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Category Archives: happiness

Jacques che beveva, ovvero “Chopin è anche francese, non solo polacco”

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Bar piazza Verdi

Mia madre ci diceva sempre che Chopin si pronunciava Chhhopin, perché il cognome, diceva, era polacco.

Ψ

Incontravo Jaques, un francese ultraottantenne, signorile, alto e bello, scendendo dalla casa di un amico che abita nel quartiere dei Parioli.

Jacques era infelice e alcolizzato.

Uscivo sul fare della sera – era primavera, gli oleandri erano in fiore – e fatte poche centinaia di metri me lo trovavo seduto a un bar.

[Vedi sopra, ma ha cambiato nome, MoR]

Beveva solo o assieme a una tedesca della stessa età, i capelli composti e gli occhiali, anche lei alcolizzata.

Ora, Jacques, la pelle chiarissima e gli occhi cerulei, era un tipo straordinario.

Brigitte Bardot e Jean-Paul Belmondo

Ex giornalista di Paris Match, aveva conosciuto il jet set parigino al tempo di Yves Montand, Jean-Paul Belmondo e Brigitte Bardot. Insomma la bella vita francese degli anni ’50 ’60.

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Il padre di Jacques era americano.

Mi sedevo accanto lui e parlavamo francese. Quando c’era la tedesca (colta e simpatica come lui) parlavamo in inglese.

Mi sedevo e bevevo vino rosso con Jaques. La tedesca preferiva il gin.

La salute di Jaques peggiorava ma l’anno dopo c’era ancora. Tra me e il francese era nata un’amicizia bellissima.

 

"Je suis tombée amoureuse de lui quand j'ai vu " à bout de souffle" pour la premiére fois". Source

“Je suis tombée amoureuse de lui quand j’ai vu ” à bout de souffle” pour la premiére fois”. Source

La moglie, una scrittrice ungherese di una certa fama, lo chiamava al telefono quando gli ultimi tempi lo portavo al mare e ci sedevamo sulla spiaggia a nord di Roma a mangiare spaghetti alle vongole e vino bianco ghiacciato di Cerveteri.

Lui le rispondeva: “Dove sono? Sono qui al mare con Giovanni, a ‘ faire et refaire le monde’ “.

Chopin. Wikimedia. Click for credits

Frederic Chopin (Thanks Wikimedia!)

Gli dico una volta di Chopin, per caso, che credevo solo polacco. Mi dice con autoironia:

“E’ anche francese”
“Non è possibile, è polacco!”

Il giorno dopo lo rivedo con un grosso pacco. Beviamo il solito vino rosso con cui si uccideva piano piano.

“Dov’è la tedesca simpatica che amava Carducci?” “Non torna più” detto con indifferenza ma Jacques non era mai indifferente.

Scarta il pacco. Era un gigantesco Larousse. Lo apre e mi legge con orgoglio infantile:

“Chopin era figlio di padre francese e di madre polacca”

[O qualcosa del genere. L'autoironia di Jacques era fantastica, viveva l'orgoglio francese e ci rideva su, non è facile da spiegare]

Ci siamo quasi piegati sotto il tavolo dalle risate. Una delle più belle serate della mia vita.

Ψ

Un anno dopo – Jacques non sedeva più al bar da tempo – incrociai la moglie a Piazza Verdi, non lontano dal tavolino dove avevamo passato momenti indimenticabili.

Gli occhi della donna, intelligenti, profondi, mi espressero in un lampo verde un intensissimo, muto dolore.

Ψ

[PS. In the upcoming week I will try to translate this post to English and / or to French. On va voir.]

 

 

One post a week from today. We need Loisir for 3 goals: Chaconne, Goldberg Variations, Novel. Argh?

