These thoughts have 'nothing' to do with travel...

Trip Start Jul 26, 2010
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Trip End Ongoing


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Where I stayed
like usual... on a bicycle seat!

Flag of Italy  , Umbria,
Sunday, September 12, 2010

I first heard about Orvieto (http://www.orvieto.ch/), Italy back in '98.  An artist from there visited Aiken, SC (where I was living at the time) and gave a presentation about Lithographs and the meaning of line and proportion - and the perceived affect of gravity upon such and the canvas.  I don't remember the name of the artist, but he was a kindly, old man with intense eyes and laughter always upon his lips.  He drew a line.  Then he drew a small circle underneath the right side of the line.  The line seemed to transition from gently hovering in space to suddenly being tugged down.
That presentation made so much sense.  I enjoyed it and was happy to hear thoughts spoken about things that I had never considered but had felt.  Afterwards, I thought that I heard him say, in parts of Italian and English,"You have so many trees here!"
These two things are all that I remember from his visit.  Yet, they've come back to me on many and divergent occasions - many of which did not seem to have anything to do with art and only peripherally, Italy.  However, since then, I've carried with me an image of Orvieto akin to desiccate scenes of Turkey, Lebanon or Israel - cities dry and made of dried earth and baked stones.  Now, after having been to Orvieto, and by bike nonetheless, I'm confused.  There are LOTS of trees all around Orvieto!  Did I form an image of a place of which was never spoken or was such spoken but with a different meaning?  I must tell you, it's a delightful position in which to find myself - a funny, little mystery that will probably never have a resolution but in such adds to the colorful, details of perception and therefore life!
Orvieto is another, Medieval town, like Citta' della Pieve, but much larger.  The great walls surrounding it are impressive and in the same way of all fortress walls, sad.  There have only ever been two reasons for such kinds of walls: to protect what you have from those who are greedy or to greedily protect what you have from others!  For whatever reason, the dominant Western culture has been rooted in and assiduously promoted this idea of owning, taking, hording the commons.  It believes that it IS the way the world works rather than a lens through which one can see the world.  Many cultures around the world have proved otherwise.  They have almost all been wiped out, slain, stolen from and replaced by and with the Western sword.

This sword is still at work and, like always, even working against it's own: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lESol88wOi0    Please don't be afraid to listen to these, scientific, analyses on Building Number 7 that fell in the 9-11 attacks.  And, then go on to watch the entire documentary.  The GREEDY clearly DO NOT see us as their own kind!!!

There is another image that I have carried with me for some years.  As all of you now know from my previous post, I do heartily enjoy cycling.  On the way to Orvieto, I noticed as I approached the top of a climb, some writing done with paint that had aged, on the road surface.  At first I didn't pay it much attention.  However, it kept appearing and soon distracted me from the gigantic panoramas of the valleys below, orchards of olive trees and Italian versions of fast-food: trees near enough to road side where one could reach out to steal figs, apples or blackberries!  You see, I've only ever seen a pro cycling race from internet video.  They always happened in places far away and most often in lands where Cycling was respected and Cyclists adored.  Through the screen, I've seen many of these great athletes charge mountain tops, breathlessly hammer their bodies into untold feats of human power; tap their wells of human endurance far beyond what any of us ever ask of our bodies.
It's beautiful.  It's simple.  How far can the individual spirit and body go within these natural boundaries into which we are all born.  Gravity works.  Air offers resistance.  Bodies receive and give but are not machines.  They tire.  Our emotions change how the entire organism functions.  The mind affects the heart and the legs.  The fans affect the athletes.  On and on the multitude of variables spiral out.  And, one of the very nice things about cycling is that it goes on for days and days and the court or field is never the same.  Nothing pretends to be constant.  Everyone seems to understand that it is more of a prospect against one's self and the mountains than the other athletes.  How much effort can you ask out of your body?  What kind of conversation can you have with pain?  It's is a sport more about endurance than reserves.  Like one of the greatest cyclists, Greg LeMond, said, "It doesn't get any easier.  You just go faster."
In any case, I got to meet, in a way, another of the great cyclists - this time one of fiercest and most colorful climbers ever - Marco Pantani (http://www.pantani.it/index.php).  His name had been scrawled, over and over, on the pavement that I was now traversing.  Up and up I went over "Long live the Tour of Italy!", "Bravo Pantani", and "Forever Pantani".  This far off land, where these honored folks play out their desires, was now mine too!  I felt self conscience and silly that it should mean anything to me.  It's just a road.  It happened then, not now.  Yet, my heart fluttered a little and my legs pushed harder.  The air seemed crisper and the view more beautiful.  Then the exact hill-top line came into view - the one the racers fly to within daily, stage racers in order to vie for the 'King of the Mountains' title or to salute one's land or home town.  Then, as soon as it had come into sight, I was up and over and barreling down the other side into the valley below.

Orvieto was lovely.  The cathedral is one of the most beautiful pieces of useless architecture I have yet scene.  If only it were honestly said that it is a tribute to man rather than 'for god'.  Then, I think that it could mean something kinder to me.  Useless, perhaps, is the wrong word.  It is too kind.  The completely unique and devastatingly brilliant and colorful mosaics that cover much of the facade were created to fool people into this unique brand of religion.  Fear, awe, reverence, might, power, orders, rules...supplication.  It sounds to me nothing more than a reflection of the barbaric structure of the Greed of Western Civilization.  What would Christianity really be if you took away the influence of Western Civilization?  I dare say, that it would look very much like the religion of many native peoples.  What is love?  Love is what IS.  The world gives and gives so that we might live.  No matter what we think of it or how we treat it, it keeps giving and giving.  If we only took what we needed, it would stay and be able to give, for all time to come.
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