Thursday, July 10, 2008

a pressing engagement

I am engaged. Wahoo!

Monday, February 12, 2007

My Job Descriptions

I was reading The Sirens of Titan by Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. today and I came across something that reminded me of jobs I have had.
"It was a marvelous engine for doing violence to the spirit of thousands of laws without actually running afoul of so much as a city ordinance." "...just imagine if you had a whole office building jammed to the rafters with industrial bureaucrats-men who lose things and use the wrong forms and create new forms and demand everything in quintuplicate, and who understand perhaps a third of what is said to them; who habitually give misleading answers in order to gain time in which to think, who make decisions only when forced to, and who then cover their tracks; who make perfectly honest mistakes in addition and subtraction, who call meetings whenever they feel lonely, who write memos whenever they feel unloved; men who never throw anything away unless they think it could get them fired. A single industrial bureaucrat, if he is sufficiently vital and nervous, should be able to create a ton of meaningless papers a year for the Bureau of Internal Revenue to examine. In the Magnum Opus Building, we will have thousands of them! And you and I can have the top two stories, and you can go on keeping track of what's really going on the way you do now."

Friday, February 09, 2007

You Are Beer!

You don't need to get totally wasted when you hit the bars.

More of a social drinker, you just like to have fun with your friends.

And as long as the beer keeps flowing, you're a happy camper.

But don't mix things up: "Beer Before Liquor, Never Been Sicker!"

This is probably the most acurate test I have ever recieved a score for...

Thursday, February 08, 2007


Impersonal rejections suck. Of course a personalized one would have been crappy too. "We took a vote and decided, well, you suck..." At least with the impersonal thing I can blame some sort of mechanical failure (something was late, or soemthing like that). I am, at this time, comforted by visions of Dr. Proteous and an antiquated computer spitting cards at random from its slashed casing. While on the subject of rejections, I had this one guy write me that he "was sorry to refuse my offer" because he felt it "unethical to carry on tandem negotiations" and closed saying that he hoped to introduce me to his "samurai code"... Yikes!

Friday, February 02, 2007


I need a vacation from the perfect job, and that's just stupid. I get to wake up "whenever I want" so long as I work my ass off. I work from home, but that means I never leave the house. I get out exactly once a day to go to the gym, but I come right home after. I get to go to Scotland for business, but I paid for the trip and will be working most of the time on things I don't know how to do (frightening). I have gone on long road trips every month, but I work weekends. I make my own todo list, but only because failure means that everything is my fault, really, like there is nobody else to lean on, I am the big man and everybody else is "under me" but I have no experiance and no guide. But other than that, lifes great!

I have been reading Kurt Vonnegut's Player Piano. I sort of wish I were in R&R. No worries for advancment, no responsibilities, smart guys and machines taking care of me, a purposeless job that I am perfectly suited to? Oh MAN where do I sign up ffor that shit?

I'm no sociologist, and I'm probably totally wrong, but is it possible that this whole American Dream of advancement through hard work is bunk? I mean I'd much rather have the system take care of my every need. I would totally show up pissed for work everyday and not give a shit. Who cares? I'd sweep the streets, who needs to be sober for that? It's not like I have a wife and kids at home waiting for me (or ever wil the way things are going). I'd listen to "edgy" music mass produced by the man and be all "riled up at the system keeping me down" but never do jack about it.

Granted the brewmasters woudl have to be kickass, and the coffee roasters (greyfriars in Chattanooga, TN rocks). But I bet machines could do most of that.

How about The King of Nodland and his Dwarf? Great short story from the 1800's. I mean, unless you want a meaning from it. If you just read it as an add for Nodland, what's not to like? Totally conquare some other nation and make them your slaves (heroism = affirmation) and then kick it for a few years until its time to do it again. Pastorialism has had its day, and its great in theory, but if you have every had to "toil the land" for your bread, you know that it sucks. Give me saw-dust filled Wonderbread with some PB&J anyday.

I already read only the popular stuff anyway, and people always talk about the "10 books to read before you die" so what would be wrong with some publishing house putting together a book making machine (I think Greene wrote a short story about this) that makes books which will sell well? I think that's a great idea, nobody really reads things that are "different" anyway. How many books does one have to be able to sell to get one published anyway? I mean really...

And Theatre has already been replaced by Film which was in turn replaced by T.V. You can figure out any of THOSE plots in about 5 min. Not to mention the fact that they just have the same people in them again and again. Replace them with robots and nobody would know the difference. We don't really care anyway. I mean sure they try to push a social agenda, but who cares? Most of the agenda's pushed have already been adopted by the majority of the audiance anyway.

Music? Seriously. Just look at the guys up for Grammy's this year. I'm not saying I don't like it, by no means! I'm just saying that a Justin Timberlake could be the creation of a studio and some sound engineers. And think about it, say you like Radio Head right? Instead of having to listen to a bunch of wannabes, you could just have your tastes input in a digital key card. They analyze what you like, and that's all you listen to all the time! Turn on your car, it's whats on the radio! Plug your headphones into your computer, its whats on your hard drive! Plus it could be like radio, you wouldn't have to pick the stuff you like, it would be picked for you!

I may sound a little sarcastic right about now, but this could be a totally good thing. I dunno, I just don't think "man" has a whole hell of a lot of " drive" or "independance" or "virtue" or any of that crap anymore. I love studying the people who drove men to revolt, I love the sound of their words, the way they twisted people to better ends, and I just think we've lost that. I mean I know more about people who will never influence my life than I do about those that make daily decisions that guide the legitimacy of all I do! Would a little danger really be a bad thing?

I was reading some essays by George Orwell the other day. The guy left his home, his country, and went to some other place to fight against a "power" that could never actually reach his own safe home because he had principles. Where could I go to do something like that? What about my manifest destiny? I want to move to some barran wasteland and displace the populace to benefit the nation! It's not that different from what I was saying above, a destiny picked by people outside my sphere of control. Some mechanism sending me to do its duty. Awesome, sign me up!

I'll be free of current obligations within a year, and then what? I intend to bum around. No matter what I do or where I go I intend to be a bum. Make enough to survive and observe.

Seriously, why would I try to join the rest of the grown ups? I have no responsibilities except for the ones I accept (don't worry X, I accept the ones for my current job). But really, who do I have to take care of (except millions on wellfare)?

I had a most wonderful time once. I took off for a day and tried to find the Appian Way. I don't think I really found it, but I did find some old bombed out mechanics shop, and a tin village. I walked for hours until I came to some aquaducts. I don't remember which emporer built them, but I didn't really care. The lawn was a mottled brown and green, and stretched out to a little town nestled in the crook of a mountains protective feet. The sinew-ous range wasn't as important as the blue and white sky behind them. I was tired and could go no further, but I didn't care. I had a goal for the day, and I had done as much to reach it in my limited intelect as I cared to attempt, so I went home and had a bottle of wine and some fresh pasta with sea salt. What goal could I ever accomplish that would be better than that? I did what I came to do, as best as I was able, and it hurt no one, achive or fail. I know this one girl who wants to go on to law school. She looks like an attorney and an attorney's wife. She'll make a ton of money someday, and be very powerful, but she'll have a lot of responsibilities. Probably a kid or two, and at least one ex-husband. I feel kind of sorry for her right now. I mean I wish I weren't so hiddious that girls make up signs and wonders from God in order to get away from me, but I don't really have any huge things to accomplish unless I want to accomplish them. Big goal for me? Go back to a little Italian villa I visited once and enjoy hiking there again. Watch the sunset over Venice again. Hit-up Australia for bit. But who really loses out if I don't?

So pretty much I want a huge travel budget with no employer. Or hell, I'll work at some dead-end job that pays enough for me to bum around the world whever I get the chance. I don't really need to hit up the expensive disco's, I'll just hang out at the cheapest hostles and buy a bottle of wine when I can. I don't actually like people that much. They always want to interact, or put restrictions on you. Saddle you with responsibility, and then I'd get all uppity and egotistical.

I better go to bed.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

HARVY's new job

I woke up this morning, and rolled off of my cot. Yeah, I sleep on the floor of my master/boses one bedroom apartment with their animals. I wake up in the morning and work until I go to bed at night. They feed me. It's sort of like being an indentured servant... But it's a lot of fun too. Don't tell them I'm saying this or they might bet me.


