“History deals with living people: it can’t fail to please us. Besides, we are the result of what has happened in the past”
“I’d love to know
How things got to be
How they are.”
“Darling Delio, I am feeling a little tired and can’t write much. But please write to me all the same and tell me everything at school that interests you. I think you must like history, as I liked it when I was your age, because it deals with living people, and everything that concerns people, as many people as possible, all people in the world, in so far as they unite together in society and work and struggle and make a bid for a better life – all that can’t fail to please you more than anything else, isn’t that right?”
“History is interesting because the world today and we who live in it are the result of what has happened in the past, the result of history. If we know something about the past, it is easier to understand the present. It is not true that history repeats itself: no event is exactly the same as another. Yet if we know what happened in the past we can make a better guess at what is likely to happen in the future.”
James Evershed Agate (1877 – 1947), British diarist and critic, once wrote:
“Now that I am finishing the damned thing I realise that diary-writing isn’t wholly good for one, that too much of it leads to living for one’s diary instead of living for the fun of living as ordinary people do.”
What is said above applies equally to blog-writing (or to writing tout court.)
Regardless of the fact that writing can be part of the fun of life, the observation is certainly appropriate, since when dealing with passions the challenge is always the right measure, and even when one sometimes (or often) wallows in them (e.g. our passions) it is good we keep this well in mind.
The ancient Romans developed the fine art of cuisine so that the delights of life were augmented, but it is undeniable that there was some gluttony in certain groups.
As for my personal life, I remember that when I was younger I stopped composing music also because it had become an obsessive pastime that basically swallowed up my other activities.
Life should be something harmonious where a single part should not devour the rest (as Benedetto Croce, master of harmony, reminds us.)
A thing like that can of course occur and the results be occasionally outstanding – as is the rare case of those geniuses who are such only because they concentrate all their potential on one single point. This kind of disharmony though hardly brings happiness.
From positive evaluations on Caesar’s actions we now turn to perplexed criticism expressed by some ancient Romans. In the upcoming and last chapter we will deal with some harsher criticism on Caesar.
Livy cited by Seneca
We know since Livy’s judgment is cited by the philosopher Seneca years later (2 generations from Livy’s time and 4 from Cesar’s, roughly.)
After having explained the nature of meteors, rainbows, earthquakes and so forth, Seneca addresses ‘wind’.
Wind is useful – he argues – since it allows “communication among all the different nations … A great service is this that nature here renders, did not man’s madness turn it to his own injury!”
[Seneca here refers to winds that push ships, stir things etc.]
Blessing or curse?
Here comes the quote:
“The remark which was commonly made regarding Gaius Julius Caesar as recorded by Livy – that it was doubtful whether his birth was a blessing or a curse to the state – may be applied to the winds.”
So, through a poetic metaphor, Seneca lets us know both Livy’s perplexity and his own regarding Caesar’s deeds. We will try to better understand.
First of all, is it a hostile judgement? A very perplexed one, rather (Luciano Canfora’s comment). ”Since – Canfora observes – nobody would ‘condemn’ winds without appeal and yet everybody knows what scourge they can produce”.
[Luciano Canfora, Giulio Cesare, Mondadori 2010, XLII, p. 380]
A windstorm. Brittonic pearls
Seneca’s further explanation of the winds sheds some light on his own view on Caesar [italic text is mine; Canfora will then help us to read between the lines]:
“[Winds] do not cease to be inherently good, even though, through fault of those who degrade their use, they are turned to instruments of harm. Surely Providence and God, the great Disposer of the world, had a beneficent aim in establishing the winds … that the atmosphere might be kept in motion by them, that no part of the world should become unsightly through inactivity. His object was not that we might man our fleet with armed soldiers to seize every quarter of the main, and that we might go in search of foes either in or beyond the sea.”
“In its profundity – Luciano Canfora observes – the comparison is sort of paralyzing: Seneca stops on the brink of a judgement he can not make. Through the metaphor of the wind he alludes to Julius Caesar, represented as a windstorm.”
