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Atlantis Revisited

1,401 words

“Time is water and the Venetians conquered both by building a city on water, and framed time with their canals. Or tamed time. Or fenced it in. Or caged it.” The city’s engineers and architects were “magicians” and “the wisest of men who figured out how to subdue the sea in order to subdue time.”
— Joseph Brodsky (1940-1996)

Replicating the lyrical beauty and wanderlust of the Jewish journalist Joseph Roth, another “outsider” and co-religionist, the Nobel laureate poet Joseph Brodsky succeeds in perfectly capturing the elusive and almost mesmeric magic of Venice in his seductive prose masterpiece, Watermark (1974).

A reviewer in Publisher’s Weekly wrote:

Praising Venice and its architecture as a triumph of the visual, the Nobel laureate uses his visits there as a touchstone to meditate on life’s unpredictability, and on the appetite for beauty, death, myth, and modern art . . . In his wayward forays amid canals, streets, and cathedrals barnacled with saints, the eternal Venice shimmers through the fog, battered yet resplendent.

Given recent events, battered is the right word. With heavy rain and a full Moon combining with a pivoting flux called a seiche just off the low Adriatic coastline, a 1.87-meter Sirocco surge was raised in the Punta della Salute. This caused what Venetians call la Colma or l’acqua alta – flooding through the Porti – to cover eighty-five percent of the city center. This has swamped countless historic treasures such as eleventh-century mosaics , historic treasures like the sixteenth-century Christ Pantocrator, and artifacts made from twelve types of rare marble, and swept banana-shaped gondolas up onto the steps of Saint Mark’s basilica.

The water has risen far above the level that is meant to set off emergency sirens in the streets. Mud and gravel are scouring the stonework of Brodksy’s “version of paradise”: “This Penelope of a city, weaving her patterns by day and undoing them by night, with no Ulysses in sight. Only the sea.”

With the suddenness of the Old Testament’s God, a sea’s wrath had wreaked vengeance and come to lay claim once again to the city, besieging the palazzos and statues and clutching at its pillars with green seaweed-stained fingers, driving away tourists and trapping locals on the balconies of the Palazzo Gradenigo, now festooned with the detritus of a swelling lagoon.

This was a national disaster that the long-awaited flood barrier nicknamed Moses might possibly have prevented. It followed so rapidly in the wake of the fire that destroyed Notre Dame in Paris that one could almost be forgiven for thinking that it was a sign of Gaia’s displeasure; perhaps a condemnation of how man is treating the planet in a Sodom and Gomorrah for modern times. Perhaps it justifies Pope Francis’s suggestion to introduce a new catechism into the Catholic Church: “The sin against ecology, the sin against our common home, because it’s our duty!”

But it is far worse than that. The stink of rot and the tingle of crystalline salty damp that gets into your very bones has caused a cultural arthritis that has warped Venice’s white Istrian stone exoskeleton and bloomed like a red-rose rash of acne across the colored marble of the Palazzo Ducale. The city’s 118 islands and 150 canals, originally perched upon four-meter pilings plunged deep into the sandy marshlands of Torcello, Iesolo ,and Malamocco in the fifth century AD – culminating in over a million stakes, harvested from forests as far away as Slovenia, Croatia and Montenegro, supporting the Santa Maria Della Salute church – were already teetering on the brink of desecration. It is a sort of decadent decay perfectly symbolized by works such as the elusive and anonymous Instagram artist Banksy’s drawing of a migrant child wearing a life-jacket and holding a neon pink flare appearing on a wall near the Campo San Pantalon.  This could be seen as a visceral celebration of Venice as a “sanctuary city,” as it was declared after the Emergenza Program, which was explained so eloquently by Deputy Mayor Beppe Caccia back in 2004: “As a refugee management strategy, it was always intended to be long term and forward-thinking. The goal was to help these people integrate into society.”

