Merry Saturnalia to all of you! Well, was Saturnalia the ancient Roman Christmas? Mary Beard, professor in classics at Cambridge, sheds here some light (I have to thank EternallyCool for the above picture – from the British Times, probably – and for the link).
Now the new blog by Man of Roma. Looking for further evidence that intellectual masturbation is THE disease affecting me, I have just created Dialoghi Romani. I’d like it to be a brainstorming space, a lab of ideas from and towards the main blog: Man of Roma.
Posts are in Italian, intellectual onanism being much easier in my own language. The style of writing should be as simple as possible. As the Romans say, rem tene, verba sequentur (hold content firm, words will follow).
Mario. Yours is a thoughtful blog. Why the hell are you talking of dialectic thought? Sounds like one of those school nightmares. It is not at all clear.
MoR. I simply mean that in the Man of Roma’s blog thought unfolds like in a dialogue at three levels. First we have a dialogue in the mind of the writer, who is searching and striving for greater clarity. Since it is though necessary to get out of one’s mind’s boundaries, we also have a dialogue with external authors, dead or alive.
Mario. You mean books?
MoR. Yes, books. Good books in general, and classics in particular. We need to rise above the superficiality of our present time. We need some depth in our days. A good read allows to do this in a way accessible to all.
Mario. Sounds soo bookish. Is this what you’re proposing to the young? The ideal of the stuffy bookworm instead of the active person who delves into the real world?
MoR. Books imply some danger, like everything. If they are an excuse for escapism, they are no good medicine. We have to find inspiration in the Italian intellectuals of Humanism and Renaissance. Petrarch was writing letters to Livy and Cicero, who lived more than one thousand years before him.
Mario. Checcavolo, are you sure?
MoR. Of course, and he was all but nuts. He started humanism. And when after some generations Machiavelli returned home he used to take off his dusty clothes and after cleaning himself and wearing a decorous attire he entered his library to have dialogue with the minds of ancient men. He asked questions. They replied. Nothing bookish about it. These Renaissance men were looking for inspiration. They seemed to look at the past but they were preparing the future. Something not easy to understand today. It was this New Learning which empowered Europe. My method post explains in detail my view of dialectics. The importance of classics is also explained here and here.
Mario. I see. But aren’t you interested in a dialogue in real time with living people? (I think we can continue eating our Carbonara, what d’ya think?)
MoR. (Savouring Carbonara with his good friend and sipping nice red wine from Cerveteri) Of course I am interested in living people, and here comes the third level, the dialogue with the readers of this blog, or with friends (like you), with colleagues, acquaintances. Real life conversation is such a delightful thing (Fontana Morella red – or white – wine is cheap but very good) though the experience of a blog written in English has been amazing. It has allowed me to engage dialogue with people from so many parts of the world: America, UK, India, Sri Lanka, Canada, China, Sweden etc. So stimulating and thrilling! (even though sometimes I talk too much) – A long pause. Food needs its indulgent rite.
Mario. In short, your blogs are based on the technique of dialectics which involves a dialogue carried out 1) within your mind, 2) among minds (mostly through books) and 3) with blog readers and people you meet in real life.
MoR. Yes, that’s the idea. Don’t know exactly where all this will take me, but it’s the core of it all. Being a dilettante philosopher (of the streets of Rome) I’m not content with just blogging, I need a method in my blogging. It remains to be seen if this will bring any fruit.
We leave the small terrace overlooking the tiled Roman roofs. The air is fresh. It has been raining a lot recently.