An image of the Roman Ghetto. The famous Giggetto restaurant on the left with Augustus’ Porticus Octaviae in the background
“Who’s more Roman than the Roman Jews? Some of us date back from the times of Emperor Titus [39-81 AD]” – Davide Limentani told me in the early 80s.
Limentani was (and perhaps still is) at the head of a big wholesale and retail glass and silver company in Rome. I had phoned him three days earlier for an interview that had to be published on the Roman daily La Repubblica.
I remember a lovely spring day in the old alleys of the Roman Ghetto, with swallows crying over a glorious blue sky. He was sitting at his desk in the aisle of an impressively ramified, catacomb-like store in via Portico d’Ottavia 47 (look at its stripped-down sign above,) crammed with an immense variety of crystal, pottery…
[full text of an article appeared (April 10, 2014) on the Roman daily La Repubblica. The said article is here paraphrased, translated and abridged by MoR]
and the future of Europe
Dante & Mozart. According to Beck, Europe’s future restarts from them (many themes from our blog reverberate to this and other notions by Ulrich Beck. Source from the Cisl Scuola web site
Europe’s crisis is not economical, it is mental. It is a lack of imagination as for the good life beyond consumerism.
Most critics of Europe are caught in nostalgic nationalism. French intellectual Alain Finkielkraut, for example, argues that Europe was created against the Nations.”
Such criticism – Beck observes– is based on a national illusion and presupposes a national horizon as for Europe’s present and future.
To these critics, Beck retorts:
“Open up your eyes! Europe and the whole world is going through a big transition.”
He then brings forth two paradoxical examples:
All British media are full of accusations against the EU. Eurosceptic Britain is nonetheless shaken by a wave of European public opinion unknown before.
China, as a result of its investment policy & economical dependence, has long been an informal member of the euro-zone. Should the Euro fail, China would get a hard blow.
citizens of the world
It is clear that advancing cosmopolitanism does not produce citizens of the world. On the contrary, the need for boundaries gets stronger as the world gets more cosmopolitan.
“Out of Euro, out of EU!”
Thus French Marine Le Pen‘ s extreme right-wing NF has won in France.
Putin, on the other hand, has collected the ‘need of boundaries of the Russians’ with his motto:
“Where there are Russians, there is Russia.”
However, such aggressive Russian nationalism – Beck continues – proves that one cannot project the past of the nations onto the future of Europe without destroying the future of Europe itself.
Ulrich Beck: “What if Putin’s ethno-nationalism were a salutary shock for Europe plagued by national selfishness?” Alain Finkielkraut: “We Europeans are traumatized by Hitler!” Ulrich Beck:“Yet, Hitler despised the Nation and desired to replace it with the Race. So it seems we want the nations to atone for Hitler’s folly. Due to their Holocaust trauma, should the Germans therefore erase nationalism entirely?
No, but we have a common premise here:
The catastrophe of the Holocaust, of Hitler and Nazi Germany (with the Nuremberg trials).
Such tragedy has helped us develop the notion of crimes against humanity. Hence a new dimension saw its birth, European law, which relativizes national law. At the same time a new world-wide scope of humanity was born : the ‘never again’ ethics.
Then Beck adds two arguments:
The world and us need more than ever a “European vision” for coping with the ills of globalization (climate change, poverty, inequality, 1% vs 99% etc. in the US, war, violence). The idea is that the mobilizing force of a forewarned disaster can found a European identity.
[Draft. We’ll stop posting for a few days, this blog crying badly for graphical renovation]
A Berber jeweler,
in today’s Subura
Not far from our house and from Rome’s ancient Subura there’s a little shop where a Berber Tuareg – a tall, dark-skinned man of a majestic beauty – makes splendid jewels that perpetuate a multimillenial tradition – married, inter alia, with an equally beautiful woman from Northern Italy.
The Samnite: “An ‘acquired’ Roman, one might say.” The Tobacconist *nodding, with a radiant smile*
A Berber metaphysician
2,000 years ago
Saint Augustine and Saint Monica, his mother. 1846 painting by French Ary Scheffer (Wikipedia, click for credits and larger image)
Another ‘acquired’ Roman – born almost 2000 years earlier (and Berber too from his mother’s side) was Augustine of Hippo.
More precisely, Aurelius Augustinus Hipponensis (354 – 430 CE,) his family having been legally Roman for more than a century.
Augustinus didn’t make jewels but he almost certainly wore some very similar to those made in the small shop of the Monti rione.
