Shelves: travel , essays-and-journalism , italy , decades , ebooks-kobo , , bought-or-replaced , points [4. I never understood why it was a popular topic, and went on to associate the place with chore-ish dullness, dimly aware it also had some mysterious cult following. The documentary was a little jumbled in [4. The documentary was a little jumbled in chronology, but made up for it in atmosphere. From my mid teens onwards, I somehow managed to read about all sorts of aesthetes and decadents, aware of plenty of other European cities having associations with them, without ever really noticing Venice beyond the title of a book by Ruskin.

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Swedish Excerpt from Watermark I always adhered to the idea that God is time, or at least that His spirit is. In any case, I always thought that if the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the water, the water was bound to reflect it. Hence my sentiment for water, for its folds, wrinkles, and ripples, and — as I am a Northerner — for its grayness. I am not looking for a naked maiden riding on a shell; I am looking for either a cloud or the crest of a wave hitting the shore at midnight.

That, to me, is time coming out of water, and I stare at the lace-like pattern it puts on the shore, not with a gypsy-like knowing, but with tenderness and with gratitude. This is the way, and in my case the why, I set my eyes on this city. There is nothing Freudian to this fantasy, or specifically chordate, although some evolutionary — if not plainly atavistic — or autobiographical connection could no doubt be established between the pattern a wave leaves upon the sand and its scrutiny by a descendant of the ichthyosaur, and a monster himself.

The eye in this city acquires an autonomy similar to that of a tear. This of course owes to the local topography, to the streets — narrow, meandering like eels — that finally bring you to a flounder of a campo with a cathedral in the middle of it, barnacled with saints and flaunting its Medusa-like cupolas.

On the map this city looks like two grilled fish sharing a plate, or perhaps like two nearly overlapping lobster claws Pasternak compared it to a swollen croissant ; but it has no north, south, east, or west; the only direction it has is sideways.

It surrounds you like frozen seaweed, and the more you dart and dash about trying to get your bearings, the more you get lost. The yellow arrow signs at intersections are not much help either, for they, too, curve. And in the fluently flapping hand of the native whom you stop to ask for directions, the eye, oblivious to his sputtering A destra, a sinistra, dritto, dritto, readily discerns a fish.

Excerpt selected by the Nobel Library of the Swedish Academy. To cite this section.


Watermark: An Essay on Venice by Joseph Brodsky – review

Dull Again, there is nothing Freudian to them, nothing sub- or unconscious. Watermark by Joseph Brodsky On top of everything, they were cold. On the brighter side there are, of course, lots of lions: No matter how solid its substitutethe deckunder your feet, on water you are somewhat more alert than ashore, your faculties are more poised. For water, too, is choral, in more ways than one. Also, because of their numerical superiority wategmark any other carved or sculpted image, including that of the Madonna or the Redeemer Himself. I am but a nervous man, by circumstance and by my own deeds; but I am observant.





Joseph Brodsky


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