And yet most modern Greeks appear oblivious to this unusual juxtaposition of old and new. They go about their everyday business--running red lights, shouting at the person crossing the street, narrowly avoiding the motorbike that just whizzed in front of them, carrying on heated political debates with their new Amerikanaiki acquaintance, stopping for a casual five-hour frappe (iced coffee) and their third carton of cigarettes.
I was reminded of this paradox when I visited the new Acropolis Museum. I was unaware that it had been built with clear floors so that when standing on the top floor one can look all the way down to the ancient ruins underneath. Hype for the new museum was centered on the modern physical structure, not so much the ancient ground…so its structure took me by surprise. In fact, there was a debate going on. Several purists feel that the building is too modern, that it is in conflict with the treasures that it showcases. They also argue that more attention is being paid to the beautiful modern structure than its beautiful ancient contents.
What do you think? Should the new museum’s architecture have been more consistent with its internal treasures? I, for one, love this paradox, but it is difficult not to pick sides. It is so much easier to choose new over old or old over new. To live embracing both is an unusual challenge—one that most Americans have never had to face. Ours, let’s face it, is a very young nation.