The African sage ruminated, instead, his vast soul tormented.
Governess of a billion souls (of nations no more), with a Pontifex Maximus, Francesco, shepherd at last and close to the poor (like Augustine), Rome the eternal looks today at the greatest intellectual of the first millennium CE (on this side of the planet.)
With deep love and profound respect.
We, in our lowest pochezza, nurture the same feelings.
Without forgetting, allow us, that our roots are, and remain, pagan.
Nota. L’idea mistico terrena di Roma, cemento ideologico dell’Impero Romano, venne indebolita, e l’impero con essa, dall’esplosione creativa di Agostino.
Ma l’idea non morì (e mai morirà).
Si pensi solo che gli ultimi due imperi del continente europeo dissoltisi con la prima guerra mondiale erano guidati da uno Zar, russo, e da un Kaiser, tedesco. Sia Zar che Kaiser significano Cesare, ovvero:
Gaius Julius Caesar, Pontifex Maximus e iniziatore dell’impero romano.
[We’ll stop posting for a few days, this blog crying badly for graphical renovation]
nella Suburra, oggi
Non lontano da casa nostra e dalla Suburra c’è un negozietto dove un berberoTuareg – uomo alto, dalla pelle scura e di maestosa bellezza – fa gioielli meravigliosi che continuano una tradizione plurimillenaria (tra l’altro essendosi unito a una donna anch’essa molto bella, del Nord Italia).
The Samnite: “Un romano ‘acquisito’, si potrebbe dire”. The Tobacconist *annuendo, un sorriso luminoso*
2000 anni fa
Saint Augustine and Saint Monica, his mother. 1846 painting by French Ary Scheffer (Wikipedia, click for credits and larger image)
‘Acquisito’ lo fu un altro romano di quasi 2000 anni fa, berbero anch’egli da parte di madre, Agostino d’Ippona. Per la precisione, Aurelius Augustinus Hipponensis (354 – 430 d.C), di famiglia legalmente romana, appunto, da più di un secolo.
Augustinus non faceva gioielli (ne avrà solo indossati di simili a quelli del Tuareg di Monti).
Governatrice di un miliardo di anime (non più di popoli), con un Pontifex Maximus, Francesco, finalmente pastore e vicino alla povera gente (come Augustinus), Roma l’eterna guarda oggi al più grande intellettuale del primo millennio d.C.
Con amore profondo, e con rispetto.
Noi, nella nostra infima pochezza, proviamo gli stessi sentimenti.
Pur non dimenticando, ci sia concesso, che le nostre radici sono erestano pagane.
Nota. L’idea mistico terrena di Roma, cemento ideologico dell’Impero Romano, venne indebolita, e l’impero con essa, dall’esplosione creativa di Agostino.
Ma l’idea non morì (e mai morirà).
Si pensi solo che gli ultimi due imperi del continente europeo dissoltisi con la prima guerra mondiale erano guidati da uno Zar, russo, e da un Kaiser, tedesco. Sia Zar che Kaiser significano Cesare:
Giulio Cesare, Pontifex Maximus e iniziatore dell’impero.
Fulvia: “You make it simple. 2000 years ago and today: we’ve always been colliding.” Old Man: “You’re wrong, Fulvia. Back then: fusion not collision. And today …” Extropian: “… today fusion too. Despite your bursting breasts – *winking at her*; Fulvia, 64, is still a beauty – OM is right. Just this: the collapse of the Italian economy would result in a (symmetrical) collapse of half of the German industry, since we provide many of the components for Germany’s manufacturing.” The Tobacconist:*Nodding*
[The Tobacconist pops in here for the first time. His perfectly organized store gently flooded by classical (preferably German) music, TT is steeped in Hegel, Kant & the Nichiren Buddhism. Both the highbrow and the lowbrow from his rioneask for his consilium (or wisdom advice.)
“Europe’s crisis is mental”
Ulrich Beck (born 1944). German sociologist, professor at the Ludwig-Maximilians-University Munich until 2009, he holds a professorship at Munich University and at the London School of Economics [Wikimedia. Click for credits and to enlarge]
“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 / writing tout court since, when dealing with passions the challenge is always the right measure.
The ancient Romans developed the fine art of cuisine so that the delights of life were augmented, but there was undeniably gluttony in some milieus.
I remember that, much younger, I stopped composing music since it had become an obsessive pastime that basically swallowed me up.