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Pursuit of Happiness

Happiness

MoR, before he croaks, has three happily looming tasks to carry out with exact deadlines:

1) Performing ‘as is’, plus improvising, J. S. Bach’s Chaconne on a guitar (here A. B. Michelangeli demonic version: )

Here our Neapolitan Walkiria Maria Tipo’s version (much more poetic, singing) :

2) Performing ‘as is’, plus improvising, all J. S. Bach’s Goldberg Variations on a guitar (here Hungary’s leading guitarist József Eötvös’ version: “the transcription of the century”: )

A piano keyboard. Click for credits and to enlarge

I used to play a few of those outstanding variations on the piano, 40 years ago although Bach’s Well-tempered Clavier was my playground.

I luv Sokolov’s performance though I deem Maria Tipo to be a bit better (if only she danced more: Bach danses)

[Maria tipo btw was awarded the "Diapason d’Or" for her Goldberg Variations recording]

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[Fulvia (100% real): "Too ambitious, Giorgio, I am afraid for your health, dear man. C'mon, I mean: you stopped playing for 40 years ..."]

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3) Making a novel out of his blog which has been a terrific wisdom journey that possibly confused readers but did greatly enriched he who is writing.

[Flavia (80% fictional) : "You pallonaro romano, swollen head!! False prophets btw clearly disconcert those who meet them, which doesn't necessarily imply they're unhappy. The prophets of malchance. Ah! What kind of perverse reward do you get from all that???"]

“You just shut the fuck up” (non ehm fictional)

Rude, ok, but not in slightly Romanesco-spoken Italian.
(its regularity, incidentally, not diminishing its effectiveness)

:twisted: :oops: :oops: ]

 

Performing. How

Performing, in MoR’s book (in everybody’s lol) means enacting before an audience.

An uploaded YouTube video – where he who is writing can be seen and heard – is a sure output.

Whether the video will be shot in MoR’s studio or on a stage, with just one person or another guitarist or whatever interacting and jazzing back, it remains to be seen.

One post a week
(at least)

Thus having been fussily said, and needing MoR some more time to lazily reflect & relax (otium) in order not to fail reaching 1) 2) 3):

We’ll post once every 7 days, id est Man of Roma might even post repost one / three / ten times ecc a day should he feel like it, although every seventh day starting from today – unless the unwanted guest arrives – and article will appear.

Capitoline She-Wolf. Rome, Musei Capitolini. Public domain

All the best
From Mediterranean West

ψ

Related posts from the MoR (on the connection between relax and creativity)

1, 2 (in italiano), 3

Cherry in the pie:

Bertrand Russell’s In Praise of Idleness

Dormire con te

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Man of Roma:

Carlo Galli

La creatività dei giovani è meravigliosa, perché meravigliosa è la vita quando sgorga nel suo primo fulgore.

Attorno a Carlo Galli si è radunato un folto guppo di giovani (d’età o di spirito), e tutti assieme cantano, coralmente, la vita e l’amore.

Volete un esempio?

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Della poesia che segue scrive Gattolona Pasticciona:

“[Poesia] bella e suggestiva, mi chiedo come fai a gestire questo impegnativo blog, dal momento che ricevi centinaia di apprezzamenti, ai quali tu con dolcezza e gentilezza rispondi, e a lavorare nel contempo. O fare il blogger è la tua occupazione primaria? Nel caso tu avessi un’altra occupazione, direi che avresti sbagliato mestiere: sei nato poeta e cantastorie, fantasista e artista di strada, lettore delle anime e cupido del nostro secolo. Nasceranno molti bambini leggendo le tue dolcezze…”

Nasceranno molti bambini leggendo le tue dolcezze …

Originally posted on Carlo Galli:

Sei entrata in questo letto

per elemosinare amore,

trovare un po’ di conforto

tra due braccia sconosciute.

Piccola creatura, cosa ti ha fatto il mondo?

E adesso che il sole è sorto

e ti vedo ancora qui,

avvinghiata a me,

immobile nel sonno,

spero tu stia sognando

come lo sto facendo io…

…dopo questo risveglio.

Carlo Galli

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Sex and the city (of Rome). Season II.2. Bellezza, classicità, armonia

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The Baths at Caracalla, 1899, by L. Alma-Tadema (1836–1912). Click to enlarge

Bisogna essere coraggiosi, e battersi per le proprie idee, qualsiasi esse siano.

