Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Clarice, the glorious city, has a tormented history. Several times it decayed, then burgeoned again, always keeping the first Clarice as an unparalled model of every splendor, compared to which the city's recent state can only arouse more sighs at every fading of the stars. . . . In its centuries of decadence, emptied by plagues, it height reduced by collapsing beams and cornices . . . the city slowly became populated again as the survivors emerged from the basements and lairs, in hordes, swarming like rats, driven by their fury to rummage and gnaw, and yet also to collect and patch, like nesting birds. They grabbed everything that could be taken from where it was and put it in another place to serve a different use . . . Put together with odd bits of the useless Clarice, a survivors' Clarice was taking shape . . .The order of the era's succession has been lost; that a first Clarice existed is a widespread belief, but there are no proofs to support it. The capitals would have been in the chicken runs before they were in the temples, the marble urns could have been planted with basil before they were filled with dead bones. Only this is know for sure: a given number of objects is shifted within a given space, at times submerged by a quantity of new objects, at times worn out and not replaced; the rule is to shuffle them each time, then try to assemble them. Perhaps Clarice has always been only a confusion of chipped gimcracks, ill-assorted, obsolete.

Italo Calvino