The Venice Variations: Preview Part 4

  1. The future we must strive to achieve

So why Venice matters today?

Venice allows us to address very significant questions concerning our urban future.

How do cities evolve as complex spaces nurturing both urban creativity and the fortuitous art of discovery? By which mechanisms they foster imagination and innovation? How do they adapt and sustain themselves through time.

As Calvino points out in his book through the dialogues between Marco Polo and Kublai Khan, Venice has been at the crossroads of emporium – expressed through the Venetian explorer – and imperium – the Mongolian emperor – mirroring today’s global financial and political conditions.

Venice matters today because like the ancient artefacts of epic and myth, it sustains its universal relevance over and above its transient conditions. Having developed through processes of artisanal craftsmanship, it is similar to the way an improvised oral poem, recited from memory, incorporates fragments of narrative already sung by others.

For the bards of antiquity, who sang poems without a song sheet, the risk of forgetting must have made theirs the most precarious form of existence. Venice matters today because the future we must strive to achieve is made possible by creating afresh at every occasion the memory of what has gone before, extemporising with whatever variations inspire on each occasion.

Image: Baldassare Longhena’s Santa Maria della Salute with Giuseppe Benoni’s Punta della Dogana (the Sea Customs House) in the foreground and Andrea Palladio’s Rendetore in the background. Image by Supechilum, CC BY-SA 4.0 Wikipedia Commons.

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