Monday, November 28, 2005

Prospettiva dal cielo

Oggi ho fatto una linea di molti cose io dovero’ fare alla prima ritornero’ negli Stati Uniti… andro’ molto piu’ chiese e musei; studiaro’ piazze, palazzi, strade, viste, arte e architettura; e leggero’ molto piu’ storia di Firenze, Toscana, Italia; mangiero’ molti cose da mangiare tipi dal’Italia; ero’ molto italiano!… Ci sono molti cose fare!

Firenze e molto interessante, e’ mi faro’ volere vedere tutti! Io amo qui molto! Adesso, mentre facevo il mio compiti per italiano e guardavo la luce—a fuori la mia finestra c’e’ il lampo—e pioggia faceva la passeggiata gui’ la vetrata, io pensevo di il mio tempo a qui. Molto volte, molto bene volte; uno tempo come la distanza infinita della cielo.

Mi piache’ molto il cielo di Firenze. Ma, il cielo? Perche lo spazio fra i palazzi e il cielo e’ una volume specifica con la geometria su la geometria dalla citta’ facevo in totale un spazio concrete e con dividere dalla prospettiva. Sono la prima persona ho visto questo? …e’ molto, molto interessante… ambiente e geometra hanno messo insieme.

Che cose il cielo? Tuttigiorno, se le nuvole come pane fresca ha aperto a mezzo, o se la sole e’ andata con grande fuochi, o se la luna da solo come la cuore, o—come adesso—il lampo ha fatto la luce per qualcuna leggevano; il cielo sempre toccava la citta’ fra la collina e la collina. Il cielo e’ uno solido volume; il cielo fa lo spazio geometria come prospettiva dalla citta’ di Firenze.

In facto, oggi, sono andato galleria Uffizi ancorra. Io ho seduto a davanti un lavoro di Sandro Botticelli per lungo tempo. Con linea, Botticelli e’ diventato maestro di pittura. Il suo pittura con Annunziata e molto importante. Mi piache’ questa pittura molto. Il suoi altri lovoro anche molto importante, ma voglio dire questo pitture perche ha geometria dalla prospettiva come architettura—il chiave per lo spazio e l’umanita a dentro e’.

Questo tutti posti a dentro Firenze. Il chiave per vita dalla Rennaissance di Firenze: Italia hanno fatto scoperta per disegnare lo spazio come tuttigiorno vita.

Allora, pittura Annunziata di Botticelli potera’ dividere in pezzi equale con assi longitudine e latitudine. Questi pezzi potera’ dividere in piu piccolo pezzi per costruiva uno immagino equilibrata. Prospettiva in Firenze e non nuovo ma questo e solo uno esempo. la Rennaissance ha fatto la prospettiva sempre molto importante. Prospettiva, in uso dal 1425, ha fatto la possibilita’ di controllare razionalmente lo spazio in disegnare e realta’. Anche, lo spazio in prospettiva fa lo spazio totale e olistico.

Prospettiva: geometria ha dividuto definire lo spazio tra.

Ma Annunziata di Botticelli e piccolo esempio in confronto di altro esempo. Ma, prima, se tu sei in galleria Uffizi, e ha visto Botticelli, poi andrai a fuori la galleria. Quando tu andrai a fuori galleria Uffizi, e poi entrero’ un spazio di Giorgio Vasari a centrale della lungo galleria, e poi andrai a dietro questo spazio, vedero’ una prospettiva come una geometria. Galleria Uffizi, e poi Palazzo Vecchio, e poi piazza della Signoria, e poi molti palazzi, e poi una cupola dal Duomo di Brunelleschi… tutti importante per prospettiva.

Uno dopo ancorra, spazio strati su spazio. Questo strati possano essere rompere con geometria per prospettiva con dividere. E poi che cose noi abbiamo con questo? Lo spazio ha fatto con prospettiva per linea di vista come la prostettiva ha usato per disegnavo architettura—noi sensiamo lo spazio come loro hanno disegnato per l’umanita.

Anche, e questo molto importante per ricordare, piazza della Signoria molto importante per prospettiva… come tanto in Firenze… come quello cupola dal Duomo di Brunelleschi! Entrambi usanno geometria perfecto per faceva lo spazio fra i palazzi e le piazze. Entrambi anche possono essere disegnera con prospettiva. In facto, Brunelleschi molto importante per prospettiva. E poi, c’e’ anche la pittura di Trinita’ di masaccio in Santa Maria Novella quest’e’ una delle prime di prospettiva: una pittura con architettura di profondita’ dentro il muro.

