Sunday, January 25, 2009


In-depth musings on Stonehenge, because I just can't let it go.

Stonehenge was a majestic site, and it almost took my breath away as the coach approached it. After riding for what seemed like hours through British pastureland, I was seriously beginning to doubt we would ever see anything more than green fields and sheep. But there it was, finally; an ancient monument I could only reference through pictures, staring back at me through my tinted window. This awe-struck mindset, however, was short lived. When I envisioned visiting Stonehenge, I thought I would be mysteriously transported though space and time to a different world – one without planes, trains, or automobiles. In the end, though, I really just felt like another tourist.

My first brush with modernity came from the very existence of a welcome center, an “entrance” to Stonehenge. Capitalism had made it all the way to Salisbury Plain in the form of a snack shack, a gift store, and an admission fee; turnstiles efficiently acknowledged my arrival. Magnets with the half-wit slogan “Stonehenge Rocks” glared back at my reflection in the store window, and painterly reconstructions of the antiquity lined the walls that herded me to my ultimate attraction. My friends back home had warned me that Stonehenge was kind of a let-down, but at the moment I was mostly let down by society.

Ironically, I feel the measures taken to preserve the sanctity of Stonehenge have only managed to make it seem cheap. The roped-off pathway snaked me around the site, and after a few moments of strained reverence, I whipped out my Nikon and began snapping pictures. Stonehenge had, in a manner of minutes, gone from a place of mystical commune with the creativity of the past to nothing more than a pile of rubble. I couldn’t walk between the stones, stand in their shadows, or imagine what hand might have shaped them before mine. In the end, with the wind from the nearby highway whipping though my hair and prickling my ears, all I could do was recreate the photos I had once seen with awe and think about how great they would look as a background on my computer.

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