Life should be harmonious. A single part should not devour the rest (as Benedetto Croce, master of harmony, reminds us.)
Benedetto Croce (1866 – 1952), filosofo italiano
Christopher: You wrote: “Life should be harmonious. A single part should not devour the rest”
If everyone lived according to this precept there would be no civilisation and we would all be living short and brutish lives.
MoR: “Hard to say, although my post regards happiness more than creativity in the arts & sciences. Besides, creativity seems related to both balance and unbalance (take Vincent van Gogh etc.).
You possibly suggest that big creators lived disharmony in their life. Frank Lloyd Wright devoted *most* of his time to architecture, Einstein to physics etc.
Ok, but one has to see how these people actually spent their days.
I remember a Roman top advertising agency, at the end of the 80’s, where extremely well-paid copywriters and art directors were walking around in robes and were sunbathing on an elegant terrace overlooking the Parioli district’s skyline (where the rich and famous live, or lived).
I was puzzled at first because these creativi seemed to do everything except what they were paid for. The agency’s output was though brilliant and rivalled Milan’s creativi (the best we’ve got in this country).
One often needs quiet and relaxation to produce ideas, which suggests ‘balance’.
Moving to bigger examples, Beethoven’s music conveys to me the image of an unhappy person.
There are many elements of anger, of obsession, in his music. His life was almost certainly disharmonious: Beethoven’s father was an alcoholic; Karl, the composer’s nephew, whose custody Beethoven had obtained, attempted suicide. And so forth.
Johann Sebastian Bach aged 61 (1685 – 1750). Click for source
Bach’s music on the contrary (with its powerfully abstract architectures that unfold like a majestic river flowing) is much more enriching consoling, imo, and well fits the image of the patient German artisan, whose methodical, quiet work was conceived as a service to God. Bach was a musician but also a good Christian, a good father, a good husband and a good teacher – which suggests harmony of life.
Which doesn’t mean many breakthroughs weren’t the product of unbalanced lives. The commonplace of the deranged genius is more than a commonplace imo, though it’s not my post’s point.
Cheri: “Your point is well taken. My grandfather always told me that moderation is the key to a balanced and contented life.”
MoR: “Hi Cheri! I like roots (as you probably like your Jewish or whatever roots), this blog being a search for roots from a past that, I believe, is still working on us Latins, though not only on us.
Enjoying the pleasures of life without excess, drinking without getting drunk, a life outside compulsions or obsessions – I am often obsessing / obsessed – is not only wise, it is part of a lifestyle, and an element of grace.
To me this is particularly evident in the French, the Latin people I possibly love most.
Neapolitan Benedetto Croce, ‘master of harmony’ …
Incidentally, the Olympian beauty seeping through his works is probably of Hellenic origin, and, like the Hellenic miracle arose from formidable difficulties (if we may compare a huge thing to a small one) Croce’s serene attitude and sharp mind came at a hard price: at 17, on vacation with his parents and his sole sister, their house being wiped out by an earthquake he barely survived and remained alone.
Potsoc: “I agree with Cheri. Many creators were, indeed, unhappy people but as many had a relatively simple and happy life. The examples given speak by themselves.”
MoR: “Someone must have already done it, Potsoc le Canadien, but it’d be interesting to systematically analyse the biographies of creators (in both arts & sciences) in search of a correlation between creative intelligence and lifestyles.
My post was more about the gratification from a life with nicely distributed, non compulsive, activities, but one can blabber a bit and wonder if Balzac, for example, was compulsive in his writing.
He may have been, but his work – so vital, energetic & rich with an immense number of vividly depicted characters – suggests a life not spent exclusively on a desk with a pen in his hand.
A correlation between scientists’ lifestyles and their innovation level seems much harder to establish. They (seem to me to) reveal less about themselves.
ALL this, in any case, is a-blowing in the wind, Paul.”
Potsoc: “I guess nobody wrote a Ph.D thesis on the subject and I will not write it.”
MoR: “Ah ah ah, right Paul 🙂 Getting stuffy, I know.”
Sledpress: “The need for quiet and mental space in which to be creative can’t be denied, but does that support an argument against being too obsessional as a creative person?
I can only write fiction (or songs, or music) when I’m in an obsessional fugue, and it is bitter for me, because I want to have at least something of a life otherwise — probably few people are willing to have their spouse or friend snarl “GO AWAY!” should they be so unfortunate as to come ask about dinner or the water bill when one is creating.
