Rome Pt. 3

“I fairly egged him on, as far as my powers in Italian permitted, so keen was I to see with my novelist’s curiosity how far he would go. The tenant had to be an American, he said. I was a Scot, I informed him, and I doubted that he would find an American to pour capital into his property with a tenure of only one year. He replied that the apartment was in a famous 15th-century building in which many famous lords had lived, which was true enough. So he went on, while I looked out the window, watching the baroque fountain playing in the fine October light of Rome. The theatrical figure representing the Nile, his great hand held up as if to ward off some falling masonry, seemed apt to my situation. ”Speak to me,” Michelangelo is said to have challenged his Roman statue of Moses; and indeed, the sculptures of Rome do speak.”

-Muriel Spark, The New York Times

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Rome Pt. 2

“In Rome I’m quite different, I said. There I don’t get so excited, so out of control, and I’m more predictable. Rome calms me down- Wolfsegg works me up. Rome has a soothing effect on the nerves, even though it’s the most exciting city in the world, but at Wolfsegg I’m always agitated, even though it’s so peaceful here. I’m a victim of this paradox, I said. In Rome I express myself quite differently, I talk to everyone quite differently. Gambetti once told me, I said, that whenever I returned from Wolfsegg I talked in a very agitated manner, but only when I’d been to Wolfsegg. On that occasion I had told Gambetti that my family was to blame, He said my thinking had got out of phase with its normal rhythm, what might be called its Roman rhythm.”

-Thomas Bernhard, Extinction


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Rome Pt. 1

“He looked at Ervin, full of expectation; then, when he said nothing, asked:
‘Have you thought about what I should do?’
‘Yes, Mihály,’ Ervin said quietly. ‘I think you should go to Rome.’
‘To Rome?’ he blurted out in astonishment. ‘Why? How did you arrive at that?’
‘Last night in the choir… I can’t really explain this to you, you’re not familiar with this type of meditation… I do know that you must go to Rome.’
‘But why, Ervin, why?’
‘So many pilgrims, exiles, refugees have gone to Rome, over the course of centuries, and so much has happened there… really, everything has always happened in Rome. That’s why they say, “All roads lead to Rome”. Go to Rome, Mihály, and you’ll see. I can’t say anything more at present.’
‘But what shall I do in Rome?’
‘What you do doesn’t matter. Perhaps visit the four great basilicas of Christendom. Go to the catacombs. Whatever you feel like. It’s impossible to be bored in Rome. And above all, do nothing. Trust yourself to chance. Surrender yourself completely, don’t plan things… can you do that?’
‘Yes, Ervin, if you say so.’
‘Then go immediately. Today you don’t have that hunted look on your face that you had yesterday. Use this auspicious day for setting forth. Go. God be with you.’
Without waiting for a reply he embraced Mihály, offered the priestly left cheek and right cheek, and hurried away. Mihály stood for a while in astonishment, then gathered up his pilgrim’s bundle and set off down the mountain.”

-Antal Szerb, Journey in Moonlight

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