Thursday, 16 February 2012

Skara Brae

Why reading informative books in better on iPad than on paper. 

Lately, living with the General, I have gotten into the habit of multi-reading. That's like multitasking, only while all the tasks regard reading. I am a sucker for Wikipedia and also Google Pictures, so when I come across things such as, say, Skara Brae, I urge to instantly learn everything about it – in mid-sentence. If I was reading from a book, I would have to abandon my position and go sit behind my comp to enter the search. On an iPad, all you have to do, is poke the word and first the definition and then a link or, two pokes and one swift away, there's Google with Wiki in tow. I can read and poke and swift without ever having to interrupt my train of thought. Author only needs to brush the subject, only mention how amazing something is (at times taking for granted the fact not everyone studied something and hence does not instantly remember who did what to whom in the middle ages in the far north) and I have any number of other people’s photos and travel blogs and archeology dissertations at my disposal.
Reading the latest Bryson (At Home), my favorite non-fiction author, I've come across a really fascinating thing I haven't really ever been told of before. Oddly enough, you wouldn't believe the stuff they taught us in school, or in the university, neither my friends’ classes or mine. Some of the really cool bits were skipped. Granted, not only is our world full of stuff, add history to it and you get a three-dimensional mess you can never untangle, but it took me ten years *after* I left school to ever hear of Picts, Marcomanni or the Suebi. And just yesterday was the first time I ever heard of Skara Brae – which struck me as, archeologically, Neolithically, European, the cutest thing ever.
Orkney itself is a fascinating land, even for a non-historian. Even just geographically. I knew a girl who travelled it, and she brought back stories aplenty. Weather wise, I suppose, it would be tricky. Even in summer. I traveled Norway in summer and it was – on the plus side – always day – and on the minus side, always late autumn. Foggy, drizzly, rainy, windy, moody climate. Hitchhiking it would be predominantly moist. But I certainly wouldn’t mind trying. I have slept I far less fascinating archeological locations than this temporal anomaly.
Cause, just in case you’ve missed it – to me archeology is the one that got away. My life probably wouldn’t be any different if I had finished studying it, but just like literature, I rather abandoned that program and forever kept it at an arm’s reach, a mystery, a mistress, than to end up being a boring curator in one of the dumb local establishments. Archeology – and all that comes with it – anthropology, history, art, crafts, ethnology, restoration, entomology… is like the second best thing. It’s like chocolate to pancakes. I love both and could probably live off each, though preferably pancakes, but both together make for a perfect meal. I don’t think I will ever get enough of this.
And the best part is, archeology is an hourglass: so many things have happened that we know so little about and are yet to uncover so much. :D