Friday, March 8, 2013

Contradictory Themes in St. Petersburg

During the first day within the city of St. Petersburg, several themes present themselves, with many of them being contradictory.  To begin, what immediately displayed itself as contradictory was the idea of St. Petersburg being a town of great wealth, yet having plentiful examples of poverty.  We saw several beautiful buildings during our bus tour of the city, with palaces lining the edges on the river.  These palaces were very expensive looking but upon further inspection they also are showing signs of decay through their sides crumbling.   Additionally, seeing the government buildings such as the Hermitage and the cathedrals with their gilded domes strongly pointed to a wealthy city, yet the cars all covered in mud and snow and the very bare nature of the bathrooms and resting rooms of hotels and other facilities show the other side of the poor St. Petersburg. 
There is also the contradicting ideas of the rational vs. the irrational.  Evidence of the rational can be seen in the very careful nature of street placement and organization, with ninety degree angles and straight lines overlying the natural and chaotic islands and marshland.  Yet the irrational nature of the natural landscape can be seen from the crumbling nature of the edges of the town, due to the fact that St. Petersburg is a constant example of the rationality of mankind fighting the irrationality of nature.  This confirms my interpretation of the literature on the contradicting rationality and irrationality of the city.  I can see how it would be possible for people to go mad here, with the constant decay of the city striking at the edge of the vision of the city.  The constant battle would make the tough grow ragged over long periods of time, and make the lives of those who live here beautiful yet difficult at the same time. 
            In the end, St. Petersburg is a town full of contradictions, giving it a signature that would be difficult to find anywhere else in the world.

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