Venice: God and Time, Water and Beauty
A reportage dedicated to Venice, whose “forced solitude” makes it even more wonderful these days. A beauty that has been forged in a millennium and a half during which different peoples, styles, cultures have succeeded, overlapping each other, thus creating a harmonious perspective that only the chaos of creation can possibly match to this perfection.
There is a fascinating theory of why Venice is the most beautiful city in the world. It is that of the Russian poet and writer Iosif Aleksandrovič Brodskij, awarded in 1987 with the Nobel Prize for literature. Born in Leningrad, today Saint Petersburg, he was utterly bewitched by Venice, to the point that he dedicated to the City one of the most beautiful declarations of love ever written.
In his essay “Watermark” (1989) Brodskij makes a correlation between God and Time, Water and Beauty. If, according to the Russian writer, the spirit of God is to be found in Time, Water is both its metaphor and perfect image, capable of capturing and reflecting it at the same time.
“The upright lace of Venetian façades is the best line time-alias-water has left on terra firma anywhere. Plus, there is no doubt a correspondence between – if not an outright dependence on – the rectangular nature of that lace’s displays – i.e., local buildings – and the anarchy of water that spurns the notion of shape. It is as though space, cognizant here more than anyplace else of its inferiority to time, answers it with the only property time doesn’t possess: with beauty. And that’s why water takes this answer, twists it, wallops and shreds it, but ultimately carries it by and large intact off into the Adriatic.”
Thus water reflects, doubling it, the beauty of Venice and it is precisely the water/time relation that represents the supremacy of the city in the world as not only time is sublimated by it, but in the same way Venice remains eternally wonderful, challenging the rules of Creation and God Himself.
Quoting then, once again, Brodskij: “The more substantial an individual’s aesthetic experience is, the sounder his taste, the sharper his moral focus, the freer – though not necessarily the happier – he is. It is precisely in this applied, rather than Platonic, sense that we should understand Dostoevsky’s remark that beauty will save the world, or Matthew Arnold’s belief that we shall be saved by poetry. It is probably too late for the world, but for the individual man there always remains a chance.”
For Venice too.
Thanks to the Municipality of Venice, Department of Tourism, for granting the permission to take these photos safely.