Friday, November 27, 2009

We wandered into the oldest building in Cracow university.
At random, as you do, and bought tickets for the tour.
The old university building is full of clocks.
It begins with the one above the library entrance which has figures processing in and out (and you can buy a CD of the tunes it can play); and every room has its special clock, some disguised as landscapes, one that plays Mozart operas, one that plays the Polish national anthem...
and I think back to the late Renaissance, when the university was founded, and Cracow a centre of alchemy and magic, and the magic that clockwork represented in all its fantastic forms.
It seems like a thread that runs through the university's history, like its nationalism, its sense of being central to the country's identity through all the invasions and partitions and disasters it suffered.
In this last calamitous century when the Nazis deported its most independent minded professors to German death camps and closed the whole place down; its re-opening after the war, only almost immediately to be shut down as an intellectual centre by Stalin.
And the constant resistance, the constant assertion of intellectual freedom.
I think that is something I love about this city.. it so feels like a place where it is still possible to be an artist.
Or where artistic and intellectual life is valued and understood.
That's why i feel at home here...


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