England: The Country With a History Face

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There is something absolutely magical about visiting another
country, especially a country like England.  At least, I think so.  But why? 
On my descent into Gatwick, I thought about that question, and this is
the best I could come up with:

is a country that wears its history on its face.  To someone like myself, who has lived in
various parts of the United
States where colonial history is not
explicitly present (i.e., there aren’t a whole bunch of forts and “old towns”
on the West Coast).[1]  But what does it mean for a nation to wear
its history on its face?  Traveling to England is like
traveling through hundreds of years of history compressed into one space.  It is impossible to look at England without
being able to see the ancient, the old, the modern, and the contemporary all
comingled in the same space.  Perhaps
this does not fascinate the British, but it certainly grabs my attention every
time I visit (just as it captures me now as I sit in the airport).[2]
Perhaps that is, in part, why Damien Walter claimed that England is bewitched by the magical/mystical (having only glanced at the post, this is really
random speculation).  England really
is magical, mystical, bewildering, wondrous, and all manner of other delicious
descriptors one might use.  But it’s
because of the history, I think, that so many tourists are drawn here.  That history is a kind of magic of its own,
filled with myths, legends, exciting stories, architecture, characters, and
literature.  It’s a place where you
always feel like there’s something grand to learn about the very place you’re
standing on.  Something happened here,
perhaps something insignificant within the endless stream of historical time,
but something exciting nonetheless.
Maybe that’s why I keep coming back – this is my fourth trip
to England
(though my first foray into the southern half of the island).  I’m jetlagged.  I’m tired. 
I’m unclean.  But I’m amazed by
the wonder around me.  Is this just the
journey of the tourist?  Or is there
something truly magical about England
or equally ancient places that inspire such emotions?
A question for you all: 
what countries or places have you visited that seemed to wear its
history on its face?  Let me know in the
comments so I can make a list of places to see with my girlfriend…
This is what a picture taken from a plane looks like.  What is it, you might ask?  Well, it’s the  clouds being murdered by the sunlight on the horizon.  Pretty?  I think so, even if my photography skills say otherwise…

[1] When I
say old, I mean by degrees of hundreds of years.  Much of California was settled fairly late in
American history.  But there is also
something to be said about living in
these places that demystifies the historical experience.  I love the Old West – the mines, frontier
towns, the Gold Rush sites, etc. – but I have lived in that space for so long
that it doesn’t hold the allure it once did.
[2] I wrote
this post while I was sitting in Gatwick
International Airport
while waiting for my train.

About the Author:

Shaun Duke is an aspiring writer, a reviewer, and an academic. He is currently an Assistant Professor of Digital Rhetoric and Writing at Bemidji State University. He received his PhD in English from the University of Florida and studies science fiction, postcolonialism, digital fan cultures, and digital rhetoric.

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