John Palcewski (forioscribe) wrote,
John Palcewski

Irony & Artificiality

On a magazine assignment in Rome in the 70s, my very first stop was at a Jewish Temple--Tempio Maggiore di Roma--on the banks of the Tiber, which was constructed shortly after the unification of Italy in 1870, when the Kingdom of Italy captured Rome and the Papal States ceased to exist. Having grown up in a Roman Catholic environment, I found being required to wear a yarmulke enormously ironic.

Another place, which I thought would hold much less irony, was the church of San Pietro in Vincoli, Saint Peter in Chains, in which sat Michaelangelo’s Moses. To my great disappointment, the statue was in gloomy darkness and thus impossible to photograph because flash was forbidden. But then I spotted a box and a sign off to the side which said that the lights will be turned on for a few minutes if you insert some Lira coins. Ah. There was irony in this place after all.

Thence to St. Peter’s, which seemed to me—like most of Rome—artifical, or fake, as if it were an elaborate movie set. This was because my prior experience of these famous edifices and monuments first came in America by way of photos and films. The indisputable Roman reality had to be overlaid on my brain's collection of artifical, second-hand images.

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