Sunday, June 18, 2006


This morning I did go to mass, and I went to Sant’ Ignazio di Loyola, but it was not in English. I took the tram across the Tiber, and then wandered about the city for 45 minutes so that I would arrive 15 minutes before the English service was supposed to start. I walked into the church, gave some money to the woman at the front door, and looked again at the paintings on the ceiling before taking a seat in the last row. I sat there for about 15 minutes. There were several other English speaking people with me. A couple of obviously American students sat in front of me so I knew that I was in the right place. After 15 minutes they moved closer to the front, so I moved up as well. 15 minutes later I began to wonder if perhaps the English service was at one of the smaller alters near the back of the church when the lights were turned on and someone started to play the organ over to my left. I waited a little bit longer and then someone started to sing. They were mic-ed and there was a subtle reverb as the woman’s voice echoed through the church. After a little bit two priests walked to the front and began the service, in Italian. I followed along, as best I could, the service was written out in a program, but that was in Italian as well, so I tried to do what the people around me were doing. I have been attending a small Anglican church for the past four years, but for some reason I kept reverting to what I had been taught by my Greek Orthodox friend. I didn’t cross my legs, even though some of the Italian gentlemen around me were, because my Greek Orthodox friend had told me that it was not acceptable, something about crossing oneself in any fashion being unacceptable. About 15 minutes into the service some older women sat down next to me, and I noticed that they looked askance at me every time I crossed myself, and it wasn’t until that point that I realized I had been crossing my self in the Greek way (forehead, chest, right, left) which is the opposite of the way Catholics cross themselves (left and then right). I noticed that after communion the priest wiped out the chalice with a cloth, I’m not sure but I think that this is also quite different from what the Greek Orthodox do, I remember one service with my friend in Chicago where some blessed wine had been dropped on the floor and the priest knelt down and lapped it off of the marble before wiping it up with a white linen cloth and burning it. They took the idea of transubstantiation very seriously there. I also noticed that only one of the American students in front of me seemed to be Catholic. The girl with shorter black hair crossed herself naturally and at the right times throughout the service, she genuflected before sliding into her seat, and prayed for a few moments before the service started, she also went down for communion while her friend with long wavy red hair did non of those things. She always crossed herself a few moments after everyone else, and did so very self-consciously. At one point in the service the priests held out their hands palms upwards, and the red haired girl did the same, only she put her hands out a bit farther and tilted her head back, her friend almost instantly rebuked her and whispered something into her ear. I imagine that the red haired girl came from a more charismatic protestant background. After the service I introduced myself to the two of them, though they did not exchange their names, I learned that they were studying History through UNC, I think they said Chapel Hill, but I’m not positive. They had come in from Florence, where their program is located, to visit Rome for the day. They had also come for the English Mass and were as confused as I was that we had missed it somehow. At this point they pulled out their cameras and were starting to take some pictures of the church, so I excused myself and slipped out of the church to see if I could make out how I had managed to miss the English service. When I looked more closely at the poster I saw near the bottom, in small print, a disclaimer that said “at St. Francesco Xavier, 50 meters ←” and felt a little bit less foolish about the whole thing.


I went up to the Pincho to write in my personal journal today. I realized that I haven’t really had much time off for about a year. Last summer I worked 8-5 until I went to Scotland where I worked 24-7. Then I was late getting back to school, which threw me off in a lot of classes, and tried to figure out what I wanted to do after graduation, and finish my theatre thesis that ended up getting pushed back a semester. I spent my Christmas break trying to get most of the work down for my theatre thesis so that I could do my speech thesis, and then I spent my last semester trying to finish both theses and pass my classes, plan my summer, and figure out what to do after that. I literally finished my bibliography the night before graduation, and left right after the ceremony to drive the 12 hours to Atlanta so that I could catch my flight here. So it was nice to spend some time just thinking about everything that has been going on in the last year, and writing some reflections for myself and letters to my friends.

I haven’t been to the Coliseum yet, but I have been to St. Peters though I didn’t stay for very long and didn’t look around very carefully. That is not to say that I intend to skip these sights, I just haven’t gone there to spend lots of time yet. The reason I slip so disjointedly into this is to say that Mark Twain and Charles Dickens descriptions of these places make me want to return to St. Peters and look at it more closely. On the back of Tim Parks Italian Neighbors there is a quotation from the Washington Post Book World, which says, “Most foreigner’s books about Italy fall into one of two categories—chronicles of infatuation or diaries of disillusionment.” I think that both Twain’s and Dickens’s writings are diaries of disillusionment. It seems to me that they were both in Rome at the same time, that they both had the same high hopes, and that they were all dashed. Actually, it seems that James Henry wrote a very similar account of the festival as the one which Dickens wrote. Anyway, Dickens begins in an odd way, he gives his readers a passport into his travels, at the same time making it quite plain that we are seeing things through his eyes. After reading his account I defiantly want to attend Mass tomorrow, I know it will be different than the events of Holy Week, but I would still like to see it. I think I will carry Dickens stories with me up to the Pincho and read it again trying to look out and see some of the sights he is talking about from that vantage point.

Twain was also disillusioned. But I think that his disillusionment is more satirical than serious. I am more interested reading Twains accounts again in the Coliseum than in St. Peters.

It seems that the article “Negroes in Rome” is too dated for me to understand the full impact of what is being said. I mean, the information is almost 50 years old (46 to be exact). Is the point to understand a foreign students experience abroad? If so, I think that the sheer relative nature of the account undermines the purpose, it is written by someone who wasn’t a student, and is just giving the facts of these students lives abroad.


Since we didn’t have class today I explored a little bit. Actually, I slept in late and then went to do homework in a piazza. I ran into Raena at Piazza Santa Maria in Trastevere while I was reading the last few pages of Juggling the Stars on the steps of the fountain. But the book was very disturbing at that point, so I went on a walk with Raena. We were originally going to tour the fountains mentioned in Fountains and she was also going to attempt to explain to me how the graffiti on the buildings and monuments is a shift in ownership of the space, and not delinquency, and how it has meaning and I should not be troubled by it. We started that conversation a week or so ago when I commented that, as a designer, it bothered me that something a person put great time and effort into was being somewhat thoughtlessly destroyed. We didn’t actually end up doing either of those two things, because we didn’t we got lost and didn’t want to look like tourists, so we didn’t pull out our maps and figure out where we were. It didn’t really matter, because we found some really neat places. We were coming down from around the Palazzo Borghese (I still haven’t figured out the difference between piazzas and palazzos) and the only reason I think that is because I saw the fountain which Professor Benson pointed out to us as being a very significant fountain last week when we were going up to see the Capuchin Monk Crypt. I remembered that fountain for two reasons, first because it has flies on it, and second because it seemed like a really tiny and unassuming fountain and I couldn’t figure out why it was so important. Anyway, as we were coming down from that area Raena pointed out a bell tower ahead of us, It was standing above a vast ruins, but you could still see two cupola’s one larger and one smaller. It looked like the ruins of an old church, except that the tower and the two cupola’s were still intact. I still don’t know what the place was, but we did stop at what is now a museum that stands next to it and also has a bit of a bombed out look to it. It wasn’t open and the information cards were in Italian, but I think that it used to be a temple built by Diocletian. I looked up his reign, because I had thought that he was the last person to persecute the Christians after Constantine, but instead I found that he started the Great Persecution a few emperors before Constantine, and set up the Tetrarchy and a system governmental division which roughly corresponds to the way in which the Catholic church divided responsibilities for an area.

After we saw these ruins, Raena looked at her map and we figured out where we were. When she heard that I had never been all the way down the Corso, or to the Spanish steps, she agreed to show me where they were. After we went down to Piazza Dell Popolo it started to look like it might rain, so we walked back towards the Sede, hopped on the Tram and went back to Trastevere. When I got back to the apartment I finished off Juggling the Stars, and I wonder if the reason I didn’t like it was because I couldn’t identify with Morris, or because I identified with him too


I woke up late today. For some reason my alarm clock didn’t go off, but my bed didn’t break at 2:00, so maybe it was a sort of trade off. The little devil who makes the slat in my bed pop out of place decided to interfere with my alarm clock instead. Fortunately I had my new bus pass, so after a quick shower I hoped on the tram and rode in for class. Of course we arrived there 15 minutes before Professor Martimucci arrived to open the door, but that is easily forgiven with all of the mess he has had to deal with at piazza Navona. After the orientation there was a meeting with Professor Benson about what had happened which I stayed for because I wanted to know how Penn State was handling the issue, and whether I had recourse to the resources of Penn State if anything where to happen in my Apartment at Largo Anzani.

After the meeting I decided to try and start planning my travels after Rome. I knew that I wanted to go to Cinque Terra for a few days, visit my cousin in Aix en Provence, my friend in Saarbrucken and another friend in Munich before finally finishing up in Scotland. I asked Mike and Jenny if they could give me some advice, and they were both extremely helpful. Jenny showed me some websites to look at for hostels in Germany, and Mike suggested some travel guides for budget travel through Europe. I guess I had always thought of travel guides as things that old people had, and weren’t much good for anyone else. I thought they just had little details about paintings that wouldn’t interest me in the least. I have discovered by reading through the one for class that there is a lot more information in them than I thought, and that the information about the paintings is more interesting than I thought. Although I still enjoy going to a museum and looking for the things that interest me, and catch my eye rather than going in to look at the same piece of work that everyone else before me has already seen and talked about, and reading everything they have said about it so that I can feel like part of the “in crowd” of art. That is a little odd because if the pieces had not been recognized by somebody as great, they wouldn’t be in the museum anyway, so I guess my thinking here is a little bit ironic in that where I want to enjoy a piece of art work because I find it personally affecting, I am only able to enjoy it because someone else found it effective for affecting the patrons of the museum.

After talking to Mike and Jenny I went to the bookstore to try and find Rick Steve’s travel guide for Europe, or the Lonely Planet travel on a budget that Mike suggested. I didn’t see either one in the big bookstore across from the cat colony, so I came back to the flat to order the books online, and try to finish Juggling the Stars by Tim Parks, which I find truly disturbing.


The Maid’s Shoes, by Bernard Malamud seems to be a lesson in intercultural interaction. Rosa tries to inform the professor about her life, and about her problems because he is an educated man, but she doesn’t seem to want to hear the professors problems. It is almost as if he is her priest and confessor. I wonder if there is any significance to her name, like a rose there is beauty yet thorns accompanying the bloom.