Canfora then adds [paraphrased]:
The metaphor well fits Caesar’s warlike hyperactivity, when Seneca mentions a degraded use of winds pushing ships over the sea, not for exploration or communication, but for wars in the sea or beyond the sea. ‘Beyond’ the sea – Canfora argues – cannot but allude to the erratic expedition in Britannia, judged unreasonable by many: a useless carnage carried out – to some – for greed of Brittonic pearls (Suetonius, Caesar 47; Pliny, Natural History, IX.116, 169; Gibbon believed it, Ch I; read a great article by Bill Thayers.)
Roots of perplexity
So this whole post is about the perplexity a few ancient Romans felt before Caesar’s warlike restlessness.
[Only a few? Seneca had talked of a 'commonly made' remark: quod vulgo dictatum est]
This perplexity, it should be noted, hit even those who – like Livy, Seneca and others – had benefited from the new course introduced by Caesar (new conquests, the Empire with its better organization etc.)
Why then such perplexity, Canfora asks himself?
[Giulio Cesare, XLII p . 383]
For humanitarian reasons, basically: the horrible human cost of eight years of war in Gaul and 5 years of civil war.
Julius Caesar’s Conquest Of Gaul. When North-West Europe & The Mediterranean ‘Embraced’ (1)
Conquest Of Gaul. Debate On Julius Caesar’s Conduct, Motives, Achievements (2)
The ‘Black Book’ Of Julius Caesar’s Gallic Campaign. Harsher Criticism on Caesar(ism) (4)
This blog is taking a vacation. A one month vacation.
Here is a conversation occurred over at Richardus.
It is about Love.
I paste, as usual, what I deem relevant to my blog themes.
Wow, Love! [Readers will think]
Wrong. No easy stuff … but fun, none the less.
“Aristophanes may search for his other half, but I search for my whole self.
Thrust into a hostile world, I trudge towards my inevitable grave in utter isolation, seeking an impossible solace, never knowing who I am.
Suddenly, I peer into the eyes of another and see myself. Here is my peace, my consolation, my defence.
I claim those eyes to be always with me as I am always with myself. Perhaps I procreate, but only incidentally.
Selfless caring for another is true love. With practice it may become as universal as its source.
Geraldine: I hear Tolstoy in this post and I’m not surprised.
Richardus: How would you unravel Christianity from Anna Karenin, Geraldine? I haven’t read War and Peace.
Geraldine: Your post reminded me more of how Tolstoy thought. For example you said:
“Suddenly, I peer into the eyes of another and see myself. Here is my peace, my consolation, my defence.”
Tostoy was conscious that the soul is godlike and unites all of us [italic by MoR]. The same soul lives in all of us. Emerson also refers to this in “The Over Soul.” The Hindu religion refers to this with the hands in prayer and the bow to each other: The God in me recognizes the God in you. Is this not what you mean?
To answer your question, I unravel Christianity in the novel in a simple way. Even though Toystoy had a profound insight into human suffering and behaviour his writing is morally severe. There is punishment and it is binary. I believe Levin is modeled after Tolstoy.
Anna defies or flaunts the rules of her society and receives a tragic end. Levin achieves fulfillment as a committed landowner and is involved in society. One protagonist lives outside of himself (if this sounds right) the other follows her own needs. Values, sacrifice, self-possession or self-control are scrutinized to the core.
In this work love is not light. It all suggest judgment.
Note I didn’t say that the love is not right. I do not know.
True love is so hard to find and to keep. You paint a lovely picture Richard, of an ideal. Beautifully expressed.
Man of Roma:
What is true love? Everybody is in search for Love, in his /her own way.
While I am studying for my Manius soap I now think of this:
1) on one hand we have sapientiae voluptas (or wisdom’s, knowledge hedonism, since real knowledge implies passion, joy, love, it implies trying to probe – with poetry? sacred books? philosophy? science? – the big mysteries of the universe: death, God etc.