“Sono un uomo medio” diceva il Maestro, “e ho maturate delle convinzioni che non sono disposto a barattare”.

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Beh, al puritanesimo di mio padre – my readers are mainly Anglo-Saxon from the US so to them I say: puritanism has its pros, call them inner strength, endurance or capacity of suffering, all admirable – preferisco tuttavia la mia cara mamma, di patina toscana ma di animo profondamente romano: bonaria e amante di ciò che è bello, nel modo giusto (in brief: to my father’s puritanism, which has its pros, I though prefer my mum, a Roman with a Tuscan skin and lover of all that is beautiful in life.)

E questo è il senso del mio blog (this is the meaning of my blog): uno streben, uno striving (o tendere) verso l’armonia più naturale (anche se frutto di dura conquista) della classicità.

Iride di luce, messaggera?

Fiorella Corbi, di Salerno, Mezzogiorno

IrideDiLuce, Salerno. Click for file source and infos

Quindi, e visto che parlavamo di coraggio (e intelligenza, che non manca nemmeno ai calvinisti però) ho scoperto da poco Iridediluce (Fiorella Corbi), una giovane blogger italiana nativa del sud (Salerno, Campania.)

Vissuta “alle falde del Vesuvio che ne hanno influenzato – lei dice – il vulcanico carattere” Iride vive adesso in Toscana.

Ovviamente non si può essere d’accordo su tutto (speaking for example of sex and love only? C’mon…) Ma che bel nome: dea, messaggera degli dei e incarnante l’arcobaleno!

Questo filmato, che devo a lei, è parte della cultura in cui più mi riconosco (the following movie that I owe her is part of the culture I like to be part of), di origine classica più che cristiana.

Proprio come gli antichi (exactly like the Ancients):

il tema del mio blog e di tutti i blog che dovessi mai scrivere in questa vita, e in tutte le altre possibili vite (the theme of my blog and of ALL blogs I might  happen to write in this life and in all possible future lives) ….

ψ

Related posts:

Sex and the city (of Rome). Season II.1

Sex and the City (of Rome). Season I

Why Taking Showers Can Be Good for Mental Health

Man taking a shower. Click for attribution and to enlarge

While I was taking my shower at 8 this morning a simple truth suddenly hit me.

So after breakfast (fruits, honey, Soya milk and a very strong espresso) and after getting dressed (I usually dress very well when I need to pull myself together) I went into my library and searched for an old worn-out book, The Conquest of Happiness, London, George Allen & Unwin, 1930.

I read aloud the very well known passage I was looking for:

“One of the symptoms of approaching nervous breakdown is the belief that one’s work is terribly important, and that to take a holiday would bring all kinds of disaster”.

[Bertrand Russell, 1930]

Well, I won’t take a holiday because I’m having too much fun, but I’ll slow down a bit and start yoga.

Ides of March, Paul Costopoulos’ Birthday (and Paul’s Second Name is not Caesar)

Paul Costopoulos, the wise man of our little blogosphere slice. Courtesy of PC

Today it is the “Ides of March” or Idus Martii, a date famous for the assassination of Julius Caesar and an ancient festivity as well dedicated to the god Mars or Ares, the Greco-Roman deity of war.

Well, not only of war since (to the Romans only) such god was also an agricultural guardian.

March (Italian Marzo, Latin Martius) is the month named after Mars. Festivities in honour of Mars began in fact in such a year period in Ancient Rome and inaugurated the military (and agricultural) season.

They were then held again in October which ended the military campaigns and the farming activities – well, more or less since olive oil (called by Homer “liquid gold”) had still to be made because olives matured through the winter.

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This is not though a post about war, farming or about Caesar.

Except for war we care about the said things. But a lot more we care about Paul Costopoulos, our Canadian sage.

Of both Greek and French descent (a potent mix) everybody likes Paul. He is endowed with wisdom, concrete knowledge of life and that emotional intelligence – as Dafna put it – that has made discussions wherever he goes interesting, humorous (and warm.)