But if I put the chisel down, it’s cold when I pick it back up, and what I wrote mocks me. (Blog posts and so on don’t count; those are five finger exercises.) I can’t start the fire again if I’ve let myself be jollied into putting it out so as to make nice on the rest of the human race. And if I don’t create something, who cares if I lived? It won’t matter.
I’ve already lost the thread of so many good ideas (maybe not lightning genius, but worth something) that I could spend the rest of my life in mourning, and for what in the end? People who really were only bored or wanted me to do them something. I vote for the obsessed people, myself.”
MoR: “You say, Sled:
“I can only write fiction (songs, music) when I’m in an obsessional fugue, and it is bitter for me, because I want to have at least something of a life otherwise …”
“If I don’t create something, who cares if I lived? It won’t matter”
Well, if creation & obsession necessarily go together with us, and creativity is our top priority, let us embrace obsession, why not.
Besides, obsession, as far as I can tell, may produce compellingly emotional results etc.
As for my experience, the insignificant (though much important to me) things I have written or composed were produced in both situations: within a quiet, balanced routine of life; or via obsession, pain, sacrificing the rest.
I sometimes think that, had I more discipline, I’d be able to kill two birds with a stone and reach a synthesis.
What I mean, I’m witnessing an example of creative discipline in my neighborhood, where a certain Paolo Buonvino is leaving a couple of blocks away from my home (it, en wikies.)
Italian from Sicily, conductor, composer of film scores, Buonvino’s music is extremely good, Sicilian-sunny and much appreciated. I exchanged a few words with him. He gave me some inspired advice on related-to-music stuff. Flavia and I have visited him once at his home.
In short, he’s the classic example of one who, compelled to compose scores at appalling speed, is nonetheless able to enhance productivity by finding the right breaks, walking about the rione, enjoying something at a bar (an ice-cream, a coffee, a cake) or watching trees or the sky on a park bench.
You see him around, always relaxed, a mobile at his ear, talking quietly with loads of people (this amazing ease with human relationships being typical of many Italian from the Mezzogiorno.)
So Paolo Buonvino, despite high productivity rates, manages to live quite well. A gift from heaven? Hard to say but some creative discipline should be taught when very young, I believe.”
Sledpress: “There is a trapdoor when someone has asked a creative person to produce something. I say this from experience.
Somehow it frees you to be both creative and human. I don’t know how this works. Only that knowing someone *wants* what you can create substitutes for the energy that otherwise only comes from obsession and a sort of rage against the people who don’t understand why you are working so hard to produce a composition or poem or story, however minor.”
Potsoc: “I moderate a group called “Imaginations”, each week we meet around a theme, different each week, and we write a short piece on the week’s theme that we will read to the group the following week. It’s much fun…and work but we all enjoy it and it has been going for most of ten years with a core of 5 steady participants and another 5 or 6 that come and go.”
MoR: “Sledpress, Paul, you two imply that creating for someone ‘waiting’ for your production can release the pressure?
I agree, an act of communication, then, almost always good. When I was writing the Manius so-to-say novel my motivation were you, the bloggers of my circle, ‘waiting’ (so I felt) for each new installment and the resulting fun, as Paul says, the jokes that we shared etc.
When a publisher told me one day that he was interested, the magic vanished. I tried to continue, but felt only the obsession (plus depression for my failure, lack of discipline.) I quit writing.
Potsoc: “Being approached by a publisher is an altogether other proposition, I agree. Sharing with friends is just plain fun.”
Sledpress: “Yes! You are touching on something that I meant.
If a publisher dangled money in front of me I might still be motivated. Because money is something squeezed out of one’s bloodstream (unless one is one of the one-per-cent who wallow in it), so it is like enthusiasm.
However the biggest fun was an experience like yours, of people hanging on for the next installment to find out what happened!!!
Stephen King writes of something like this in his classic novella “The Body” which became the film Stand By Me.
The pathetically young kid with the gun in this clip — earlier the film shows him telling stories around a kids’ camp fire with everyone asking him what comes next, what comes next. King later called this “the *gotta.*” “I gotta find out what happens.”
I miss having people who cared about that, which happened to me for five minutes.”
MoR: “You’ve said, Sled:
“the biggest fun was an experience like yours, of people hanging on for the next installment to find out what happened!!! I miss having people who cared about that, which happened to me for five minutes.”
When was that and where? Can we reach it?”
