To travel through Italy is to traverse through time concretised in the walls, arches and domed ceilings of ancient buildings. Even the most random little hamlet in some neglected corner of the countryside, with potholed roads, three-wheeler Piaggio vans, and a temperamental electricity supply, will present you with stunning architecture. There is likely to be a church, or town hall, built in the thirteenth century over Roman ruins, with gorgeous frescos and the ever present Madonna and Child adorning the altar. Or, in the middle of nowhere, you’ll stumble upon a series of houses, nestled atop a hill and overlooking a sweep of ancient vines, plump and pregnant with the juice of the gods. Casually, over a sugar encrusted cream tart and bitter espresso, the ‘nona’ will reveal that her family has in fact lived in the stone clusters since Etruscan times (around 500 B.C).
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It is a constant challenge to find time to dedicate to a project that is abstracted from your ‘job’ commitments, relationships and civil responsibilities. A first novel is a scary and illusive thing to pursue. There is nothing to show for it whilst it is being created and no one (including you) really knows whether its total crap or not. Its just a document on my Macbook. A blip on the ether. And yet it represents hours and hours of iteration, reiteration, drafts and redrafts. It represents energy, emotion, tears and sweat.
I woke up this morning feeling a sense of loss and nostalgia for myself. On the one hand this self was plainly lost to me - hence the melancholy - and yet, it was simultaneously palpably near. In fact it was the nearness I felt to this former self that gave rise to the particular and odd mourning; It was only through being aware of the the vivid details of this former me that I could fully comprehend the distance I had travelled from it. Perhaps this sounds like the start of a nauseatingly narcissistic ode, but please bear with me for these feelings give rise to some interesting questions about our experience of self in relation to time.