In class Professor Benson asked if there was any distance between what Bernard Malamud tells us and what Professor Krantz knows, and is there any significance in that distance or lack of distance. I think that there is a difference between what Malamud tells us and what Professor Krantz knows, I think that distance exists because the story is not about the professor, but about Rosa. The first few pages are all descriptions of Rosa and an explanation of how she lives, though the professor might come to know these things by observing Rosa, we knew them before we even met the professor. I think that this makes the story more about cultural interactions, and less about the mere story of Rosa and her shoes. The shoes are significant, they are the crux of the story but only because they are the medium through which the professor most significantly interacts with Rosa.

On page 196 Malamud gives us an argument from Rosa about her job. Professor Benson told us to look at this argument and see what we could discover about the story by examining this rhetorically. Because Rosa makes an argument, she reveals that she believes that the professor has a position which she can change. I am afraid to use some of the terms I have used for fear of misusing them and sounding extremely stupid, but as being stupid is part of the process of learning I will forge ahead. The exigence for Rosa’s argument is that the professor has two pairs of shows. By addressing this exigence with an argument Rosa believes that she will be able to remove the imperfection created when she lost her job by allowing the professor into the inner workings of her private life, treating him as a priest and asking for absolution for her sins.

Continuing with this analogy of the confessor, the professor has power over Rosa to proclaim her absolved from her sins, provided she performs certain tasks, in this case the tasks to be performed were to refuse Armando’s shoes and to avoid Armando’s company. When Rosa failed to do this, she rebuked the professors power over her. At this point the analogy breaks, because a confessor is acting as a sort of intermediary between the God and the person confessing, thus it is not truly his responsibility to see that the one confessing follows through with their tasks. In Malamud’s story the professor is more directly connected with Rosa because he has given her a pair of shoes, and because he is her employer. I begin to wonder if the story would have turned out differently had the professor refused this kindness and merely offered advice. Is it possible, I wonder, that this is the lesson Malamud attempts to teach us in intercultural interaction? That we are not saviors, but intermediaries only? Or is the story about Rosa, and meant to allow tourists, travelers, and even those who will never come to Rome, a glimpse into the daily life of a Roman? Does the fleuneur present a moral, or only a snapshot of life? I also begin to wonder about this idea in art with the painting of Beatrice Cenci, or rather the painting which was said to be of her and wasn’t, now there is a question about the death of the author for Roland Barthes.

After reading Fountains by Eleanor Clark I looked back at the photograph Professor Benson took of all of us in front of the Trevi Fountain. I had not noticed before, but the entire fountain is not in the photograph. And then in class it was mentioned that it would be impossible to photograph the entire fountain because there is not room, and the same is said to be true for most of the fountains and monuments around Rome. I do find this sort of hard to believe. I think that there are plenty of positions about the fountain where all of the figures could be captured within the frame, but the more I think about it, the more I wonder if what was meant when it was said that we could not get far enough back to capture the entire scene, is that we cannot distance ourselves enough to take in the fountain, the basin, the buildings, and the people. Sure I could take a picture of the statues that make up a part of the Trevi fountain, but is that really the fountain if I don’t have the building the fountain grows out of as well? And I would also be missing the crowds of people stopping to have their pictures made, the street vendors hocking their wares, the bar’s and pizzerias with tables set out in the piazza. All of these make up the Trevi Fountain, and I would believe that it is impossible to get far enough back to capture all of these things in the frame of a photograph.

In class we talked about the outside/inside mentality that Eleanor Clark brings up in this essay on page 52. I think it is similar to what Professor Martimucci was saying yesterday about the street and piazza life in Rome, how they live out on the streets and in the piazzas and only sleep in their houses. So, the piazza is the living room, or dinning room, or den, or however it is used at that moment.

I have to admit, I had not been to the Corso that I knew of. Actually I have been on the Corso as it is right next to the Sede, but I didn’t know that I was on the Corso and though I have been to the monument to Victor Emmanuel II, I have not been down to Piazza del Popolo.

Also, when Professor Martimucci was lecturing yesterday he talked about the Baroque architecture and its emphasis on space, and attempting to make more space by manipulating the geometry of the space. The point of this manipulation is to give the most space for the costumed bodies to move, just like you would have a large boulevard pointing to a great monument for the Renaissance architecture, the Baroque architecture seems to bring the focus onto the facades, while at the same time allowing one to focus on the bright colors of the costumed people moving about in that space.

I have always had a hard time appreciating poetry. I really enjoy prose more, in fact the only poets I have read with a real sense of enjoyment and a feeling of time well spent have been the beat poets, and that might be because their style is more prosaic. All of that to say, I love reading the prosaic descriptions of spaces we have in Eleanor Clarks essay. It reminds me of the sketches I once read by a women who would attempt to capture the beauty of a place so that her brother, a well known poet, could turn these prosaic sketches into poetry. I enjoyed the prose much more than I ever enjoyed the poems that came from them.

In Eleanor Clark’s piece, I appreciated the personification of the fountains, or perhaps it would be better to speak of the “fountinification” of the people. It is like Professor Martimucci told us, there is a life in Rome that is centered around the piazzas that I really don’t quite understand. I see the people ebb and flow, like the water in the fountains, they splash and gush into one open space, and before you can grasp their presence they have moved on so that there is never a crowd of the same people in one place for more than a few seconds. But the thing that strikes me as different about this flow of people here than in, say New York, is that here the people actually live in theses piazzas, we are the visitors passing through, but they come through every day, they shop here, they meet friends here, when they were children they played here, and I am just here for a few moments to see a fountain and perhaps toss a coin over my shoulder so that I can return.

The first question I had about Shoeshine, was why are we watching it second, but I kept forgetting to ask this question. This film was made first, and it seems, from what I have read, to be the first part of a trilogy about Italian life made by De Sica. I was fascinated by what Peter Bondanella said about the boys horse serving as an image both of the boys friendship, and of their freedom. I found it interesting partially because I see an echo of the same theme in The Bicycle Thief. Both the horse and the bicycle are modes of transportation, but they have greater symbolic significance to their owners, a steady job for Ricci and freedom from the cares of life for Pasquale and Giuseppe. In the beginning of both films the protagonists are separated from their desired object by money, Ricci’s bicycle is in hock and the boys do not yet have enough money to buy their horse. And in the end of the film the characters are prevented from owning their desired object by forces outside of their control. A lot of my classmates commented that these films were depressing, that they lacked hope, or even a sense of resolve. I think that the best answer to that problem is that these films are not intended to teach a moral lesson as the solution to societal problems, perhaps our American film industry does that as a reflection of our City on a Hill mentality about ourselves. These films seem to explore the problems that society has, from the point of view of the director, and ask the audience to form their own conclusions. So if the film is about showing that even the most innocent are eventually corrupted by a corrupt system, then there is no need for the boys to be rescued by some sort of god lowered by elaborate mechanisms to decree that all will be made pleasing to the audiences sensibilities. I wonder if there could be any connection between this idea, that the film is meant to lead the audience to their own conclusions, and the climax of Shoeshine, when the film projector catches on fire. Is it, perhaps, a subtle hint from the director that his art form will be the medium for change in the world if his audience will pick up the fire he has kindled within them?