Sledpress: “Oh, that was my silly detective novel, an inner circle read every chapter as I wrote it — the way Dickens used to work, releasing installments before the story was all set down. Then as I wrote, with caricatures of everyone who is politically active around here, I looked forward to the public consternation it would cause, another incentive.
And oh yes, I made it look as if the author was a local newspaper editor who had been a real jerk to me a couple of times — it was easy to lift little quirks of style from his editorials. People pestered him about it for years.
Along the way it let me say and even discover a lot about my outlook on the whole “res publica”, the “public thing” that constitutes local political life, which both attracts and repels me — so many people trying to be important, yet actually doing important things despite their flaws. It is really the only thing I ever finished.
Everything else I ever did disappointed me and I threw it over or put it in the drawer, but I had people asking for this, so I had to finish it, amateurish as it may be. I wrote like hell for two months and was burned-out for two more but I wish I could do it again. Only I’m afraid to yell GO AWAY at the few friends I really have.”
MoR: “Wow. Quite a good review. I’ll read the book as soon as I can, or rather buy it (I also missed your poems over at your blog: my next comment)
In the meanwhile, a portion of the review, to the benefit of readers:
“Is this story (MURDER ACROSS THE BOARD by *******) of local interest? Sure. But the writing here is so good it is irrelevant. This is just as good a murder mystery as you will find anywhere, with a compelling story and clever writing to match. The story is truly twisted […] and the murder-mystery here is fun and energetic. No one is who they seem in this fast read, and as the story unfolds, the plot rolls along like a freight-train. What may have started as a goof on some friends or a dig at local politics has turned into a clever, engaging page-turner.”
Sledpress: “Mind you, another reader said it was cliched and awful. Then again, the point was to throw every trope of gritty detective stories into a story about local politics. Looking back I thought it needed tightening, but I’ve always hugged that one rave review to my heart.
I’m editing the pseudonym in your comment just because it really did piss off a number of people, one of whom is a habitual troll, and I’d prefer they didn’t find this blog too easily.”
Sledpress: “Oops, I was on a dashboard when I wrote the above reply and thought we were talking on my page. Oh well — if you wouldn’t mind “asterisking” the author name. Trolls shouldn’t find you either. ”
MoR: “Well, there are good and there are bad reviews, always. Who the hell cares?
I have ‘asterisked’ the author’s name, as you asked me.
And, tell this troll I am ready here waiting.”
Flavia è laureata in filosofia della scienza. Visione un po’ matriarcale la sua, un po’ patriarcale la mia, cozziamo spesso ma alla fine ne usciamo diversi.
Dice Flavia ieri:
“Ma tu che dici, ma che dici, ma che diici! Stai sempre a pensare a te stesso!”
Dopo aver discusso insieme il post su Radhakrishan ripostato ieri (The most unique is the most universal) ne è venuto fuori questo:
“In fondo conoscere noi stessi – nel senso dell’oracolo di Delfi, in senso socratico, nel senso anche di Montaigne: noi stessi, dice il francese, siamo la cavia ‘umana’ che possiamo osservare più da vicino – ci porta ad aprirci anche agli altri”.
“Questo lo vediamo nei grandi classici, come dice Radhakrishan. Kalidasa, Radhakrishan osserva, esattamente come Sofocle, Shakespeare, Platone ecc., è legato alla realtà locale indiana ma più si è profondamente dentro noi stessi (come Montaigne, come Saffo), legati cioè al mondo culturale proprio, sia individuale-locale che collettivo-locale, PIU’ CIOE’ SIAMO NOI COME UNICUM essenzializzato (essenza umana della specie Homo, direbbe Olaf Stapledon; Geist o Mind, direbbe Hegel) E PIU’ SIAMO UNIVERSALI”
“Perché a questo punto il messaggio humanus risuona, son come corde pitagoriche sparse per il mondo che cominciano a vibrare, e vibrano vibrano vibrano vibrano e si crea come una sinfonia, e questo è il superuomo pitagorico collettivo, l’entità collettiva di Olaf Stapledon.
Anche il Leonardo da Vinci di massa di Antonio Gramsci; solo che con Stapledon (Odd John, Star Maker ecc.) e con Pitagora si traversano i cosmi grazie alle reincarnazioni”
Dunque, chiarendo meglio, i vari superuomini si connettono attraversando ere e universi e gli infiniti mondi (di Giordano Bruno anche? Check) … e allora abbiamo, in un caso più ristretto (o forse no?) Pitagora, Orfeo (il grande Musico), Apollo (riprendere quel bel brano di Shakespeare su Orfeo; rileggere Diogene Laerzio – Διογένης Λαέρτιος – dove parla delle reincarnazioni di Pitagora) che a livello di telepatia, di vibrazioni mistiche, si fondono come in un turbine.
Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel. Wikipedia. Click for credits and to enlarge
Del resto Hegel lo dice con sinteticità prolissa (Update. Con sinteticità. E’ prolissa la traduzione di William Wallace, Oxford 1894) :
The knowledge of mind is the highest and hardest,
right for its being the most “concrete” of sciences.
[Die Erkenntnis des Geistes ist die konkreteste, darum höchste und schwerste]
[Ndr. Infatti per i Vorsokratic Eleatici, per Platone, Hegel etc. conta solo l’essenza, l’essere, le idee-mente-Geist, a complex notion and onthology (link1, link2) that goes on and on – getting too wide-ranging, I know – up to Heidegger’s Dasein (there-being,) to Quineand to William James]
The significance of that absolute commandment, Know Thyself,
(whether we look at it in itself, or,
under the historical circumstances of its first utterance)
is not to promote mere self-knowledge in respect of the particular capacities,
character, propensities, and foibles of the single self.
[Erkenne dich selbst, dies absolute Gebot hat weder an sich noch da, wo es geschichtlich als ausgesprochen vorkommt, die Bedeutung nur einerSelbsterkenntnisnach denpartikulärenFähigkeiten, Charakter, Neigungen und Schwächen des Individuums]
The knowledge it commands means that the man’s genuine reality
(of what is essentially and ultimately true and real)
is Mindas the true andessentialbeing.
[from Ancient Roman mens, English Wiki; see wider entry mensin German Wiki; O.Stapledon‘s novels, incidentally, narrate the bringing into being of the Homo’s Mind across the Universe(s): for such splendid narration Darwin is of course there to help him]
[sondern die Bedeutung der Erkenntnis des Wahrhaften des Menschen wie des Wahrhaften an und für sich, – des Wesens selbst als Geistes]
Equally little is it the purport of mental philosophy
to teach what is called knowledge of men,
the knowledge whose aim is to detect the peculiarities,
passions, and foibles of other men,
And lay bare what are called the recesses of the human heart.
Information of this kind is, for one thing, meaningless,
Unless on the assumption the we know the universal:
man as man, and, that always must be, as mind.
And for another, being only engaged with casual,
insignificant and untrue aspects of mental life,
It fails to reach the underling essence of them all:
THE MIND ITSELF.
[Draft, incomprehensible perhaps, havin’ just fun writing ]
Massimo: “Master, am I ready now?”
Giorgio: “Not yet”
Massimo [read about him when much younger Giorgio ‘discovered’ him (διδάσκαλος btw always hid his capabilities by looking naive: one among many tricks he had / has. Or was / is he really naive?] :
“One thing διδάσκαλε. Why have you skipped the ‘secret of the secrets post’? Will you mean that readers can rest also on Saturday?”
Giorgio, an inscrutable look in his eyes: “This is not important. Do you know who I really am μαθητής?”
In Britannia, oceani insula
cui Albion nomen est …
Maniuslike a numen from another universe was piercing the scene through the mist of his mind. Much to his surprise he became capable of ‘sensing’ the pupil (μαθητής) giving his Master (διδάσκαλος, Didaskalos) an ancient look that made Britannicus of the Papirii – seasoned soldier of Rome – shudder.
He could also perceive Massimo kneeling on one knee and uttering, gravely:
“O ancient-wisdom philosopher, o supreme mathematician & guide of my troubled life. I am so confused διδάσκαλε. It suddenly turned that …. (he looked kind of embarrassed now) it turned that I was unbeatable, Master, yesterday morning, on the A.S. Roma‘s soccer field. What the hell is going on διδάσκαλε? Doesn’t that reveal I a-m ready???”
Massimo being strong willed was no match at all for Giorgio, who ignored him, unemotional, expressionless.
It looked as if he had forgotten his pupil, absorbed as he was in his constant daily writing on his notebooks (he had a full collection of them …)
A soldier quakes
In another time, another place a strong and iron-willed soldier lost his sight and began to quake as if possessed by demons [καὶ λέγουσιν Δαιμόνιον ἔχει …] His head was exploding.
