Poland. Gone, for sure, is America, and gone, even, is the cosmopolitanism of Istanbul, which has the grace at least to be a ridiculously large city, with party-hardy Americans aplenty, et c.
Gone now is the sense of: when I was young was America and now is Different.
Turns out Different comes in a lot of different forms. Who'd a thunk?
I had tons of things to say about the beauty of the graffiti here (which is beautiful) especially compared to the buildings (which are hideously garish), but from the time I arrived at my petulant-child thesis: Graffiti must at least strive at beauty, since its goal is to overwhelm the aesthetics of whoever wants to paint it over, to make them acknowledge its beauty and leave it alone because they can't bear to compromise it, whereas building-painters in post-Communist Eastern Europe feel compelled to throw up bright colors as an assertion of the fact that they have no one at all to answer to, no one to paint over them, as it were--An idea that ran, eventually, against the time that I'd spent walking around actually thinking about this nice sounding idea, testing it against reality a bit and finding it severely wanting.
At the same time I was coming to almost hate the things I'd written about a magnificent trip to Jordan.
The flaw's maybe easy to diagnose, a childish desire for resolution or at least a surmising statement, 'spose.
But when differences keep coming up and being different from one another, when after a month those hideous apartment blocks start seeming bold and okay, aesthetically, and treks cross-city for awesome graffiti walk you past blocks of ugly graffiti, and you realize that what you thought after one touristic week in the place to be a bold insight is revealed to be a superficial conclusion-jump, you (and by you I mean I) come to the conclusion that the sport of all this vagrant wandering is being constantly wrong. Not just in prejudices or presuppositions, but in analysis and understanding, too. Being foreign, it turns out, is a lot like being 15 and aware of it. Always thinking you're right. Always being proved wrong.
But that sounds a lot like a grand conclusion, don't it....

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