Hong Kong, Munich, Rome

the endless night in which eight hours were lost is over. We are in Rome.

what seems morning was night and midday in Munich. Although, it was still, after the 3 hour delay on the tarmac at HK Airport, early morning, when we arrived there. The delay due to a thunderstorm of such violence it shook the plane where it sat still.

the last powder rose cloud has fallen into ash. I look out over rooftops, unsurprisingly roman-tiled, the pretend roof of the local church with its unencumbered upright facade like a Hollywood backlot – the belltower free-standing and utilitarian on the flat roof – towards the Trevi, il Fontano di Trevi, a corner of it visible from our balcony. I say a corner as if it were a small thing. But we are directly in the middle of one of the world’s great cities.

now a scattershot of voices in the alley, the Vicolo, below, the sound of people taking stock in a peculiarly theatrical way, Pulcinello and his friends. The light having dropped away. A particular Victorian-ness to the scene of TV aerials set at an almost uniform height. A flock, literally, of gulls passes over, just as the voices have moved away.

a splatter of water in the backstage of Trevi, where the clowns come to apply their make-up. It is not necessarily my insight that they are clowns, the performers of the freeze-frame dotted all over, distracting attention away from the actual monuments. Freeze-frame clowns. Or, clowning has really gone to a dark place: a state-man frozen in the act of being a drunk bum, wearing dark grey make-up, almost metallic.

These lanes around the back are where the street-‘performers’ come to put on their make-up. They detract from the monuments because in playing statues they exactly are not. That is the fascination. Living people next to marble people. Those for whom time stopped, those for whom the jingle-jangle of coins in their cans proves the obverse, that they are getting ahead. Making a living.

It was strange today to leave Hong Kong in a lightning and thunder storm and wait and wait and wait, arriving in Munich’s award-winning airport, to revisit after HK’s definite form of impersonal liberty Germany’s indefinite form of personal liberty. And to have flown with a plane-load of complicit Chinese, farting, burping, hawking up phlegm, at peace with bodily function, into a the cultural clench of Bayern. Thereafter to travel a load of Bavarians into the liberated definitions of personal liberty and its opposite of Italy.

quite dark now. A scooter revving down the lane. Distant jazz. Cutlery chiming against ceramic.

I sat on the aeroplane from Munich on my own, since we had missed our connecting flight and had to make do. The flight to Rome being full. I was between two types: the laconic and the extrovert. Although the seats were more comfortable than on the 15 hour leg from HK, it was impossible to relax with these two. We didn’t strike up any kind of conversation except for the former gloating on our arrival in Rome, ‘Eine schone lange Warteschlange.’ About the number of aircraft lined up to take their run-up into flight. Like primary school children waiting in line.

Now Rome. We have walked past the Trevi Fountain an half-dozen times already. And before dinner wandered as far as Piazza Navona, dropping in at the Parthenon on the way. The impression gained that at least being so central we are not going to miss out on those things only accessible to most by public transport.

I slept and woke up. My eyes are droopy now. The Frascati we bought for under 5 Euro calls me. My only complaint so far on this part of the trip, the inability of the Italians to let me labour away that they in incomprehensible English put a stop to my even more incomprehensible Italian.

it occurs to me in the night, when things make a kind of sense that does not necessarily translate into the daytime, to ask: what is the most postmodern?

While HK may be dedicated to the maintaining of a present materialism, I think, on the basis of systems of logistics which work, is that basis increasingly immaterial? or senseless?

And Rome, I think, may be dedicated to preserving the presence of the past while embracing the material benefits of a Universal Tourism, is not that very materialism increasingly immaterial? or like TV sited in a technological space which is necessarily immaterial?