Argos just returned from some wanderings in Jordan, Sweden, and Hungary. This report focuses on his first stop: Jordan and its neighbors.
First, a quick refresher. Argos has a new job in which he jets about the globe as an adviser to his organization’s regional leaders and gathers information for corporate. Whenever he gets back stateside he gives me a call to share his observations. His first trip took him to Belgium.
Second, a caveat: these write-ups are anecdotal but hopefully insightful.
The Dance at the Marienplatz
For the last 107 years, if one stands in Munich in the Marienplatz beneath the New Town Hall at the late-morning hour of eleven o’clock, they will be treated to a performance by clockwork figurines in two parts. The first is a marriage banquet with jesters and jousting and general merriment. The second bit is the Coopers Dance, said to be a performance by men in the streets to instill a sense of peace in harsh times, specifically a time when the city was beset by plague in 1517. I have stood in Marienplatz and seen the clockwork figurines play out their dance in two parts, and the display was bizarre. Everyone stands and watches the figures move, transfixed despite the fact that we could all watch the very same display on our phone or computer. To be clear, the glockenspiel is nothing amazing by today’s standards, but like all rituals it must be observed, it must be watched because it has been watched before by so many others. I remember finding it rather quaint, while still realizing that an individual with the novel eyes of the year 1909 might find it to be quite breathtaking. I imagine that those in years long past may have found the moment far more electric than I. This is the nature of spectacle and time.
Now we move quickly along to the year 2015 on the day of October 1st. It is morning in the pacific region and early afternoon in the East. The first hints of unrest arrive on social media with tweets about a lockdown in Umpqua community College in Roseburg Oregon. Everyone watching sees the words “active shooter” and takes in that slight breath of acknowledgement. It is a term we have been taught to dread and love at the same time. Through narrowed eyes we scan the news-feeds looking for numbers and cultural categorizations. How many did this one kill? Is he still active? What was his race or his creed? All these questions pass through our minds because, much like the glockenspiel figurines, we recognize the dance. We have done it before. We have been given the steps and the tune. It was no surprise when the first bits of information surfaced regarding the shooter Chris Mercer, that he was a loner, had infrequent human contact and that he did most of his socializing on the internet, but I will return to him in a moment.
“You see, my dear, I’m the only woman in this joint that really matters.”
On the way home the other day, a fellow carpooler in the backseat began flipping through my school’s IGCSE history textbook. It took a minute before she dismissively asked, “So, where are the women in this book?” I bit my tongue.
There has always been a certain dissonance at play with America’s response to imperialism. While the United States routinely criticized European power land grabs around the world during the 19th and 20th century, as long as Europe stayed out of the Western hemisphere, Americans did not meddle. With the coming of the Cold War, however, America found itself awkwardly confronted by a necessity: while they rejected imperialism they also feared the expansion of communism. Consequently, the liberation of European colonies, while desirable at the level of principle, proved practically difficult as many were ripe for communist intervention. National security and national principles existed in an uneasy tension.
In the aftermath of that dicey and often contradictory time, it remains fashionable among members of the left to excoriate European imperialism and America’s complicity with it. The irony is that left wing attacks upon America’s past actions miss the fact that the left itself propagates a cultural imperialism in the developing world.
The junior senator from Florida keeps rising in the polls, but despite his shot in the spotlight, the boy wonder still has yet to strike a reverberating chord when it comes to foreign policy. Posturing from the Rubio camp has inflated a makeshift foreign policy puppet that masquerades as Reagan-ology, back to reclaim American exceptionalism. In reality, the “Rubio Doctrine” is little more than a pedagogical turn on the heels of American exasperation in the face of seemingly endless pomp and circumstance. An unhealthy ignorance, inherent in Rubio’s and other Republicans’ campaigns, festers under the assumption that American greatness can be dredged up with old slogans and party playbooks. While seeking to emulate the prowess of Reagan, Rubio has embraced the lucrative narrative of exponential military growth as the end-all, be-all for international qualms and conflicts.
Years ago I walked into a Palestinian barbershop in the Old City of Jerusalem and came across pictures of Yasser Arafat and Elvis pinned to the same wall—a terrorist-freedom fighter and an American rockstar.
Travelling has a way of jolting assumptions and categories and lending perspective to global situations often processed for us by the mainstream media.
So I’d like to introduce a friend that has agreed to share his travelogue with us. We’ll call him Argos.
Argos has a new job in which he jets about the globe as an adviser to his organization’s regional leaders and gathers information for corporate. It’s a sweet gig if you can handle the flying.
Whenever he gets back stateside he’s going to give me a call to share his observations and some of the conversations he had with the locals about politics and culture. Consequently, this will be a reoccurring column at feralyawp. That said, while we’re well aware that Argos’ insights are anecdotal, they are nevertheless suggestive and possibly insightful.
Argos first trip took him to Belgium.