We spent the last hour of class at the Piazza Della Rotunda watching people and sketching. I spent most of my time watching and sketching the people. If you sit on the opposite side of the fountain form the Pantheon there is a nice little café to your left where people sit to get out of the sun, sip some coffee, and read tour guides. I have a few sketches of their faces as they went intently about their preoccupations as though they were occupations, but what I recorded most in my journal where the sights and sounds of people as they came and went through the piazza, so here is my entry:
• I am sitting on the side of the fountain opposite from the Pantheon, looking at the corner of the Banca Nazionale. In addition to the sights of the area, there are sounds. From my right I head an accordion, I cannot see they musician, but he must be playing for tips at the café on that side, I think, as I listen, that I can make out the tune of The Girl from Ipanema. From the fountain behind me I hear what Dickens would describe as the silver tinkling of the fountain, but I think it sounds more like a ripple, the ripple of a brook as it wends its way through a country pasture, but I attribute this to differences of experience and background. I wonder if this fountain, if all of the fountains and the fresh water and all are meant as a form of rustification, retiring to the country side, only updated to bring the country to the city. I think the one work which I read before leaving that most impressed me was the writing of Cato the elder who wrote all about the Latin Luxuries and how they were going soft and out to return to their agricultural roots. When I see all of the extravagance that abounds in Rome, in this piazza as in the others, I wonder if he wasn’t right. If there is some great need of man to return to agriculture and work everyday only for the food he needs to survive, and wouldn’t we all be happier that way? Along with the fountain I can also hear some cockney accents, I can’t make out what they are saying exactly, but I can hear that it is English and there seems to be a child with the man and woman I can make out talking, I assume the child is with them only because I can make out some of his or her pleas for gelato. Just to my left I can see a woman slathering sunscreen on her exposed skin, she is white and freckled, she is wearing dark sunglasses and has strawberry blond hair, I would put her age at about forty years old. I can hear her squirting the sunscreen out of the bottle, and then a distinctive slap as she attempts to stop the white goop from sliding down into her socks and I can hear her rubbing it into her skin, it is a gritty sound, but at the same time it is a wet sound, perhaps it is like the sound of soggy sandpaper applied to wet clay.
• It amazes me that, when faced with the reality of the fountain, there is a gentlemen here who watches it only through the eyepiece of his digital video camera. He is wearing a woolen sweater, blue, but not the same blue as his faded denim jeans. He moves about the fountain, digitally watching it spit water, and never takes his eye away from the eyepiece the entire time he is filming, but when he stops filming he turns away from the fountain, lets the camera dangle by the strap around his neck, wipes his hands on his faded jeans, and turns around to walk away. He has never even seen the fountain! Just a pixilated image that he will bore thousands of friends and relatives with later, proving to them that, yes of course he came to Rome, he took a video picture of the fountain in the Piazza Della Rotunda!
• People move through this piazza very quickly. The rush in and out of the piazza in a few seconds, perhaps stopping, no that is to great a word for the time they pause here to snap a shot of the fountain before rushing off to other things in other places. A few people have discovered a “hidden” sight though. Above the McDonalds there is a purple flowering plant clinging and climbing its way up the building. Almost everyone who turns in its direction sees it and snaps a quick shot to show that they have seen something which is not touristy in the least. I find it ironic that their candid photographs also include a shot of McDonalds.
• Some Asian tourists have stopped directly in front of me. Five boys. One of them has a small piece of bread which he drops on the ground and crushes with his Adidas running shoe before the file off around the fountain. In a few seconds the pigeons descend upon the scattered crumbs. They are almost silent as they stealthily slither up to the small feast and gulp it down, pecking and ruffling their feathers. Just behind me I can hear an American tourist reading from a guide book “the Pantheon was built…” but he moves out of ear shot almost as soon as I recognize that he is speaking. Things are moving too fast for my pen, no one stays long enough for me to capture more than a fragment or two of a sentence. A couple of American kids, probably at John Cabot from their accents, are trying to take a photograph of the Pantheon, but they cannot get far enough away to fit it all into the frame.
• My attention was called away form the previous sentence by the sound of clicking heels. A women in brown shoes with wooden soles clicks by looking puzzled as she scrutinizes a map. She pauses for a moment and then stuffs the map into her hand bag and clicks away.
• The entryways to the piazza at this corner are very small, so the people who enter together are not always together. A small tangle will enter the space together, but one of them will break away from the crowd and rush off towards the Pantheon, or slip around to the fountain for a sip of water before rushing off on their way.
• When a photograph is being taken, the subjects will rush up to the fountain and pose for a moment before rushing back to look at themselves and see if they look happy enough to be in Rome, if not you hear the tiny beeps as the undesirable picture is discarded and they hurry back to try again. One sullen young women stands behind me and snaps a picture of herself, turns the camera around, grunts her approval, and hurries on to the next sight to pose again. Personally, I cannot imagine an instance where I would have to prove to someone that A) I actually was in Rome, B) I went to the Pantheon and C) I had a good time while I was there DANG IT ALL!

After taking my notes and sketching some people I spoke with Mike for a few minutes about the failings of Professor Martimucci’s grasp of space and collective memory. I cannot say that I fully understood the concept they were both trying to get at, but I believe, and I think Mike agreed, that the concept was somewhat simplified for the audience listening to the lecture, and so the idea that we as tourists added something to the space of the Campo de Fiori was necessarily left out to make the point stronger. It is something I would like to look into a bit more, but I’m not sure that I have the time and the resources to do so here.


Today with Professor Martimucci we looked at the evolution of architecture from the Medieval to the Baroque in the 500 years from the 1100’s to the 1770’s. We looked at the changes in pattern as men started to plan out their buildings instead of just building them as high as they could reach.

We started in Campo de Fiori, a piazza that has changed little in its use from when it was originally constructed. The structures surrounding the piazza are four to five stories, with shops on the ground floor and living quarters above. There is a tight a-liner design which defined the medieval architecture, buildings are right next to each other with tiny streets which reflect the natural topography of the place, and there is no discernable continuity from one building to the next. With the Renaissance there was a return to the national conception of architecture. That is, the buildings began to reflect the idea that Rome was the center of the world, or at least of Italy. Thus, in the 1800’s, there was a return to Roman shape and form, but according to Professor Martimucci the meaning of the architecture had changed. I think he is referring to the idea in Roman times that a building would stand forever as a monument to its patron, and even though the mortal man may perish his building would remain as an immortal marker that he had existed. I’m not exactly sure how this is different in the 1800’s, I mean we still celebrate the designs of Michelangelo even though he has been dead for centuries. I wonder if it has more to do with the idea of simultaneity Professor Martimucci discussed at Paestum.

Before we actually got to Campo de Fiori we stopped to look briefly at the exterior of Gesu to talk about how it departed from other Churches. It was the first Jesuit Church, designed in the 1500’s, its design was designed more like an auditorium making it better for preaching. Professor Martimucci didn’t really say anything else about this church, other than that it was near St. Ignatius Loyola’s home and we would be seeing a latter Jesuit Church before we finished our tour.

On our walk we also learned that the streets were a constant feature of the city and are usually derived from the names of local guilds. Thus, where there is an iron foundry, the nearby streets would take the names of the chain making guild, the blacksmith’s guild and the like.

When we got to Campo de Fiori the market was still going, and Professor Martimucci told us that this was similar to how the Piazza had been used in medieval times, then he gave us a run down of daily activities in the piazza, he said:
• 4:00 - 7:00
o Venders set up stands
• 7:30 - 8:00
o 1st shoppers, the people who have to get to work early
• 12:00 – 13:00
o City cleans up piazza
• 14:00 – 15:00
o Kids get out of school and play in the piazza
• 17:00 – 18:00
o Businessmen getting off work start to gather in the piazza to make plans for the evening
• 19:00 - 0:00
o Dinner crowd
• 0:00 – 4:00
o Bar crowd (mostly tourists)

Professor Martimucci then told us that we have a different relationship to the space than a Roman who was raised in Camp de Fiori would. He talked about how Bruno, who was burned as a heretic in the middle of the piazza, created an indelible mark on the place that continues even to this day several centuries later. Professor Martimucci said that part of this was because we don’t have the piazza street culture they have in Rome. We have big houses where only one generation of a family generally lives. We have large yards with fences to keep us away from our neighbors, we live in our houses and don’t just sleep there. We go inside to watch television and play on our computers instead of playing in the streets with our friends. We don’t have a collective memory of the space outside of our houses created with our friends and neighbors. We see a statue of Jordano Bruno and think “oh that’s interesting” while a Roman would see the statue and have some social, tactile, familial tie to the event, which is tied up in the place. A Roman would be able to remember his family member who was there on that day, would remember touching the base of the statue when his father told him the story, would remember playing in the afternoon here as a child. We, as tourists, pass through the space. Our mark is very temporary and lasts only a few hours or days, because we have not lived in the space and made it our own.

With the advent of the Renaissance we see a return to larger scale more monumental buildings. Professor Martimucci said that this return is seen in the simple Euclidian geometry, simple symmetry, whole number equations, and rectilinear buildings that came out of this time. We looked at how the Farnasa family tried to reshape Rome into their conception of what a capitol city ought to look like. They took the idea of Paris and tried to use it as an overlay for Rome, tearing down buildings to build boulevards and things like that. In this new design you would build a large monument, and then have a long straight street leading up to it, so that the monument would be the focus. I imagine this is like the Corso and its relation to Piazza dell Popolo which was designed by a Frenchman. Professor Martimucci said that this is also where we attempt to defy the landscape with our buildings by designing them on paper before we begin construction so that they do not necessarily conform to the topography of the land they are situated on. Professor Martimucci described it as subjugating the natural world to man’s nature.

After looking at some example of Renaissance architecture, we began to discuss some elements of Baroque architecture. We looked at how the Baroque architects manipulated the skin of a building to create more space. Instead of relying upon Euclidian geometry and simple whole-number equations, the Baroque architects began to use more complex geometrical forms and more difficult equations to increase the volume of a building. The rectilinear buildings become “inflated” like a balloon so that they squeeze out into elliptical shapes. We looked at how Bernini and Della Porta manipulated simple geometrical spaces to come up with their designs, such as Sant’ Agnase in Agone. The church takes over and owns the piazza in which it stands. Professor Martimucci pointed out how the façade of the buildings in Piazza Navona push the church so that it appears to be in the center of the piazza, even though it is not, with a concavity at the church to draw the piazza in. Apparently there was meant to be a dip in the façade to show the base of the cupola which was not incorporated into the final construction but that would have further drawn the piazza into the space of the church because the cupola is just behind the façade as it is, and much closer than any other cupola in the city.

We ended our tour at Sant’ Ignazio di Loyola. Inside the ceiling is painted so that there appears to be a cupola even though there isn’t really one. But we ran out of time and were left to look at the optical illusion on our own time, so I think I will come back for Sunday Mass which is supposed to be in English at 11:00.

I have really been enjoying the freedom that a new place has given me to come home and relax at my apartment with a few glasses of wine and some interesting stories to read, but I think that I am going to start next week to go out and explore a little bit more. To wander about the city and discover new places to read and write. This will be a bit easier next week as I will have a bus pass to ride around town and get to places farther away than I might otherwise be willing to walk.


