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Eurotrek 2006 – Now What?

I just now realized that the entry right below this one seems to have gotten itself unpublished after I’m sure I published it. So, if you were one I’d sent a link out to and it didn’t work, it’s there now, though it applies to what was going on three days ago.

Franky, this is a piss-poor travel log. I’d had grand designs of publishing along the way, but I think that desire was based on the ability to publish from anywhere at any time — which is certainly cool — and not on a particular desire to share continuously. So you get the mish-mash, for now, but I promise to do a better writeup — if not soon — when I get back home. There will be a few hundred pretty good photos too. Those who remember the Kauai trip know I take decent pics.

Right now we’re in Nice, which is a bit of a disappointment. I’m not sure whether it’s because it has changed from 15 years ago, or just because it’s a holiday (Bastille Day, yesterday) and the whole stupid world is here and the local restaurants are catering to such stupidity by being stupid. Well, more on that later.

As I posted last, we were preparing to leave Arles for Avignon. I decided to take the auto-route, which took us through Nimes and within range of Le Pont du Gard. Do check out that link. This is the most amazing ancient construction I have ever seen.

Pontdugard

If you look closely at that arch in the center, those are heads of people standing on the bridge. That gives you perspective on the enormity of this.

Most of all, this "monument" is the best thing I’ve seen so far because it wasn’t built as a monument. Though its arches are decorative, their function is to save construction costs. This aqueduct was started 19 years before Christ was born and finished 16 years prior. It carried 44 million gallons of water daily to the city of Nimes, which I guess is a place in which men saw potential that God had not. One must wonder why God, walking the earth for 30-some years, never acknowledged or alluded to such god-like feats on the part of his children. Huh?

So now it’s a monument. It’s a monument to the heroic and environmentally-controlling nature of man. It’s a monument to civilization and that which is at its very foundation: water.

I look at that construction, realizing it’s over 2,000 years old, realizing what it accomplished back then, and I am overwhelmed with feeling about how wondrous, how virtuous, how righteous, how holy is the very core nature of man — the essential being. Man qua man: the very defining standard of morality.

Then I go see monuments to Kings and Gods, and I get a very different picture of the nature of man:

Cross

How puny. How depraved. How insignificant, next to his bedfellow-betters: the church and the state.

You can have them both, in all of their miserable wretched glory; all of them.

Richard Nikoley

I'm Richard Nikoley. Free The Animal began in 2003 and as of 2021, contains 5,000 posts. I blog what I wish...from health, diet, and food to travel and lifestyle; to politics, social antagonism, expat-living location and time independent—while you sleep—income. I celebrate the audacity and hubris to live by your own exclusive authority and take your own chances. Read More

5 Comments

  1. Billy Beck on July 15, 2006 at 08:09

    The aqueduct is magnificent, Rich. Good for you that you got to see it.

    I would like to point out that the concrete instance of the second photograph misses the point. Pont du Gard is about technology, but the religious impulse that you despise nonetheless brought us masterful art, without which all of the Western heritage would be immeasurably less rich. Everything in history up to the Age of Reason is what it was. There is no way around that. However, Michelangelo's "Jonah" in the Sistine Chapel in no less astounding just because it springs from a Bible story.

    Let's not throw the V-8 out with the oil-change.

  2. Greg Swann on July 15, 2006 at 07:17

    I've never studied Pont du Gard, but Roman aqueducts were engineered to drop in elevation in the inches per mile, to cause the water to flow evenly. In hotter climates, they alternated shade with open air along the route so the water would arrive refrigerated.

    Most great Roman achievements undertaken prior to Caesar Augustus were done by individual families as gifts to Rome. This is not a libertarian as it sounds: The funding sources would have been conquest or tax-farming. But at least getting things right was a matter of huge importance.

    Your trip sounds wonderful. I look forward to the pictures.

  3. Richard Nikoley on July 15, 2006 at 23:59

    Greg:

    I believe the Pont du Gard drops 14 inches in about 35 kilometers.

    Billy:

    Yes, I am often guilty of not giving religion its due in the context of antiquity and primitivity (a neologism I use and perhaps made up myself).

    My problems with the church in terms of today are enormous, of course, but I think the reason that I place the church on the same level as the state, even though many libertarians view them as voluntarist institutions, is that the state derives every ounce of the _moral_ authority it claims either directly or indirectly from the church, and the church is usually more than happy to give sanction.

    Bedfellows to the end, man. When I visited Le Louvre in Paris, I saw the actual (huge) painting which is the third one down, Napoleon I, at his coronation, being blessed and anointed by Pius VII.

  4. Richard Nikoley on July 20, 2006 at 22:20

    OK, John, and you think that the way to uphold and revere human life is to believe in and promote fairy tales?

    What's wrong with reality?

    See, this is the cynicism and skepticism I just hate with regard to the pragmatic "religionists," i.e., those not moronic enough to actually believe literally in the fairy tales, but those who uphold same nonetheless "for our own good."

    Fuck you all. All of you.

  5. John Sabotta on July 20, 2006 at 20:10

    "Depraved" am I? Fine.

    http://www.cnn.com/2005/US/12/21/katrina.hospital/

    King said another hospital administrator asked if he and the two other remaining doctors should pray. King says one of those doctors, Dr. Anna Pou, had a handful of syringes.

    "This is on the second floor in the lobby. And across that walkway there is a group of patients and Anna standing there with a handful of syringes talking to patients," he said. "And the words that I heard her say were, 'I'm going to give you something to make you feel better."

    "And she had a handful of syringes. That was strange on a lot of levels. Number one, we don't give medications; nurses give medications. We almost never give medications ourselves unless it's something critical. Nobody walks around with a handful of syringes and goes and gives the same thing to each patient. It's not how we do it."

    King left the hospital and says he never saw any acts of euthanasia and does not know what was in the syringes that he saw Pou carrying.

    In then end, the ghost of Terri Schiavo will haunt us all.

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