~following the sun~

June 29th, 2008

On our drive home (that would last fifteen hours and saw us arrive home at three am) Ali sweetly indulged my curiosity about the 16th century garden known as Bosco dei Monstri in Bomarzo, Lazio (just beyond Rome). The Monster’s Grove–it’s visionary preferred Sacred Wood of Bomarzo–is something Mannerist and surreal, created to astonish and startle in a time that was known for its stayed formality.

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I thought we would go the whole trip without visiting one cemetery (for touristic reasons I mean), but no, this monument by Pirro Ligorio was commissioned by Prince Pier Francesco Orsini to cure his broken heart over the death of his wife. But what a monument.

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The mad obsession of this life-long project inspired glee in Jean Cocteau and Salvador Dali and me too. An inscription on one of the obelisks reads: Sol Per Sfogare Il Core, “Just to Set the Heart Free.” Superb!

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As we left embracing Toscana to return to remote Switzerland, my thoughts turned to Ulysses (known also as Οὔτις, or “Nobody”), and the idea of Home which had hovered about our trip in concrete and abstract ways. It took him ten arduous years to return to Ithaca after the Trojan war, resisting Sirens, Cyclops, and Lotus-Eaters. He dropped into his own personal Underworld and pulled himself back out again. He overcame lusty nymphs, whirlpools, and a leaky bag filled with all winds but the one to lead him home. That return was an act of will, through and through.

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In a time of life without a true home myself (and not knowing currently what country I’ll live in, in three months time), it is a striking journey. It is also a journey scholars have mapped out with precision, down to the day it ended (April 16, 1178 BCE, in case you are curious). A bit literal for what seems so clearly a metaphor for the looping return to oneself one makes again and again and again.

sunflowers.jpg il Girasole, tilting their heads in long arcs, following the sun.

One Response to “~following the sun~”

  1. atlasphere says:

    is that parco il monstro near todi?

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