Wednesday, February 03, 2010

I Have a New Scanner I Need to Try Out

This one is a piece of cake to use, which means, I am afraid, you can expect to see ever more of my detritus as time goes on. I believe a few months ago when I was recording my reading of something by Shelley that I threatened some Rome vacation pictures as accompaniment, only to discover that my old scanner was broken. So I give them to you now. I have tried to keep in mind that everybody already is familiar with the major monuments and sights in that city and tried to keep the photos to relative novelties.

This particular trip was in February/March 2001. Before I had children instead of going to Florida every year for winter vacation I used to go to places like Italy, and clinging to the idea that I might someday be able to do so again, remote and perhaps even trivial as it seems, does offer a strange kind of psychological satisfaction during the grinding weeks and months and years of daily life. Doing the sights and sitting around sipping cheap red wine in a cafe in Rome is the kind of thing a lot of the smarter and more conscientious modern kids are moving on from, preferring to seek out nobler and more mutually enriching experiences like laboring on farms and learning how to make artisanal cheeses in Armenia, or digging wells and building schools in Africa. I still found it pretty exciting to be there though. I guess arriving at the station or amidst one of the signature scenes of one of the great European capitals gets old for some people, though I have not been enough places for it to have happened with me yet.

On the Spanish Steps. I know this is a famous sight, but some people would be disappointed if I didn't include any pictures of pretty girls if I had them. I know I am when others don't. As for myself, I was looking rather bloated and had a bad haircut and an especially inane expression on my face on this trip, so there won't be much of me on view either.Pyramid of Gaius Cestius, a wealthy tribune of the early Empire, died 12 B.C. Now just outside the walls of the Protestant Cemetery.

Grave of Devereux Platagenet Cockburn. Wealthy Victorian-era Romantic/foppish type who died in Rome at the age of 21. I thought his tomb was interesting. He isn't otherwise anybody notable.

Unlike this Guy. There we are, the grave of Shelley, who actually drowned off the coast of, I don't remember where, Lerici and Leghorn (Livorno) are standing out (It was Leghorn). Some part of his body, probably his heart, was returned to England and interred at Bournemouth with his wife and her famous parents. He is not alone however, as his good friend and I believe biographer Edward Trelawny, who lived until 1881, dying at the age of 88 (grave not shown) is buried alongside him.

I Pose at Shelley's Grave. I am not sure what the purpose of doing this is, I admit. It is less of an oddity with the Romantic poets since it is the sort of thing they did themselves all the time. I'm sure I've seen an etching somewhere of Shelley or Byron at the tomb of Dante in Ravenna in the posture of trying to channel the master's spirit. With more modern writers, and the growth of the active, or wannabe active, segment of the literary world beyond reasonably intimate limits, these kinds of attempts at commiseration are a little more problematic. I saw that of course J.D. Salinger is not going to be buried, and doubtless whatever is done with his remains is not going to be revealed to the public. Einstein I believe took a similar approach, in large part in distaste at the idea of his tomb or whatever becoming a kind of shrine. On the other hand, when Norman Mailer died he was interred with some fanfare at Provincetown in Massachusetts; one suspects that the prospect of his monument's attracting attention after he had passed did not displease him.

Oppian Hill; Scant Remains of the Bath of Titus (with Colosseum in Background). Before the baths of Titus this was also the site of the villa of Maecenas, the great patron of Horace and other poets and artists whose name indeed became synonomous with patronage down even to our own time.

Ancient Country, Grounds of Hadrian's Villa, Tivoli. Even some cypresses in there.

I know a lot of people aren't big on ruins, but if you have some sense of or feeling for the world of antiquity--even a Victorian one--they can be very inspiring, especially if the surrounding landscape has retained a plausibly ancient appearance.

One of the Pools at the Villa. It wasn't crowded when we were there, so the place was nearly silent, it is you practically all alone on the vast estate of one of the greatest Roman Emperors, the remains of pools, theaters, baths, a Greek library and a Latin library, beautiful scenery, no cynical or jabbering or critical voices dampening your absorption. It is really a quite heady experience.

But now look at all the things I did not see when I was there. The famous statue of Moses by Michelangelo in the church of St Peter-in-Chains; various of the other celebrated churches (981 in all) such as St John Laterano and St Paul outside-the-walls. The Borghese Gallery. The grounds of the Forum itself. I should still like to see those things. Perhaps I should do something for the world first, and earn the privilege. That seems to be the attitude the most proper people from my social class anyway take nowadays.

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