Agreeable eye.

an eudæmonistarchives

More specifically concerning: travel

21 December 2000 – Rome

Tumbled out of the train station in a daze, only to find myself in the Piazza di Spagna, surrounded by people, tourists and Romans, worse than any cliché; and such noise and such bustle. The Spanish Steps and Keats’s house caught at a cross-glimpse. By sheer good fortune I managed to find my hotel within […]

22 December 2000 – Rome

Spent the best part of the day sitting in and ambling through the Pantheon; one wonders what it must have been like before the later Romans came with their god and their saints, tearing out the older deities and the bronze rosettes for the baldacchino at St. Peter’s. The Pantheon is on such a scale, […]

23 December 2000 – Rome

To the Musei Vaticani in the morning; the streets were deserted and trees cast pale shadows onto the Tiber. Having not the faintest clue of a suitable direction, I wandered vaguely Vaticanwards and found I needn’t have worried: one can’t miss it. Waited in a rather long line for admission, then darted away to see […]

24 December 2000 – Rome

At the Protestant Cemetery, in the company of numerous over-attentive cats. I cannot help but feel, porter aside, that the cats are the guardians of the place, keeping the pigeons away, trotting amicably among the tombs. It is a strange place, calm, yet with a curious access to something else. There is the flutter of […]

26 December 2000 – Rome

Wandered to the Villa Borghese, a rather large park containing such interesting things as the British School at Rome and the Galleria Nazionale d’ Arte Moderna. It being a sunny day, I didn’t much mind getting lost, and wandered past and around the Temple of Faustina with much amusement before finding the Viale delle Belle […]

27 December 2000 – Rome

Saw a double herm of Epicurus and Diogenes the Cynic at the Museo Capitolino, which pleased me much in my soul. At the Palazzo dei Conservatori, saw a herm of Alcibiades, which I thought particularly appropriate and a Roman statue of a toga’d man holding a scroll, whose expression was wonderful, though ineffable. Later — […]

18.03.01

More laundry and packing and reading of A Concise History of Greece. Tidying things up in general, as a means of distracting myself from Roman history and the minutiae of Greek grammar. Also looking wistfully at the three library books I must return tomorrow; I’ve had them for six weeks, but have scarce made a […]

18 June

We students were trotted up Lycabettos hill, an occasion for profuse sweating and sporadic complaint, but the views rendered both bearable, the sun hesitating behind faint clouds, even Oedipus’ Cithaeron visible in the distance. Doorjamb at the sanctuary of Artemis at Brauron; Attika, Greece (21 June 2001; usual camera)

28 June

What is one looking for in these cases, anyway? One could find an object lesson, an unexpected symbol, but one is unlikely to find what it all meant; it is a void, then, and scholarship a waste of time? Perhaps. One little thing, this fixation on an object, whether worthy or no; wisdom and understanding […]

5 July

Acrocorinth. One sees the world open out to the horizon, from the span of Attica to the slopes of Parnassus, across the tenuous isthmus, the Peloponnese now broken to an island by the works of man. On the isle of Pelops, taciturn rocks lie uneven as a rumpled blanket, jagged as a broken shield. From […]

16 July

It’s deeply complex: it’s not what you see. There’s a tension between what you are and what you know. One must read behind the phenomena, the surfaces; one could take hours, days, months to comprehend one column capital, working over the surfaces with a magnifying glass in search of scratches. This is scientific. Then there’s […]

21 July

Delphi — up and about just before six to watch the Pythian sunrise, the bunched mountains and outcrops of rock losing their dusky shadow to the warm necessity of the sun. The trees in the valley seem almost lush, but dwindle to scrub along the harsh and rugged walls. A stillness through everything — even […]

Observation

One muddles oneself with thinking, succumbing too easily to the temptation to compare what is with what might be — learn to be insensate, let things, let people, be as they are, and do not expect what cannot be given. Kerameikos and the haze of the Acropolis in the background. Athens, Greece (31 July 2001; […]

1 August

Piling pebbles upon the beach, the water laps against the sky, the low sound measuring time’s loss, the imponderable construction of a memory. Set one foot, then, in front of the other, and take no moment to look back, but continue — onward.

22.12.01 – Saturday

Sent the last of my applications off yesterday, along with a story to JC and treats for other people. Well, maybe it is a bit overbold to call that little booklet a ‘treat’: more of a glorified holiday card, actually, except, of course, that it has nothing to do with the holidays, red cover notwithstanding. […]

Litterae Humaniores

I know it is in bad taste to quote from one’s own letters, but this really is too absurd: Am reading some of the letters exchanged by Mommsen1 and Wilamowitz,2 the latter always offering to be of service in scrounging up inscriptions. I do wish I could totter about Italy complaining about the lack of […]

Twists & Turns

I am a part of all that I have met; Yet all experience is an arch wherethrough Gleams that untraveled world whose margin fades Forever and forever when I move. How dull it is to pause, to make an end, To rust unburnished, not to shine in use! As though to breathe were life! Life […]

With the greatest of ease

Departure The British are a humorous people; on the coach to Heathrow the driver urged us to ‘notice, please, ladies and gentlemen, that your seats are equipped with seatbelts. As you no doubt are keenly aware, there have been a spate of road accidents involving buses. In one of the latest, five people died, fifty-five […]

The Thirteenth Part

Xanthochroi, svelte from their xerophagy, were uninterested in xenagogical activities. Xeniality was by no means widespread; nor, it should be added, was geniality. Rather, the denizens wandered to and fro, up stairs and down, content to busy themselves only with themselves, giving never a thought to anything else. Thus were they deeply enraptured with their […]

