08 February 2011

now in another world

early February: This note is written from the Seattle-Vancouver BC train. We have been visiting Liz and Mike in Seattle, today heading for Rome. Writing at duemesi.blogspot.com... see you there!

Living here for a time, not running as a tourist. 

The difference between life here and life in Australia is challenging, broadening, demanding review of what we do at home in many ways. To begin, however, creative processes seem to come to a halt as we learn openly and allow the stresses of past work etc, to filter down out of the system. 

There are nightmares (literally) - you  cannot disengage from things and be in a free space without the subconscious running in all directions for structure, it seems. 

I am somewhat unnerved to find that my Italian returns better than was 40 years ago. Treated as speaking properly in Rome (asked about it in a friendly and welcoming manner) though regarded by many, in the outpost places we have been in, as something from the imperial court or worse. 

There are political issues of great heat, as always but perhaps of greater consequence, with unconstitutional 'reforms' pressed forward by the world's wealthiest head of government concerned mainly with his own good time (an aspiration which links him to a huge spread of the population), while the opposition, so articulate on so many matters, cannot evolve itself into anything or anyone as an alternative government. 

There is an historical moment, with celebrations this week of the 150th anniversary of the conquest of the rest of Italy by the Kingdom of Savoy and establishment of a Kingdom of Italy, something that happened somewhat contrary to the wishes of many involved and still resented by many. Italy remains, as the New York Times quotes Encyclopedia Britannica: "less a single nation than a collection of culturally related points in an uncommonly pleasing setting." 

There are things of great beauty in so many places, with thousands of years of history piled on itself, the weaving together of buildings so different in age itself a matter of magic. There are disturbing things, as with the church in Naples on the Street of the Tribunes (15% of the street seeming to be churches) founded in the height of the counter-reformation, in 1600, a brass skull and cross-bones on its entry rail, an enquiry desk handled by a beautiful young woman, a church committed to saving those in purgatory, diminishing their time there, at one time with sixty masses a day... Such a fortune in churches where people have often till very recently starved and street-begging still present.  

We are also here so close to what has been happening in Tunisia and Libya. While the internet also brings close the events in Japan... This uprooting and transplantation to Rome has the same kind of effect as it had on me 40 years ago, of shifting me out of local and petty preoccupations and perspectives back in Australia. Not that there are not millions of petty and local perspectives around me here... but it is the vast difference that doubles the perspective coming here.