But on the other hand we also have 2) corporis volutpas, ie bodily pleasure, not necessarily vile: at its best it is love for a human being; at its worst banal lust.
A man (don’t know about women, they are more mysterious to me the more I age) is imo torn between 1 and 2.
1) is the white horse in Plato’s Phedrus chariot (Plato influenced the Jews and the Christians), and 2) is the black horse, especially as for non-spiritual love. Who is riding the two-horsed chariot? It is our Reason.
Now men, I don’t know about women, are badly torn between 1 and 2. If they are not, throw stones at me because I am.
Torn between being a monk (of wisdom, at least tentative) and a libertine? Between ‘the Being’ & Love for a person in flesh? Hard to say.
At times the Woman, for a Man, may take us to God, to the Spirit, to the Being, like Beatrice did with Dante, or Polia with Polyphilo (ie, lover of Polia, in Francesco Colonna’a palatial neoplatonical Renaissance Comedy (Poliphilo’s Strife of Love in a Dream) – the anti-Dante – since the 2 lovers finally get united in their love – thanks to Polia – before the Cosmic Venus; yes, no Madonna there, but Venus at her highest level of purity).
Now our flight in such chariot towards Platonic Good, the Ideas (or the Christian God, or the neoplatonic cosmic Venus etc.) goes up when reason and the white horse prevail. It tends to flap flap flap down to bodily vile stuff when corporis voluptas, bodily desire, is stronger.
As for myself, num 2 is very powerful. My flight is often low, non-spiritual, my quest vile, although my desire for num 1 – for Good, God and so forth – is never ending, and is bugging me all the time, and each time I flap flap flap a bit higher, I do feel better.
Ok. I am very confused (plus verbose). Asta la vista babies
Well, now Roma, since you seek to distinguish hormonal and spiritual love, I must re-read the Symposium to see what is said there on the subject.
You raise also the matter of Christianity, for which love is the beginning the middle and the end.
Then we have love by love by internet, whose progenitor is love by letter-writing, yet less considered, or maybe less the product of reason.
There is a common thread which I must seek. I may be a little while.
You remind me, MoR, of a blond Adonis I knew at school into whose arms a succession of beauties fell, unregretting.
We mortals listened to him in awe. It was a boys’ school, so our knowledge of female anatomy was rudimentary and, shall we say, of a more academic nature. We envied the time he spent on his special study and the joy and adoration he left in his wake.
He went on to become a doctor, the better to develop his talents.
Man of Roma:
I’ll be verbose as usual.
Dear Richardus, sweet Celtic Geraldine:
I was in a boys’ school too, for the reason that, in my Liceo Classico, the headmaster, an absolute moron, decided to create, right on that darn year, one class of just girls and another of just boys (us, alas). So, our knowledge of women was also very academical. And, among us, we also had a brown-haired green-eyed Adonis. So beautiful he was, Tommaso, that he made our ‘female vacuum’ (if one can say that) even more painful: since, each time a girl approached our buddies’ group he quickly seduced her – she was powerless before Him, so she knelt down, and was lost in love – and nothing was left to us.
This occurred again and again.
Oh boy, what absolute starvation for a couple of (very formative btw) years, ie btw 15 and 17. It made us ALL very shallow for a long while as for the other gender: id est, when we met ANYTHING that faintly reminded us of the human female (in an age range btw 13 to 98), she, to us, was just flesh, flesh, flesh. Well, at that age, hormones were active. I, for example, couldn’t easily conceive a girl-friend in the sense of a real ‘friend’. Then I evolved I guess (and hope lol).
Yes, Richard, Plato is the Great Teacher of us Christians. Christ I guess did his part, but Plato is the supreme Magister of us all in the West. Forget Aristotle imo. But let us not neglect Pythagoras, Plato’s real mentor (even if dead long before Plato’s time) according to Plato himself and to many scholars, together with Socrates of course, of which little we know, and in any case Socrates was Pythagoras’ pupil also.