Come il cielo su Firenze, a dentro la citta’, prospettiva molto importante e ha fatto questo posto, e poi tutto dal mondo… il mondo olistico dalla prospettiva.

Saturday, November 26, 2005

The Magic Fountain

On being alone and importance of Place

Sometimes one must go into the depths of one’s self to come back out again refreshed.

Since writing and posting the entry “a dark room with no walls”, I’ve had time to reflect and consider my words, thoughts, experience, and the world they fit into. I must admit, that entry was very personal, and some may consider it too personal for this space; but I’ll contest that as part of my “wayfinding” journey it has been quite helpful.

In reflection, I was writing mostly about the feeling of loneliness and my personal acceptances of it—or rather, my process of becoming comfortable with being an individual in a very big world. It happened for me while I was at the Magic Fountain in Barcelona, surrounded by people I didn’t know. I realized in that moment that I was entirely alone, but surrounded by so many people. And it was this irony of being one amongst others that struck me. The experience freed me from anxieties about alienation and loneliness and brought me further into the world.

While I was no longer scared of being alone, the recognition of my self as an equal self among the immense and vast number of selves in the world (each respectively as individual and particular as my own), led me to separate my self from my thoughts of others. While I sat on the steps of Montjuic and watched the changing lights and water dance to classical music, I thought: “you’re here by yourself, enjoy this great moment, and stop feeling sorry that others can’t experience this! Take no photos! Take a look around, you’re actually alone!” But when I looked around I found that I was alone but surrounded by people. I was alone, but then again, in that Place, I was not really alone.

I believe the sense of comfort from being alone—that transformation of “loneliness” to “comfort” that I experienced in my last night in Barcelona—was actually due to the Place I was at. I was alone but surrounded by many unknown people. And the Place became the “transistor” of human support.

In that moment I knew I no longer needed to worry about becoming alone because I realized that no matter where I am in the world I am not alone. I am separate as an individual but will always be surrounded by people. (To put it bluntly, we all live on the same planet.) And it was a successful Place—for me, the Magic Fountain in Barcelona—that was the “transistor” (the transferring medium of humanness) that connected me to the unknown people I was surrounded by. I no longer needed to worry about alienation and loneliness, about wishing friends and family back home could experience this with me. I no longer needed to comfort myself with these thoughts because the Place set me in rhythm with my human environs.

In further reflection, when I walked away from the Magic Fountain in Barcelona, I not only walked away with a revised sense of independence, but also a little bit of cynicism. I walked away without a fear of being alone. But I also walked away thinking I didn’t need to care about what anybody though about me, or anything. “Whatever, ‘bo’”, I thought to myself. I was alone and therefore so was everybody else... so who cares...

Coming into comfort with being physically alone is a two-way street. One can find comfort in themselves within a big world. One can also find one’s being alone to mean there actually is no responsibility between oneself and that big world.

And the later is which I feel—in combination with places in communities that don't act as “transistors” of humanness—breeds alienation, loneliness, and cynicism in many of today’s Western Youth.

I came away from my experience at the Magic Fountain experiencing both independence and cynicism. And in considering my last major blog entry, they both reflect. But it is important to move beyond the cynicism and acknowledge the places we live in and experience, their powers to change us, and the nature of human relationships that are formed through places.

What I had felt and called “loneliness” became the emotion of “comfort” because it was in my state of being alone that I found comfort. And it was the Place around me that took the form of, like what one uses the architecture of a church and temple for, connection, freedom, sustenance, and evolution of the human spirit.

. . .
Apathy and America

One of the benefits of studying abroad with Syracuse University in Florence (and there are many) is being able to meet students from many different American universities. Studying abroad here is like having graduated, gone to a new school, a new life, and getting a chance to see what life is like for many different people. I’ve met many amazing people from all around the world, and many with views that have challenged me.

Two months ago I had a conversation with two students who had a very different view of the world than I. To them, in order to have “people at the top” there must always be “people at the bottom”. They told me that children must always be dying, people must always be starving, and wars must happen in order to allow other people to have success, great lives, and be happy.