This is an approach that has resulted in subsequent so-called humanitarian activities like the Fontego Project, as well as the opening up of an Exiles Café and the Mostra del Cinema. The Leftist authorities are abusing the history and traditions of welcoming travelers and providing lodgings for merchants and traders by giving over a thirteenth-century building to immigrants and asylum-seekers. This rather puts pay to Brodsky’s paean to the city he thinks of as Eden, when he wrote, “Venice is the greatest masterpiece our species produced . . . part damp oxygen, part coffee and prayers.” He describes canal-side house façades as “upright lace.”

Brodsky has written so poetically of the winter light pouring over the lagoon: “And the city lingers in it, savoring its touch, the caress of the infinity whence it came.” Nevertheless, the ghosts of Ezra Pound and Olga Rudge have long since drifted away along the mist-filled cobbled passageways behind the down-at-heel trattorias, where small tables are still pushed together to form a long rectangle for the diners to enjoy bigoli in salsa.

Likewise, the shadows cast upon the face of the Doges’ Palace or the pink of the Piazza San Marco are no longer those of the descendants of people like Giuseppe Volpi, Mussolini’s appointee as President of the Venice Biennale, or indeed the organizers of the Festival of Light and Festival of the Sea, but rather the long lines of refugees. They are the beneficiaries of the Italian government’s recently reinstigated Mare Nostrum, Operation Triton, and Operation Themis policies of “rescuing” poor and needy African souls from the Mediterranean. Such people are less interested in the whereabouts of Bellini’s famous painting Madonna and Child than clawing their way through society with the help of Soros’ “no borders” activists. Rome’s Frontex reception centers offer them 150 million euros, which represented nearly nine million euros a month at the height of the Mare Nostrum campaign in 2013/2014. And as Guiseppe Bonnano Conti, leader of Catania’s Forza Nuova, says, in a direct challenge to the rigid anti-racist hate speech Mancino Law, “They already spend so much when Italian people are killing themselves because of economic problems . . . These criminals take our money in taxes and use it to help migrants. They are destroying our country!”

And what a country that is: a nation that birthed Venice in 400 AD following the collapse of the Western Roman Empire. It was a city-state that the English nineteenth-century art critic John Ruskin called “a vast illuminated missal, bound with alabaster instead of parchment,” where Guido d’Arezzo invented the musical scale, where the bells atop the Torre dell ‘Orologio have chimed since 1494, and the domes and campanili of San Giorgio Maggiore stand aloof over the Canale di San Marco.

It is a citadel that has withstood earthquakes and flooding since at least the thirteenth century, when such records began. In September 1240, scribes recorded, “The water rose to the height of a man in the streets” and “Many were drowned inside their houses or died of cold” in December 1280. More reliable recent accounts indicate that Venice has flooded over forty times between 1917 and 1967.

These statistics clearly frighten the elderly procuratore of St. Mark’s, Carlo Alberto Tesserin, who wept openly when he said that it was unbelievable to think the basilica might not have a future, and Bergamo Rossi, Director of the Venetian Heritage Foundation, warned that “[in] twenty years it will be over. It’s like the end of the Roman Empire, when they were unable to act and the barbarians came.”

But it is not simply the climate and rising sea levels that threaten Venice – the passing “from one realm of water to another,” as Brodsky opines. The city is a microcosm of the fate of the West. It is a modern-day parable: a center of unbridled beauty and sophistication choking itself on a self-righteous crusade to assist an endless stream of humanity sweeping in from the south and east. These creatures’ sooty feet are already dancing on Brodsky’s grave in the Protestant section of the Cimitero San Michele. As Lothrop Stoddard predicted in his seminal work, The Rising Tide of Color Against White World Supremacy (1920):

The white world was tearing itself to pieces. White solidarity was riven and shattered. And fear of white power and respect for white civilization together dropped away like garments outworn.


  1. Lucas
    Posted November 20, 2019 at 12:12 pm | Permalink

    Someone recently said very aptly: “People today no longer judge by rational standards, but have a criminal court in their head.”

