Orkney Vocabulary: .posted by ben on Feb 15 at 08:48

"The weather was coch ... an old lady fell in and broke her skull."
-Neil, 30 year old guide at Skara Brae as we cling despertly to the railing

"I ken it."
-15 year old girl holding a Smirnoff Ice

"The bar opens at 9 on Sundays. By 10 the fisherman are peshed. I get peshed too."
-Cynthia, 60 year old woman who went on to tell me about a fictional
370 pound a night hotel in Stromness where she likes to stay

Blah, blah... philosophy...: .posted by ben on Feb 15 at 08:47

I've been reading The Travel Diary of a Philosopher by Count Hermann Keyserling... I'm not really sure why. He disagrees with me about everything. He sees industrialization as a great menace. While he is convinced America is to be the great innovator, he mocks immigrants who talk of the liberties to be found there. The most depressing bit though... this man spent several years traveling the world alone. Every once in a while he meets an ascetic... but that's it.

I think all the cool kids in Orkney are at a dance club in Kirkwall called Fusion. I turned in my rental car though... The bar in Stromness has a fireplace. I've been sitting there reading this travel diary and staring at the bartender. I've convinced myself she looks like Shenni. Thursday I met a pleasant girl named Stacy. She comes with the stock accent and a desireable level of cynicism. Then there was the waitress at Julia's today... I've been going there because it's the only place in town with vegetarian food... nut loaf, eggplant sandwiches, fake sausage breakfast... The waitress at Julia's looks like Betsy. Today I actually stuttered trying to speak to her... this can't be good. At least no one here look like Vicki to me...

Sheep: .posted by ben on Feb 15 at 08:45

Scara Brae again...: .posted by ben on Feb 15 at 08:45

I went back to Scara Brae, with the intention of seeing it in nice weather before I left. It started hailing. I stood in the hail for an hour or so before going back to the car. Then I saw sheep. I needed a picture of a sheep. I still want a picture of a sheep staring grandly at the sunset, all majestic and fluffy in the hail and wind. Instead, I have a picture of a hundred sheep cowering in a corner of their pen. Somehow I couldn't get near even one. I thought that not being particular about which sheep I photographed would allow me to get a picture. No, somehow they all keep their distance, yet move as a group. Ah sheep... what creatures they are all covered in wool...

The Churchill Barriers: .posted by ben on Feb 15 at 08:44

The Brough of Biray: .posted by ben on Feb 15 at 08:43

Biray: .posted by ben on Feb 15 at 08:42

Brough of Biray was lived in from the 8th century until the 12th. It is remarkable to me that this settlement is essentially the same as Skara Brae. The beds have reappeared since Broch of Gurness, but the drains are still absent, a technique of stone cottage building lost to the ages. And here I get into super bullshit anthropologist mode... the homes are farther apart. Not only is this build on a precarious and defendable cliff, but the members of the settlement itself don't even live together. The one thing to be said in Brough of Biray's favor is that there is a small well.

It seems the civilization here was relatively great circa Skara Brae, but things didn't get much better as time on. As if that weren't enough, the climate here got bad. The accepted drop is 2-3 Celsius. It was probably nice here when Skara Brae was inhabited. So, maybe Viking violence isn't the sole root of this stagnation. Instead, I argue that the bad weather forced them to give up fishing and go marauding. Surely this isn't a novel opinion...

The Broch of Gurness: .posted by ben on Feb 15 at 08:41

Gurness: .posted by ben on Feb 15 at 08:41

Broch of Gurness dates from 100BC. It's unlike Skara Brae in that the entire settlment is fortified. There are three moats surrounding the central tower which used to be 10 meters high. Driving around the island today, I got to see the stagnation of Norse technology. 3100BC they were building Skara Brae. 100BC they were building this, and then Brough of Biray in 1100AD. Most houses don't have beds, the drains from Skara Brae aren't evident here either. Worst, the thing is essentially a military established. Rome never reached here, and I'm not sure the dark ages made any difference.

Maeshowe: .posted by ben on Feb 15 at 08:39

Annoying Little Men: .posted by ben on Feb 15 at 08:38

Egypt has pyramids and Orkney has Maeshowe (circa 2000BC), a 10 meter lump of grass with an obnoxious Scottish man clutching two flashlight inside. That's how the brochure ought to read anyway.

The Ring of Brodgar: .posted by ben on Feb 15 at 08:38

Chant Down Brodgar: .posted by ben on Feb 15 at 08:37

My god. My dear god. Stone monoliths. I know I was cruel to that poor Japanese tourist snapping pictures of the landscape, but that was different. Stone monoliths exist to have their pictures taken. The insight these people had four thousand years ago to erect something to photogenic... If there are 50 or so stone monoliths in a ring, are they still monolithic when considered individually? Is the ring a monolith? That certainly doesn't sound right... something is monolithic in all this though... It's probably the sheep. They're everywhere.

There is sheep shit all over the field. There is extra dense sheep shit near the monoliths... the sheep shit on the monoliths, on all our civilization, on the enclosure movement.



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