The Closure of the Eternal City

Roma aeterna. The eternal Rome. So much history, so much life, so much death. Whoever says, New York is the City that never sleeps, has clearly not been to Rome… or simply narrows the meaning of sleeping.

Six months. Six months did I live and study Italian in Rome. Six months did I roam its museums, its parks, streets, markets, and churches (more than 900 are there). Listened to the chatter (il chiacchiericcio) of its students, shop owners, bus passengers, and tourists. A wonderfully unique time, without a doubt. Yet a tense time as well. Increasingly the pressure in my mind and on my heart “to make the most of it”. Considering Rome’s historical, ecclesiastical, political and, last but surely not least, artistic and cultural importance, my relaxed natural curiosity turned quickly into a sheer panting after the city’s glories, the city’s treasures, the city’s character. “Don’t miss a thing! Now you have the chance to see R.O.M.E!” No day was long enough to see enough. There was so much to discover, to learn, to admire, to reflect on, to soak in. And after a short while a subtle but stable feeling of guilt became part of the package.

The nostalgia that crept over me whenever I thought back on that time surpassed each “typical” nostalgia that I normally have for the past. This nostalgia was more. A Life-nostalgia. Having become for me a parable for life in general, these six months in Rome opened up thought perspectives and questions on all areas of being, mostly not offering an accompanying answer. These six months were Continue reading


Got Wax?


When one went to an ancient market place (e.g. Phoenician, Roman, Greek) with the intention to buy little statuettes from one’s favorite god/half-god/idol (in basically old-time merchandise/memorabilia shops), close attention was necessary. Vendors would try to repair cheap and slightly broken statuettes by smearing wax at the chipped spots in order to camouflage the flaw. Experienced buyers would grate around a bit with their fingers to see whether wax was used – and whether they should look for a different statuette, or even a different vendor. Statuettes without wax (Lat. sine [without] // Lat. cera [wax]) would be a sign for an honest, sincere, vendor and a good product: “No wax needed on this one!” (At least that’s how one disputed folk version describes the history of the word sincere [Lat. sincerus: clean, sound, pure]. Even if that’s not how the term developed, the picture it offers still fits the meaning it carries. Some other explanations are here.)

Sincerity can be defined as a virtue or quality of being and acting without deceit, pretense, or hypocrisy. Many of us know it mostly from a conventionalized formula for ending letters:



           J. Sebastian B.


Everybody knows that insincerity in people can take many forms and shades: from the simple lying-out-of-fear-person up to the highly manipulative man or woman which are a pain to live with. It’s no secret that pleasantly (!) sincere people are quite rare. Nor is it a secret that sincere and transparent people are great business partners. There is also the opinion that too transparent people seem to lack humor and are less fun. So, several aspects of (in)sincerity are more or less common knowledge. At this point of the day (right before brushing my teeth and [re]assessing my opinion on God, man, life, and chocolate) I only wonder about two things:

1) How would it feel like if everyone (incl. me) would be truly sincere at all times? (Is it worth imagining? And I am not asking whether it’s possible now or at some point in the future. I wonder how it would feel like…)

2) When I google images with the search term “sincerity”, why do only two things seem to come up: corny memes with “Let me inspire you”-proverbs and… wedding dresses?

Ok, still secrets beyond secrets… *sarcasm off*