i could’ve been an architect but drawing isn’t the way i express myself, writing is. not only words and letters, also runes and numbers, symbols and shapes; the universe in a rain of man-made marks, stripes and dashes and dots of morse code, braille and cuneiform, or the calligraphic strokes of the middle and eastern writing, picture writing, hieroglyphs; all meaningful expressions of writing, even today’s ascii abbreviated manner and its emoticons.
so apparently the story goes that architecture is the mother of art but why not mathematics? perhaps because it’s the mother of so much more? i’m sure bertrand russell has my back on that one.
the streets in central granada, spain were so tidy, so much more than i expected. too neat in fact. not like in albaicín and sacromonte where the houses tumble ad-hoc up the hillside, connected with twisted alleys in a white laced pattern, which reminded me of the netted cloths my mother used to throw over the sweating food on hot summer sundays to keep the flies out.
it was just such a hot day, the line to get into the alhambra was long and the sun was already hotter than i expected at 9am but it was still better than the stuffy bus ride up the hill. the two healthy tanned boys chatting with australian accents on the bus sat so close to each other. i noticed their legs touching and i imagined the warm dampness of those legs in the heat, deliberately avoiding their crotches yet wondering what they would taste like. at last we arrived. at the entrance there was security, how quickly fear has sparked the industry of these magical metal detecting gates; as i walked through i imagined it as a ritual which will pronounce me clean, pure and worthy of entering into what hallowed place awaits beyond.
i was getting my bag searched by a specifically strong jawed guard when a commotion disrupted the sacred entrance proceedings;
an old woman, i guess she was old from the way she struggled to move; i could not see her clealy because she was obscured by her traditional muslim dress and as she walked through the gates the alarm went off, immediately grabbing the attention of the security staff and the other pilgrims. i was ordered to wait and promptly abandoned, it stung a bit, like a small rejection from an authoritarian lover. from where he left me i could see on the side there was a little gate, an exit from the holy ticketing area, through which she was ushered hastily. her family waited for her, i waited for her, the whole long, sun tired line waited for her.
like a sacrificial animal she was pushed through the annoyed crowd. she had to go through the magical doorway again; she didn’t want to be searched and she didn’t want to remove any of her clothing; the security and the crowd in line became impatient. they spoke to her, she shook her head; did it mean she didn’t understand or didn’t have any metal, gun, bomb or knife underneath her robe? the man behind her started speaking aggressively to the security. he wanted to go in front of her and not wait his turn out. the alarm went off again. she was deemed not worthy to enter but then they let just her through anyway.
patterns are a conformity to rules. the geometries of the nasrid palaces and it’s architecture brought me back to writing; the ancient calculations for construction and the language to which those patterns meaningfully conform, in two, and three dimensions; art, mathematics. they are the formulas that describe the aesthetics which got built into buildings of importance; the pyramids, the pantheon, the taj mahal, the aya sofia, cathedrals, palaces, the world trade centre, the alhambra, etc.
as i was looking up at the patterned roof in one of the halls, lit by the bright reflection on the marble from the adjacent fountain of lions, i heard his voice again; definitely australian. his leg has since come unjoined from his friend’s and i could see his form silhouetted against that glaring reflection as he passed through the arched entrance, beautifully framed for an instant.