June 6, 2010

DvH 2010 12 Venice, Italy

"Many moon ago the dollar was 870 lire and I was thirty-two. The globe, too, was lighter by two billion souls, and the bar at the stazione where I arrived on that cold December night was empty"…

So begins Joseph Brodsky’s “Watermark”, his curious, quirky, and brilliant account of his enthrallment by the physical and metaphysical life of the city Venice. His meditation on the relation between water and land, light and dark, present and past, stone and flesh, desire and fulfillment, coupled with Venice’s architectural and atmospheric character speaks to all of us who have fallen under that spell.

When I first visited Venice, I was so overawed by its beauty that my fleeting visit stirred me out of an adolescent chrysalis. Venice has a strange stimulus that seems to pass directly into emotion, bypassing the usual thought processes. To wander around her, to drift or push through her, is as natural and as sensuous as a caress.

Henry James wrote of Venice: ‘There is notoriously nothing more to be said on the subject’

Venice has its rewards and its purgatory: it takes the patience of Job to infiltrate and survive the grueling treadmill of bureaucracy, followed by the passing of the many tests needed to enter into an elitist and secret society.

Following then, is my view of the inside of the oyster shell by a grain of sand that has managed to lie beside the pearl.

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