Roman Forum 2006

Roman Forum 2006
Foro Romano, from the Palatine Hill - a favorite photo from one of my favorite cities

Monday, May 31, 2021

IS There a World Elsewhere?

I have been thinking a good bit these days about one of my favorite bitter lines by William Shakespeare: 

"There is a world elsewhere."

The quote is from one of Shakespeare's late plays, Coriolanus, in which the title character, an aristocratic and egotistic military hero, becomes angry at and sick of his home - ancient Rome. He leaves it in search of a "world elsewhere", and is rudely awakened, to say the least, when he arrives. 

It's a favorite line of mine from the Bard, perhaps because throughout my life, after a brief period joy for and contentment with the place I am living (and I've lived in MANY places - Air Force brat as a kid, itinerant actor in the first 20 years of my adult life, and solitary traveler from my mid-40s - any time I could get away from my job as a college professor, and even now, nearly 10 years into retirement I always tire of it, become bored and irritated by it, and in late stages I rail, inwardly at least against it. Why? I can't really say. Perhaps, to use a trite saying compared to the elegance of Coriolanus's line "There is a world elsewhere" I begin to realize or talk myself into believing that "the grass is always greener."

I recently read Anthony Powell's A Dance to the Music of Time - yes, all twelve volumes - in which he looks at much of the 20th century through the lens of a relatively well-off Brit and his mostly upper crust acquaintances. When I finished I likened reading this series of books to watching a Masterpiece Theatre (MT) series that I enjoy only fitfully but that I continue to view because...well, the acting is terrific, and it's nicely filmed, so...why not? 

My point? Early in the eleventh novel of Powell's set, I came across a passage that leapt off the page because, while it described certain inclinations of the narrator's father, it also captured some of ny own inclinations perfectly. Powell's narrator sums up his pater's world view thus. While he seemed happy enough when he took his family on fairly frequent vacations from England to places in Continental Europe, even then he...well, heres' how Powell puts it:

"...that did not mean he was always at ease on the Continent, but then, in any fundamental sense, he was rarely at ease in his own country."

A self-ordained stranger in a strange land at home or abroad. For better or worse, even though I love to travel internationally, after a time abroad alas, c'est moi.

That's it. For me a very short post. I just felt the need to confess. Am I absolved? Cheers, whether or no.