“The truly creative mind in any field is no more than this: A human creature born abnormally, inhumanly sensitive. To him… a touch is a blow, a sound is a noise, a misfortune is a tragedy, a joy is an ecstasy, a friend is a lover, a lover is a god, and failure is death. Add to this cruelly delicate organism the overpowering necessity to create, create, create — so that without the creating of music or poetry or books or buildings or something of meaning, his very breath is cut off from him. He must create, must pour out creation. By some strange, unknown, inward urgency he is not really alive unless he is creating.”
― Pearl S. Buck
“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.
“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
“Tell me about
your Italian journey
I am not ashamed
I wept in that country
beauty touched me
I was a child once more
in the womb of that country
I am not ashamed
I have tried to return to paradise”
― Tadeusz Różewicz, They Came to See a Poet: Selected Poems
“The light of love, the purity of grace, The mind, the Music breathing from her face, The heart whose softness harmonised the whole — And, oh! That eye was in itself a Soul!” – George Gordon Byron
I have very few regrets in life, although I have had many blunders. The one I do have is related to a purchase of all things. A purchase I put off, thinking I would return and find it still….
For a few years I would visit Rome every three or four months or so. I didn’t stay in the touristy places, but outside of them, in a neighborhood in which I often found myself lost – the only English speaker. Near this neighborhood (I wish I could remember the exact area name) there was a flea market. The gypsy’s and bric-a-brac vendors would sell their wears. Three times I visited the same antique booth and three times I coveted a large alabaster statue of The Three Graces. It was beautiful. The woman selling the piece wanted 120 Euros for it and I never had the funds to spare. All of my money was spent either on travel or on entertainment while I was there and even then, entertainment often consisted of low-budget stuff.
Each time I saw it I’d tell myself that it was overpriced and the next time I’d return to Rome, have the money, and maybe, just maybe, the woman would lower the price. The very last time I visited Rome over a year and a half ago my intuition told me to just buy the damn thing…although it would have taken all of my money for the week…so again I told myself, “Next time.”
There was never a next time as it turns out. I’ve come across many statues since then of the three graces, but none as lovely as the one in Rome. I’d like to think I’ll find it again someday, if not in Rome, then another flea market somewhere far away…
Rome is not outside me, but inside me.. Her feverish sweetness, her tragic countryside, her own beauty and harmony, all these are mine, for my thought and my work. -Amedeo Modigliani
Last week I watched as the introduction of Pope Francis, Papa Francesco, was announced to over the one hundred thousand people waiting outside of the Vatican – praying – chanting – hoping – crying. I’m not a religious woman although I grew up Catholic but I found myself glued to my computer – hoping along with the rest. I no longer belong to the faith though my sense of tradition, as well as my academic interest in religious doctrine is strong.
Interestingly enough, while I waited for the announcement I had also been researching an artist I had long forgotten about – Amedeo Modigliani, an Italian born Jewish artist who died tragically at the young age of thirty-five. I’m in the process of playing with techniques and styles and have been painting a Modigliani-like woman. On a side note, Amedeo is the last name of my Godmother and Francis is the name my brother (since passed away) took when he was confirmed in the Catholic church.
As I sat and watched Papa Francesco smile at his flock I couldn’t help but wonder what was going through his mind.
How I connected Amedeo Modigliani and Papa Francesco is simply a matter of coincidence really. But right before his name was announced I had read a quote from Eugenie Garsin – Modigliani’s mother, in which she stated, “The child’s character is still so unformed that I cannot say what I think of it. He behaves like a spoiled child, but he does not lack intelligence. We shall have to wait and see what is inside this chrysalis. Perhaps an artist?”
And then after reading her words, a second later there was a new Pope looking out on the square and I couldn’t help but wonder if maybe as he looked down he thought, “they behave like spoiled children, but don’t lack intelligence. We shall have to wait and see what is inside this chrysalis. Perhaps artists?”