By Taliesin Thomas, Cohort ’13
It is said that all roads lead to Rome when it comes to the study of western history. After a rigorous spring semester it was indeed a thrill to arrive in the ancient city to kick off the topological studies component of the European residency. The September-ists from Cohort ’13 and the incoming Cohort ’14 had the pleasure of meeting for the first time with the Roman backdrop as our stunning mise-en-scene. During our brief stay we managed to visit the Pantheon, the Roman Forum, the Palatino, the Colosseum, the Vatican Museum and St. Peter’s Church. It was a visual feast at every turn, and spirits remained upbeat as we explored the aged corners of the city together. One of the highlights of our stay was spending time with Tom Huhn, a philosopher, critic, faculty member at the School of Visual Arts (SVA) and a contributing scholar to IDSVA. Tom had been teaching in Rome for the last half a year as part of a study abroad program with SVA, and he is highly knowledgeable about the city and its tremendous historical narrative. During an early morning stroll at the Colosseum we stopped at the ruins near the great amphitheater to contemplate the nature of the layered landscape before us.
Tom discussed the “dream” of ancient Rome as he spoke of its former splendor, and then uploaded the conversation into the twentieth century with a reference to Freud, who had visited Rome on several occasions during his career. Tom mentioned the Freudian character of the site itself and how the human mind resembles its own form of ancient place: there is the revealed on one level, and the unrevealed on another. The magnificence of Rome is a powerful reminder that humanity is always slipping into the next chapter, and that even the greatest glory of the present will eventually fade into a cherished past. Our topological studies with IDSVA pave the way down the timeworn roads of history and philosophy that lead us both backward and forward to Rome and her mighty psyche. Bravo Roma!