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Bougainvillea blossoms drifted onto our table at dinner last night, unmoored by a breeze. Earlier, while resting in a square beside Rethymo Cathedral, I was reminded of paintings by Giorgio de Chirico, an early 20th c Italian artist born in a coastal Greek city like this one. Rethymo's arched doorways, gleaming paths, fountains, long shadows, mix of Venetian and Hellenic architecture, and lone pedestrians recalled his enigmatic scenes featuring deserted plazas and sun-drenched arcades, in which tiny figures are seen as if from a vast distance. On his artistic approach, Chirico wrote, "What is especially needed is great sensitivity: to look upon everything in the world as enigma ... to live in the world as in an immense museum of strange things." The past, recent and ancient, felt magnified in the heat and serene quiet of the afternoon. Everything appeared as cinematic vignettes, brief, compact yet richly detailed worlds: the vagabond lovers embracing ecstatically, the two friends chatting on the church steps, the pigeons pecking at my feet among the fallen jacaranda blossoms. The whole afternoon felt like a dream, and how else to convey this, if not by proxy, through art?


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