    • Lucas
      Posted November 20, 2019 at 6:01 pm | Permalink

      We all don’t want to be “vicious” (selfishness). This is a sheer “crime” against the now more or less Jewish dictated and established agenda. The only little problem is: unfortunately, nature is not such that it rewards “benignity” (altruism).

      In short: They finally managed to “talk us out” of our survival instinct, which enabled us to exist millions of years ago. But we wonder: “What is broken here?” They preach “digital networking.” Although it is mainly responsible for the invasion.

      • Lucas
        Posted November 20, 2019 at 6:09 pm | Permalink

        Quite clear: We have promoted with our technical-medical progress (in the context of “liberal” politics) so far relatively worthless life in such a way that this will extinguish us all.

        • Lucas
          Posted November 20, 2019 at 6:14 pm | Permalink

          In this respect, the white race goes down in and into world history as the smartest and stupidest at the same time.

          • Alexandra O
            Posted November 30, 2019 at 5:37 am | Permalink

            That’s a great observation — ‘smartest and stupidest’ at the same time! I believe we instead have to relinquish our ‘smartest’ mantle and learn to become wily like some other tribe wandering the earth.

        • Fenek Solere
          Posted November 20, 2019 at 11:21 pm | Permalink

          Dear Lucas,
          A very good point!

  2. Alexandra O.
    Posted November 20, 2019 at 3:06 pm | Permalink

    This post by Fenek Solere is truly “An Elegy for Venice”. What a perfect symphony of words comparing the unrelenting force of the natural seas which are once again flooding Venice and its wealth of European art, architecture and heritage, to the arrival of unstoppable African floods of immigrants who will cause much the same destruction. Both are ‘forces of nature’ — though one we could have controlled if we had anticipated this horrid ruin of our Western Civilization by our own children’s misguided adoption of ‘sob story socialism’, diversity and open borders for all. Were we wrong to have praised the beauties of Venetian art and Notre Dame’s architecture in their presence, while their professors were filling their minds with the SINS of the West nonstop? How can we have missed that?

    I am devastated by just hearing and reading about the ongoing small destructions occurring in many parts of Europe, while our young people continue to be obsessed with feeding and sheltering the ‘fake’ refugees who will do nothing but add to the destruction of our finest artworks, literatures, and way of life itself.

    Farewell, glorious Venice, one of the Crown Jewels of Old Europe — I visited you in 1971 before the hordes of tourists descended and have never forgotten you, nor ever will. I pledge to stop the disintegration of the Western Europe I saw then with what’s left of my abilities. Losing Notre Dame and the glories of Venice in one year is an undreamed of horror. However, much of Old Europe was reconstructed after WWII, and could be again — but not with the refugees camping out as described. That continues to be our worst problem.

    • Fenek Solere
      Posted November 20, 2019 at 11:19 pm | Permalink

      Dear Alexandra,
      Thank you once again for your generous words and beautiful sentiments. My firm belief is that Venice should be preserved and that the splendors of Europe should be safeguarded and protected to inspire future generations. The repatriation of those who do not and can never belong (or appreciate the cultural heights of such locations – Paris, Rome etc) must commence at once and all aid to the countries from which they came should be stopped until their governments (such as they are?) accept this reverse migration and after this ‘transition’ learn to live without Western subsidies. Which we in our turn should then invest in our own progeny and encourage a severe and rapid upward arc in our own demographics.
      Best Wishes

  3. Lucas
    Posted November 20, 2019 at 7:07 pm | Permalink

    Original mix: White man – white women

    Transracial (massively sexualized) “remix”

    • Lucas
      Posted November 20, 2019 at 7:33 pm | Permalink

      While the original looks like a sympathetic Germanic
      Thing meeting in our eyes (naturism), the second is a disgusting Jewish wished “ideal brothel” of our world.

      • Lucas
        Posted November 20, 2019 at 7:41 pm | Permalink

        They forbid us to be ourselves and to love each
        other. They curse us for our own nature! We can
        no longer “tolerate” this! Nobody has a right to
        make us disappear from the face of the earth!