I’m stubbornly optimistic and utopian, so to hear such a (in my opinion) pessimistic, cynical outlook really bothered me. I held my breath, swallowed, and asked them to tell me more about their perspectives. “That’s just the way it is”, they told me. “You can’t change the world, and why would you want to? People must always suffer for others to be successful.”

“But that’s not true,” I responded. “Why can’t we strive to help everybody in the world to feel happy and good about themselves, their communities, and their lives?”

While working as Primary Contact Student Representative on the UCSC 2005 Long Range Development Plan (LRDP) Committee, I encountered a wide variety of views on the future of UCSC, Santa Cruz, community, environment, place, people, life, and the world; many contrasting, many diverse, and all very interesting. My approach as student representative was to always bring the diverse opinions into dialogue.

But, if there was any view that bothered me, it was apathy. Like a pimple that just won’t go away, it is bothersome. A view that the world, the future, everything, is “just the way it is” and that it is “pointless” to even consider trying to change things.

I must admit, the sense of being alone without connection to others experienced in-part at the Magic Fountain reminds me of this American apathy... the idea that as independent, one has no connection to others and the world.

(An aside: At UC Santa Cruz, I encountered apathy sometimes when trying to discuss the importance of understanding that things, people, systems, places, the University of California as a matter of fact, all take a long time to change. And that one must respect time and plan with the long-view... that the long-range part of the Long Range Development Plan is really important… that real change does not happen over-night… that real change is a process involving many complex factors.

Apathy is also a very real problem within the University of California system among a fair amount of students, especially whites and middle to upper classes. See the University of California Undergraduate Experience Survey and SERU21 Project for more information. Both these projects were presented at the UC symposium on "Civic and Academic Engagement in the Multiversity", of which I participated, in June 2005.)

. . .
Global Guide

Americans (including myself) have an interesting relationship to this whole “apathy” and “cynicism” thing.

Time and time again, here in Italia, I am struck by the commonness and causualness of American pop music, brands, sports, technology, food, etc. within the marketplace and consciousness.

While riding the Eurostar down to Rome last weekend I happened to sit next to a very nice Italian man, a professor and an activist with WWF. We conversed in Italian about many issues, sustainability, the environment, globalization, national parks in Italia (in particular an amazing park in Sardegna, outside Cagliari), Italian cities, differences and similarities between the USA and Italia, and popular culture.

He said that many Italian youth prefer to listen to their pop-music, prefer to just go out and have fun… bob their heads to the beats and go, “bo.” I had in my lap my little portable radio; he smiled and pointed to it—“you, too?” No, I use the radio to listen to Italian music, to try and pick up as much Italian language and culture as I can. Not an ipod, “a portable radio!”, I joked.

I asked him about the predominance of American and English-language pop music on the radio. To me it all seems so strange to hear so much of it when sifting through radio stations. In the USA, aside from the Spanish-language radio stations—which are a minority compared to the rest—everything is in English. It is difficult to imagine what it would be like to be Italian, think and know Italian, but to hear so much pop music in a foreign language. My new friend said it’s always been that way: for him it was the Beatles.

America and the English-language produces the most played-out, globalized, popular culture. And this is just the surface, but a surface people like to look at. While the global relations between nations are shifting, America is still a source of guidance to other countries.

This past week I attended a lecture on the trans-Altantic relationship of the USA and EU Nations. History Professor Federico Romero of the University of Florence noted that while anti-American sentiment is extremely high (especially in Western European nations), EU nations politically, economically, and strategically still look towards the United States for advice and as an example to follow. Generalizations (though rooted in real actions) such as: Americans are “war-mongers”, “fabricated the war-on-terror to take control of oil and power”, “are egotistical”, “are anti-Islamic”, “don’t give a rat’s ass about Europe”, can still be followed with, “...well, USA is still very, very powerful, so we need to look towards them for guidance.”

And that’s the reality. Despite changing global relations and the stupid things the current American government says and does, the USA is still very powerful and influential. Europe looks to the USA for advice, and so does China, and India, and many other nations... why? Because people in China say "I want music, cars, and houses like those Americans". And China is trying to satisfy those desires, trying to give its population what Americans have had.

(An aside: China's interests have repercussions economically around the world. Currently Africa is being hit very badly, but soon it is likely to be Europe. This has to do with local/national industries not being able to compete with the cheapness of Chinese products that are produced with such a small labor cost.)

. . .