For Women, by Kate Simon didn’t mean very much to me. Perhaps it is because I am male and haven’t experienced the come-ons of the Italian men, or of Italian women for that matter. I have seen Italian men checking out girls, and I guess it is noticeable, but I don’t think it is any more noticeable than in the states. I sort of equivocated Kate Simon’s piece with the sort of locker room banter I am accustomed to, the “have you seen _____, she looks really hot” and the more vulgar remarks as well. I wonder if watching “Summertime” would give me a better grasp on what she is writing about. I have noticed that women play an important role in the depiction of life in Italy in the travel novels we have read, Hilda, Miriam and Daisy Miller all play pivotal roles in their respective novels. I do recognize that Kate Simon asserts a woman’s right to engage in sexual activity as she sees fit, but this assertion is very different from what I am accustomed to from my studies. I have been at a small, very conservative liberal arts college for the past four years, so everyone knows the past of everyone else to a certain extent and what would there be labeled sexual promiscuity is frowned upon. Therefore, I have a different perspective on this piece than I imagine my classmates have. It was mentioned in class that there is a way of talking about what is seen and heard in Rome that we might not otherwise put down on paper, this is an interesting idea for me because I can’t think of anything that wouldn’t be put down on paper. I mean, there are novels and papers, essays and editorials about everything I have seen, so I think that I ought to attempt to open my eyes more and discover what it is that I am looking it and not perceiving. I wonder now, for example, if there is more to my almost daily interactions in the local Supermacatio where the woman manning the cash register rolls her eyes and sighs heavily when I do not have correct change, perhaps not something sexual as seen in Kate Simon’s story, but some interplay of power that I don’t think about. The woman who is upset with me, but not with the Italian customer who follows me even though we both give large bills and need change. Then again, I begin to wonder about the women at home for these flirtatious Italian men. The women I have seen are very much in control of their bodies, and their escorts. On my walk up the Janiculum I saw young couples, I would guess around 15 or so, holding each other in, shall we say extreme public displays of affection? The young ladies I have seen about Rome in passing seem rather coy with their escorts, and from what little I have noticed, they rather jealously guard their young mans attention. For this reason I wonder what happens as relationships mature. We are in the seat of the Roman Catholic Church which, from what little I know, frowns upon extra marital relationships.

Professor Benson posed a question in class, he asked us to consider how the author knows what they write about. Though this question is interesting in the fictional works we have read, it is even more interesting in the non-fictional texts we are supposed to be looking at, our maps and our travel guide. I was looking through some of the information in our eyewitness guide, and I begin to wonder why these sights are more important than others. I have noticed that when I discover something on my own and find it written up in my travel guide that I feel justified, I feel as though the piece of art I enjoyed before is even more important because other people have noticed it as well. For example, there is a fountain on the Banca da Roma outside of the Sede where I fill my water bottle before walks with Professor Martimucci. It was an interesting fountain because of the way it is set into the wall, because the nose is broken off (which reminds me of Hawthorne and James’ disgust with the abuse these public sculptures bear). But, this sculpture became even more significant to me I saw that it was in my travel guide, and not just because it is a talking fountain, or might be a representation of Martin Luther, but because somebody else noticed that it was interesting. So, I’m not quite sure what to do with the question Professor Benson posed, but I am going to try to think about it more as I read through the texts he has assigned.

I wasn’t terribly engaged by Edith Wharton’s Roman Fever either, until I came to class. When I read the story I thought that it had a cute twist at the end, and saw that it had some connections to Daisy Miller with the midnight rendezvous at the Coliseum, but other than that I thought it was a fun read that went by rather quickly. Then I went to class. When we were talking about the story, the first thing I thought about was the intersection of American identity and Rome. Lengthy descriptions of Mrs. Slade and Mrs. Ansely are given after the scene is set atop the Hotel Forum. I was led to expect that they would behave in certain ways, and they fulfilled those expectations up to a certain point. As the two ladies begin to interact more, I began to see that they were keeping their conversation purely civil, but there was something more under the surface which would occasionally bubble up, even as early as when Mrs. Ansley recognizes that the waiter seems perplexed when they remain overlong at their table and make no signs of leaving.

One of the questions raised about this text was, what does Rome mean for the story? Obviously it is the scene in the sense that the story takes place in Rome, but I think that it takes on more significance than that. I mean, could this story have taken place anywhere else? I originally thought that the two women were rather ordinary, but as I read the story I saw that they had extraordinary underlying characteristics. Could those characteristics come out in a place other than Rome? I think the answer to that question is no. They lived across the street from each other for some time, and though Mrs. Slade did snub Mrs. Ansley somewhat when she mentioned that it would be more interesting to live across from a speak-easy because there would be more action, they didn’t have much animosity. And then, their original visit to Rome, the inciting action of the drama which unfolds in this story, could not have happened anywhere else. Not only because of the Roman Fever, but also because of the purpose of their visit. They were husband hunting, and they were hunting for a particular class of husband, the class that would be able to make The Grand Tour. The thing that brings them together these 25 years later is that they are doing the same thing for their daughters. So I believe that it is reasonable to say that these characters have come to Rome in spite of its archeological and grander historical significance. That is, they don’t want anyone who would come merely for those reasons to marry their daughters, they want someone who is capable of coming all the way to Rome, and yawning at the sights of the city. I think this carries through in some of Edith Wharton’s descriptions of the city as she tells her audience about the sights of the city from the parapet and describes them with a flowery prose completely foreign to the meaning the sights have for Mrs. Slade who seems to be observing them.

I think that there are a great number of little symbolic clues placed throughout this story by the author, things which make the story very dramatic. The correlary between the setting of the sun and the rise in the pace of the action, the depiction of the sky as silver turning to gold as the story progresses, and the final moment when Mrs. Ansley “began to move ahead of Mrs. Slade towards the stairway.” I think about them as I would when designing a play, how could I show the different status of each women? How could I show from the very beginning hints about the eventual outcome? What would I leave as leftovers on their plates? What would they have had to drink? What sort of knitting is Mrs. Ansley performing? But, these questions fall outside of what is given to me in the text, and though I could come up with fascinating answers that would further shape and develop the characters of the two women, I would shape them in a way I wish for them to be seen, because theatre, in performance, is a diminution of a text. Edith Wharton gives certain hints and details, referring to the old letter writers on page 326, or giving us the story about Mrs. Ansley’s great aunt, but she only gives us as much information as she wants us to have, she has painted the characters in such a way as to leave us somewhat free to decode them differently. Though I saw Mrs. Slade as a tragic heroine whose pride in her class led her to attempt the destruction of her friend through the revelation of a secret and in the end only destroyed herself, some of my classmates saw her as a conniving witch, and other still saw Mrs. Ansley as the most important character of the story who was to be sympathized with.

After discussing this story at some length in class I really want to reread it and look at the details more. I want to consider again whether Mrs. Slade knew the consequences of sending Mrs. Ansley out at night, I wonder if she was hoping that Roman Fever would strike her friend down. I wonder what she expected as a result of her revelation. I wonder if the affair between Mrs. Ansley and Mr. Slade stopped when they left Rome, or if it continued. And I wonder if Mrs. Slade wonders at Barbara’s parentage beyond her brief mention of it on page 327.


Early every Sunday morning people start to congregate on the street directly behind our apartment. We hear them banging and clanging as the put together a temporary shopping mall along the street. And then the crowds come in, and whoever has a stand right outside of our balcony, and sells little dolls with microchip voice boxes, starts one up that plays until 5:00 in the afternoon, “Twinkle, twinkle little star, how I wonder what you are.” And there it stops, and there it starts over again, and again, and again, and continues to start from six o’clock in the morning until five o’clock at night.

Since I was up, I went out and walked through the crowds for a couple of hours. The market stretches from one end of Via Portuense to the other and is packed with stalls and people. I was interested to see that most of the stalls were selling cloths. There were a few that sold odds and ends, antiques, cookware, but most of them were selling clothes. The people in charge of the stalls usually stood on a step-stool in the middle of a large tarpaulin and shouted out their prices to those walking by. The people jostle about and stop suddenly to look at something causing everyone to bump into the people around them. It is not a place for the faint of heart, the claustrophobic, or the person who has a lot of cash in his or her pocket.

After about five o’clock the people start to pack up. You can hear them throwing things around and slamming doors for about an hour, and then you hear their trucks and trailers trundling off down the street. When they leave there are heaps of rubbish strewn across the street, old papers that protected the purchased antiques, or stuffed a knock off handbag blow into large piles. Then everything is quite for about an hour before the cleanup crews come and hose down the streets before blowing all of the refuse out from behind our house to a waiting truck, and as soon as they are gone the regular beeping, honking, yelling, throttling traffic resumes for another week.


Though the cheese and wine were good, they did not sit all that well for waking up early and hoping onto a bus for a long lurching drive to Pompeii. The first stop we made was at a cheese factory where they made fresh Mozzarella cheese from buffalo milk. I was interested to learn that they had to take a piece from the intestines of a calf to start the curdling of the milk to make the cheese. It was really neat to see them pulling the cheese into tiny balls and drop them into the trough of cold water, though my analytical skills were still a bit off from all the cheese the night before and the smell was a bit nauseating for that same reason.

After the Cheese factory we crowded back onto the bus and headed off to Pompeii. I hate to complain, but I was really disappointed with Pompeii. I would really have liked to spend a lot more time there looking at the best preserved ruins we have of an ancient city. Every where we went we were rushed through like chattel. I had never felt more like a tourist than I did there running around with my little earpiece on from site to site. I didn’t get to explore half of the interesting places and things Professor Martemucci pointed out, and was still about 30 minutes late getting back to the buss, mostly because I got lost in the ruins.

