Friday, January 10, 2020

Rome Journal: Punctuated Equilibrium

Edward Gibbon, author of The  History o the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire
Punctuated Equilibrium was a theory of evolution propounded by the late Stephen Jay Gould. In a nutshell, Gould’s idea was that evolution occurred in fits and starts and not in an overly logical or Hegelian style dialectic. If you look at the city is an organism, you might find that Gould’s theory is particularly applicable in the case of Rome. Certainly, Rome with its strata of archeology, which Freud likened to the unconscious, fits the bill. Rome is one of the few cities where you're confronted with the ancient past in both a blatant and munificent way. It’s so in your face that at times it’s hard to properly digest the varying strata--from the Etruscan era, to the Empire, to a long period of dormancy (which in any conventional evolutionary schema would probably have preceded the great mature age of empire but actually came after) preceding modernity as part of the Risorgimento under Garibaldi. It’s hard to describe where Rome is today. It’s still got more than one foot in the past, though it’s standing on its own two feet. It seems to shirk the edgy post-modernist esthetic that describes the skylines of many major capitals and large cities like Berlin, Chicago and New York. However, is Rome actually an example of devolution? If antiquity is a form of regression then the answer is yes. The gravitational and inertial pull of the past may, in fact, place the weight of history or nurture above nature in the case of the Eternal City. 

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.