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Posted on 2007.04.16 at 22:00


leonardii at 2007-07-13 00:51 (UTC) (Link)

Experience part I

Well, with everything considered - it would be a vicious debate over which would bring more experience, intelligence, and overall wisdom to a man - worldliness, or being well-read. Both bring a man knowledge, both bring a sense of experience - one seen (and doing things) through his personal set of eyes and travels, and the other just happens to see and "experience" the world through the eyes and words of another.

Of course, in the case such as you and I - we have done both. Been around, seen some funky stuff, seen great works, seen some real poverty and squalor and what the world has to offer in extreme beauty and extreme ugliness. At the same time, I know we both are avid readers, and have poured in vast words into the many crinkles of our grey matter that floats every so gracefully upon our neck and shoulders. Plus, there is a quote that is so great:

“Books are the compasses and telescopes and sextants and charts which other men have prepared to help us navigate the dangerous seas of human life.”
--Jesse Lee Bennett

So, having done both - I would have to say that there is just nothing in the world that compensates for seeing and doing for yourself what others have only written about. The majesty of the Kremlin walls I have seen in film, books, and magazines. However - standing next to the wall - they are in all the trueness of the word - awesome. Very large, very huge, very majestic. I could never imagine from what I have seen before I ever went to Moscow - but after having seen those red walls in countless films and pictures, the debate ends when you stand amongst them. Even if you never read a single word about their history, or if you never saw a picture of them in your life - just having been there, it changes a man. It feels him with more than knowledge and experience. You also have a true sensation of the essence of the moment. Yes, you can describe that feeling. But one will *never* feel it just by reading your description nor mine... even if both were written in the most perfect detail. I know books and words can move you, they can frighten you, and they can make you laugh heartily. But, being on a spot of history is truly an exciting thrill and you just can't put it into words for others.

And the emotion I felt walking down the streets in Moscow. Seeing the exceedingly rich juxtaposed against mangled and disfigured war veterans who are obviously living in abject poverty also creates a sensation that cannot be put into words. Maybe if I described everything, and you were sensitive enough and my words were eloquent enough... perhaps you would shed a tear. But my tears were the kind from real experience from horror at witnessing men of war, anger at the negligence of such a powerful European state simply throwing away their own heroes to try and survive in the bitter cold out on the street, and jubilation that I live in a powerful state that pays me for my wounds and cares for me in a hospital that is actually quite decent. Much more decent than what can be expected to just survive in the cold. Again - cold, another experience you can write tomes about - but unless you've been in the highest mountain peaks of Germany, freezing your gonads off and just simply bearing such suffering without shelter except a make shift lean to kind of a tent and just a sleeping bag to protect you from the cold... that you get to sleep in for only about 3 hours in a 24 hour period.

ehowton at 2007-07-13 01:19 (UTC) (Link)

Re: Experience part I

I understand exactly what you mean. My most recent experience with what you described was at the Oklahoma Bombing Memorial. I knew there had been a bombing - I was unaffected. I knew they'd erected a memorial - I was unaffected. But when I stood there, in the midst of it, years later; I was overcome with emotion that to this day I cannot describe.
leonardii at 2007-07-13 04:04 (UTC) (Link)

Re: Experience part I

Yes, yes! That's it exactly!

It's no secret that I'm a huge fan of history. Civil War history is especially one of my most favorite interests. I have read volumes regarding the subject.

However - I actually saw the area where one of the battles took place (not Gettysburg, but close by), I gazed across the field that once held thousands of men killing each other and the blood was so deep that the once dry field became as deep and wet as a marsh.

I finally found myself on a part of history, a piece of historical land that was as sacred and hallowed as any basilica.

And even though there were no monuments to see, no headstones, no memorials of any kind - I was still just standing in complete awe and felt deep respect for the now quiet field.

In the Civil War alone, more Americans died than all those who have given their lives in all of our other wars combined.

Like you - just being in such a place, I cannot truly describe my feelings with enough words in the right places to justify my own senses.
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