A letter to il venerdì, the Friday supplement in the daily La Repubblica, spoke of the loss of a respectful way of life that valued manners. In a state of distraction, people forget the ‘easy stuff’ (‘roba facile’), the simple gestures of ‘buongiorno’ ‘grazie’, and a smile with whomever you meet. The author used a number of different words for manners and courtesy, but the one I liked best, (for its etymological resonances?) was ‘la creanza’. In an office, in a shop, in the street, these small things make a difference. Without ‘good manners’, a community doesn’t live well, he said.
Whilst here, in Anghiari, I have been reading a lovely book called A Philosophy of Walking (by Frédéric Gros). Here are a couple of passages on the experience of time when walking:
Walking is the best way to go more slowly than any other method that has ever been found. To walk, you need to start with two legs. The rest is optional. If you want to go faster, then don’t walk, do something else: drive, slide or fly. Don’t walk. And when you are walking, there is only one sort of performance that counts: the brilliance of the sky, the splendour of the landscape. Walking is not a sport. (2014: 2)
This is a piece I’ve been meaning to write for a while. Each blog that I have done on arriving in Anghiari over the last couple of years has a reference to bells ringing. I find them such a welcoming sound. And they always seem to be ringing just as I arrive! If you happen to be in the main piazza when they are ringing, they seem to come from a particular direction, you feel certain about it, but, in fact, they are coming from the opposite direction, up the hill behind the piazza, from Chiesa della Propositura, an 18th church, with a lovely Della Robbia behind the alter.
The Talozzi family run a restaurant here in Anghiari. Although relatively recent arrivals (having moved here from Siena in the 1960s), they are passionate about this place. They are also passionate about offering a welcome to all, a welcome to ‘i stranieri’ (foreigners, strangers). Continue reading The Talozzi family
This is going to be a short blog, about an ordinary everyday encounter. One morning last week I went down to the pharmacy to buy some band aids. I’d cut my thumb the night before in an absent-minded moment. With great care, the pharmacist, in a white jacket, took me around to a seat behind the counter and asked me to put my thumb on a bed of cottonwool so that she could look it. When I was going on about how stupid I’d been, she said, with understanding, ‘it happens’. We laughed about the state of ‘being in a hurry’. Continue reading The Pharmacist in Anghiari
We belong to the world and are of the world because our formative experience was one of relation and involvement – with the maternal body, and through it, with the world. It is from that primary relation that we derive our ability to love, to feel loved and to be with. But we don’t remember it. We don’t remember the oneness of the womb or our infantile intertwinning with our mother’s bodies because memories belong to subjects and this foundational love was laid down before we became identifiable subjects [bounded subjects before an objective world].
Memory is about parts, separated and put back together. Member, dismember, remember. It is the job of the subject to undertake that ‘recollection’ of discrete events and experiences and forge them into a coherent narrative. But the primary experience I am describing happens to a self that doesn’t have parts, in a world that is without separations. Continue reading unremembered love
Gardeners often talk of their state of mind. Gardening relaxes them. It changes their mood or perspective. It makes them feel differently about their lives. Although we often imagine that moods and states of mind are attributes of an individual, these experiences of gardening suggest that states of mind are a matter of ecology or sociology rather than individual psychology. The changed state of mind befalls the gardener; it emerges from their relation with the garden.
Indeed, just to take this thought a step further, maybe this is what is important about gardens. They are special places where people learn that what is innermost is also outside them. This is how they learn how they fit in a broader world that includes them but doesn’t belong to them. Continue reading A gardening state of mind
In our garden there are seven plantation pink sasanqua camellias along the back fence, five dark pink hiryu camellias down the side fences, and there is one prostrate hiryu which will eventually reach across the pond. We planted most of the plantation pinks over 25 years ago, telling ourselves that we’d prune them every year. These trees are now up to ten metres high, taller than the peppercorn tree, the Chinese pistache and the jacaranda which complete the canopy. Each has a trunk circumference of 60 centimetres. Continue reading Camellias
Last Friday I took my Aunty Sheila to L’Arche for Spiritual Soup. Spiritual Soup is a gathering that takes place once a month at one of three L’Arche Houses in Sydney. Core members, assistants, coordinators, family and friends come together to share a simple dinner of soup and bread before adjoining to a quiet place in the house to celebrate the community’s solidarity through prayer, song and educational activities that core members are able to participate in. Continue reading A Visit to L’Arche