        • Lucas
          Posted November 20, 2019 at 7:56 pm | Permalink

          They attack our nature as enthnic apparition of Mother Earth, we must take up all our arms and defend our right to exist steadfastly and throw the insidious seducers & destroyers out of our countries!

          The longer we “accept” their everyday terror and delay the decision to act actively, the harder it will be for our few (“minimized”) descendants to stand up to these extermination efforts. “Success has two letters: DO!” (Goethe)

  4. M. Venator
    Posted November 20, 2019 at 11:07 pm | Permalink

    Great to find an article on my hometown on my favourite site! Your view of ‘acqua alta’ as a metaphor for the Third-World flood is spot on. I would add that I’ve always perceived Venice as a metaphor for our civilisation: a once charming lady who has lost her graces and is wasting away…

    In any case, the kind of demographic replacement we are experiencing in White countries is already well underway in Venice: thirty years ago the native population was double what it is now (it has plummeted from 100,000 to 50,000), while the tourist hordes have increased, as has the number of migrants. The African lads brazenly begging for money on every street corner (even though they look like they could play quarterback in any college football team!) is just the tip of the iceberg. A huge chunk of cafés and restaurants are now owned by Chinese or Egyptians. You can usually tell from the cheap kitsch decor and crappy food. As a side note, the Ghetto has been taken over by (mostly American and Israeli) Lubavitch Jews – and Venetian Jews hate them!

    A civilisation can endure as long as its biological heirs are still around, but if you replace those heirs, then all hope is lost. Like Europeans in general, Venetians are the main culprits of this decline, which they (we) have brought upon themselves (ourselves). They have sold out their inheritance for a quick cash fix. They have shown to possess all of the flaws of their ancestors (greed, haughtiness) without any of their virtues (fortitude, courage, farsightedness, loyalty). A good friend of mine calls the ‘neo-Venetians’.

    The extraordinary flooding of last week is not (just) a form of divine punishment. The digging of the ‘Canale dei Petroli’ (Oil Channel) in the 1960s to give big ships access to the lagoon has been one of the greatest hydraulic disasters of the 20th century in Italy: it has completely destroyed the delicate ecological balance of the lagoon, which the Venetian Republic had safeguarded for centuries (with an especially appointed magistrate, ‘Magistrato alle Acque’).

    Then there is the whole MOSE scandal: a striking example of the political ineptness and corruption of the Italian ruling class. This monster cost 7 BILLION euros and it still isn’t working.

    I’ll end by noting that in a few weeks we’re voting to separate Venice from the mainland by making it its own municipality. If the referendum is successful (which I doubt), it will be a step in the right direction, as the current administration seems to be exploiting the city as a cash cow to fund building projects on the mainland (where most people, including the Mayor, reside).

    • Fenek Solere
      Posted November 21, 2019 at 9:59 am | Permalink

      Dear M. Venator,

      I am really proud that you thought my article was ‘spot on’ – I love your hometown and wish it a swift resurrection – I also wrote an earlier (much longer)piece on Venice entitled of Arpeggios and Architecture – please do check it out!

      • M. Venator
        Posted November 21, 2019 at 10:52 pm | Permalink

        Amazing! I had somehow managed to miss your previous article, so thanks for bringing it to my attention: a very erudite and wonderfully written piece. It’s funny reading about “bacari” (bars)near my house on CC! What can I say? If you ever visit Venice again in the future, I would be honoured to buy you a few ombre (you can get in touch with me through the editors)

        PS re: the Biennale and related contemporary art events, not only do they promote multiculturalism, as you rightly note, but they effectively wage a war on beauty through the installation of hideous artefacts in lovely locations. Over the years we have seen some particularly frightful monsters on the Grand Canal outside Palazzo Grassi. I regard it as a form of psychological warfare: destroy beauty and you’ll make people more inured to the ugliness and meaninglessness of consumer society… as well as make it easier for Venetians to relocate to the grey industrial suburbs of Mestre…

        • Fenek Solere
          Posted November 22, 2019 at 4:31 am | Permalink

          Dear M. Venator,
          I will take you up on that kind offer!

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