when in doubt, be cryptic

To cap off the end of the year and celebrate the end (officially, at least) of our two-year grad programs - I mean, so that I can do research - Neal and I are spending ten days in London and Athens next month. My costs will be subsidized by a generous travel grant from school, and I've been working all day on preliminary research, mostly basic stuff like getting from the airport to downtown, where to stay, do they speak English in Greece, that kinda thing. But I've also come across some eerie details, which is great considering the main objection to pursuing this project (which is, in short, about the Parthenon and it's many fragments and replicas) has been that it's not personal enough. What can I say, I like metaphors. Which is to say, it does have a personal impetus (not unlike the uneasy relationship I've explored in previous work between an "original" experience of something or somebody and it's copy, surrogate, replica, stand-in...) and I have a feeling the experience and the form this project eventually takes will be very personal.

For example, I learned that an owl is the symbol of the Goddess Athena. And on our flight from London to Athens we have a 4+ hour layover in Frankfurt, Germany. The airport used to share a landing strip with Rhein Main Air Base, where my family and I lived between 1987 and 1991. According to Wikipedia (I found it on the internet so it must be true), the base had a peak population at one time of 10,000. Seems they began to downsize a couple of years after we left. Last time I was there was in 1994, I believe, on our way back to Germany, after a couple of years living in England. We were moving back to Germany, but this time to Patch Barracks near Stuttgart. We passed through Rhein Main on our way, where a few of my Dad's old co-workers still lived and worked, but I remember it was like a ghost-town compared to my childhood memories. The buildings were there, even the residential units, where we lived, on the other side of the airport, albeit mostly empty as far as I know. The base officially closed in 2005, and, again according to Wikipedia, Frankfurt Airport plans, eventually, "on leveling the entire base to build a third passenger terminal." I never really imagined I'd go back, and even this layover will only allow me some physical proximity to one of many childhood homes. Nevertheless, I was really upset by reading that, surprisingly so. Leveled.

What the owl and Rhein Main Air Base have to do with one another I'm not ready to blog about (hence the title of this post). I guess you'll have to stay tuned to see how this project unfolds over the next six months or so. It's just weird how I haven't even fully planned my trip and it's already eerily personal.

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