ψ

Paul is 80 today.

Happy birthday friend.

 

From Friendship to Asking Mamma when Looking for “Mr Right”

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Best friends. Click for credits and larger image

According to Country Philosopher friendship (no 4 in his list) is an important factor in the pursuit of happiness.

“True friendship is the most solid, the highest, the most disinterested, passionate and honest feeling that can link two persons. It implies sympathy of feelings, conviction to have found a twin soul, it is the most durable way of loving and being loved, … it is a fundamental component of happiness and, according to Epicure, the most precious good.”

“On the other hand – Bernazza adds – we cannot call authentic friends mere acquaintances ruled by feelings which are occasional, superficial, opportunistic, basically selfish. In this type of relationships liabilities are greater than assets and the final result is sorrow, most of the time.”

(his judgement on acquaintances is a bit extreme since many acquaintances in my opinion don’t necessarily end up with sorrow)

How can we attain true friendship?

“It is a construction to be built little by little, day by day, with patience and perseverance, with affection and intelligence, considering it is an achievement among the most complex, long, delicate that heart and mind together can accomplish.”

Friendship impacts on 3 points of CP’s list. Which list? A list regarding 20 major existential issues which, according to Dario Bernazza, we should address in the best possible way in order to diminish life liabilities and live a happy life. Friendship in fact regards points 4 (friendship), 5 (marriage) and 6 (children).

True friendship –  Bernazza states – is the only factor that produces a good marriage or union between two partners.

True friendship is the only key to success in the relationship between parents and children, allowing mutual respect and the mutual fulfilment of rights and duties.

Bernazza’s idea of friendship is surely dated and it includes a wider range of affectionate relationships than the modern friendship concept does, being not far from Montaigne’s amitié, connected to the Latin amicitia and the Greek philìa.

On the other hand, romantic love to him is important only to a certain extent. Life to CP should be a careful construction.  So I wonder if he would be for arranged marriages. Well, yes and no, since to him each person must be the real planner of his/her life.

Reva Seth's book on arranged marriage wisdom

[By the way, the Western romantic approach to marriage is just one possibility: arranged marriages thrived for thousands of years and are today still common in many parts of the world. Discussions on this theme by Indians can be read at Nita's blog: 1 and 2]

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Bernazza is an interesting example of cultural isolation. His thought is organic like the wine one finds directly at the farm, surely inferior to the big wines, but with a genuineness and that special patina which smells of the past.

But I’m asking myself: 1) is friendship really so important in the relationship with a partner and in parenting? 2) should living our entire life with a partner be the fruit of a thoughtful decision and a careful construction (when looking for “the one” why don’t we ask mamma, someone wrote) or should all be decided by attraction and romantic passion only?

Eluana, or Man’s Ultimate Freedom. Ending One’s Life. 2

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Lucretia stabs herself after rape. Joos van Cleve, Flemish artist, 1485 - 1540. Click for credits

Rape and death of Roman Lucretia

To her husband’s question, “Is all well?,” Lucretia replied:

“Far from it; for what can be well with a woman when she has lost her honour?
The print of a strange man is in your bed. Yet my body only has been violated;
my heart is guiltless, as death shall be my witness.” …

Taking a knife which she had concealed beneath her dress, she plunged it into her heart,
and sinking forward upon the wound, died as she fell.

(Livy Book I. 57-60)

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A discussion about the acceptable reasons for ending one’s life (see our previous post) can profit from the opinion of our forefathers, the Ancients, and from that of the Renaissance men, who channelled ancient thought into modernity.

This post is not a paean to suicide. I am sure Eluana Englaro and Terry Schiavo loved life: was theirs an acceptable life though?

Most of the quotes are taken from the French Renaissance writer Montaigne (II:3), whose Gutenberg English text is available in the translation of Charles Cotton (1630 – 1687). See also the original French text.

Note to readers

To many, old writings are a terrible bore.
They are wrong in my view.
Ancient writings, actual time machines connecting the past to the present, are mind expanding and one of the pleasures of life.

