Friday, May 12, 2006

Ludka goes to Cambodia

My Czech friend Ludka is a world-traveler -- and maybe the word 'fanatic' should be applied. She teaches piano to young children -- and apparently, she's very good at it --- they please their parents -- sometimes even win competitions -- and she gets paid a lot of money.

How does she spend all that cash ? (perhaps I'm exaggerating) --- she collects sculpture and she travels around the world -- every year -- climbing the Himalayas -- rafting down the Zambesi --- you name it --- she's been there.

Last December, she went to Cambodia -- I begged her for pictures -- and now I've got some: (sorry -- but archological information not included)



I have such conflicted emotions about a picture like this -- because I love those tree roots --- so powerful and sexy -- and so enjoyable to contemplate as they force their way through the un-welcoming rock. But I love these fruits civilization as well -- and it's so sad to see them neglected and destroyed.





Try to imagine acre after acre of these monuments -- and all the inspired work that was involved in their production. I suppose the office and apartment buildings of modern cities are even more impressive in volume of material and space covered --- but what do they reflect other than commerce -- a will to live very similar to the tree roots pictured above. But what purpose summoned all these temples ?





Now we're getting into the details -- the programs of sculpture -- and now I must sigh - for this is the choir in which I can sing. Some of these sculptors were better then me -- and some seem to be worse -- but how I wish I was filling these temple precincts -- instead of just my own back yard.

5 Comments:

Blogger Gawain said...

It's a magnificent site even if visiting involves horrible hardships -- above all the stifling heat, but also lousy food and hordes of combative and confrontational Korean tourists.

The picture of a temple overgrown by the jungle is of one complex intentionally left in that condition by the site administrators in order to demonstrate how it was when they took it over -- its one site of about 70. judging from the hordes of photohappy tourists who flock here, it was the right decision, its easily the most popular site on the circuit.

May 14, 2006  
Blogger Gawain said...

most of the sculpture on the site isnt great - the good stuff was all carted off -- to museums before 1972, and then just stolen and smuggled out to private collections.

BTW, the second photo is not from Angkor Wat -- or Cambodia at all. i think it is from Ayuthaya, Thailand, and is a typical Ayuthaya "prang" -- the Thais developed the Cambodian ideas in new ways. they were building stuff like this in 1500s!

May 14, 2006  
Blogger Gawain said...

"I suppose the office and apartment buildings of modern cities are even more impressive in volume of material and space covered --- but what do they reflect other than commerce -- a will to live very similar to the tree roots pictured above."

Permit me to disagree with you (predictably). Angkor wat isnt great because it reflects religion (or perhaps less religion than Jayavarman VII's desire for self-aggradizement) - Italian palazzos and villas are beautiful though they reflect nothing but the personality of the poeple who built them.

What is great about angkor wat and what is missing in modern city scapes is something both much less "meaningful" (what is meaning anyway?) and much more difficult: good taste.

Somewhere our architects aquired the silly idea that functionality is sufficient cause of pleasure. and it isn't.

May 14, 2006  
Blogger chris miller said...

I have one friend who sends me pictures of great sculpture -- and another who provides me with intelligent commentary.

So, yes, it's true -- I live in the best of all possible worlds !

But what accounts for the wonder of Ankhor Wat ?

Jayavarman VII's desire for self-aggrandizement may have been a necessary -- but I doubt we could call it a sufficient condition.

Some skylines of some modern cities (like Chicago) are also evidence of good taste (as well as power and self-aggrandizement) --- but I don't think they are going to be drawing many spiritual pilgrims.

May 15, 2006  
Blogger Gawain said...

AW doesnt draw much spiritual pilgrimage. the modern temple within the AW precinct gets all the pilgrims, and it aint much.

its good architecture, basicly.

thats what does it. :)

btw, i see you have been busy here!

May 16, 2006  

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