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19 June 2010

A Function of Time

A June day in Ariccia, south of Rome (see post from January); we went because my wife Brette has written a fabulous article on the local porchetta for Cucina Italiana, which she shared with those who helped in the research. There I met the impassioned Gino Galieti, of La Castellana (Antico Laboratorio Lavorazione Carni, or Venerable Shop for Working Meats--or something to that effect!) in nearby Genzano. What gets Gino riled up is a discussion about the industrialization of erstwhile artisan Italian meats--salumi, porchetta, etc. And what Gino has to say about the shortcuts producers have introduced into the production of cured pork--stagionato, or aged, salamis now only requiring 2 days!--could be applied to art or building. Everything we do today, it seems, with the exception of rigorists like Gino (and myself), is faking it with respect to the time and quality involved in what our culture once produced. Gino, subject to brief fits of despair, soldiers on, making his coppiette come una volta. And indeed, our only hope is combining his penchant for crankiness ("It's the chefs who don't sustain the quality producers!") with actually doing it the right way any chance we get (like painting frescoes).

Those of us involved in classical architecture lament a lot about what's missing in our culture--patronage, craft, taste--but perhaps the most fundamental thing is the value of Time. Time to draw well, time to think well, time to build well. If we can't recover the value of Time, we'll remain just faking it. And, you know, Gino's real stuff does simply taste better.


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  2. David,
    This post relates to a (brief) recent read:

    in which the author suggests that we need to go on a 'mind diet'. I imagine that this line of reasoning is going to become increasingly salient in wake of the dawning of the 'information age'. The parallel with nutrition suggests itself: We need nutrition for life, and we admittedly consume good calories and 'empty' calories (i.e. candy, sweets, soda, etc), but a healthy lifestyle necessitates some restraint/moderation in consumption.

    Are calories like facts? Does a greater supply of factual information ensure more knowledge? How can one navigate the world with a seeking mind without being sidetracked by a flurry of information, and without closing out potential paths to truth?

    E F Schumacher once observed that one should 'read the books that save you from reading many other books'. It would seem that an education of fundamentals and essentials, a classical education that is itself timeless, is the antidote to the babel of available information.

  3. Most things that last take time to do; it was one of the geniuses of the Italian Renaissance and Baroque that artists and architects were able to combine sprezzatura--that seeming sense of effortlessness--with real craft, wisdom, and patience. In the food world, with some people in some parts of Italy, that attitude still holds sway, in part because it's the right thing to do, and in part because food tastes better made that way. Would that our modern eyes were as sensitive as our palettes!