With an immense effort – due to the brutal training typical of any Roman army of any time – helped just a little bit by his three timid-but-perfectly-fit slaves (they were strictly forbidden to help: a black man, two female slave musicians) – the soldier of Rome succeeded di stendersi a terra, aspettare che il dolore finisse e poi lentamente, sollevando la testa verso la luna piena, recitare debolmente, ma fermamente, la seguente preghiera, che lo portò alla calma … all’amore divino …
Full moon rising from the ocean. Click for credits
Tu Luna, luce feminea conlustrans cuncta terrarum, iam nunc extremis subsiste, et pausam pacem, Regina, tribue.
Who with your female light illuminate all lands,
Please help me in this time of adversity
And grant me, Queen, dulcis peace, and rest.
Ancora dolore e poi di nuovo calma e un senso di amore nuovamente a pervaderlo, che però in questa fase buia durava in effetti poco e quindi pregava spesso e ancora più spesso beveva (l’orrenda, densa birra dei barbari anglosassoni).
La vita era schifosa e bella, allegra e triste, lancinante e vibrante. E poi arrivavano quelle visioni, come in una nebbia, che oltre ad ossessionarlo gli facevano letteralmente scoppiare l’encefalo.
Dopo che Cinzia, l’unico vero amore della sua vita (Manius dei Papirii era monogamo, costume forse succhiato dalla poccia materna – parola etrusca – cioè dalla madre, nativa di Roma, madre romana dall’Urbs del mondo intero), da quando cioè Cinzia, beh, il dolore era stato talmente forte che – come Orazio, Virgilio Catullo (i sacri autori) e come soprattutto Cesare, il padre di tutto e facitore della potenza romana – da quando in sostanza Cinzia preferì un semplice retore a un filosofo pitagorico (lui) Manius si era dato agli amori facili con schiave e schiavi.
Altro precetto, oltre la tendenza alla monogamia, di sua madre – donna forte e santa che si concedeva pochi vizi (qualche droga bizantina, qualche massaggio persiano alle terme) – era che la ‘familia’ andava meglio se il paterfamilias era come – e qui giù con espressione ineffabile e Rasna – era come dire un tronco (raffinato termine dal double entendre, altra espressione, questa, dal patois gallico). Un tronco, cioè il pater, che teneva solo la casa eretta in piedi dando gioia a lei (double entendre) e a tutta la maison.
E l’amata sposa, virtuosa e traendo dal tronco forza, ci costruiva – si ripeté per farsi coraggio pensando a Iside – ci costruiva attorno la casa, come aveva fatto Ulisse, un Ulisse femmina (o androgino ermafrodito: concetto complesso esoterico, dai risvolti misticamente vibranti).
Infine, cherry on the pie (stava imparando l’anglosassone?) e altro precetto e aforisma (ne sentirete parecchi) di quella santa donna, tipicamente romano nella sua praticità e eticità al contempo, era che gli schiavi qualunque fosse il loro sesso dovevano innamorarsi del Pater (anzi “andavano acquistati – diceva la donna mentre pregava i Lari – proprio con questa tendenza nel loro Geist (Aenglish?), tendenza d’amore servile ma amore non the less verso il capo sommo e sacerdote supremo familiare.
“Tutto sarebbe andato meglio, better still (Aenglisc ancora dannazione!), veramente meglio” gli aveva ripetuto più volte in un latino quasi ciceroniano (era poliglotta Mutti, parlava una decina di lingue usate in giro per l’impero ivi compresi 3 dialetti gallici appresi ad Augusta Taurinorum prima del divorzio con il provinciale montanaro (suo padre, ma di prische virtù che a Roma, diciamolo pure – pensò Manius – si cercavano con la torcetta).
Precetto, diceva la dolce bella madre ricamando sonoramente sull’idea (aveva la passione della lira e della poesia, e a Torino aveva appreso l’arpa celtica da una schiava gallica con cui amava celebrare, assieme ad altre donne, il culto santo della Dea Bona: Bona, diciamolo, nozione sacra e veramente misterica (oltre che romana) per cui una donna bella a Roma era detta Bona), precetto poi che assicurava (se ne era accorto anche a Roma con il nuovo Pater di sua madre) che le casa funzionasse liscia come l’olio spalmato sul corpo bello, possente e attraente dei gladiatori.
Questo Manius pensava pregando di nuovo in ginocchio la Junodella madre.
Poi scuoteva la testa e pensava:
Ma che ‘familia’ è la mia ormai? Vivo qui, intrappolato in una torre, giocattolo di questi lerci tedeschi di cui si sente il puzzo già a quattro milia passum (e che disprezzo dal profondo dell’inner Geist.)
