As I struggle to separate myself from this place I have come to love so much in a short time, I wonder why it is so hard. David (aka Herc) handed me the answer in an article by Jeanette Winterton in the Wall Street Journal. Manic-Depressive, she was exploring the connection between her disease (the same as mine) and her creativity. She made this very revealing comment: “Art isn’t a surface activity. It comes from a deep place and it meets the wound we each carry.”
I have struggled to express this same thought so many times, mostly to beginning writers. I have called it “writing from your bones.” I think the reason I am so attached and fulfilled by this place is because there is a spirit that accompanies the huge collection of art and architecture that is this city. That art represents victory over darkness in each of those artists’ minds. When we choose to create, we choose not to die or give up. I have always understood that in a literal sense, but it is true for great art in a figurative sense as well. Michelangelo is not dead. At some level, he knew that he would continue to live in his David, a sculpture that is stuffed full of life, more so than many people.
The geniuses of the Renaissance were dealing with the “divine void” (aka existential darkness) because they were coming out of the darkness that had enveloped their world for a thousand years. The beginning of the Renaissance was an incredible explosion of creativity that began in Florence, but quickly spread across Italy and from there throughout western Europe. After hundreds of years during which everything remained the same, incredible change happened from year to year, decade to decade in the 15th century.
Some thought that darkness was caused somehow by the church, but they didn’t understand that what the church had come to be was not representative of the true Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Maybe this is why as I sat in the Firenze Second Branch this morning, I was suddenly filled with the desire to learn Italian and come here (with Herc) on a couples mission. Herc, who has a tin ear for language, has even decided to take Italian with me.
Maybe my novel won’t be suspense after all. That would be the easy way out. I guess we’ll see.