I wonder how much of the ruins had been excavated when Mark Twain visited Pompeii. Professor Martemucci told us that we now have about 40 percent of the ruins unearthed. There was a completely different feel to being in Pompeii than I expected. Partially because we were rushed, partially because there were so many other people there, and partially because portions were closed off for excavation. However, I think most of it had to do with all of the people there. It didn’t feel like a ghost town, like a deserted place, because everywhere I went there were people, people milling about, looking at maps, peering into buildings. It was a lot like being in Rome, everyday life going on in the midst of ancient ruins. I’m not sure if I want to go back or not. It would be interesting to see all of the places that I missed, but I would rather go when I could feel the emptiness of the place to hear the echo of Pliny’s words whisper down the streets “behold, the world is passing away!”


5:30 is far to early to ask any human being to rise. But we made it to the bus in plenty of time, and I was even able to grab a croissant before meeting the bus.

The major equilibrium for an agrearian culture like that of Paestum was around 50,000 people. Paestum was one of the outlying cites which established Magna Greacia. Professor Martemucci suggested that this particular town was of interest because it is an early example of modern life. That is, all of the things we think about as natural parts of urban life are really just traditions we inherited from the Greeks. Like the idea of having two sidewalks on either side of a street lined with buildings.

Professor Martemucci also said something interesting which I have been puzzling over. He said that we have lost something of our patterns in terms of simultaneity. For example, in ancient Rome they were able to cut open a liver and discover the gods will, create a feast, and at the same time see if the water of a certain area was good to drink. Professor Martemucci suggested that this idea was also what allowed the Greeks in Paestum to build three of the most costly buildings to date that the majority of the community would never be able to enter. I thought this was very interesting, because I assumed that the decision to build the temples had to do with the power of the priests of that god. Poiseden’s temple, for example, is the largest of the three. The town was originally named after this god, and its livelihood depended upon the sea as well as upon the river which flowed nearby. Thus the priest who could please this god who had so much power over the town would be able to convince the towns people to build a nice big house for the god, and the priest at the same time. And even if the priest didn’t get to live in the temple, he was the only person who got to go inside of it, and he also received some of the glory and honor sent to the god because he was the intermediary.

Professor Martimucci explained that the idea of simultaneity included everyday life. That the Greeks of Paesum lived at a constant intersection of the physical and the cosmic perspectives, that is, they lived physically in line with a cosmic perspective. Professor Martimucci went on to say that we have lost the ability to build something like this, something that is not built for the base needs of humanity, but for a higher purpose. I thought that this connected with Maslow’s idea of the aesthetic as the highest need of mankind, but Professor Martimucci said that even the aesthetic seeks to meet a human need, and the Greeks were not trying to build something pretty. So I asked why a plan building would not have sufficed. That is, if the purpose of the building is not related to its aesthetics, or to any human need, why did it have to be big and expensive? (Mike later told me that this was a question breed of my protestant upbringing and I think that I agree with him.) Professor Martimucci replied that it was because the god deserved the biggest and best, he required it, and that was the way it was to be done. So I wonder if this is not the same idea we have in constructing the Oklahoma City monument. Or even more recently, the Twin Towers Monument, and the discussions about whether or not that space could ever be used as office space again, or if the entire area was to become a monument to the deceased.

After Paestum we went to the hotel Calypso. It was the most amazing place in the world. I went swimming in the Mediterranean and then sat down to at least a four course meal of cheese, cheese, and more cheese. It was fresh Mozzarella, I believe from the cheese making factory we will visit with the nutrition students tomorrow.


Designing a walking tour is harder than I thought. We met in Trastevere at about 11:00, I think, it has been a long time since this morning. We looked at the fountain, and heard about how it was designed by Carlo Fontana, though it was also designed by someone else later, which Mike explained probably meant that the second guy just finished it off. We looked at the stucco, and at the mural on the front of the church, and wondered whether there was some social significance in the fact that the only males portrayed are small figures groveling at the feet of Mary. Inside the church we looked at the ceilings and the first depiction of Mary at the throne of Heaven. Outside again we walked over to the Museo del Folklore, which is another site listed in our travel guide. I had read about it a few nights before we were asked to design the walking tour and told Mike that I thought it would be an interesting place to point out even if we would not have time to go inside. The museum contains artists rendering of Rome in the 18th and 19th centuries according to our guidebook, and 19th and 20th centuries according to another guide book I looked at. Although I wonder if I just misread the information and one said hundreds and the other said centuries. The museum also contains a reconstruction of Giuseppe Giaocchino Belli’s room and some of his manuscripts. This is interesting to me not because “he was a poet who wrote in the Roman dialect” as our guide book says, but because I walk through his square and fill my water bottle at the fountain in his statue every morning on my way to the Sede. It was actually quite interesting to see that there are things I walk by everyday that hold no significance to me, which are supposed to be important, or at least mentionable, sights according to our guidebook. After that we trekked up to the Gianicolo to look at some monuments from the unification of Italy in the 1840’s. I walked up and down that area several times yesterday just exploring and meandering about, trying to break down some of my mental walls around the city. The view of the city from that perch is nice, but I preferred looking over at a small villa in the middle of a lot of land on the opposite side of the Gianicolum. It was very peaceful and pleasant looking down there, and perched on top of the little wall I was able to see over the other walls that surrounded the villa itself. After the Gianicolum we went to St. Peters. I found that I really didn’t care so much for St. Peters. It was full of people, all snapping photographs and chatting with each other. Most of the churches I have been to, the tourists are respectful, they admire the works of art, shuffle about quietly, and then drop a few coins into some beggars cup as they leave. In St. Peters I saw people standing in front of icons and statues and having their photos snapped as though they were at Disney Land posing with Mickey Mouse. The most disturbing thing was seeing a man hope into a confessional so that his wife could snap a picture of him giving the thumbs up as he smiled for the camera. I looked around to see if I could see a confessional that said “Ingles” on it where Hilda might have made her confession, and then just left.


Before I came to Rome I spoke with my Uncle Cessna who has been here several times. When I told him that we would be studying the rhetoric of architecture he was very interested and asked if we would be comparing the more ancient buildings to the square buildings erected by Mussolini. So one of the things that I noticed in watching The Bicycle Thief was the tall square buildings shown throughout the film. They are institutionalized, they are there for a reason, they serve a purpose, they function. I thought that this was particularly interesting in the scene where Ricci first hears about his new job. In the crowd of people gathered at the bottom of the steps there are a number of different professions represented, and they each complain that they are capable of doing the job if Ricci isn’t, and the foreman keeps reminding them that it is not a job for them, “You are a bricklayer” and lines like that remind the audience that each individual has his role to play, and they are not to attempt to usurp the roles of others. This idea is also interesting when we see Ricci try to steal a bicycle at the end of the film. He fails where an earlier character succeeded, and I wonder if it is the same idea, that Ricci’s role is not that of bicycle thief so he should not attempt to fill this role in society because it is not in his category of work.

When Ricci tells his wife about his troubles and they begin to argue on their walk home, it is interesting that at the most heated point of their argument there is a scene in the background of a group of children acting out a play wedding. Showing the contrast of young love which is ever new and innocent without a need for constant reconciliation with a more mature relationship which has moments of tribulation.

When we first enter Ricci’s apartment there is somber music along with the crying children as we move through the apartment and end with Ricci in the bedroom and I noticed that the cord for the light is wrapped into a loop, resembling a noose, and is in the foreground with Ricci in the background. Reinforcing the foreshadowing of the title.

When Ricci and his wife go to sell their sheets we see behind the pawnbroker a room full of sheets, and then when Ricci goes to reclaim his bicycle we see the clerk with the sheets cross in front of the bicycle to shelves, tall as a man and at least 5 shelves high, full of other sets of sheets. According to Peter Bondanella in his book Italian Cinema from Neorealism to the Present this shows that “obviously the hopes of countless others have already been dashed before.” (page 60)

After redeeming his bicycle, a Fides, which Peter Bondanella notes translates as Faith, Ricci carries it with him every where he goes, even into the offices of his employer to show his papers. The bicycle is his sign of security, his hope for a better future, yet he often leaves it unattended so that the foreshadowing of the title builds tension up to the moment when the bicycle is stolen.

When Ricci rides his bicycle he is always the fastest and the first. He arrives at the bus stop before the bus, he easily passes all of the other cars on the road.

When the bicycle is stolen Ricci is pasting up a poster of Rita Hayworth, I wonder if this is an indirect stab at the way the American Film industry stole the bread from a number Italian film production companies with their flood of goods.

Reinforcing the image of the countless sheets, when Ricci goes in to report his stolen bicycle to the police there are mounds of reports, just like his, littering the officers desk. The theft which is so life-changing for Ricci is just another theft for the police officer who even remarks to another officer that it is “just a bicycle”.

Whereas, with is bicycle, Ricci was ahead of everyone else and outside the lines and crowds, once his bicycle is stolen he is forced back into the mêlée, as seen when he attempts to board the crowded bus and is forced to walk instead because he cannot get in.

When Bruno asks where the bicycle is, he gives the same response to his son that he gave to the foremen when the bicycle was in hock, it is “broken”. Every time the bicycle is out of his possession it is “broken”

When Ricci and his friends go to look for the bicycle, they keep reminding us that it is a Fides (faith) frame, and telling us that the bicycle was probably chopped up. I found this to be a very interesting idea, that Ricci’s faith was split up, but that the frame would remain intact. And while Ricci and his friend are looking in one place, a bespectacled man is looking at Bruno, and I didn’t quite understand what this was supposed to mean.