Perché non lo uccidevano per Bacco? Ne avrebbe portato almeno una ventina con sé nell’Ade (Manius era addestrato come il pitagorico Milone) ma almeno poi avrebbe finito la sua vita fallita e svilita per gemere tra le ombre sotterranee (ancora più infelice, non importa … ma – si chiese angosciato – c’era solo l’Ade o qualcos’altro? Scacciò il pensiero con rabbia, il Magister non lo voleva ricordare poiché anche Cinzia era stata sua allieva e nel giardino della bella domus subalpina di *** si erano dati il primo, dolcissimo, profondo, bacio d’amore.”
Scese dal piano di avvistamento all’aria aperta a quelli inferiori, protetti da occhi indiscreti.
Perfetti, nel corpo e nello spirito
I suoi schiavi erano perfetti, nel corpo e nello spirito, allenati da lui come lui a sua volta era stato allenato (e iniziato) dal Magister, provinciale forse ma di una certa fama ad Augusta Taurinorum, dove viveva ancora suo padre risposatosi con una ricca vedova, di razza celtico ligure (il padre) – un romano provinciale d’altri tempi che gli aveva trasmesso valori d’altri tempi, discendete di quei galli togati del Nord ovest, al confine con la Gallia Grande e un tempo comata (ma ora totalmente romanizzata che però si ostinava scioccamente ad adorare non si sa cosa di mistico in quel bel vulcano del massiccio centrale, il Puy de Dôme, nel territorio degli Arverni, il popolo del valoroso Vercingetorix.
Depressso, Manius Lentulus chiamato Britannicus scese i rozzi gradini con spiritualmente spossata lentezza.
Voleva una notte d’amore con uno dei servi. Gli altri due sarebbero rimasti in piedi in funzione cubicolare, attorno cioè al giaciglio (se serviva qualche bevanda, un massaggio, se serviva protezione da un attacco improvviso, giaciglio (spartano) dove il paterfamilias – con potere di vita e morte come ai bei tempi della Roma bella sacra santa – cavalcava (o veniva cavalcato, cives ormai allo sbando e senza dignitas), cavalcava, e veniva cavalcato, per tutta le santae ore della notte. Stava lasciandosi andare, lo sapeva, ma non certo gli faceva difetto il vigore, di razza romanao pura, da parte Mutti, e montanara taurina (più tosta, i romani de Roma inesorabilmente decadevano) da parte di Pater.
Ne vigore mancava ai suoi servi, atleti perfetti, come lui …
Manius era in realtà – pensò (ma qualcuno osservandolo inosservabile non era d’accordo) una nullità. Privo ormai della Venus urania si dava come logica conseguenza, quasi teorema spirituale, alla Venus carnalis.
Essere amato teneramente, rifletté con tristezza, era meglio di niente.
Anche se va da sé che non poteva amare degli animali parlanti, ma averne affetto come per un pet o puer, oh questo sì, oh veramente sì, lui lo poteva, eccome se lo poteva, perché era questa la sua familia, non un gran che – i suoi compagni di scuola, pensò, un riso amaro sulle labbra, avrebbero sghignazzato frasi scurrili (compagni in realtà sublimi, ma il sublime e lo scurrile non si fondevano forse in unità superiore, neo platonicamente?)
Platonicamente ma alla romana si intende (questa cosa dello scurrile e del sublime).
Sebbene in crisi profonda Manius Papirius Lentulus era ancora un soldato: amava la cultura greca ma solo se filtrata dall’urbs.
“Perché – l’encefalo esplodendogli, e si trovava misteriosamente, e fisicamente, di fronte ad un uditorio di Augusta – l’atto sublime dell’osanna – disse calcando la voce, la gente lo guardava attonita – alle pompae triumphales dei bei tempi, verso quei condottieri vincitori osannati e elevati quasi a dio su terra, andava controbilanciato, per arrivare alla mediocritas – qui la voce si fece sghignazzo possente mistico – con i l-a-z-z-i della soldatesca!!”
Il pubblico sobrio della città di Torino era esterrefatto.
Sublime e scurrile, ripeté debolmente.
Giunto nella stanza principale prese la mano di uno dei suoi schiavi.
Il buio del locale appena illuminato da una torcia non fece distinguere se la mano presa con tenerezza (la stessa che provava per i i cani e gli esseri inferiori della natura) fosse di pelle bianca o nera ….