il mio zaino
July 23, 2015


My backpack arrived earlier this week. It's 88 litres, and grey. There are no fancy whistles, it is just what it needs to be. I ordered it to the office that Paideia shares with a gaggle of Italian architects. I wasn't there when it arrived, so I picked it up from a nearby UPS access point on a small street the next day. I asked the direction for Viale dei Quattro Venti in Italian as I signed for the package, and I was told to walk to the end of the road and turn either left or right. I must go back there today to sign for the tent I recently ordered.

Come the 3rd of August, I am deprived of my Roman apartment, as the summer internship, my original excuse for being in Rome, officially terminates. Not until September 12th, when the bulk of Paideia returns to Rome and I move in with an Italian homestay, will I again have a roof I can rely on. There is a regional train that leaves from Quattro Venti station that goes to Viterbo, a city to the north of Rome. Between Viterbo and Florence, there is a town called Arezzo -- a small, medieval settlement, known for its university. Davide is a lovely man from whom I have been learning Italian for the past month. He once mentioned that Siena, a town 200 kilometres west of Arezzo, possesses a beautiful Italian atmostphere, one of Davide's favorite in Italy. An Italian professor from Princeton has kindly put me in touch with some students across Italy, one of whom mentioned in an email that Cecina is a lovely beach residence on Italy's west coast. Tracing a finger eastwards from Cecina across Italy, Ancona is a port town that services ferries to and from Greece and other Mediterranean ports.

Ideas like these present themselves to my wandering imagination. I am freckled in the mess between New Zealand's case of the great outdoors, Princeton's bucolic ambitions, and Rome's encroaching sense of civilization. Walking sounds nice, provided that there is access to internet for the sake of my wanting to work with software development. For as long as I've been here, the mind and the body have been working in the same office, and the company makes sense this way. Rousseau confesses that he prefers it when both are moving at once, and I feel more attached to his writing than to Socrates, Plato, and other dualists1. My thought feels much more like a landscape than a discrete, linear system. Physics and plate tectonics explain that there are underlying logics to landscapes: cartography and urban planning explain that foundational logics can be built upon. From mathematics, we know that it is occasionally useful to represent a multi-dimensional array as an object of fewer dimesions, as sometimes lower-level transforms are conceptually too complex to perform. It is impossible to consider all the anatomical negotiations contained in the act of moving my hand to pick up a coffee cup, I simply know that my hand is moving to pick up the coffee cup and that is enough. I am already carried away in the dimensions of trying to make a simple point -- I think that I prefer my thought when I feel as though I am moving.

I am now a tutor for Crimson Consulting, an American College Counselling company started by a New Zealander, who is currently studying at Harvard. This work features for me as finance; it allows me to feed myself and pay for the other small expenses that are required of my body and mind. It also allows me to teach, which is difficult to consider as something that is not good. I am tutoring in introductory Computer Science, Web Development, iOS Development, and all of the Cambridge A Levels that I studied at Auckland Grammar, including Latin, Classics, English, Music, Physics and Mathematics.

I am thinking about taking an overnight ferry from Ancona to Greece, with my backpack and tent. This would introduce me to the wanderings that follow, the second paragraph. Paideia has a program there in August, with people that I know, and time and place away from Italy could possibly freshen up its little place in my current consideration, like reorganizing the desk space at an office. I am reliant on my ability to be able to find a patch of grass where it will be reasonable to set up my tent. It would be another nice thing if there was internet access, which Greece cannot guarantee; though neither can central Italy's wandering countryside. I am finding, as I practice more of the practices of software developer, the Internet becomes more and more of a thing to keep with me. If for nothing else, it is needed for Skype, as Skype is currently the technical instrument of my wandering's finance. This source could change, but it doesn't need to. Finding a place with internet, food, space for wandering, a sense of civilization, body and mind, faces, history, bucolic ambition and freckled outdoors doesn't seem too much to ask for, does it?


  1. Though, Lucretius had a good thing going, as Michel Serres picks up the pieces with his own senses of it. I am not sure exactly where I stand, but I do like Serres' impressions of the body, despite that I have learned them through words.

author Lachlan Kermode

Written by Lachlan Kermode who lives and works in Princeton. You should check out his Resume, GitHub, or Twitter.