… What if it were all these things already seen and heard that cloud our thoughts and stop us from seeing straight … ?
This is from the essay ‘A Gate onto the River ‘ 1987 found in The Complete Essays 1973-1991 by Luigi Ghirri (2016):
… That’s how I remember Farrara, and how I still see it: not as an ungraspable suspended time, or as an unobtainable chimera of the past, or even as immobile stones without a future beyond this pervading feeling of melancholia. For the city seems to comprehend and circumscribe everything as if beyond its own walls there were nothing but nothingness — a cage in which imprisonment is strangely sweet.
What if melancholy and fear also arose when we remembered to many things? Too many inns and farmyards; too many peasants, all stereotypes of life; too many glasses of wine while playing briscola beneath the porticos; too much fog; too many lunches to seal friendships, stars twinkling in the ditchwater, couples courting on the riverbank or in cars or on bicycles; too many shouts across the Emilian plain, cries smothered by the clatter of hooves; too many amarcord [I remember] and nights from 1943 recalled, flags among the poplars, farmers and laborers; too many shutters and tiles, balconies, walls and fences, flowerpots on the windowsills; too many dance-halls, churches and factories; too many mosquitoes; too many watermelons; too many market squares; too many bollards along the dusty streets; too many archways, doorways, pilasters, frescoes; too many Preludes to the Traviata? Too much of everything, in this boundless common place.
What if it were this very excess of memory, of recollection, that makes our horizon invisible and uninhabitable? What if it were all this that turns the waters slimy, like the wastepipes of factories and chemical fertilizers used by the farms that poison them? What if it were all these things already seen and heard that cloud our thoughts and stop us from seeing straight, just as the herbicide and industrial waste poison our environment?
And what if the madding crowds of metropolis and dizzying proliferation of shiny cars and shop windows had not dazzled these places, and made tolerable the burden of abundance that seems to accompany our lives?
It seems that these places have brought all this together in a sort of miraculous equilibrium, so subtle and magical that it is able to remain hidden, not requiring a precise identity but poised between past and present, still invisible and unknowable — and that which we are allowed to know, tell and represent is nothing but a tiny ripple on the surface of things.
Luigi Ghirri, Pomponesco, 1985