It’s becoming really annoying how many times a day I think to post “OMG this is life changing” about almost all of my experiences. I really feel that way, but the changes I’m going through are incredible and take minutes to form. In design, I’ve gone from a modernist practice to a postmodern practice to a practice free of categories, and there is not a single second of the day where I am bored. I get tired, of course, but I am fully engaged in everything that is happening. It’s like watching a change of seasons, made rapid through chemical reaction in my mind. It was in this state that I went with a class to Europe, but I was always on the periphery of the experiences we were guided through.
It was in this state, largely fueled by espresso in the early morning, that fueled and propelled me into a steady stream of new experiences as I came from an almost absence of space of the industrial district in West Berkeley and in septic classrooms in school to a waking environment of shifting forms and movements.
I had very definitely and with great intention switched from coffee to tea earlier in the summer, writing about all of my experiences, but when we discovered that we had been drinking decaffeinated tea because we couldn’t translate Italian, I decided I would just have espresso to fulfill my needs in the morning, and in the afternoon, and in the early evening.
There was a program on KZSU by a Dante scholar I used to listen to, and I was always really interested in the idea that the Divine Comedy could not be translated in a way that preserved the poetry. I always thought, mostly mused about on lazy Sundays in Half Price Books, that I should learn Italian, and then read the Divine Comedy. Not for any other reason. Just spend a couple of years studying Italian, then reading the Divine Comedy, then putting it down and doing something else. I probably do not have to report how this plan went. But the fact that we couldn’t translate “decaffeinated” saved me a lot of time. This experience moved quickly to hell, with almost no time of poetic development. And I exited this hell, through succumbing to the new reality of espresso machines. Virgil and Beatrice are weird birds. They make the sound of steaming milk. Their sound is redemption, and I needed a new paradise every two hours.
At the surface level, our class was about going to the Venice Biennale, and exploring Berlin, but we of course brought our own perspectives to the experience, and I combined this with an exploration with my partner across the entire trip. What emerged was an unwavering wandering across thousand year old architecture and cities, modern and crashing with styles and periods all together, like a collage in a thick summer haze of sweltering heat and inexplicable cold fronts. It was…life changing.
I discovered a lot about art and design, and my life in general on the trip, and I’ll be writing about it here over the next few weeks.