Saturday, June 21, 2003

buenos melba

Buenos Aires in the Fifties (via Plep) is a great photographic glimpse of another city,another time.
Was there something reminiscent of Melbourne in the 50's or did we just imagine it - or light it that way, or colourise it, viewing the past through tinted, rose postcard views? That was a melbourne on the brink of demolition or preservation, the whelan the wrecker ball poised above its skyline, debating whether to blitz and build or conserve its strict 132 foot height limits.
A friend of boynton's once returned from Buenos Aires and said it reminded him of Melbourne in its Euro feel, that colonial disjunction. Perhap we're just too keen to keep that compass relative - everyplace as an an analogy to home. It's what boynton often does in cyber space, looks for the local links, the spatial bearings, twinnings, chains, kennings.
Melbourne out-bid Buenos Aires for the right to stage the 1956 Summer Olympics, and there is a Jane Austen Society in both cities.
A surreal link -the great Argentinian writer Jorge Luis Borges once spent some time in Melbourne and according to Guy Rundle:
Borges found Melbourne to be evocative of Buenos Aires, albeit more staid. The wide Victorian streets and languorous gardens, the tang of rusting air from the wide verandas, the stately trams, the pompous stone buildings shaded by palms - the city had the sort of timelessness that he associated with all southern places. ``Citta metafisica'' he called them ``transcendental cities in which the eternal was open at every moment, where a set of locks in a window in `Glenhuntly' road is as beguiling and mysterious as the sublime shadow of the Shrine at night

Comments: buenos melba

That quote is surreal! I guess it's good old Aussie cultural cringe (whatever that phrase actually means), but I never think of literature legends interacting with the places I know. I love Borges, and I love the way he looked at Melbourne. Thanks for the quote.
Posted by Beth at June 23, 2003 12:19 PM

I know, Beth, it is weird to think of Borges arriving in 1938 Melbourne. Maybe I cringe 'on behalf of' our poor old parochial city with its magnificent, "awe-inspiring" domed reading room.
I knew Ray Lawler and Helen Garner etc wrote there, hadn't heard about Borges.
I wonder if there is an Argentinian equivalent of the cultural cringe, the tyranny of distance etc?
Posted by boynton at June 23, 2003 01:59 PM

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