Cosi sol d'una chiara fonte viva
Move 'l dolce e l'amaro, ond'io mi posco;
Una man sola mi risana e punge.
E perche 'l mio martir non giunga a riva
Mille volte il di moro e mille nasco;
Tanto da la salute mia son lunge.
So from one bright sparkling fountain
come both the sweet and the bitter that nurture me:
one hand both heals and wounds me.
And since my torment can find no relief
a thousand times a day I die and am reborn,
so far am I from my salvation.
Claudio Monteverdi - Madrigali Guerrieri et Amorosi
The Soldier's Dream 2
We are now watching a film, you and I, called 'The Soldier's Dream.' As it begins, we find
ourselves at an elevated point, in hilly country, in Italy obviously, possibly in Tuscany but more
likely Emilia-Romagna, watching from a great distance as a black car approaches on a winding
road. We see the car turning first this way and that as it negotiates sharp turns as the road
ascends. A great stillness lies over the winter landscape. The only movements besides the car
are a few black birds, possibly ravens, flying across the valley below us. The driver of the car is
alone. He is a youngish man very much like my old friend, Mark, who made two cameo appearances
on my website. Mark was brilliantly educated, like you, although to little immediate practical
purpose--possibly also like you. I think his degree was in something called "intellectual history."
I always appreciated Mark because he was the only person in my life to whom I did not have to
explain my more obscure jokes. He was so elegantly knowledgeable of what had passed in the
world, he made extra money during the year we were similarly occupied in New York by being
hired by Southeby's. From him I learned that certain, no doubt well-to-do, persons or their
executors engaged the auction house, upon their death, to dispose of their effects. Mark was
hired by Southeby's, when the major items, such as paintings, furniture, and so on had been
removed, to go through the detritus of their lives and see if anything of possible value had been
overlooked. He found many, many interesting little items in the course of this, some of value and
some not. I may tell you stories of this some day, but I will not digress now.
The man in the approaching car is similarly engaged, hired by such an auction house to examine the
flotsam of a client's life, after the major things have been removed, prior to final disposition.
The lamented and deceased client was a film director of some repute. The car draws up in front
of a pleasing but not ostentatious villa. The youngish man is admitted by the only servant
remaining, a caretaker of some sort, and left to do his business.
He occupies himself going through boxes and drawers, sorting and filing such miscellany as we all
are burdened with. After an hour or so, in a drawer, he finds a notebook inscribed, "Notes for a
film-The Soldier's Dream." He is hungry, so he spreads the food he brought with him on the
desk, and comfortably begins to read. As he reads, he becomes more and more intent and leaves
the food untouched. He turns the pages and we see an ornate and gilded door with imposing lintels
emerge and open and we are drawn through a passageway into a splendid garden....