Thursday, January 17, 2013

A Dark Side of Venice. Diary Entry: Venice, Nov. 15th

It has been quite a while since I have opened this book to further read into the lines of a novel set in a city very dear to me-to find moments of reflection in words perhaps not meant to be read in such a way, yet so capable of being experienced in this manner.  As I sit with the book opened up on my dining room table with a warm mug of hot cocoa, I patiently read, searching for a written moment among its yellowing pages upon which to pause.  I find the following:

"Swiftly, with the familiar little rocking motion, I go on in the darkness, and the walls on either side seem given up to the dead.  There is fear, and tragedy and danger everywhere-but this, too, is Venice…" 

“Tragedy and danger” alludes to things occurring in the past and future, respectively.  "Fear" is a reference to a present feeling.  And so, as the narrator ventures in his gondola into the darkness of the city, he refers to all of time in its darkest moments.  He states that “this, too, is Venice.”  Indeed if we are to think of Venice and its wall as “given up to the dead,” we accept that places capable of holding in their streets, canals, and piazzas, our dreams also contain within them a sense of loss.  To love a place is to know this, and accept this.  To love Venice, to go to such a mysterious place is to be vulnerable to all that it may have to offer, good and bad.

The novel seems to be slowly taking on a sinister turn.    

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Il dolce far niente. The sweetness of doing nothing. Diary Entry: Venice, Nov. 15th

…I may be, for aught I know, being silently steered to my death.  I care not; I recline on the cushions, and seem to feel the smooth water slipping underneath; this is enough; this is Venice…

What I like about this passage is the moment of enjoyment of being reclined in a gondola in Venice, and not needing anything else.  This is enough, explains the narrator and indeed it is.  At times we exert ourselves too much in the seeking of pleasure.  Being in a place like Venice reminds us that we need not work so hard for enjoyment; that we can sit back and let our senses and surroundings provide us with immense fulfillment.  Although such pleasure is described here in the context of Venice, it can indeed be found in even the simplest of environments if we keep ourselves receptive to it.      

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Ligabue - Piccola stella senza cielo (video clip)

I'm taking a moment away from the written text in the novel to share a cute Italian video shot in Venice, with flying gondolas and such.  This was popular when I had been living in Italy several years ago.  I just loved watching it with the dreamlike and magical feel both the video and vocals convey.

Monday, March 19, 2012

The Everyday in Venice. Diary entry: Venice, Nov. 8th

While at CafĂ© Florian, the narrator meets with an acquaintance, Miss Romney.  Regarding Venice, she says to him, “But Mr. Burden, is it not awfully-er-dirty?”

My thoughts go back to a time when, discussing our mutual travels in Italy, an acquaintance once described Venice as being “insipid” and unclean.  Indeed, Venice is not for everyone.  Just like dust shows up in the homes of our own lives, so in this city there are places that are not polished perfect, and neat and orderly.  I don’t see this as a shortcoming.  I like seeing spalling stone, and peeling paint.  This reminds us that the city is an ongoing living thing with evolving needs.  I like that here, you can be in the midst of monumentality and world renown and then simply choose another direction.  A direction that will lead you to a place not originally intended as a destination.  A narrow alley, perhaps a dead end that is not as openly inviting and, in that way, draws your curiosity.  I like seeing drying laundry hung on a clothesline outside a home.  I like knowing that everyday life happens here, amidst the tourism and crowds and that when Piazza San Marco begins to empty out at night, life continues elsewhere.  I like knowing that when I leave and return at another time, things won’t be exactly the same.  I like the unexpected, being pleasantly surprised, appreciating beauty in many different types of places be it the ordinary or the world renowned, and for this and many other reasons, I love the city that is Venice.                                           

Thursday, January 19, 2012

21 Benefits of Travel

The narrator’s references to travel have inspired me to reflect on my own passion for traveling outside my home country.  Below are some benefits to traveling that I have experienced throughout my wanderings around the globe.

1.       It prevents stagnation

2.       It opens one’s mind to new ways of living and doing things

3.       It’s a metaphor for life; things don’t always go as planned

4.       You learn to adjust yourself to external forces beyond your control

5.       You are stripped of your usual environment and therefore learn more about yourself

6.       You engage with and make friends with people that have a different background from your own

7.       You learn a new language

8.       You learn patience

9.       You can finally see and appreciate with your own eyes all the places you read about in books

10.   It can inspire you to become more creative

11.   Its brings a sense of adventure into your life

12.   You learn to appreciate different foods

13.   You learn to appreciate different music

14.   You are humbled by how little you are in the vastness of the world

15.   You can revel in the newfound comfort of being a stranger to others

16.   You allow the generosity of strangers to fill you with happiness

17.   You can help clear misconceptions other cultures may have of your culture

18.   You can help clear misconceptions you may have of other cultures

19.   You can find beauty in a place you were not expecting to find it

and therefore

20.   You can gain a new perspective on beauty


21.   When you return home with all this fresh outlook on things, you can perhaps discover something new that had been waiting for you all along within your usual surroundings

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Seeing vs. Feeling Venice. Diary Entry: Venice, Nov. 4th

Making reference to tourists pointing with umbrellas at Palazzo Mocinego, the narrator states:

“It assists more than the flaming advertisements of the curiosity shops in making of Venice an exhibition, a something to be seen, not felt.”

What is the difference between something that is seen and something that is felt?  In this context, ‘seeing’ a place implies judgment, whether good or bad; a reaction caused solely by using one’s eyes or outer faculties.  Approaching a place by ‘seeing’ it will limit that experience to either criticism or compliments. ‘Feeling’ implies introspection to get to what one is in fact feeling upon approaching a place.  Approaching a place by ‘feeling’ it will open up possibilities for other thoughts. In this way, the space becomes a springboard or means of inspiration to get to something else, perhaps something about oneself.

I remember quite well the very first time I visited Venice and how I became aware of different parts of who I am, and what I value and enjoy.  Perhaps this is what is meant by feeling Venice.

I am also reminded of the beginning of the movie Summertime in which Katharine Hepburn speaks to the owner of the hotel she will be staying in:  

"I met a girl on the boat coming over…….[who] was coming to Europe to find something…..past seeing things and getting some culture….way back, way, way back in the back of her mind, was something she was looking for."

I am wondering if this difference between seeing and feeling Venice is something that will also be explored later in the book.  

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Venice as a "Leafless City." Diary entry: Venice, Nov. 4th

The sun makes the season in this leafless city; it bathes the golden dome of St. Mark’s in radiant summer light.”

My mind rested after reading this sentence.    

The rhythm of changing seasons is made picturesque with leaves turning warm shades of yellow, red, and orange.  The leaves then fall from their ‘roots,’ shrivel, and are eventually gathered.  They make way for new growth in the future.   

In Venice however, this montage of autumnal colors does not exist.  Yes, the change in weather and start of high tide mark the season’s cycles.  But, what is more evident here is the contrast of light and dark: the radiance of the sun contrasted with the darkness of shadows cast onto facades pealing or well preserved,  sun filled piazzas contrasted with narrow calle that escape its blaze, or a dark moment passing beneath a bridge upon a gleaming canal. 

Here, the constant montage of light and dark is more prevalent than a visual change in seasons.  The reminder of time passing by is the rising and setting of the sun.  This renders Venice almost as if a place outside of time as understood elsewhere; a place in which the lives of those living within and those passing by are what endow it with the passage of time.