“we Europeans” — but we who belong to these cultures on this side of the Atlantic, we have death in our pockets. We can never forget this destiny. When I used to talk with George about death, he said, “We Americans never talk about death.” There’s an architect from San Diego who’s been working with me for years, Johanna Grawunder, and whenever she sees something even indirectly connected with death, she says, “That’s very strong.” Why is this? By contrast, in India, I found it very consoling. When you look out the hotel window every half-hour, you see a corpse being carried off, wrapped in a shroud and strewn with flowers. This ability to relate to this inexplicable phenomenon is consoling.
The fact that a lot of products can be mass-produced with machinery, resulting in masses of products, inevitably means that we have to sell these products; we have to give them to someone, and selling them inevitably entails all the possible forms of persuasion so people will buy them. The upshot is that we think less and less because we’re increasingly conditioned. For all these reasons we can no longer say, “I wish the world was like this or like that.” The point, if there is one, is to find a way to navigate our way through this destiny.
As long as humanity goes on growing at the rate we’re growing now, the distance between one person and another is going to grow bigger, like the distance between one place and another. So this idea that we can go from house to house on foot as one did in the Middle Ages, or the idea of the piazza—they just get lost. People living in a group of houses all gathering in a kind of outdoor salon or piazza—that’s simply unattainable nowadays. In Milan, I only ever visit one or two districts, that’s all. All of us living in big cities just really live in one or two districts.You get home and your house stands in the middle of a garden, but it’s no use, because when you get home you have to hit the whiskey to get over the traveling, and that’s no solution either. We all know about American and English garden cities, but you get home so shattered from hours of commuting that you no longer feel the house belongs to you.