[words by Mark Eveleigh & Narina Exelby]
In February we were sponsored by Citroen to test-drive one of their new models on a roadtrip to the centre of the universe. Which, it turns out, is a pretty small place…
According to Greek mythology, when Zeus wanted to find out where the centre of the universe was he released two eagles from the ends of the known world. The spot where the eagles met was Delphi, in the mountains far above what is now Athens.
Much later, an immense temple complex was built on the spot. And 2500 years later, two travel writers sat among the ancient rocks trying to sum up the feeling of being at the centre of the universe.
How do you capture the essence of a timelessness that far transcends even the hollow clank of goat-bells echoing up from the venerable olive groves down in the valley? The sun-warmed wall I’m leaning against was already ancient at the time of Jesus. The first Roman conquerors plundered these ruins for relics to decorate the halls of their noble-houses – blowing minds even then with their unfathomable antiquity. Actors performed in the mighty theatre here and athletes competed in the stadium that seated thousands… and an entire empire was guided through the babbling voice of an old crone who was supposedly stoned on fumes that emanated from the earth. Some would say that she didn’t do such a bad job.
It’s the details that get me. The intricate carved letters, inscribed in this place, so close to where the alphabet began. The way stones have been jigsawed together. The steady, even curves of columns; the smooth wafts of fabric, created from marble so hard it defies the natural wear of time. And I wonder about all the people who, over time, have walked these paths that trail through the ruins of these once magnificent monuments at the centre of the universe. What were their stories? Who did they love? What did they dream? What did they see? And I wander about the American students who’ve just walked behind me… did they stop to notice the details, or did they just stop to snap a photograph?
We all experience the world in different ways; this was the inspiration for our Parallel Worlds writing project, an experiment to see how two writers would sum up the same location or situation in radically different ways.