I just got back from four days in Rome. As much as I enjoyed the climate, the people, and the food, the best moments came when I stood before something, read the sign explaining what it was and felt a click deep inside my brain. Ah, yes, I remember... And I wanted to weep with gratitude for every teacher (religious and secular) who gave me, not a classical education exactly, but a rigorous one that made what I saw last week meaningful. The required Latin classes which meant that I could read many of the the inscriptions. The history classes, not only the ones about the Roman Empire which meant I recognized the names of the emperors and their family members, but also Church history as I walked through Vatican City. The religion classes so I could stand in the Sistine Chapel and look at the scenes from the Old and New Testaments and know them. And to realize that I could reach for and find a timeline in my head so that I knew where to place each thing in history.
It's as if I was given a gift over 30 years ago and I only just got around to consciously opening it as I arrive at the culmination of the first half century of life.
Le véritable lieu de naissance est celui ou l'on a porté pour la première fois un coup d'oeil intelligent sur soi-même : mes premières patries ont été des livres...
Et pourtant, j'ai aimé certains de mes maîtres, et ces rapports étrangement intimes et étrangement élusifs qui existent entre le professeur et l'élève, et les Sirènes chantant au fond d'une voix cassée qui pour la première fois vous révèle un chef-d'oeuvre ou vous dévoile une idée neuve.