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Each Morning of the World #09

My journeys in Armenia have, by and large, been tracings of the routes between Armenia’s central architectural achievements, namely, its ancient churches and monasteries, and its ancient towns. While some lie in ruins, many others are fully operational.

When we visit Armenia, we sometimes give in to the sense that we are seeing the tattered remnant of a once radiant and integrated whole. Indeed, this ancient land has experienced many hostile foes over the centuries, often sweeping away much of essential value that we can only guess at, but leaving behind at least traces of those harder things that are made of stone. These monuments attest to a long-standing, rich and original culture, which persists to this day in the modern Republic of Armenia.

I chose this 7th-century Armenian cathedral of Aruchavank in the western Armenian town of Aruch, to represent the many churches in Armenia that I visited and in which I made recordings. An earthquake (16th-17th c.) has left its sturdy walls standing beneath a gaping oculus in the place of a now-missing tholobate (drum), which would have been surmouted by a conical dome.

As we enter and look up, we find ourselves as if standing at the bottom of a well, lowly beings, our only consession being to peer upwards into a mysterious blue beyond, a wintry world peopled by a roaring wind and soaring birds.