Now, what fascinates me [all readers here now taking a nap, I know] is the link Orpheus-Pythagoras. What a great theme!!
Which leads us into 2 sparkling directions: pre-Celtic North Europe, and India!
But that is a story I’ll try to unfold in the Manius plot.
Manius btw seems that it will be published – I was toasting yesterday with wifey – both in Italian (paper book) and in English (e-book: this version needs bigger editing, it is clear). I just have to finish it in 8 months time in a plausible and entertaining – and hopefully deep enough – way. Hard work, and contrary to my nature, whimsical & undisciplined. But in any case.
Blogger Love, you’ve mentioned.
The Love I developed for you Anglo-Saxons & similar, I guess I owe all to that,. To sweet Richard, Philippe, Mr C, Geraldine, and to ALL the American people, ALL of them etc. You people brought me -I forgot how – into discovering Ancient Britannia, fascinating to me to the extent that I now dream of it, like Giorgio in the plot (who in fact is me, obsessed by the theme).
This Love, dear dear Richard, gave me so much inspiration and happiness.
I read the elegance of you people’s words, I look at the pics you people publish (your houses, your windows so different from ours: they must allow more light, ours less) with so much Love (I now sound corny, I know). And well, yes, it is again the white and the black horse (hyperborea, the American & the British-isles type of Woman), and Reason, the Charioteer, sometimes (or often) faltering in its guide.
But this is the way we are, humans who are not only human, since perhaps there’s some extra sparkle (from somewhere where we came from and are bound to return).
As marvellous Geraldine so gently has told us – in her Irish Celtic, untouched-by-the-Romans, pure, Nordic Female’s words …
[Per i lettori italiani.
Un nuovo blog, Pagine del Man of Roma, in cui sto mettendo brani significativi del MoR in italiano.
La soap sull'antica Britannia la sto scrivendo anche in italiano]
Thus said, cercando di non fare i tronfioni e di essere obiettivi (English translation in progress) il 9 settembre 2007 cominciai un blog in inglese perché:
1) era difficile
2) dopo 16 anni di IT volevo riprendere gli studi umanistici
3) la lingua di Shakespeare, meravigliosa, speravo aprisse a una varietà di interlocutori eccitante
4) volevo praticare la dialettica, mito della mia generazione ma di valore universale
5) volevo focalizzare il lavoro sulla romanness, verificando eventuali nessi, di qualsiasi tipo, tra i romani dell’antichità e i romani – italiani (e oltre) – di oggi (la romanitas si dispiegò infatti su un impero vasto).
Come è andata?
Io credo bene. In modo non sistematico:
214 scritti (non tantissimi forse nell’arco di quasi 4 anni ma molti sono saggi ben sudati), 5.281 commenti (tanti, molti dei quali più lunghi del post che li aveva stimolati). Praticamente, tra articoli e commenti, “un librone di diverse migliaia di pagine” in cui gli interventi (al 99% in inglese) sono spesso più elevati degli scritti stessi. Ci sono anche i miei commenti e, wel well, i miei lettori sanno che sono un bel chiacchierone (chatter-box).
Estrema varietà degli interlocutori. Eccitante dicevo. In ordine alfabetico:
America, Australia, Austria, Brasile, Canada, China, Francia, Germania, Gran Bretagna, India, Irlanda, Italia, Messico, Nuova Zelanda e Svezia.
Viaggio di esplorazione. Questo per me e spero per i lettori è stato il Man of Roma:
Un girovagare imparando cose belle insieme, un dialogo continuo (estenuante a volte), uno studio tosto da parte di chi scrive (fa bene, ok, ma ‘na faticaccia …).
Nel fondo ero e rimango un insegnante, fiero del mestiere che ho fatto per più di 30 anni, un dare e soprattutto un ricevere che riscalda il cuore prima della mente.
