Monday, December 20, 2010

Roma... ancora

Saw this article in T Mag Blog a while back and just never got around to blogging about it til now. It's about the American Academy in Rome and basically, RISD's European Honors Program mimics it in that the main mission of the academy, America’s oldest such institution overseas, is to bring artists and academics together under the same roof in the hope that they will inspire one another in unexpected ways.

Anyways, a telling and encouraging excerpt and a few pics:

For some, the academy’s summer-camp spirit does not prove to be the most conducive for productivity. When the journalist and fiction writer Tom Bissell was a fellow he ended up writing less than he’d planned. Partly this had to do with circumstances outside the academy — a rough breakup followed by the death of a friend — but the environment, for Bissell, proved a challenging one. ‘‘I’ve heard the same thing from other writers,’’ he said. ‘‘Basically, for the first time since dorm life, you’re thrust into this weird social setting that makes it hard to go into your private place and work diligently.’’ Bissell, for his part, ended up installing a flat-screen television and Xbox 360 in his office, and devoted much of his time to playing video games.

‘‘For a while, I regarded Rome as a yearlong lost weekend,’’ Bissell said. ‘‘But in the end it turned out to be a kind of deceptively inspired period.’’ After his stay, Bissell worked on a book about gaming, ‘‘Extra Lives: Why Video Games Matter,’’ which was published this year to stellar reviews. ‘‘The reality,’’ he said, ‘‘is that I would have never written a book that I’m now immensely proud of had it not been for my time there. What this means is that the place works, but never in the way you imagine it will.’’

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