With many Youth growing-up and choosing their recognition of independence in the world to mean a disconnection from others and the world (via apathy and cynicism), America needs to recognize its own Place and set an example.

And with nations looking towards the USA for guidance on how to live, Americans should share with the world places, people, policy, products, and ideas that help people gain independence, and an understanding of our global togetherness.

Like my personal experience at the Magic Fountain in Barcelona, we are all alone--all individuals--yet all sitting together, on Earth.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Neve adesso!

It's lightly snowing in Firenze right now! :) I am very happy.

Monday, November 21, 2005

A dark room with no walls

[Edited, Nov. 24, 2005; please note addition]

Now, though, I'm sitting in the computer lab. Next to me is a girl writing a paper and talking to her friends back home on AIM. I used to use AIM but haven't in three years. Sitting here is stressful; the connection is so slow. I swear to God you can feel stress in rooms. The tension in here builds up in my back muscles and my neck. My legs are shaking in axiousness so much that it makes me feel like I have to take a shit.

There is wireless, but I'm stubborn and haven't connected my laptop. I don't really want to have wireless. I want to stay away from here. I need fresh air, it's stuffy in here.

Ligh's fade to black. silence. It's cold. I can see my breath. The room is dark and I'm alone. I'm writing in the dark again.

I write: "Da solo? Da solo, ancora?"
A voice responds: "Si, ancora. Tu sei pazzo, si?"
I respond: "No, sono non pazzo."
I write in response: "Sei molto strano, pazzo moltissimo."
"Da solo? No, no voglio essere pazzo."
"Si devi essere pazzo -- sempre."

Molto triste. Camera pans from a close-up from under my chin and tracks back to a long shot of me sitting, lit by the blue hum of my laptop screen, alone in darkness.

"Aiuto! Aiuto! Aiuto!" I scream! Suddenly the darkness falls down: The dark room's walls fall down, clouds of dust rise, and I'm sitting in a misty Tuscan field with a few sheep. The dew-wet grass smells of grass; a light wind rolls over it, rippling it in green waves. I can see far in the distance more grass, more hills, more mist, more, more, more, more, more, ta-ta-ta-ta-ta...

My mind is like a road that keeps going on forever. My thoughts keep coming like the world that keeps turning. I'm having trouble catching up with my feet. No worries, I'll just walk along, right? Maybe I'll see someone I know along the way.

Sometimes I look out in the distance, far away into the distant land that I see from that countryside road. I see buildings, apartment complexes, forests, trees, mountains, hills, birds, fields, cities, and more distance. There is a lot of trash by the side of the road mixed in with overgrown weeds. I contemplate picking some of it up or inspecting it, but there is too much of it.

Sometimes when I walk by myself I say things like "life's not really worth living". I'll then say "and what if I wrote that in my blog?" I think in response, "I'd like that; sounds like a kinda' crazy thing to say ...but what would people think? They'll think I'm crazy?!" Oh well, as Italians say, "bo".

[But you know, "bo" is the wrong answer. In my Italian Cinema class we recently watched "Cento Passi" (100 Steps). Cento Passi is about Peppino Impastato, the young man of a small Mafia-run town in Sicily who becomes a leader of youth to speak out against the Mafia and the ways they have been destructive to the city's environment, social freedoms, and politics. Peppino was also born within a Mafia family. Cento Passi is a true story.

After Peppino's father is murdered, Peppino discovers that his father kept all of Peppino's belongings: his Communist articles, his papers, his notes. One of the notes says that he no-longer has the will to live and wants to give up life and politics. Peppino waves this note in his younger brother's face and says he had written it a couple years before... only a random note he rationalized, a non-important emotional outcry of the past. After Peppino is tragically tortured and murdered, after his friends cry in agony and pain, the police find that same piece of paper and use it as evidence to say that Peppino committed suicide, that Peppino--the young man who critically spoke out against the problems within his local community--had problems and decided to silence himself.

"Bo" is the wrong answer. "Bo" means in Italian a combination of "I don't know/whatever" and is to wave life under-the-bridge, to say I can scream and cry now and that the what happens in the future isn't important. Peppino didn't commit suicide, he was murdered. But his ego in the past was used against him at his death.

I have felt lonely abroad, I have been learning how to find comfort and happiness as a human being, and make mistakes. Sometimes when I walk down that countryside road I say things... but sometimes, when we walk down those roads, it is important to look at where we are, look at the big picture and see the other people walking down that same road. It can be important to stop walking and reflect. Important to recognize that life is worth living, that what we say or do one day has consequences for ourselves, our communities, and our world. And that "bo" simply doesn't cut-it.]

