Revisiting my art books scattered in various homes across the land, I come across this gem from Susan Sontag on the Venice paintings of Howard Hodgkin, and it immediately takes me back to Istanbul:
Venice once again. Imagining the imagined. When you want to see Venice again, and you have seen it many times, rising out of the sea, in winter perhaps, semi-deserted, what you appreciate is that it will not have changed at all.
Or you stand at the railing of the boat going up the Nile, a day’s journey from Luxor, and it’s sunset. You’re just looking. There are no words you are impelled to write down; you dont make a sketch or take a photograph.You look, and sometimes your eyes feel tired, and you look again, and you feel saturated, and happy and terribly anxious.
There is a price to be paid for stubbornly continuing to make love with one’s eyes to these famous tourist-weary old places. For not letting go of ruined grandeur, of the imperative of bliss. For continuing to work on behalf of, in praise of beauty. It’s not that one hasn’t noticed that this is an activity which people rather condescend to now.
Indeed, one might spend a lifetime apologising for having found so many ways of acceeding to ecstasy.