More reasons to read ‘Four Seasons’

16 Aug

I’ve already gushed about the beauty I’ve found in Anthony Doerr’s “Four Seasons in Rome.” It’s time to gush again.

It’s very possible this section struck me so only because of a friend’s current project. She’s facinated by generational differences, and her blog, Generation Expression, studies those differences and asks for input from anyone with an opinion.

In this particular section, Doerr is diving once again into his facination with Pliny’s Natural History and taking that piece of history and juxtaposing it with his twins and life today. He really likes the then-to-know juxtaposes, and it makes for some beautiful prose.

“I’m not reading Pliny to see how far humanity has come as much as I’m reading him to see how much we’ve lost. Knowledge is relative. Mystery can be cultivated. / Henry and Owen see more images in a day than Pliny saw in a lifetime, and I worry their generatioin will have to work a bit harder than every previous one to stay alert to the miracles of the world. / Shauna says it’s a good thing I didn’t get to see snow sifting through the oculus of the Pantheon. Sometimes, she says, the things we don’t see are more beautiful than anything else.”

I love it when a chuck of prose can give me goosebumps.

Doerr and his family were lucky enough to live in Rome when the Vatican elected the new pope. Doerr rushed out his apartment with his twins to stand with other Romans and watch Pope Benedict be introduced to the world.

“Before any outcome, before cynicism, or disappointment, or exultation — there is hope, and the promise of change. The joy is in the expectancy, in the swelling potential of it all. The last-second shot hangs above the rim; the final ballot box is upended onto the counting table. It’s the admissions envelope in the mailbox, the corner of the telegraph slip sticking out from under the door. It’s Christmas morning, it’s holding the pregnancy test to the light. It’s springtime. / Not-knowing is always more thrilling than knowing. Not-knowing is where hope and art and possibility and invention come from. It is not-knowing, that old, old thing, that allows everything to be renewed.”

Sometimes, there is a sweet thrill in the simple act of copying down something that I find brilliant. My journal is full of these types of graphs. It’s probably more fulfilling to share them with people.


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