One of the most interesting pictures, for me, is when Ricci is surrounded by priests during the rainstorm. They are all clean and white, while his hands and face are dirty.

I was really taken with the idea that the film is cyclical, that the story begins and ends with similar shots of Ricci dissolving into a crowd of people. It seems to suggest that life will go on, that this is the cycle of occurrences for everyone. I think that this idea is heightened by De Sica’s use of ordinary people for his actors.

After discussing the film we went on a walk to the Church of the Immaculate, where Miriam Kenyon and Donatello saw the body of the model. It was really interesting to be in a place from the book, it seemed less changed with time than the other sites we had visited. Hilda’s tower didn’t look quite right to me, and the Treve fountain was so full of people that I could not imagine being there with the characters from the novel. But looking at the painting of St. Michael and Satan I could actually imagine climbing inside the world of the Marble Faun. The crypt of the Capuchins was amazing. The inscription in the tomb of the children was even more haunting that Hawthorne made it out to be. Actually looking at the artistic array of bones, and the shells of the dead monks, while reading, “What you now are, we once were. What we are now, you will be” really made me stop to think. I also appreciated that cameras were forbidden so I was not distracted by people standing in front of the crypt with their thumbs in the air and goofy grins on their faces to tell the world that they had been there.


I cannot wait for the ear pieces to come in so that I can hear Professor Martemucci’s lectures. Today as we went through the Jewish Ghetto, Professor Martemucci attempted to show us how patterning changes over time. We also looked at the uses of spolia in Roman architecture, the way that builders have taken pieces and fragments of older structures and incorporated them into new buildings. He pointed one porch where columns had been taken from an ancient structure and “stuck” to the front of the building to create a porch. In another area, the lintel of a door was part of an old monument to someone’s mother, and because of its size and shape, it was reused in this new house.

In terms of patterns, we also looked at some structures from the Medieval period of Roman history and compared them to the more ancient structures we had explored on an earlier walk. We saw that the scope of the architecture had shifted, no longer did an architect sit down with paper and pencil and attempt to create a plan for a mammoth building which would show his transcendence of time. In the Medieval period the architect would build according to need, as reflected in some of the arches we looked at. The points of the arch corresponded to the reach of the builder, so that we didn’t have the massive arched domes of Adrianne’s Villa, but the simple arch of a stairway with a door beneath it. We saw how the Roman concept of organizing the world around one central city had perished with the demise of Rome. I began to wonder if there was some corollary between this shift of emphasis from permanent to transient architecture and the shift of emphasis from the city of man to the city of God. That is, if there is some connection between this shift in architecture and the writings of St. Augustine, so that instead of organizing the entire world around the idea of a permanent and physical Rome the world came to be organized around the idea of a transient and metaphorical Rome which only sheltered one temporarily until the next life (so barbarians could sack and destroy Rome without destroying the order of the world).

Next we went to the Teatro Machello which is half theatre/half building. The ancient theatre stands beneath a Medieval house. One can see where the ancient theatre has been eroded away, the exposed marble is in different states of decay and portions have been restored to keep the ancient building intact and suggest what the original structure looked like. The Medieval architects added buildings on top of the ancient structure, because they would be better fortified. The ancient building has been co-opted into houses and other buildings, sort of like spolia. I wonder how this changes the meaning of the original building, what does it mean to take an ancient monument and build something more modern into and on top of it?


I noticed something this morning, something that corresponds to both James and Hawthorne’s novels about travel through Rome. I noticed the walls that I have artificially constructed about my daily life which prevent me from experiencing certain aspects of daily life. I noticed that every morning when I walk to the Sede for class, I follow the same streets, streets lined with walls which block my view of the city, and block my consciousness of life beyond them. Walking down Trastevere I don’t look to the right or to the left, but in front of me. My focus is tunneled, narrowed, and focused on where I am. I no longer wander down side streets to see what is beyond my line of vision, but march quickly past them. I have constructed a pathway through Rome which limits my experiences, cuts me off from native life, and creates a world of my own, an English speaking world which is thoroughly Americanized. I live with two American class mates, I spend most of my time with them, I talk to them, I read with them, I eat with them, and in so doing I have created an artificial hub of American life in Rome comparable to the artistic community in Hawthorne’s Marble Faun or the elite upper class society of James’ Daisy Miller. We speak English, we think like Americans, and even though we try to separate ourselves from the tourists who rush through Rome in a few days, clogging the streets as the pour over maps and tourists guides searching out only the most important sites of the city, I have to ask if we are really doing the same thing and the only difference between us and them is that we are going to spend more time here.

In reading Daisy Miller and The Italian Hours I came up with a few questions about the texts, and about their author.
• When did James visit Rome?
• What was the political change which had just taken place?
I did not find an answer to this second question which was raised by reading A Roman Holiday. I would guess that it is more probably the change from a Papal State to a secular state and the war with France that followed, rather than Mussolini’s march to Rome. History is a close second to Geography in the list of things I am not good at remembering.
• James seems to echo some of my own thoughts about the outlying provinces of Rome, wondering sometimes if I would not prefer their tranquility to the rush and bustle of the city.
Yesterday afternoon I took a walk out of the city, or as far out of the city as my poor feet would carry me. It was beautiful. I walked down Trastevere, and then turned left somewhere and just kept on walking, through small parks, past tiny Bar’s, until the traffic thinned out and eventually stopped. There were trees, and fields of grass, vineyards and villas that where not butted up next to each other. But the most interesting thing to me was that there weren’t anymore walls. I could look to my right or left and see for some distance before a manmade obstruction blocked my view. It was nice to get out and away from the people and noise and traffic.
• Both James and Hawthorne see the Roman people as innocent, as free and somewhat wild. I tend to see them as more serious and care worn.
In the introductory essay for The Marble Faun Richard H. Brodhead describes Donatello stating that he is “Half man, half faun, he is a kind of missing link between the civilized and natural orders, a civilized fantasy of a precivilized form of life in which the human is still in touch with its ‘animal nature’ (page 9) and not yet condemned to sacrifice instinctual spontaneity to the rule of abstract principle.” (xviii) Yet, Donatello is transformed through his crime, yet he seems to me to be transformed into an American rather than into a more morose Italian.
• Is Daisy Miller an innocent, Does she understand the weight of her decisions and actions?
The question I was really trying to get it was this, is Daisy Miller the equivalent of the innocent Italian seen in Donatello? Untainted and uncorrupted by the world in the beginning, yet failing and falling into miserable decline in the end.
• I do see beggars, a few soldiers and monks, but I don’t think that I see as many as Hawthorne and James saw.
• What of James’ mention of tourists, does he not see himself as a tourist? Are they a different class? There for a different amount of time? Do they look at things differently? Do they look at different things? In short, what makes them different from James?
I’m not sure that I know how to begin to explore this question. It seems that James sees the same sites as the tourists, speaks the same language as the tourists, but he still keeps himself aloof.

Daisy Miller, by Henry James:
I think that this book has a great deal to do with how we work things out. How we puzzle out the intricacies of different cultures as well as how we puzzle out to intricacies of other individuals. As Daisy is trying to understand travel in Rome, Winterbourne is trying to understand Daisy. In many ways this is exactly what I have been doing for the past week. Trying to puzzle out what is and is not acceptable, do I order my food first, or pay first? Do I put the money into someone’s hand, or into the dish on the counter? Do I follow my orders with please? Do I say “excuse me” or should I say “I’m sorry” when I brush into someone on the street? Is it better to smile and nod, or avoid eye contact? Though I don’t have the same social strictures to follow, or the heights of society to fall from, I still find that I am trying to puzzle out what I ought to do just as Daisy was.

In reading this book I was struck by how much control James exerts over our perception of Daisy Miller. In fact, I would venture to state that this book is really about Winterbourne and not really about Daisy Miller. Daisy becomes the inciting action of the book, and the conclusion as well, so that our dramatic arc follows the course of her rise and fall, but that rise and fall is only seen through the eyes of Winterbourne, our narrator, and in many ways our protagonist.

I was struck by the meaning of the different names, and their relationships to each other. The word daisy comes from the Old English daeges eage which means “days eye” referring to the phototrophic properties of the flower. The daisy family includes numerous types of flowers, some of which are weeds, while others are desirable garden flowers. Finally, there are two phrases which incorporate the word daisy, “fresh as a daisy” and “pushing up the daisies”. We start with a phrase that means fresh and full of energy, and end with the transference of energy from the significant deceased to the trivial living. Winterbourne has two interesting meanings. From the Oxford American Dictionary the word means “a stream, typically on chalk or limestone, that flows only after wet weather”. Additionally there is the idea that this character has been created from the cold and snow of winter. The interaction of these two names is bound to cause conflict, the phototrophic daisy is deprived of nutrients during the winter months and progress from freshness to death.
• Why is Daisy in Rome? What is she doing here? What is everyone else doing in Rome?
It seems apparent that Daisy and her family are completing the Grand Tour. They are visiting the major sites of the ancient world to show that they have class and sophistication. It seems that the other characters, who already possess this class and sophistication, are merely in Rome to show off that they possess class and sophistication. From what James’ writes of the movements of the socital elite, the book could just as well have taken place in New York, or London, or any other city. The characters have walled themselves off from their surroundings, they do not live like Romans, the live like Americains. They seem to have created pockets of society wherein they interact with each other and erect walls that separate them from the rest of the city, and the rest of the world. Much like the walls I have erected on my walks to and from the Sede in the mornings.