Verifica dello strumento dialettico. La tecnica dialettica – inventata forse da Socrate e Platone 2400 anni fa (ma esistono dialettiche orientali efficacissime, vedi il link subito sopra) – per come la vedo io è:
A. dialogo con noi stessi sui temi che ci appassionano
B. Dialogo con libri testi e pagine (anche web) validi (non si cresce senza dialogare con menti migliori della nostra).
Consiglio lo studio attento di scritti frammentari o zibaldoni (l’efficacia dell’esempio vivo!) poiché il pensiero in progress ci fa teste pensanti (thinking people) per naturale imitazione, piccole teste o grandi chissenefrega (who the hell cares), l’importante è pensare con la nostra testa, diritto sancito da ogni costituzione democratica.
Personalmente ho imparato tantissimo dallo Zibaldone di Leopardi, dai saggi di Montaigne e soprattutto dai Quaderni del carcere di Antonio Gramsci, autore oggi riscoperto a livello globale (dalla destra e dalla sinistra americana, in India, in Inghilterra ecc.) non per il suo essere marxista (il marxismo è morto, pace all’anima sua) ma per il suo essere pensatore geniale, utilissimo.
Presto vorrei meglio approcciare gli essais (1rst & 2nd series) & lectures di Ralph Waldo Emerson, forse il più grande intellettuale americano che, for some weird reason, è a me molto affine.
[Anche la poesia, attenzione, di ogni genere e popolo, è strumento -cognitivo e artistico- micidiale]
C. Dialogo con gente in carne ed ossa, dovunque è possibile (amici, caffè, strada). I blog? Per loro natura dilatano il dialogo e naturalmente con l’uso di una lingua franca il livello di tale dilatazione è potenzialmente altissimo.
Infine, ‘romanità’ ieri e oggi. E qui concludo perché credo che l’audience del blog (not too far from half a million hits, specie considerando argomenti non proprio semplici direi) sia dovuta proprio a questo:
al meraviglioso mondo di Roma raccontato da un ‘uomo medio’ in tutte le salse possibili. Da uno cioè nato e vissuto quaggiù, ie a witness from right there.
Ringrazio con affetto tutti quelli che mi hanno seguito e che ho seguito nei loro blog.
THIS IS NOT A FAREWELL, IT’S A NEW BEGINNING! [had to add this since a few readers were worried: see comments below].
That the journey continue! I do love you ALL (and you know it damn!)
Man of Roma
Post correlati (bilanci, audience e temi, man mano che il blog cresceva):
[Related posts (assessment, audience & themes as the blog progressed in time]
Mozart’s works – according to Ferruccio Busoni (an Italian-German pianist, composer & writer) – faced a curious indifference in 1917. He wrote in that year:
To the Wagnerian generation Don Giovanni’s text and music seem like simpleton stuff. “The baroque splendour – he continued – has made the world insensitive to the pure lines of the ancients.”
Here’s a choice of Busoni’s earlier aphorisms on Mozart published in 1906 in Berlin’s Lokal Anzeiger. A good conclusion in our opinion to our series on ‘what is classical’.
“So denke Ich über Mozart”
So denke ich über Mozart:
Thus I think of Mozart:
Seine nie getrübte Schönheit irritiert.
His never-clouded beauty irritates.
Sein Formensinn ist fast außermenschlich.
His sense of form is nearly supernatural.
Einem Bildhauer-Meisterwerke gleich, ist seine Kunst – von jeder Seite gesehen – ein fertiges Bild.
Similar to a sculptor’s masterpiece, his art – seen from every side – is a finished picture.
Er hat den Instinkt des Tieres, sich seine Aufgabe – bis zur möglichsten Grenze, aber nicht darüber hinaus – seine Kräften entsprechend zu stellen.
He has the instinct of an animal, setting himself his tasks up to the utmost of his limits, but no further.
Er wagt nichts Tollkühnes.
He dares nothing venturous.
