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When Dirk Bogarde was playing the dying composer Gustav von Aschenbach in the film Death in Venice, Björn Andrésen (who played the young boy Tadzio) asked him:
- What is my character like?
Bogarde told him to read the script. The next day Andressen came to him and said:
- I know who I am - I’m the Angel of Death.
We never got to meet in person. We were separated by 500 km and all manner of difficulties. But nevertheless, I have never felt as close to anyone as I did to Adso. He was an inexhaustible source of inspiration when I was making this website and as I worked out my plans for the future.
The City was made for him even though, in the end, he decided he was not made for The City.
I’ve shared many events in my life with you all, and the most important was when, more than a year ago, I got to know Adso.
As I say, we never met in person but his presence was as real to me as the air I breathe.
First he was a just voice, then an image too, then a presence which gradually came to fill everything and shape my life.
He used to say that together we were as perfect as a musical chord, and I believed that at last I’d found what I’d been waiting for all those years.
It was like a dream, but why shouldn’t we believe our dreams?
I wouldn’t mind being like a child if it meant having dreams as wonderful as that.
Adso was almost by definition the Prince of this city, and his writing burst upon it giving a new direction, a different feel, and a fresh outlook.
Many visitors here have been delighted, surprised and captivated by his intelligence, the breadth of his knowledge (even more remarkable considering how young he is), his great sensitivity and his passionate nature.
And quite a few have been irritated by his critical side and the irony he tackled various topics with. But no-one’s been left indifferent.
Unfortunately our dreams, like the more tangible things around us, don’t last forever.
I don’t intend to rake over our history here. I’d just like to thank Adso for always being as honest as we promised we would be when we first got to know each other; and for not deceiving me with something that he’d stopped being (or perhaps we’d only ever been in love in my imagination).
He recently gave me a book by Stefan Zweig, "The Confusion of Feelings". It’s the story of a young student who thinks he’s in love with his literature teacher but later discovers that what he felt was only admiration.
He sent this letter with it:
"... You are the only adult whose sole motive in befriending me was to help me, asking nothing in return…I repaid you by being silent or absent in these recent months when you needed me most.
I know that the book will have hurt you. But we agreed from the start to be sincere, open, and honest, even if it hurt us.
I didn’t know how to tell you what I truly felt. I believed I was in love with you, but it was only gratitude and affection for being with me all through my illness, for supporting me, and for the sacrifices you made for me.
You will understand, better than anyone, that in spite of all the hardships I’ve undergone I’m still a kid. I’m insecure and fragile. I still have to hug my teddy when things get tough or the world is too big and hostile.
The things I’ve learned as I grew up have only been negative. I’ve only learned about the dark side of this world. I’ve had to learn to keep people at a distance before I can get to love them.
As you yourself said, life has taught me that the only person I can trust in is me, and it’s difficult for me to open up to others, even those I love.
But you opened a window onto another world, and because of that I can now learn to trust and love. Thanks to you, Henry, I’ll manage to do it. I promise you that.
You once told me that I was the Prince you knew you were destined to find. And that, the most beautiful declaration of love I ever heard, became my watchword.
Maybe you’re also the one I was destined to find. But even I can’t tell if you are. First I need to grow and mature (in the good sense) as you yourself showed me.
Will you want to teach me?
Will you want to follow at my side, not as me lover but as my friend?..."
It pains me to go on writing...Maria Callas is singing Puccini: "O mio babbino caro." I am overcome by an indescribable melancholy and it crushes me like a weight.
God! Why is it so hard to breathe?
I can see blue appearing unbidden in the corner of my window. I shall try to meet it with a smile.
Adso, I believed you were blue. I wanted you to be blue...
My eyes are pricking. I know that any minute now the tears will flow down my face, gather in the corner of my mouth, and finally drop onto these lines.
But I don’t want to smudge what I’ve written. I don’t want to end our story with a blot.
For all these months, Adso, we’ve been prevented from meeting in person by chance, destiny, or perhaps some malign spirit. And I don’t know if our paths will cross again one day.
I’ll still go on, but without you to guide me I can do little more than wander aimlessly.
I’ll never know the touch of your skin. But nothing will be able to rub out all those bonds we’ve woven between us, minute by minute, day after day, when we were fighting your illness together.
I know that right now you’re busy with other things that keep you away from The City, but I hope you’ll return as soon as you can to work on this website and express yourself through it. You have a lot of thing to say and you know how to say it well, better than anyone else could.
Never forget that I am very fond of you, and you can come back here whenever you want, whenever you need a break from the things that wear you down, whenever you need to be among friends, or if you’re overwhelmed by loneliness. Because this is your home.
In spite of everything, I will go on building this City, stone by stone, for all the friends who rely on us and because, sadly, there are still far too many intolerant people who would prefer this small discordant voice to be silenced forever.
I will continue with The City, although every word I write causes me pain. But if I manage to help even one poor soul in trouble it will have been worth it.
"I don’t know how to say goodbye, so I won’t say that..."
I can only say:
Farewell forever, Adso!