Photo Journal: Capri, A Timeless Great Gatsby
Gatsby believed in the green light, the orgastic future that year by year recedes before us. It eluded us then, but that’s no matter — tomorrow we will run faster, stretch out our arms farther…. And one fine morning — So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.”
– F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby
Set in the glittering scene of money, opulence and ephemeral glamor during America’s roaring 20’s, the Great Gatsby chronicles the unrequited and tragic love story of a hopeful man’s pursuit of happiness. While this classic American tale distinctly symbolizes the disillusionment of the American dream during the country’s “Jazz Age”, the referenced dichotomy between the staid conservatism and timeworn values of the previous decade and the new era of unprecedented prosperity and material excess is a timeless and country-less theme.
Rewind 2,042 years back in time and trade Long Island for the island of Capri, Italy. Just off the coast of Naples and Sorrento, surrounded by the cobalt Mediterranean, lies this quixotic isle filled with wild flowers, the sound of soaring seagulls and the rhythmic lull of waves washed ashore. Like the lavishly seductive lifestyles in the Great Gatsby, Capri was a destination for the carelessly wealthy Roman, and later European, elite. Purchased by Caesar Agustus in 29 BC to serve as the Roman Empire’s pleasure palace, the island’s remote location became a sanctuary from an increasingly industrialized and structuralized continent.
For the next two thousand years, Capri remained a popular scene of unrestrained materialism for eccentric European artists, writers and other celebrities, including the likes of Norman Douglas, Friedrich Alfred Krupp, Jacques d’Adelswärd-Fersen, Christian Wilhelm Allers, Emil von Behring, Oscar Wilde and Axel Munthe. All in the pursuit of finding the orgastic light in the green midst of the island.
My visit to the island revealed few traces of the island’s thousand year-old secrets. A faint semblance to the height of its glory, Capri’s quaint villas and breathtaking views are still a getaway for Europeans looking for an escape from the hustle and bustle of city life. But today, it takes on a luxuriously quiet form.
The countless tales of the island’s love, scandal and tragedy are now just faint whispers across the rocky grottos like fleeting moments of humanity under the twinkling stars. Like those before him, Gatsby saw the world, lit it up as his stage, channelling angels and a new age. All the ways he got to know her pretty face and electric soul during the summer nights when they were forever wild. The crazy days, the city lights, where he played like a child. His aching soul lived and died believing that he could relive the past.
His tale is one that lingers, along with those from Capri, in the sea air; pages turning with the currents, towards the green light before us.