Saturday, May 26, 2007

The History that Never Happened: Kymaerica & Dueling Postal Services

In the lower courtyard where Star Provisions/Bacchanalia are, there hangs a bronze historical plaque. It tells of how the city got its start.

"Adalanta Desert

When the Tehachapi incised the Adalanta Desert with two great sphaltways, a settlement at their junction was inevitable. Martha Pelaski's small trading post that became the great city was built here..."

At first I couldn't find this plaque. I went to Star Provisions and the nice Brazilian counter guy offered to show me where it was. After leading me to the plaque in the lower courtyard he asked me to explain it to him. He was pleased to be working in a place of historical merit and wanted to know more.

I had to tell him that it was a complete fiction, part of a country-wide project that imagines the North American continent not as it is but as a place full of alternative history. Plaques like this are scattered around the country. Cabinet Magazine's interview with Eames Demetrios details the people that made up his world.

"There are over 5,000 zones or quasi-nations in Kymaerica. Each one has its own story. For example, there is the Tehachapi, which is the great road building culture in Kymaerica, and they built most of what we now think of as the interstate highways. There are the people who were the original Samurai who were blown off course and settled what we now call Santa Barbara (which they named Hizurokoro). There are the People of the Wind who make buildings totally out of air and who believe that what we call hills are actually depressions in the sky, and what we call valleys are actually hills in the sky. In the area that is present day linear San Diego there is something called the Sandafuegan Fire Cult which puts out valuable possessions and then sets fire to them."

So, it was in Atlanta/Adalanta that a bit of that historical fiction took place.

Discover Kymaerica
Kymaerica Plaques - a photoset on Flickr

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For another bit of alterna-history, there this bit of cryptic graffiti in a Georgia Tech elevator.

The "muted trumpet" is symbolic of a long-standing war between rival postal factions. Taxis was symbolized by a trumpet, the Tyrstero a muted trumpet showing its rival silenced. All of this stems from Thomas Pynchon's short novel The Crying of Lot 49. While the Tyrstero faction was imagined by Pynchon, Franz von Taxis actually founded the first Italian postal service in the 16th century. Pynchon's broad and arcane conspiracy appeals to me so it was nice to see a little bit of it in the real world at Georgia Tech.

For additional info: Thurn und Taxis on Wikipedia


Geographer-at-Large said...

"Complete fiction" is such an extreme phrase and not as fully nuanced as one might like, but I am very honored that you sought out the Adalanta plaque. Have you been any of the other plaques in sGeorgia--or anywhere else? I think you would particularly enjoy the Historic sites. Would you like a copy of the current travel guide, Mr. Kimberly? Please email me at if you would.

Mr. Kimberly said...

I'm pleasantly surprised that you found out about my post about Kymaerica. I have yet to get a picture of the "Benchmakers of Awaswra" plaque but its on list of places to visit. I wished I had known about it when I visited the Stonehenge of Athens...

As for the term "complete fiction" I know it didn't read well, but it was meant as a compliment. Meaning, a fully realized concept and put into practice.