By Mark Vernon
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Extra info for 42 : deep thought on life, the universe and everything
At the time of Pericles, the ithyphallic member would have been seen on every street corner – on statues of Hermes, in images of Bacchus, on murals and doorbells. But after the first century CE, an erection became ‘the image of man in revolt against God,’ as Michel Foucault put it. Consider the great sex scene in Plato’s dialogue, the Symposium. It features Socrates and Alcibiades, his student, who was as gorgeous as James Dean and as deserving of the title given to the film that made Dean a star.
Even if that means nightmares, their horror is better than whatever reality waits to haunt us should we wake. It also explains why the hours of insomnia are filled with concerns. qxp 11/14/2007 12:28 PM 40 Page 40 42: Deep Thought on Life worries away, not fretting about them through the night. It is not so much that the innocent sleep, as that even dreams cannot keep the insomniac from their anxieties. ’ G. K. Chesterton To the traveller, fewer countries offer greater delight than one darkened and derided in contemporary politics: Syria.
This settlement, which flourished in the second century, is close to Nebi Uri and a more routine tourist sight, due to possessing two Roman hump-backed bridges that carry traffic to this day. However, Syrians seem to place little trust in maps, particularly when it comes to spots on the Turkish border; bloody territorial disputes have turned maps into potentially subversive documents. Although taxi-drivers obligingly looked at our map while we tried to explain the destination and seal a deal, no sooner had we finished than they would turn to any passer-by willing to express an opinion and discuss where this elusive place might be.