In Milan I asked my mom, Doesn’t this remind you a little bit of China?
July 8, 2024 11:17 AM   Subscribe

Because I had inherited a vast legacy of silence, because silence was my country, I had to build a wall to see its borders. These two methodologies—the persistent Italian unchanging, the hyper Chinese dream of progress—are two ways of addressing the same vacancy: the void between where we came from and how we got here.

I cannot presume to know anything about Italy or the Italians. In the way of Roland Barthes, the Italy I speak of is the Italy of my mind—a place one goes to think of other places, as I’ve learned that every country one travels to will always be a site of mourning for one’s first country.
posted by spamandkimchi (6 comments total) 18 users marked this as a favorite
So much of our contemporary existence relies on the perpetuity of an eternal present. We are in an age of meticulous storage, of the classification of experience, of perfect recall. Because we have merged memory into history, we have displaced the perpetual flux of the former into the consecrated constructions of the latter, and as such, we’ve negated the ineffable magic, the curious suddenness of memory. We have eased it away from its definitions, erasing the possibilities of forgetting; the multiplicity of imaginations gives way to a multiplicity of interpretations.

This is a beautiful, thoughtful, heartfelt piece, thanks for posting.
posted by chavenet at 11:24 AM on July 8 [2 favorites]

I have nothing to say about the article, but the writer is living my dream of being a writer and travelling a lot.
posted by Didnt_do_enough at 5:33 PM on July 8


I'm with you on that...
posted by y2karl at 5:37 PM on July 8 [1 favorite]

‘Everything must change for everything to remain the same.’

a man from Thessaloniki once asked me about myth. did i know the meaning of the word? i’d thought i did, but he wanted to tell me something. “mythos,” he said “means speed: a tale told quickly.” Shakespeare’s adage was never truer to me than then. i’ve never been to Greece. what did i know

i won’t speak of places i haven’t been, though i’m always happy to hear others’ stories. they’re like a book from the sky to me, xu bing’s indecipherable masterpiece hung before Tiananmen Square. he teaches there now, having fled & returned. it’s footage i can’t unsee:
how does one face a tank, barehanded, & live?

I resurrected the dead with the thinnest gossamer hints of their presence

sfumato is how i see my grandfather now. never having known him in life, the smoky distance of Mona Lisa’s mountains still feels fairer than the stark contrasts of chiaroscuro. chiaroscuro i know, viscerally, from other mountains: high desert of Santa Fe, where sun shines nigh constantly. there, every bit of shade is a blessing. pueblo walls hold heat at bay daily & retain enough to get you through the desert night

candle smoke’s sfumato memories, in the light of Visconti’s magisterial scene, my grandfather could have been a leopard. Burt Lancaster’s leopard, that’s how i choose to remember him.

spolia, alerting us to ways history is repurposed, that’s how i remember Italy. fallen stones rising, these architectural fragments are reminders: however faulty memory may be, it’s all we have

plus ça change, plus ca la meme chose
posted by HearHere at 8:38 PM on July 8 [2 favorites]

Beautiful writing, thank you for sharing.
posted by ellieBOA at 10:24 AM on July 9

molto bellissima, grazi
posted by HearHere at 11:45 AM on July 9

« Older Helicopters, oyster boats, and barges called in to...   |   If something can tell a story, chances are that it... Newer »

You are not currently logged in. Log in or create a new account to post comments.