At our orientation, our second day in Rome, Professor Martemucci reminded us that we represent America. I was reminded of that when reading about Daisy and the way her countrymen ostracized her. They saw Daisy as a reflection of American society, and did not want her to represent America, but I was not clear on where Daisy was supposed to be representing America. Was she representing America to the Americans, or to the Italians? From reading Giovanelli’s comment at her funeral, I would venture to assert that she represented America rather favorably to the people of Rome.

I was speaking of names earlier, Giovanelli, according to the footnote, means Youngman. I wander if he is full of energy and life, if he is a representation of the sun, the source of life for Daisy. Yet at the same time I was fascinated at the change which overcomes Giovanelli at Daisy’s death, he turns pale, and he has no flower in his button hole.

On page 111 of the book, there is a fascinating line in which Daisy tells Winterbourne that he “cuts” her. Winterbourne rejects this metaphor, yet after they leave the Coliseum she dies. And on her death bed she seems to convey that she has turned away from Giovanelli, away from her life, towards Winterbourne, towards her death. It is also interesting that her death comes from the Coliseum, the place of countless martyrdoms for the sake of entertainment, society, frivolity. The same things which prompted the ostracism of Daisy. In the end, however, I believe that the clues James has given us point not towards society as the party guilty of Daisy’s blood, but Winterbourne.


I awoke this morning to strange sounds of building outside the apartment on the street. At first I thought someone was cleaning up the abandoned building across from us, but when I took a closer look I discovered that the entire street behind our building had been transformed into a massive open-air market. There was an unending expanse of stall after stall reaching from as far as I could see. Purses, jeans, cheese, meats, nick-knacks and antiques were being hocked to whomever happened to be passing by. This street, which is normally full of cars and mopeds zooming in and out of the city, was choked with pedestrians, looking, handling, comparing and purchasing everything under the sun. Our guidebook didn’t say anything about this, but it looked like a regular event. So I took a quick shower and went out to see what I could find. I found everything. From cameras to backpacks, from portable TV’s to fresh cheese, I was a little sorry that I didn’t have any way of carting home some of the vinyl I found because they would have made some interesting additions to my collection.


There were a number of interesting experiences today, but I would be amiss if I did not begin with the most moving of them all. Several days ago, or so it seems, in actuality it could only have been a mere two days ago, my friend asked me what was the most beautiful thing I had seen during my time in Rome. To be honest, the answer I did not want to reveal to her, was that I thought the Roman women the most beautiful in the world, but now I have a better answer, for in the Musei Capitolini I saw something that awoke a deep desire within me. I must admit that it was somewhat of a carnal desire, but a beautiful desire non the less, and one which was awaken by the craft of a long buried sculpture, so how evil could this desire be? In walking through the halls of canvases I found little to excite my interest, or awaken my passion. I saw portraits of the saints in all manner of torture and ascension. I saw the infant Christ cradled in his mothers arms, and St. Bartholomew as he was pierced with the arrows of his former friends. But as I said, these images did not interest me. Rather, it was a series of four sculptures, in the same building, but on a lower floor. These sculptures, I do not remember the names except that the plaque next to them read “Herms” and they were from a time near the birth of Christ depicted in the halls above their heads, these sculptures were the most beautiful things I have yet seen. I attempted, quickly, to copy down their main features, so that I would be able to remember them at some later point, perhaps when my artistic skills have been tried enough as to render a portrait which actually resembles its subject, and copy the details from my memory. But I doubt that the images of these four lovely will soon leave my subconscious mind. The most striking of them, was the second on the left wall when one first enters the room from the covered piazza containing Marcus Aurelia’s’ statue. Her curls come to her forehead and sweep back over her neck and down her back, she wears what would be a thin bronze headdress, her clothing blends into the torso of the statue as it is apparent that she possesses no lower extremities, and her face. Her face is what drew me to her. Her lightly arched brows, her thin nose, but most importantly her mouth. Her mouth is formed in such a way as to reveal to the spectator that this young woman knows something, the secret of life? Perhaps. But I believe it is the secret of her affections, as she looks into your eyes with her own, one is not perturbed by their lifeless marble gaze, but intrigued, intrigued to see that she is watching you watching her, intrigued to see that she enjoys your gaze, that she blossoms under your careful eye and is ready, at any moment, to part he marble lips and speak your name. That her cheeks, pulled into a knowing smile, are ready to push air across her warm tongue, past her perfect snow white teeth, to form the sounds of your name.

I did not discover this statue until the afternoon. The first part of the day consisted of walking to the Campidoglio, where our group was to meet Professor Benson, looking at the Marble Faun, and getting some lunch. The walk in the morning was uneventful. The Marble Faun was somewhat unimpressive, although I understand that the image, to Nathanial Hawthorne, may have contained all of the enthralling verisimilitude I assigned to the statue, which caught my eye. The walk out for lunch, though, was quite interesting. We walked down from the museum and crossed a few perilous Roman streets. As we were walking towards Trastevere a gentlemen stopped his car and called us over. He then proceeded to ask us for directions. We, not speaking Italian yet wishing to be useful, answered his him as best we could, pointing and gesticulating in wild fashion while loudly exclaiming, “I don’t speak Italian, but I think the Vatican is that way. Is that were you’re going? I think Trastevere is over there, I know where that is.” This “dialogue” continued until the gentlemen folded his hands together and bobbed his head a few times while saying grazi, grazi and then, pointing to a couple a few steps ahead of us, said something which I would imagine interprets as “I think I’ll just ask those kind people over there.”

After our incident with direction giving, we proceeded across Ponte Cestio to Isola Tiberina, and then across to Trastevere. Or at least we attempted to do so. We found, upon leaving Isola Tiberina, that a film crew had set up shop on the bridge and they seemed to be attempting to film some sort of melodrama, as the actress they were filming was looking longingly into the Tiber and weeping so as to make her mascara run in little rivulets down her cheeks. During a break in the filming we were able to slip across the bridge and look for something to eat, but every pizzeria and resturanta was closed down, or at least there were no customers at their tables. After wandering about for a few minutes, I hypothesized that they were all attending the wedding, which was taking place in one of the churches in the area. All of the cars had little white bows on them as though gift wrapped especially for the occasion. We decided after a few minutes to cross back to the Isola Tiberina and try our luck with the little pizzeria there. It was delicious. We sat at a small table looking out towards San Bartolomeo and enjoyed what I would call sandwiches, because I am not sure of their Italian name.

Then I went to our local grocery store and picked up a fish, a lemon, a red pepper and some sort of spice I couldn’t identify. I think that the fish was some sort of trout. It was an interesting experience because I didn’t know how to order the fish; I just sort of pointed and said “that one.” The guy behind the counter was very nice about it, he weighed it and asked if I needed more, I said “no” and then he asked if I wanted it cleaned. When I got back to the apartment I tried to look up some fish recopies online, but our connection here comes and goes, so I had to sort of make it up as I went along. I cut the head off, and then tried to peel off the skin. That only half worked. Then I tried to cut the fish into two halves, and that half worked. I got one side pretty nicely, but the other side was mangled. So I took the good side, which still had the skin on it, and rubbed some garlic and lemon and pepper and mystery spice onto it and grilled it using the grill feature of our microwave. That turned out really nicely, even I was impressed. Then I took the remainder of the fish and cooked that with the peppers in some olive oil and put it over some of the fresh pasta I had picked up on Tuesday. Then I went to bed.


Today was our class field trip out to Adriana. Apparently there was a massive bus strike, which kept us from arriving on time, so we didn’t get any free time to wander about the grounds. Instead we followed Ramolo about the villa and heard all about Adrian and his power as a roman emperor to construct this incredible palace just because he could. My notes on the villa filed up several pages in my notebook, but they kept falling out.

After the field trip, Scott, one of my housemates, made dinner for us. He cooked some chicken and then made a topping of tomatoes and onions with some garlic and other spices to put over the fresh fettuccini we purchased the day before. We moved the table from our living room out onto the patio and ate out there while looking out over the city.


Today is my niece’s birthday. I gave her a phone call, but they were apparently out having dinner when I called, so I just left a message. I think this is her 6th birthday.

Before calling Ann, I had a full day of walking about Roman Ruins with Romalo. We started at the Sede with one of his assistants and walked, rather quickly, over to the Capitoline Hill. We started the lecture there, behind the statue of Marcus Aralias, and moved down to the Forum. Professor Benson told us to listen for rhetorical theories creeping into Romalo’s architecture lesson, and I must admit that I was skeptical about it at first, but when Romalo started his lecture I started to hear the theories I have been studying for the last four years in a different format. I didn’t expect to hear about Pontiff, or theories of perception from an architect, but Romalo blended these ideas seamlessly into his lecture.

I didn’t do too much for the rest of the day. I wandered about Rome and peeked into a few Churches I had wanted to take a better look at. My housemates and I went out to do some grocery shopping early in the evening, but ended up going out for a few glasses of wine at a little resturante on Trastevere whose names translates to “the father”. While there we met Fabrizio, whose father the place is named for. It was great fun, and by the time we got back to the apartment we had eaten so much biscotti we didn’t feel like cooking. I made some more biscotti and went to bed.