In a (very) short story called “The Antipodes and the Century,” author Ignacio Padilla describes “a great Scottish engineer, left to die in the middle of the desert, [who] is rescued by a tribe of nomads.” Upon recovery, the engineer soon “inspires” his saviors “to build an exact replica of the city of Edinburgh in the dunes.”

edinburgh[Image: Edinburgh, as photographed by Jim Webb in 2002].

There, “amidst the rocks of the Gobi,” Padilla writes, Kirghiz nomads are taught “the exact height that Edinburgh Castle must attain, the precise length of the bridge that connects the High Street with Waverly Station, the correct calculations necessary to establish the perimeter of Canongate Cemetery, [and] the true distance between the two spires of St. Giles’ Cathedral.”
With that knowledge – and with lots of rocks – they construct “an elephantine fortress of streets, bridges, and windows.” It is “a shimmering haze of towers” that blends in architecturally with the inferior mirages of the desert horizon.
Until it is buried by a sandstorm, then, this new, replicant Edinburgh functions as “a kind of global map in the very heart of the Gobi Desert,” we read, “a vague though tangible diorama of the cosmos, its center a replica of the Scottish capital.”

(See also Huangyangtan: or, Tactical geoannexation, Part II, at Pruned).

15 thoughts on “Edinburgh”

  1. In that case, welcome home!

    Also, from this bit of information, I can that that your priorities are
    1: eat
    2: blog
    3: everything else

    Live to blog, blog to live.
    I hope LA is suitably mirage-like among the rocks.

  2. Well, in that case, maybe you’d be exhausted from 10 days on the road, with a car full of shit you just unpacked into a hotel room, and with more than enough to think about already charged onto your credit card, and so eating cheaply at a Whole Foods might sound like a good idea.

    Meanwhile, thanks for the welcomes – and the links – and there’ll be more to come soon. Off apartment-hunting today…

  3. Welcome! I just moved here to, just up the road in Santa Barbara, from the east coast.

    This is wonderful: when I was younger and couldn’t sleep I would get myself to doze off by inventing cities built in the desert and tall buildings. These were actually inspired by a building near where I grew up, which is certainly not the desert, the Bethesda Naval Medical Center in Maryland.

    And my girlfriend was just in Yemen and she reported back about a particular city in the desert, the Shibam skyscrapers.

    The Row Boat

  4. Hey Jav – Better get that degree soon then, ’cause Arnie might not be around for much longer. Meanwhile, give me a shout next time you’re in LA.

    And Nathan, love the Shibam link. Thanks again.

    Also, e-tat, I might reverse that list…

  5. I like the thing about that scale-model terrain out in China (outside of Huangyangtan). The guy who “discovered” it in Google Earth has been monitoring news reports about it and compiles them in at foundinchina.blogspot.com. Lots of discussion, but no concrete answers yet.

  6. Welcome to L.A.!

    As you may have heard, the weather’s great! And the buses have TV!

    Good luck with the apartment hunt.

    Please let me know if you’d ever like a tour of scenic and charming Eagle Rock, including a viewing of the Rock itself.

  7. Hey Octo – I’d love a tour. I’ll be in touch. I think we found an apartment, too, so things are moving apace. Meanwhile, we looked for the green flash over the Pacific yesterday and missed it. Or it missed us.

    And Juke, great story, thanks for that! I’ll write something up about it soon – thanks again.

    And anon, I did indeed hike in Zion Nat’l Park – I’ll write about that soon, too. Amazing place eroding itself slowly into arches. Abrasion, ice, and earthquakes.

    Off for more L.A. – then I’ll be posting again…

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.