Sunday, August 17, 2008

Civilization and its contents

Bologna, Italy - June 23, 2008

And just like that I'm back in Italy where I belong.  In the beautiful scenery, riding my bicycle through narrow lanes filled with history and tradition.    My soul re-awakens as if emerging from falsehood with greater clarity and over-all happiness in just being.  Not anxious, not trying to force anything, just taking in the surroundings deeply.  When surrounded by immense beauty one can doing nothing and do so much just taking it all in. There isn't the same senseless American need to consume and move; running around like a chicken with its head cut-off. 

In America vitality comes from culture and creativity thus the energy, at times misused.  In italy you're given a head start, everything is combined with the depth of the past; within the active ruins of a once great civilization.  Every morning you wake up knowing through feeling that something great happened here.     

Maybe its greatness lies not in being being ancient but with something much simpler:

"The factor which renders Greece's mountains, villages, and soil buoyant and immaterial is the light.  In Italy the light is soft and feminine, in Ionia extremely gentle and full of oriental yearning, in Egypt think and voluptuous.  In Greece the light in entirely spiritual.  Able to see clearly in this light, man succeeded in imposing order over chaos, in establishing 'cosmos' - and cosmos means harmony." - Kazantzakis 

I wonder who I am at times.  Of what elements I am made of.  New York City and New Delhi though deeply influenced by the African American experience and Latin America and Italy.  

Italy the only place outside my two homes where I have felt at home.  It somehow combines elements of both.  Rational and passionate amidst chaos.  

Why do I forget about Colombia?  I am after all "Gabo".  I went searching for Macondo once and found it just like I imagined.  With the most handsomest drowned man.  But now I've left it behind, happiness there.  My leaving was proof I don't want the easy life.  That I come from great civilization(s) and prefer action to paradise.  Colombia was astoundingly new.  Completely refreshing and liberating to experience a society with no sexual hang-ups.  Passion, dancing, music, all sensually, effortless.  No girl sleeps with a man who does not dance.  

As I am both from Western and Eastern civilization, with both now controlling sexuality to a high degree or at the very least making an issue out of it, I felt respite from those worlds.  For the first time.  I was able to leave the spectrum, the pendulum, completely see things in a new way.  

The East and West define themselves in terms of each other but Latin America is off doing its own thing.  
Speaking of the greatness of civilization, a little "Report to Greco"

"Civilization begins at the moment sport begins"

"As long as life struggles for preservation - to protect itself from its enemies, maintain itself upon the surface of the Earth - civilization cannot be born.  It is born the moment that life satisfies its primary needs and begins to enjoy a little leisure."

"How is this leisure to be used, how apportioned among various social classes, how increased and refined to the utmost?  According to how each race and epoch solves these problems, the worth and substance of its civilization can be judged." - kazantzakis 

This ties in well with Betrand Russell's "In praise of idleness" but let us leave us something till next time, shall we?  And of course I will share more on my experiences in Delhi.  Letters from Delhi.  Peace and Love. 

1 comment:

'j' said...

Gabo.. i wasn't self conscious until i read your blog.. U write about real stuff, n real people.. things that are important- in a language so captivating [nw mine seems so childish] - I envy you :)