JF Ptak Science Books Quick Post
"Complexity" is an interesting word with far-ranging roots and applications, and even though the may be a long trail of definitions for it, a person can generally recognize it when they see it. That word can certainly be used to describe the situation in Russia at the end of WWI, and in a way the least of it may have been when the Allies intervened there (with a large physical presence in an action was known as the North Russia Intervention/Northern Russian Expedition/Archangel Campaign) in support of the White Army/Guard in their struggle and fight against the Communist Red Army during the period when Alexander Kerensky's Russian Provincial Government fought the Germans on the Eastern Front during the Russian Civil War (1917-1923). The Allies stayed from 1918 until 1920, mostly fighting in defensive roles for White Army pullbacks.
And somewhere in that mix of complexities came moments captured by this image below--it comes from the closing weeks of WWI and shows a group of "British Jackies" readying a portion of the River Dwina at Archangel (Archangelsk) as a skating rink. Evidently there was scraping and sweeping and the use of hot water from the British ship to help smooth the ice.
The contrast in the many figures against the wide river reminded me of the very-populated scenes created by Peter Bruegel (1525-1569) the Elder, the Brabant-born master of the social scene of the Northern Renaissance. Bruegel painted the lives of common folks at work, children playing, and in general portrayed people at all manner of activities and celebrations, including dozens or hundreds in his social-scapes. That is what immediately came to mind seeing this photograph:
One of the many long-perspective, highly-populated scenes by Bruegel--it might take a little squinting, but this is what that photograph reminded me of:
[298 images by Bruegel are available at Pieter Bruegel the Elder.org: http://www.pieter-bruegel-the-elder.org/the-complete-works.html]