The Eye of the Fish

February 7, 2017


Seeing as we seem to be at a bit of a turning point in history (far easier to see in hindsight than at the time, but either way : there’s some pretty weird things happening on the political front world wide at present), then I thought I would have a look at where we stand. We’ve had a World War or two, a Gulf War or two, a war on Terror and a war on Drugs, neither of which seem to have done the slightest bit of good so far, and then there are the upcoming wars. Tromp war 1, Trimp war 2 etc. But looking forward is harder than looking back – so let’s look back.

Here’s a map from 1877. How much has it changed, really?

Well, the major players are still all there, with the exception of the Austrio-Hungarian empire, which took a battering after WWI and hasn’t really recovered in that same form. Russia is still the big Kraken, with its tentacles in everyone’s pockets, and firmly in control of the little fat puppet with the orange hair. Turkey is still an amazing pivot between the East and the West, poised between the two, unable to move this way or that way without doing itself major damage. England, once more, out of Europe, the way it prefers to be (although perhaps its peoples don’t).

More on Architecture next week.

8 - 02 - 17

Every time European states sniff at their perception of a lack of democracy and tendency to violence elsewhere in the world it is worth remembering how close they are to tyranny and barbarism.

At the time your map was produced, Italy and Germany were less than a decade old. In 1870, Prussia (proto-Germany ) had tried out mechanised warfare for the first time on a shattered France and very much enjoyed the results. As the map shows, in 1877 Greece was a small, Byronic enclave in the armpit of Turkey. Poles, Czechs, Irish, Romanians, Slovakians and any number of Serbians, Slovenians, Macedonians, Bosnians and Croats were stateless subordinates of the Great Powers. All things considered, it’s probably just as well that the cartographer has concealed the eastern coast of the Mediterranean under the Reference panel. And of course the abattoir years of 1914-18 and 1939-45 are still around the corner.

Gandhi is purported to have been asked on his first visit to the UK what he thought of western civilisation, “Well,” he said “I think it would be a very good idea!”

8 - 02 - 17

Gandhi was a very wise man…. Yes, the whole shebang was constantly moving in Europe a hundred years ago, and there is a great exhibit at the old Dominion Museum, in Peter Jackson’s great war display, where it details how the fact that Princep shot Franz Joseph was almost a complete fluke – Princep had given up trying to get in a position for assassination and retired down a side street to a cafe, when low and behold, Crown Prince FJ and his wife roll up next to him, having also decided to take a side road. Bang Bang, World War.

On such small instances do great tragedies begin.

But you should be safe enough up there in Whanganui, silent H or not….