Er findet, ohne zu suchen, und sucht nicht, was unauffindbar wäre – vielleicht ihm unauffindbar wäre.
He finds without seeking and does not seek what would be unfindable–perhaps what would be unfindable to him.
Er besitzt außergewöhnlich reiche Mittel, aber er verausgabt sich nie.
He possess extraordinarily rich resources, but never uses them all.
Er kann sehr vieles sagen, aber er sagt nie zu viel.
He can say very much, but he never says too much.
Er ist leidenschaftlich, wahrt aber die ritterlichen Formen.
He is passionate, but preserves the chivalrous forms.
Seine Maße sind erstaunlich richtig, aber sie lassen sich messen und nachrechnen.
His measurements are surprisingly accurate, but they allow to be measured and calculated.
Er verfügt über Licht und Schatten; aber sein Licht schmerzt nicht, und seine Dunkelheit zeigt noch klare Umrisse.
He has light and darkness, but his light does not hurt, and his darkness still shows clear contours.
Er hat in der tragischen Situation noch einen Witz bereit – er vermag in der heitersten eine gelehrte Falte zu ziehen.
In a tragic situation he doesn’t lose his sense of humour – in the most cheerful he can insert an erudite word.
Er ist universell durch seine Behendigkeit.
He is universal through his spryness.
Er kann aus jeden Glase noch schöpfen, weil er eins nie bis zum Grunde ausgetrunken.
He can still drink something from every cup, since he never drank any to the bottom.
Sein Palast ist unermeßlich groß, aber er tritt niemals aus seinen Mauern. Durch dessen Fenster sieht er die Natur; der Fensterrahmen ist auch ihr Rahmen.
His palace is huge, but he never leaves its walls. Through its windows he sees nature; the windows frame is also nature’s frame.
Heiterkeit ist sein hervorstechender Zug: er überblümt selbst das Unangenehmste durch ein Lächeln.
Gaiety is his most distinct trait: even the most unpleasant he adorns with a smile.
Sein Lächeln ist nicht das eines Diplomaten oder Schauspielers, sondern das eines reinen Gemüts – und doch weltmännisch.
His smile is not that of a diplomat, or of an actor, but that of a pure heart – and yet worldly.
Sein Gemüt ist nicht rein aus Unkenntnis.
His soul is not pure out of ignorance.
Er ist nicht simpel geblieben und nicht raffiniert geworden.
He has not remained simple and has not become raffiné.
Er ist ein Freund der Ordnung: Wunder und Teufeleien wahren ihre 16 und 32 Takten.
He is a friend of order: miracles and devilries keep their 16 and 32 bars.
Er ist religiös, soweit Religion identisch ist mit Harmonie.
He is religious as long as religion is identical to harmony.
Das Architektonische ist seiner Kunst nächstverwandt.
Architecture is the art closest to his.
Previous posts on ‘classic’ and ‘classical’:
And the second half of:
I studied Gramsci in my twenties and he surely helped me greatly. I think important to say his thought to be:
1) in progress, more formative to me than any sedentary conclusions, building up upon a list of themes & reflecting on them in fragmentary notes from thousands of different viewpoints and within a dreadful context – fascism arising, jail isolation, uncertainty for his own life. All so compelling and mind expanding;
2) dialogic and dialectic.
Dialogic. G’s ideas bounce on one another also in relation to other authors’ even-opposite ideas – Gramsci ‘discusses with the enemy’ so to say. A solitary dialogue though, since jail solitude brought him to solipsism, which creates like a tragic, bewitching (and a bit claustrophobic) atmosphere.
The many ‘tools’ he created such as ‘cultural hegemony’ (close to ‘seduction’), or his notion of ‘intellectuals’, stem from such inner dialogue, which can be baffling to people used to clear definitions – I well understand – but, such brain storming is contagious and the attentive reader is taught to form his / her mental dialogues on anything he / she researches.
