Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Dec 3rd Roma, italia

Wed December 3rd.

There is snow on the mountains ringing Rome. It is glorious, a bite in the air, the first one in a fall that has been unusually dry and mild. Giovanna comes in to try her hand (mixed body metaphors here) at reading for my voice over text for my film RIDING THE TIGER: Letters from Capitalist China. She comes to the line wherein the Chinese value dirt, its smell. She smiles and says, “yes, it’s alive.” She invites me to go to the mountains for the weekend.
—why I dearly love Italy and Italians.

The Borghese pond footage is in hand and looks gorgeous —it is early fall then there and when Eileen and Nick talk and listen, they occupy what I imagine is the life of Percy and Mary. The more research I do the closer I feel to these writers—their sorrows and intentions, their work aholism, their rationalities and craziness, their passion.

It’s been a rodeo week in that last Monday—way back—the US ambassador came for cocktails. He made a fairly political speech which many thought unusual in diplomatic-land. I was underwhelmed. Then Wednesday I gave my 'shop talk', worked hard on 10-minute introductory text, then showed THE FUTURE IS BEHIND YOU and MIRROR WORLD [for those of you who don’t know these works, MIRROR WORLD is on Penn sound, a website; only clips from THE FUTURE is at my web site:]. Then I answered questions and showed pieces from the new piece. Predictably people ‘loved’ the new film that i have shot here—it was all about them. Slowly responses are trickling in about the talk and the completed films. Many did not know what to expect (they are in the main academics or self-proclaimed conservative writers/musicians) and were perplexed, even angry (!)----ah even my late work is a revolution! Thank the ‘goddess’ I guess though it is never so comfortable. One wants to be loved —

Thursday Thanksgiving with Alice Waters—delicious and traditional though the pumpkin pie was squash pie. The chestnuts we had all peeled a day earlier resulting in many scratched and cut and bleeding hands, made into fabulous stuffing. A friend Rosie came as my guest and afterwards, stuffed as we were (not only the bird!) we walked through Pamphili Park into the dusk.

Saturday morning we went to the amazing San Clemente with its three churches on top of each other: the 1200 one with magnificent mosaics that rival Ravenna; below an 800 ad church its columns interspersed with the butresses for the church above, frescos fading on the walls; and then below that a 100Ad roman house made into a mithrean temple—amazing patterned brick work and strange pagan light with a stream that fed right into the house—its interior well for 2000 years running bubbling pouring out! beautiful and the newest church has a delicate powerful fresco of St. Catherine by Masolino (1428).

From there with architect Fellow we went to the colosseum, crawling with tourists and yet it conquers that. the brick the brick the work the patterning the stones built without nails, using gravity, immense and thank the goddess (again) for no church in the middle which might have happened, was proposed but did not. truly a power symbol. rome's glory seems large--as large as ny's in many ways. this was bigger than madison square garden, and much more beautiful. it had at one point a covering of cloth with an occulus at center and the bricks that held the posts at the top are still there. naval battles were played out as well as gladiators. the place flooded. animals lifting from below. truly a movie palace of the real.

that night with Rosie and expat women friends for dinner across town. I remember at 20 in Mexico doing ethnography, thinking I could never live abroad forever and here again ---I felt that strongly. Flawed America it is, but I am inside its energy and structure. Interesting to feel that, particularly here where so many fall in love and stay— it is one of the glory places on earth for sure.

and in that regard, with new film, one artist here said it [the film] captured the light that he will remember Rome by. yes!

then sunday to cap a week of food, we did the cheese tasting. the interns in the kitchen had pulled out 7 cheese for us to try....cheesed out though learned alot and must visit this amazing cheese shop near the vatican. what is local: sheep, goat, aged, dried, peppered....

This week marked by some filming, gathering full sound for Pucinella Theater which I had missed before, very wild complete with tango music and the 80 year old using his fingers to make the puppet bend and sway—missing the visit to the Trajan Column that got canceled by the rain [anyway]. Tomorrow headed out to the composer Scelsi’s house and then a dinner and exhibit with a local photographer that I met at Cy Twombly’s relative’s house….ahh the varied ways of connections. I look forward to be off the hill whenever I may.

Last night a full moon, tried to film but it had risen by the time I was ready for it. So now again trying and failing. Trying and succeeding. Persisting —moving forward into the air the continuum against anxieties and afghan troops and false promises and silences, movements. This sadness of killing, this gladiator mentality, this defense and playing to fear in the stern creep of concern and lament. We are looking to repair—but not all and not enough. In Europe, in the breach, among minaret controversy and strikes and guns, we play, and think of spirits that move us, kindle the earth. The dirt, that life.

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