Capitoline She-Wolf. Rome, Musei Capitolini. Public domain

“The wise man lives as long as he should, not as long as he can” said Seneca, who nobly committed suicide when accused of an attempt on emperor Nero’s life. And Cicero said that while “life depended upon the will of others, death depended upon our own.”

Greco-Roman writers like Plutarch expressed great appreciation for anyone who showed this kind of ultimate dignity.

Tacitus admires Boiocalus, a German chief, “who said to the Romans that he and his tribe might lack enough land to live upon, but land sufficient to die upon could never be wanting.”

Plutarch tells us of this Spartan boy “sold as a slave and by his master commanded to some abject employment, who said: ‘You shall see whom you have bought; it would be a shame for me to serve, when freedom is at reach,’ and having so said, threw himself from the top of the house.”

Ancient thought didn’t always condone suicide. Plato didn’t accept it and the Roman poet Virgil (Aeneid, IV, 434-437) destined those who committed suicide to a region of the afterlife where they were overwhelmed by sadness (tenent maesti loca).

But the prevalent Roman ideal was that of the stoic sage who counted on reason and self-control and who was not afraid of pain or misfortune (see our post ‘On solitude‘). Should life become unbearable, or should one face great dishonour, the Romans of both sexes were not hesitant to commit suicide.

Death was considered an act of ultimate freedom and this was deeply ingrained in the Roman tradition. “Nature has ordained only one entrance to life – said Cicero – but a hundred thousand exits.”

Death was less important than the way of death, which had to be decent, full of dignity, rational (and sometimes theatrical,) while to the Christian mind, self-killing being a sin, suicide is often a desperate, irrational action fruit of depression.

Among famous examples of suicide are Lucretia, Brutus and Cassius, the assassins of Julius Caesar, Mark Anthony (and Cleopatra,) Cato the younger (see picture below), Seneca, Lucan, Petronius Arbiter etc. plus a good number of emperors, Nero, Maximian, Otho, Quintillus etc.

Common people as well considered dignity more important than life in many cases.

Cato of Utica reading the Phedo before comitting suicide. Jean-Baptiste Romand & François Rude (1832). Photo by M. Romero SchmidkteRoman stoicism deeply influenced the West despite the victory of Christianity. “For much of modern Western history, Stoic ideas of moral virtue have been second to none in influence” (Ecole Initiative, Early Church On-Line Encyclopedia.)

We see examples of noble death in Shakespeare, who, like all his contemporaries from Renaissance, felt the influence of ancient thought. The imagination of the Victorian British was captured by Cato’s death (see image on the right), «clawing out his own entrails to avoid Caesar’s despotism — as a courageous and noble death.”

Montaigne, imbued with Roman stoicism, refers how “Alexander laying siege to a city in India, those within, finding themselves very hardly set, put on a vigorous resolution to deprive him of the pleasure of his victory, and accordingly burned themselves together with their city, despite his humanity.” He seems to praise that the Indians preferred a death with honour rather than a life without it.

Montaigne adds a moving example:

“Nothing can be added to the beauty of the death of the wife of Fulvius, a good friend of Augustus. Augustus having discovered that his friend had vented an important secret he had entrusted him withal, one morning that he came to make his court, received him very coldly and looked frowningly upon him. Fulvius returned home full of despair, where he sorrowfully told his wife that, having fallen into this misfortune, he was resolved to kill himself.
To whom she frankly replied, ‘Tis right, seeing that having so often experienced the indiscipline of my tongue, you could not take warning: but let me kill myself first,’ and without more ado she ran herself through the body with a sword.”

Montaigne, quoting Pliny the elder, observes that the mythical Hyperboreans, “when weary and satiated with living, had the custom, at a very old age, after having made good cheer, to precipitate themselves into the sea from the top of a certain rock, assigned for that service” (see our series on the Hyperboreans.)

“Unbearable pain and the fear of a worse death seem to me the most excusable incitements for suicide” is Montaigne’s conclusion.

He was a sincere Christian. But he found inspiration and solace in the teachings of antiquity.

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