The Red Cap does Venice, city of love and romance
We travel south again. We are in a hurry. We want to get to that famed little town called “La Dominante” and “Serenissima” (the serene one), and also “Queen of the Adriatic”, to Venice, the City of eternal love and romance and happiness. Tourists from all over the world flock to this city that is slowly rotting away in the water, to partake in her love, her happiness. As usual, they believe that happiness is always somewhere else, somewhere far away, somewhere EXOTIC. Thus they, the deluded humanity gather by the million like so much flotsam in the streets of Venice in search of that evasive, coveted, everlasting (but non-existent) happiness. And typically human, not having the tenacity to work for the everlasting version, they simply go for instant gratification, the addictive, ecstatic high, the orgasmic fling. They like to call it “living in the now” while they do not have the foggiest notion of what it means ‘to live in the now’. For them it is a mantra mindlessly repeated after the current leader of the pack (usually “Mevrou Dominee”), and it simply means to forget the past while driving in a luxury 4×4 double cab on their way to the local boutique to buy yet another must-have-now Gucci or Versace or whatever labelled item, while not worrying where Hubby is going to get the money to pay the future bill with. If they cared to ask me, a humble Red Cap, I would not mind to share my superior knowledge with them about something as sacred as ‘the now’ where past, present and future meet during mindful contemplation to become ‘Deep Time’ or ‘No Time’, where your spiritual practice transports you into the void, into the Tibetan ‘Rigpa’. But what do they care. They are living a deluded, vulgar life, happily turning the sacred in to a gilded turd. And that is why they come to Venice, to be seduced by her and to make love to her and each other like vile rodents. Because they are shallow, they are impressed by the superficial beauty of this cold, wet, pretentious bitch long past her prime. I honestly can not imagine what can be so romantic about a city that was built by the mass killing of trees. Three forests of Alder trees were devastated, chopped down, annihilated to get enough poles to build the city, the “Queen of the Adriatic” on water. Maybe that is why she is such a cold bitch. Hundreds of thousands of trees had to die for her to be born, and deep down her timbers she knows that it is inevitable that some day they will take revenge. Deep down she knows it, and she fears that day.
We travel over a choppy sea and set foot on her floating shore. And she is impressive, this old lady with water-ways running through her like varicose veins. Majestic statues greet you mockingly before you are swept away in a raging river of sweating tourists, sweeping you along into the bowels of this aging whore and spitting you out into a vast, beautiful plaza.
And this, of course, is the beginning of the seduction. She is impressive, and warm, and overcrowded. The plaza is vast beyond words, almost beyond comprehension. The statues, sculptures and works of art are exquisite and blend in perfectly with the outstanding architecture which is a creation of art on its own. Here you get the first glimpse of the real nature of the “Queen of the Adriatic” that lies below the superficial , almost vulgar veneer of romance and happiness lavishly supplied by the advertising agents in their glossy brochures as demanded by the love and happy-hungry masses in T-shirts and tackies. But you only get to see into the soul of the “Queen”, to see her naked to the bone as it were, if you know where and how to look. It is only the privileged, initiated few like me, a humble Red Cap, who gets to see beyond the pretence, beyond the delusion.
It all started way before 421 AD, when people fleeing from the brutal attacks by the Huns and other barbarian tribes, settled on the safe shores of the lakes and started to do some serious fishing to survive. They fled form the barbarians because they were not the warrior type, they were a different breed of men and women, preferring to live in peace and quiet by the sea. And that is what set Venetians apart from the marauding hoards and their blood-lust from the outset. They lived on their little islands and minded their own business, occasionally taking up arms (mostly hiring mercenaries) to defend themselves against the Lombards, the Ottomans, Austria, Prussia and Charles the Great. Even Napoleon and his army stood in the queue, waiting for his turn to conquer the city. Yes, they did join in the fun of the fourth Crusade and helped sack Constantinople. It was easier to go and conquer a dwindling Byzantine Empire, than to go and fight against those vicious bloody Muslims in Jerusalem who were known for their fighting skills and brutal mercilessness in war. And what did they bring back as part of their loot? Four gilded bronze horses! Which shows you that even in war they were artists at heart? I would not be surprised if they did not join the Crusade and diverted it away from those murderous Muslims in Jerusalem, just to get hold of those four beautiful gilt horses in Constantinople!
Not the golden horses these. Only bronze replicas of the originals. The originals are stored underneath the Church
They built their empire, not primarily by making war, not by killing and plundering their neighbours (though they did from time to time. They were still lowly humans, for gods’ sake), but mainly by trading with every country in the known world. They were making millions, living the high life of the rich and investing heavily in art, music and technology, so much so that they became the cultural capital of the Western world, also known as “The Republic of Music”. Everybody who was somebody wanted to be seen in Venice.
And it is music that set it all off for me, a humble Red Cap while my moron was strolling his usual mindless stroll-around on the Piazza San Marco. Suddenly the sound of bells chiming boomed over the unsuspecting crowd of tourists, and that stirred something deep inside of me. It is said that, if we listen in the right way, even a stone will speak to us. The bells spoke and I was transported to the abode of Sapientia , the goddess of the Cathars, the Knights Templar and Dante where, as is said, ‘the eyesight has another sight, the hearing another hearing and the voice another voice’. And I saw, and I heard, but then I suddenly found myself still bobbing on the head of, first an gondolier and then my rubber necked moron, gliding down a channel in a gondola. I was furious.
The fool could not resist the temptation of this nauseatingly “sweet romantic” trip in an infernal gondola like a common bloody tourist. But I must admit, albeit grudgingly, that it eventually turned out to be a rather exciting trip, to see the Bitch rot beneath the water. Ha! ‘Elegant Decay’ they call it. Rot is stinking rot I say!
But I swore that he, the moron, would not get away with this treachery. Siding with the enemy and going down the slimy, slippery road of romance and everlasting happiness like a demented Boy Scout. This will simply not do, so I tightened my grip on his head and whispered in his ear like the famed Titania did in Bottom’s ear, “And I will purge thy mortal grossness so that thou shalt like an airy spirit go.” And his eyes glazed over and his spirit soared through the spheres to the mundus imaginalis, the place that is no place. The place where Venice, beautiful, eternal Venice drifts like a dream. We, me and my moron, walked the streets of the eternal, enchanted City. We mingled with cobblers and merchants and elegant ladies in beautiful long dresses. We listened to opera performances and classical music by Vivaldi. We visited art exhibitions and listened to inspiring sermons in the most magnificent churches … and then our gondola bumped against the harbour wall and we were rudely evacuated from the boat to make room for the next batch of happy retards who wanted to do the gondola thing so they can go home and show their friends the pretty pictures of themselves … in a gondola … in Venice. How exiting!
My moron was still a bit disorientated as a result of our little trip to the “other side”. He stumbled when trying to disembark from the boat and almost landed us in the water. They had to help him step onto the quayside. And immediately we were swept into the rushing tide of tourists on their way to the waterbus which took us back to the mainland.
We departed, knowing that one day Venice will crumble and disappear beneath the water. Only a ghost of the once proud city will remain on the scattered islands. The tourists will disappear, finding new exiting destinations to satisfy their insatiable hunger for happiness. Venice will be forgotten, but not by those of us who knew her intimately and loved her deeply. In our hearts of hearts she will live forever as our beloved Serenissima.