There are several things I like about this picture taken on a winter’s eve in Rome’s Jewish Ghetto. It screams “Rome!” to me.
I mean, there is that jumbled mass of wires, the downspouts disappearing into cement, all crammed into buildings in a constant state of evolution as the ages pass; signs of human cleverness and the ability to adapt.
There are also statues never meant to be part of a wall, historic statues full of meaning and emotion. Just stuck up there. My wall as public museum. I am particularly attracted to the lion and gazelle. These animals, of course, play a large part in traditional Jewish culture. They represent “the fortitude and fleetness with which a Jew is to do the bidding of G-d.”
But there’s more than that, of course. An anthropologist must examine all aspects of myth, after all. The lion and gazelle together represent balance; the lion survives by strength, the gazelle by fleetness. They are both equally good at what they do, despite having radical differences in survival strategies. So they both survive, despite their differences.
Balance used to be important in culture. The best economy was understood to have equal proportions of supply and demand (the rich supplied the money for industrial growth, the poor were efficient consumers of what the factories belched out). When in balance everything ran smoothly and everyone prospered. The poor got less poor and could buy more things, which got cheaper because of the technical innovations brought about by investment by the investment class, the rich. Today the lion has won out. We’ve had “supply side economics” foisted upon us (or idiotically chosen by us). The poor get poorer because we worship and throw our money at the rich, expecting without a shred of evidence that they’ll employ us at a reasonable salary if we just give them a little more of our money. Eventually the rich gamble rather than invest because the poor can’t consume like they once did because of lack of funds, so there is nothing to invest in—so the poor get poorer still because the money is going nowhere. Eventually there will be war. There has to be war.
The loss of balance is a killer.
So, while you still have money, go to Rome, have a Carciofi Alla Giudia. That’ll cheer you up almost as good as a nice, thick lion steak.