In Barcelona, on my last night there, I went and watched the Magic Fountain at the bottom of Montjuic. I love fountains, especially musical ones that dance and change lights using their original art-deco pipes and decorations. I was entirely alone but surrounded by many people. It was hillarious, all of a sudden I then realized that I've always been alone. And I love it, especially when surrounded by tons of people I don't know. I gave a light chuckle under my breath and smiled. I walked over to the Caixaforum museum and went to a free classical music concert. It was blissful to listen to the cacophony of all the instruments playing, tuning, warming up, at the same time. Ah, so many memories! I was a 'band nerd' from elementary school to my senior year in high school. I heard this every single day. And then the first clarinet tuned. Beautiful!

I haven't composed any music since the UCSC Long Range Development Plan project began and consumed a lot of my time and passion. Composing music is a major passion of mine, and I haven't composed any music in 2 years! The symphonic band was wonderful, and the conductor so proud! I was also attracted to the show by the fact there was video projected in the theater that changed based on the music. The summer after my freshman year of college I participated in an amazing music festival in Santa Cruz. My music piece had a gloomy and scary looking tree dance to my strange song. It was a great moment for me.

That night I found myself comfortable sleeping on my left side. I always felt uncomfortable sleeping that way before, like it scared me.

At the beginning of my trip to Spain, at the train station in Pisa, there was a group of American girls and a couple American guys. I was really shy and scared to introduce myself. They all seemed so smooth. They asked each other, "where you from..." Simple stuff. I choked on my spit and bit my lip. I told myself "I can't be so damn shy, this won't work!" I kept wondering how I looked to everyone. Kept peering out from the periphery of my vision like a spy.

By the end of my trip in Spain the emotion of "loneliness" had entirely transformed into the emotion of "comfort". I relish every moment alone, breath it in with desire and glamour. Dance with myself like a fool in love with his shadow. Travelling alone was one of the best things I have ever done. Unfortunately this description doesn't say anything about the process that led to the change in me. That's another story that's worth telling.

In the elevator going up to my hostal in Barcelona, there were two huge guys from Poland. They thought me being from California to be laughable, "so far away" they said. Yeah, I guess so. But for me Poland seems really far away, even when in Spain or Italy. Memory is situated in places and geographics. My head is starting to become rooted in Italy... and I've only three weeks left before going back to the 'states'!

This weekend I went to Roma. In Firenze, I feel like it has dropped at least ten degrees since when I left for Roma and then returned. Outside, for Natale, the city has strung up lights in the streets and piazzas like lace. It is really freezing outside. I see my breath when I breath; I blow hot breathe in the cold air like smoke-rings.

In Roma I walked by the Ferrari store. I almost walked right past it but caught myself and walked in. The display I saw outside had a cut portion of a Ferrari hood, heavily waxed, standing-in as the frontis-piece for a display of Ferrari logo-adorned products. Inside you could buy a Ferrari vest, a Ferrari hat, a Ferrari shirt, a Ferrari mug, Ferrari Puma shoes, photos of Ferrari Formula-1 race cars, a Ferrari digital camera, even a Ferrari laptop. None of the things in the store had anything to do with a Ferrari car. Playing in the background was really smooth, beat-ladden music. The type of thing you'd play in the car to feel like James Bond driving fast. I asked myself, "Why do people find cars sexy?" I've lost my appetite for the car's aesthetics. I used to get googly-eyed at cars. When a young boy I had a yellow Lamborghini model and my brother a red Ferrari model. You could open the doors and the engine hood. I can't seem to bring myself back into seeing cars the way young boys still see them: reminiscent of a barely naked woman in a red skin-tight bikini. "Damn!" It's a shame, I guess; but all I see now is a metal case bent into a shape to contain bodies and an engine that shits fumes and rainbow-tinted oil.

I took some photos in the store and felt like a spy again. The store attendants were dressed in Ferrari race-car jumpsuits and watched customers try on Ferrari shoes in the mirror. Upstairs there were pieces of Ferrari engines, chunks of the auto body and underbody sprayed with sponsoring logos like "Shell". The pieces were clean but looked "used". A lot like the armor and weapons, and even art, displayed in the Palazzo Ducale of Venice. The things that made Venice rich and powerful a long time ago. Things that allowed them to fund such great art, architecture, and culture.