Periplus

From Francis Yates’s The Rosicrucian Enlightenment (p. 202): The years of peaceful life in his native country came to an end for Comenius with the defeat of Frederick at the Battle of the White Mountain in 1620 which meant, for Bohemia, the suppression of the national religion. The Bohemian Brethren were proscribed. In 1621 the […]

inscriptiones graecae

Tangier has been mentioned in history for three thousand years. And it was a town, though a queer one, when Hercules, clad in his lion skin, landed here, four thousand years ago. In these streets he met Anitus, the king of the country, and brained him with his club, which was the fashion among gentlemen […]

give pearls away and rubies

From my new copy of A. S. F. Gow’s A. E. Housman, a Sketch.1 It was Housman’s custom to spend three weeks or a month every summer in France, choosing each year a new district, exploring it by car, and studying the architecture, the local dishes and the local wines. Usually he flew to Paris, […]

Citation (25)

identity crisis.

knees on a train

the train to Sacramento

these days

Apartment building, SE PDX. These days I spend a lot of time crossing bridges. Partly because we moved across the river from practically everything we are interested in; partly because, well because my feet are getting itchy again. It’s amazing how deadlines work – one puts things off, doesn’t think about them, and then the […]

ghost pain

My bookshelves look like a fighter’s mouth, full of painful and surprising gaps. Even books I thought I could not do without, books that shaped my taste and who I am, are gone. Let me explain. When we decided to move abroad I knew, of course, that most1 of the books would have to be […]

wild east

Boris Fishman, ed. Wild East: Stories from the Last Frontier 2003 Now a reader is in a sense complicit in the making of a good book; without the reader’s empathy, wit, and understanding, be the book ever so finely written and ever so well put together, any book can be called rubbish. I myself remember […]

of the times

fallen pears fermenting on the pavement indecisive days too warm and too cold leaden-eyed maidens drooping into evening slouching easily on an afternoon bicycle slumped down reading in a pillowed chair

ostraka

The memory of cranes flying in rain-heavy sky, lit in low-slanting sunlight; tall grasses and the bounce and hum of a bus; gold-leaved crowns, and painted walls, dank scent of earth, and the brightness of the cranes, flying. Don’t know what direction they flew, nor what direction I went, but away from the past and […]

all the baggage

So I was reading Paul Fussell’s book about travel, Abroad. Of course it’s not just about travel, though he does spend some thirty-odd (or more or less, I’ve returned it to the library and cannot refer to it now) pages lamenting the impossibility of true travel1 in this degraded age of tourism, it’s about literary […]

pedestrian

In 1938 let us say, a bloke with small means wants the best of Europe. Once he cd. have done a great deal on foot. I dare say he still can. In 1911 there was an international currency (20 franc pieces) twenty such in jug-purse and no god-damned passports. (Hell rot Wilson AND the emperor, […]

transparencies

Looking out the window of the coffee shop onto the overcast concrete, it seemed to have already become a picture, flat and filtered and filmy and flimsy. The sense of proportion was unmarred, but judging depth was a matter of relative position rather than perception, and a careless move might have scratched the surface, leaving […]

Citation (32)

Another man speaks satirically of those people who out of restlessness or curiosity embark on long journeys, who keep no diaries and write no descriptions, who carry no notebooks; who go to see things, and who either don’t see them or forget what they have seen; who are only anxious to look at unfamiliar towers […]

moments of lethargy

We move slowly in the fading shadows of the morning, with a lazy, ritual weight of action.

at the mercy of confusion

In Jerusalem, I had spent much of my time among the books of Gulbenkian library, following the loose threads of Armenian history. But the massacres, I put off until the end. What I’d been reluctant to start absorbed me at once; it was that that I had been afraid of. Everything else seemed meaningless when […]

at a loss

There is something outrageous in a person’s misdirecting a traveller who has lost his way and then leaving him to himself in error, yet what is that compared with causing someone to go astray in himself? The lost traveller, after all, has a consolation that the country around him is constantly changing, and with every […]

them apples

This people lives on the smell of wild apples that grow there; and if they go far from home, they take some of these apples with them, for as soon as they lose the smell of them they die. – Travels of Sir John Mandeville (p. 181)

bari janaparh

The journey from the capital to the southern cities has an allegorical feel, especially when leaving through the equinoctial twilight. We speed along the straightaways through the floodplains beneath the summits of unattainability, then slow to twist and turn through the vale of woe, night and snow falling hard through the trees. We rise through […]

city of stone

Birds of dark omen wait for you in the city of stone.

Crambe repetita (16)

Bruce Chatwin, In Patagonia.

transient

dining out

the importance of reading long books.

desertification

‘ a bitterly cold wind which drove the dust and tiny pebbles against our faces like a continual storm of hail’

Citation (48)

At Passau the traveller feels that the flowing of the river is a yearning for the sea. That sense of life-to-the-full, that gift of the blood pressure, or of some acid benevolently secreted by the brain, was something I really felt in the alleys and on the river-banks of Passau; or do I just think […]

Citation (50)

the dangers of athletics

Useful Hints

A selection of ‘useful hints’ from Rambles in Rome (9th edition, 1903, page xiv) by S. Russell Forbes: Avoid bad odours. Do not ride in an open carriage at night. Take lunch in the middle of the day. This is essential. It is better to take a light breakfast an lunch, than a heavy breakfast […]

solitudo

These are stories of desolation. Sometimes they are a voyage towards, and sometimes they are an attempt to escape from. No matter. The traveller ventures to modern ghost towns, ancients ruins, or the wreckage of their own lives, and never really finds any answers – because there are none, not to the questions worth asking. […]

unmoored

I inquired for a walk, and, mounting near two hundred steps made round a rock, walked up and down for about a hundred yards viewing the sea, to which I quickly descended by steps that cheated the declivity. The ocean and these tremendous bulwarks enclosed me on every side. I felt the confinement, and wished […]

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