The first book I read by Italo Calvino was Invisible Cities. Although I have read the book once or twice again, like the cities he describes, I have no distinct memory of the book...
Except that I enjoyed it at the moment of reading - its repetitions and refrains, its seeming economy with words but the surfeit of association, its glut of allusions and pretenses, those conversations between Kublai Khan and Marco Polo that go everywhere and nowhere.
Ruins have a similar effect.
After a while, they all seem pretty alike. Chunks of stone. Moss. Invasive trees. Broken statues. Damp corners. And they give the same testimony. Fallen men. Failed gods.
But we continue to want to visit them. We think there is something elusive and mysterious about their destruction, dream up stories and myths to match their human histories. We watch the missing roofs and walls, tread on their eroded floors, only to imagine the luxury of their architecture. We scale, tunnel and circle their spaces, tracing some map.
A year or so ago I was in Cambodia for a conference and got a bonus trip to the angkor wat, where I took these photos with the trusty old nikon. I enjoyed wandering around the ruins, but the best part for me was still watching the groups of Japanese tourists investigate their environment. J and I have been talking about taking a short break in Cambodia next month - and I think we might :>