Dialectic. It refers to Heraclitus & Hegel, implying that all in history is ‘becoming’ & a contradictory process with actions, reactions, conciliations etc. Gramsci’s dialectic is concrete, anti-idealistic. For example, the Rousseauesque pedagogy – the ‘laissez-faire’ of ‘active’ schools – was seen by him as a reaction to the coercive Jesuitical schools, so not good or bad ‘per se’. But he tried to favour an education where both the elements of discipline and fascination were present.
Any idea had to be seen in its historical context and was hence transient (Marxism included.) When the Russian revolution burst he wrote it was a revolution ‘against the Capital’ (ie against Marx’s theories,) a scandal within the Comintern.
In many respects he considered America much more progressive than Stalin’s Russia;
3) polymathic. Gramsci is wide-ranging, like the men of the Renaissance. Besides there are similarities between his ideas and Leonardo da Vinci’s, and their writing styles too;
4) anti-platonic. Nature is ruled by blind forces, with no intelligent design. He follows the Italian tradition of Lucretius, Vico, Leonardo, Machiavelli, Leopardi, in contrast with the Platonic (and hegemonic) tendency expressed during the Renaissance by Marsilio Ficino and Pico della Mirandola;
5) anti-élite. Anti-chic, and certainly not the ‘smoking Gitanes and wearing black turtlenecks’ type of intellectual – to quote Andreas -, to him knowledge & refinement are not classy and must be spread to everyone. Born to a backward Sardinian peasant milieu he had succeeded in becoming a great European intellectual, which made him believe that everyone could be a philosopher at various degrees, and that a solid education of the working class was possible;
6) greatly written. Croce, Gramsci, Gobetti, Gentile were all great writers, like Hegel and Marx were. G’s texts are like permeated by a Hölderlin’s Heilige Nüchternheit (sacred sobriety.) As Giorgio Baratta observes, “his style, sober and exact, opens wide spaces that make the reader fly, but the flight is not grandiloquent.” His works have been recognized since they were first published as masterpieces of our language and literature. His Prison Letters have the depth of Tolstoy, an author close to him in many respects;
7) historic. Italian, European and world history are considered, from the end of the ancient Roman Republic onwards, and innumerable aspects are analysed. For a young Italian like me it meant an invaluable know-yourself experience. What I had passively learned at school could finally bear some fruit, also the teachings of my father, that I could fully appreciate only after reading Gramsci.
Gramsci’s history is as close to us as family’s history can be. It’s his magic. It touches the soul deeply.
It is also the concrete history of ideas circulating in the various socio-economic groups at a given time, with catalogues of magazines, newspapers, movements, intellectuals (often categorized with humorous nicks: it’s his peasant culture showing now and then), with the aim of understanding the currents and exact mechanisms of cultural hegemony.
He does that as for Italy, other European and non European countries. He analyses the elements that, in his view, make the United States the ‘hegemonic force’ in the world and also identifies like some cracks in this hegemonic structure, in their being too virgin and too young as a nation, with a melting pot of too many cultures.
Too long a story. Americanism in Gramsci is so crucial I’m thinking of a post where, in a dialogue occurred in the 30s, a few fictional European characters try to explain to readers their view of America, ie Gramsci’s view.
The United States – as Gramsci put it – are “the greatest collective effort ever existed to create with unheard of rapidity and a consciousness of purpose never seen in history a new type of worker and man.”
Note. An inspired introduction to Gramsci is Giuseppe Fiori’s Antonio Gramsci: Life of a Revolutionary (1970).
PS. Gramsci and Croce are well known in the English-speaking countries. The British ex prime minister Gordon Brown said Gramsci was one of his mentors. No idea if this is complimenting Gramsci or not…
More on Antonio Gramsci:
American Engineer, German Philosopher & French Politician: Gramsci’s Ideal Blend for the Modern Leonardo da Vinci
“America, the Greatest Collective Effort Ever existed”. Antonio Gramsci
Is America Too Young to Maintain its Cultural Hegemony in the Long Run?