It's really sad that I have to go back to California. "Molto Triste" I keep thinking. I'd rather not go, to be honest. I like it here. I'm really scared. Not sure when I'll return. Frightened that everybody and everything will be the same back home as when I was there last. Afraid that world will be a carbon copy of some of my memories of it. I'm not the same. I don't want to go back to the same world. Maybe nobody will notice me. Maybe nobody will know that I'm nolonger gone. That would probably be even sadder. I do miss people, too; hopefully those folks will remember me as much as I do them.

Ever been in that place where if you're honest you sound pointed and jaded, but if you don't say anything you know your being dishonest? That's where I'm sitting. Lights fade to black, sound fades to silence.

I think it's the mind that puts up walls. If I were a doctor I'd prescribe to everybody: "Let your spirit soar, be free! Get the heck outside and take a really long walk!" But then again, I'm not a doctor, just a student. Everything to me looks like a big question mark.


Sunday, November 20, 2005

News: on "ZEDstandards"

I like this a lot. recently posted an article about the "ZEDstandards" by the architecture/development firm ZEDFactory in the UK. And it's community-oriented.

"Like LEED, the ZEDstandards presents a checklist of various sustainability criteria. These criteria are based on the group's experience with the BedZED project, and hit many of the important points about Bright Green cities we've identified here over the past two years, including product-service systems, sustainable transit, and high density development; the only real missing element is a recognition of the value of "smart" environments. The most recent version of the ZEDstandards checklist can be found here (PDF). Details on the process can be found in the 2004 introductory document "Operation Step Change" (PDF), and the "Roadmap to 2050" document (PDF). The rules have less to do with how the homes are built (although that's there, too) than with how the communities are built."

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Olive Harvesting in Nugola

This past Venerdi (11-11-2005), I went with some schoolmates to a villa in Nugola, outside Livorno (southwest of Florence, near Pisa) to go olive harvesting. I documented my day and uploaded the photos. You can also see it as a slideshow.

The whole journey was rediculously beautiful. The view looking out from the villa was unreal, as if painted or pulled from a fantasy book. After we were greeted by the very nice family living there, we went to work. Picking olives isn't easy, but someone has to do it. While working we were offered a snack of toasted bread with olive oil--oil from last year's harvest. The family, who inherited the villa, doesn't have enough olive trees to sell their oil commercially. The olives picked are only enough for the family and their friends.

To pick olives, you simply pull off every single olive, ripe or not. Olives that will be used for olive oil get crushed entirely and it isn't important whether they are fully dark. Some of the olives, though, were darker, and these generally were from the tops of the trees we were picking. As we could feel with the increasing heat in the morning's brisk, cold air, the sun was coming up over the eastern ridge of trees; these trees were preventing the lower parts of the olive trees from getting sun. We used ladders and little rakes to pull off the higher olives. Olive trees are very durable and one can climb all over them. And if one tastes an olive from the tree, it is bitter and tart; remember, an olive one buys has been cured through a process.

We placed large nets down on the dew-wet grass to catch the olives that fell. When a tree was finished as much as we could manage, we would roll the nets to collect the olives, then pick up the olives and place them in buckets. The day's harvest was then dumped into a cellar room. The family was waiting to harvest all the olives before taking them to the press.

We joined the family for a beautiful lunch of pastas, salad, wine, pies, and gelato. The dining room had large animal heads on every wall below the ceiling; this was cool, but also quite unsettling. It is something to be eating and talking, and then to look up and notice a giant boar head or elk head peering over me. All the animals had been shot before 1900. While heading up the tower to use a bathroom, one might also notice some of the other old heads around the villa.

After lunch we travelled about forty-five minutes through the rolling countryside to the olive pressing plant. A very small facility, the whole operation was managed by one man. He had a kind sense of humor and his friends liked to point things out to us. We watched as olives went in, were washed, crushed, turned, spun, and were released as oil. Olio nuovo is very clowdy; the little bits of olive have yet to settle. To have olives pressed here, one needs an appointment. The facility also sold olio nuovo; and we bought some. The bottles filled, capped, and labelled right before us.

We said goodbye, climbed back into the chartered bus, and headed back via the autostrada for Firenze. From our windows we could see the Tuscan sun kiss the green hills of Nugola as it set behind them.

view my day...

