Technological sublime, a photograph

“For thousands of years, it had been nature–and its supposed creator–that had had a monopoly on awe. It had been the icecaps, the deserts, the volcanoes and the glaciers that had given us a sense of finitude and limitation and had elicited a feeling in which fear and respect coagulated into a strangely pleasing feeling of humility, a feeling which the philosophers of the eighteenth century had famously termed the sublime.

But then had come a transformation to which we were still the heirs…. Over the course of the nineteenth century, the dominant catalyst for that feeling of the sublime had ceased to be nature. We were now deep in the era of the technological sublime when awe could most powerfully be invoked not by forests or icebergs but by supercomputers, rockets and particle accelerators. We were now almost exclusively amazed by ourselves.”
― Alain de Botton, The Pleasures and Sorrows of Work

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Art, a photograph of the MAXXI Gallery

“Architecture is the alpha principle of all arts.”
― Louis-Ferdinand Céline

Today I visited the MAXXI gallery for the Letizia Battaglia exhibit. The oddly out-of-place modern exterior architecture of the MAXXI aside, the interior exhibit space is superb. And as a lover of photography and photo-journalism, I cannot recommend the exhibit enough. I must’ve spent at least three hours in awe at her work, not only in photographs, but her publishing house dedicated solely to women writers.

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Off the track, a photograph of Rome

“Remember that it’s only by going off the track that you get to know the country…And don’t let me beg you, go with that awful tourist idea that Italy’s only a museum of antiquities and art. Love and understand the Italians, for the people are more marvelous than the land.”
― E.M. Forster

I’m in Rome visiting my dear friend and editor while working on my book. Between writing and editing, I try to find some time each day to get out and about to both walk and photograph.

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Strange contrasts, A photograph of Rome

“It is a place that ‘grows upon you’ every day. There seems to be always something to find out in it. There are the most extraordinary alleys and by-ways to walk about in. You can lose your way (what a comfort that is, when you are idle!) twenty times a day if you like; and turn up again, under the most unexpected and surprising difficulties. It abounds in the strangest contrasts; things that are picturesque, ugly, mean, magnificent, delightful, and offensive, break upon the view at every turn.”
― Charles Dickens, Pictures from Italy

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Undramatic, a photograph

Architecture, even at its most accomplished, will only ever constitute a small, and imperfect (expensive, prone to destruction, and morally unreliable), protest against the state of things. More awkwardly still, architecture asks us to imagine that happiness might often have an unostentatious, unheroic character to it, that it might be found in a run of old floorboards or in a wash of morning light over a plaster wall—in undramatic, frangible scenes of beauty that move us because we are aware of the darker backdrop against which they are set.” 
― Alain de Botton

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5’s, A Photograph

“Even when she had to make some one a present of the kind called ‘useful,’ when she had to give an armchair or some table-silver or a walking-stick, she would choose ‘antiques,’ as though their long desuetude had effaced from them any semblance of utility and fitted them rather to instruct us in the lives of the men of other days than to serve the common requirements of our own.”
― Marcel Proust

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