Saturday, May 18, 2024

Reflections of Ca' Fornoni in 3 Crops

An old Murano vase in a color I haven't seen much of before: black (but with an almost purplish tinge in person). If I remember correctly I found it in the nice little shop Ambrus Antichità Venezia on Calle dei Cristi off of Campo San Cassian and paid, at most, 40 euro. But that shop also has, among other things, some very fine vintage pieces of Murano glass. It's worth stopping in.


Tuesday, May 14, 2024

Il Maestro

One of the great photographers of the 20th (and 21st) century on his way home after buying produce at the Rialto Market. I was too intimidated to get any closer than this, though one of the owners of the fruttivendolo where we were both shopping quietly pointed him out to me as the photographer stood a few yards away at the other end of the stall. He is now well along in years and I hope he is still in good health, whether or not he is still photographing. (The bag in his left hand is from the Libreria Marco Polo, one of which you'll find at the end of Campo Santa Margherita and another on Giudecca, and either of which is worth a visit if you have any interest in bookshops.) 13 May 2021.

Saturday, May 4, 2024

Hauling Up a Net from the Sea of Lost Time

6 May 2016

Venice occupied a special place in both the lived and the imaginary world of Marcel Proust, and he's one of the great writers on Venice: though the actual number of words he devoted specifically to the city is far less than, say, John Ruskin or Jan Morris, and, alas, they only fully resonate within the context of his famous--and famously long--novel In Search of Lost Time. Walter Benjamin was a great writer on any number of subjects, but his essay on Proust stands out in my mind for the way he apprehends and describes the slippery subject of Proustian memory, a complex, mysterious, and vital conception of memory both perfectly suited to and profoundly influenced by Venice, a city in which evocations of the past present themselves almost unceasingly to one's senses. Which is a long way of leading to a quotation involuntarily recalled to my own mind by the image above.

Anyone who wishes to surrender knowingly to the innermost overtones in Proust's In Search of Lost Time must place himself in a special stratum--the bottom-most--of involuntary memory [that is, that realm of memory whose recollections come back to one without any conscious effort, accidentally, recalled to mind, for example, by an incidental taste or smell--as opposed to "voluntary memory": those memories which we consciously seek out and retrieve], one in which the materials of memory no longer appear singly, as images, but tell us about a whole, amorphously and formlessly, indefinitely and weightily, in the same way as the weight of his net tells a fisherman about his catch. Smell--that is the sense of weight of someone who casts his nets into the sea of the temps perdu [lost time]. And his [Proust's[ sentences are the entire muscular activity of the intelligible body; they contain the whole enormous effort to raise this catch.

--from "The Image of Proust," in the volume of Benjamin's writing entitled Illuminations