Thursday, November 10, 2005

An Update about Me

So this past weekend I returned from a week trip in Spain travelling alone. I hope to write an entry on it in the near future (I'm very busy), but for now, I'd just like to give a brief update on what I've been up to (as opposed to purely those little moments and key awakenings that breathe life into experience). My trip in Spain deeply changed me and my life, and is un molto importante punto in un grande linea di punti. If you think you know me, guess again; because, for one, I'm just starting to barely figure that out myself.

Aside from the few integral moments of my make that I've shared, I have been doing things such as travelling (such as to Venice and experiencing the Contemporary Art Biennale, Paladio, Scarpa), taking classes (italian, italian cinema, and my central focus of architecture), and working (interning with UNESCO Firenze). Each experience, and in fact, each moment of my time here, has been infinitely valuable and important. I have four and a half weeks left, the clock is ticking, and I have much to see and do!

So, I've been interning with UNESCO Firenze. Our last major project was a film short about the cultural heritage of Firenze. I helped work as a production assistant, and then I did post-production promotional design for the film. This project was great fun, and working with the director, project manager, UNESCO, Commune di Firenze (the local city government), and the friends I've made along the way, have all been truly amazing. The next part of the project is really cool: I'm working on an accredited training course about the cultural heritage of Firenze, to be offered (decembre through mid-2006) by UNESCO Firenze and the Commune di Firenze. If you will be (or are) studying or living in Florence, whether Italian or anyone else, you can take this course. In fact, the course is also designed for teachers, and will be an awesome way to learn about and then share Firenze's rich cultural heritage and history.

A key component of this course about the cultural heritage of Firenze is a screenplay contest. Yes, UNESCO Firenze and Commune di Firenze will be asking italian and foriegn students to submit screenplays about Firenze. The winning entry will then be produced into a feature length film. This is very exciting.

Now for a short jaunt over into one of my academic adventures--architecture. More than anything, I have been enjoying my studies of architecture. The other day we had our first serious crit, and I loved it and learned a lot from the critics. We have two main projects: a garden villa project that is sited in the Medici Villa of Fiesole, and a "biography" project where we focus on authors who have written about Firenze and then bring to life--by reading their books and studying and drawing sites focused within them--the experience of Firenze captured in their time, their moments, their expressions. Nel futuro, puoi fare una domande particulare di Piazza della Repubblica and Piazza Santa Croce, EM Forester e DH Lawrence. I passionately believe in drawing as a process of learning and something everyone must do, enjoy working in studio, have a great amount of respect for studio life, and am deeply interested with architectural and urban problems (problems are postive things).

While I was waiting for my flight in the Girona airport outside Barcelona, I picked up a copy of "Newsweek".

Given that I hadn't seriously read American news-media in about a month, this was a very interesting experience. America appears to be falling apart, fragmenting, and aloof. I first read the cover story on "Cheney's Cheney". The article, surprisingly liberal and full of Bush-admin bashing, also was thick-through-and-through with American-Nationalist Rhetoric. This was so bizarre: to see these "liberal" expressions and ideas parsed through such crass Islam-hating, masculine, militant, nationalistic, competitive phrases. (And to consider the current US-obsession with "framing": it's like people have become so obsessed and hyper-sensitive to framing that 1) they forget their only speaking in English, and 2) it has gotten to the point where the frames you look through are not out of whack, but you have a vision problem yourself!)

From my quasi-European, quasi-American perspective, I see the United States with a crumbling governmental face and a populace that thinks they know everything. Hell, if you think you know something feel free to do a double take in the mirror, because there is a friggin' huge world out there that is very deep and very complex and it is safe to say you don't know jack. I'd suggest this assumption of knowing something has occured because most US citizens haven't ever left their country and seen some of the world, experienced different languages, different ways of existing, thinking, and being... which in return breeds ignorance and isolationist sentiment in the mouths of both liberals, conservatives, and everybody in-between. In short, reading this "Cheney's Cheney" article reminded me of some I have encountered in the US... per esempio, militant liberals with good intentions but poor actions and experiential educations.

Even if you think you're doing the "right" (or wrong, or whatever) thing--right for culture, the environment, the economy, society, humanity, the world, your local community--please, for a moment, pull your head away from the camera obscura and take a look around... you might find that the you haven't even left the room.