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Where is Europe going? Wide ranging dialogues at the Man of Roma’s cafe. 1

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"Le patron de la Banque centrale européenne, Mario Draghi, a convaincu les investisseurs que les taux directeurs resteraient très bas longtemps, et que les liquidités seraient abondantes pour les banques". Crédit Photo : Sébastien SORIANO/Le Figaro. Source

“Le patron de la Banque centrale européenne, Mario Draghi, a convaincu les investisseurs que les taux directeurs resteraient très bas longtemps, et que les liquidités seraient abondantes pour les banques”. Crédit Photo : Sébastien SORIANO/Le Figaro. Source

Here is the EU / Euro / Europe debate I had promised to some friends. We will start with personal dialogues from our slice of the blogosphere.

You will however notice how ideas & feelings (passionate, at times) will soon go beyond the sphere of the particolare and reach the wider area of an equally passionate debate a. within the EU etc.; b. on the other side of the Atlantic; c. much beyond that, since all economies – China, India, Japan, the gas & oil states etc.) are interwoven.

[last minute update: France & Germany, who will win? In the world cup, I mean. 🙂 I don’t know whom to cheer, folks ]

Cheri Sabraw

Cheri the faerie (writer & educator and a lot more from the SF Bay area) will lead the dance, like Madame de Staël did with romanticism.


Cheri (original post & discussion) : “I remember visiting my grandparent’s home […] On the wall […] a framed cross-stitched message in blue which read, ” To Have a Friend, Be One.”

The souls I am privileged to call friends […] would say that I have always been too busy […]

[My sister Cindy] and I have a give and take friendship. I ask about her. She asks about me […]

This week, I have been in deep contemplation and as usually happens in times like these, my friends enter my consciousness like ethereal butterflies …

Were my grandmother […] still alive and were she to ask me whether I have […] followed the imperative on the cross-stitch, I would have to say “No, Nana. I have not.” I have simply been too busy.”


Kaytisweetlandrasmussen: “I am a retired fine arts teacher, sculptor/painter, writer, and a native Californian. I love my family, dogs, horses, movies, reading and music, probably in that order. I have been married forever to a very nice man who is nice to old ladies, dogs and children.”

kaytisweetlandrasmussen83: “Let us be grateful to people who make us happy. They are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom. ” Marcel Proust
Let’s face it, friends make life a lot more fun. You make my life more fun.
Loved the photo of Obexers! AK.”

Cherie Ladybugg: “You know, I was just up at Tahoe for one night. What a place that engenders so many memories. I slept in my parent’s room and on the wall is that large black and white picture of you and Dr. Advice, Ron’s parents, and mom and dad. You all looked so young and happy.

kaytis…83: “Weren’t we all dashing? We thought we already knew it all. Oh how wrong we were!”


MoR: “Dear Cheri, your post has hit my heart, I find it one of the most beautiful you’ve ever written. I did not have a brother, unfortunately … I do feel the same.

Our relationship, friendship, with you, Richard, Christopher, Cyberquill, Jenny, Andreas, Thomas, Douglas, Geraldine, Paul Sunstone and others from the Web it’s been non face to face, ok, but profound (of souls, as you say) and I have neglected you since I was too busy to achieve goals in my universus introversus […]

[I btw didn’t mention those met face to face: The Commentator Italo-Canadese, Paul or Pavlos le canadien du Quebec half Greek btw, Ashish the GeekWrestler (met by my daughter in Mumbai) Devinder the Sikh from Montreal, Nomad Anju from the Bangla culture, Nita from Mumbai, one of the best journalists ever etc. etc. etc.]

Id est 3 objectives that are inter alia impossible which I’m determined none the less to attain at the cost of croaking […]

So now objective num 3 [num 1 & 2 being performing 2 of Bach’s sublime masterpieces, ndr] is of course the ‘Manius Papirius Lentulus soldier trapped in Albion’ series (I’m thinking about a sequence of smaller books being published – feuiletton-like? – one after the other, like ‘Desperate Roman Soldiers’ LOL.)

So the writing has being restarted since a while (a 3-4 hundreds draft pages in both Italian and English: 3 perhaps draft small books) and […]  no less hard than the previous two Bach goals, it being a neo-Platonic-Pythagorean Dante […] these three objectives making me live like in a closed bell – with some old school mates around and other friends, who are patient – as you say, Cherie – since I none the less neglect them […]

And for that I have neglected you, Chaeri Faerie, who have been so warm, fanciful, crystal clear as only an Hyperborean Ladybugg can be […]

As for Londoner Richard, a soul I love as much as I love yours, I have not even told him my youngest daughter is working in London as an architect / civil engineer […] hired by an English engineering company busy building a skyscraper […]

Remember my friends that I love you so much, and to me, you ALL are important [those not mentioned because too many, of course, too], and perhaps you souls from the WWW are even more important, being like Platonic souls deprived of a body, you all having a place in a heart that doesn’t forget though neglects.”

Chaerie Ladybugg: “Well Giovanni, I don’t know what to make of this long emotional comment. […] Life is a journey that we are all on, most of us doing the best we can with what we have and with who are parents were. We meet the “other,” our spouse and we engage in a relationship, often times forgetting that they, indeed, are not an extension of ourselves, but an individual, at times very different from us on their own journey too. That is the magic of the “other”.

We have friends, whether in the WWW or face to face, friends with whom we connect and at times for myriad reasons, disconnect.

I’d like to believe that both fate and free will entwine in these dances that we do […]


Richard: “Dear Roma,

I am not so naïve as to imagine that the feelings you express are for me personally. I know that you speak of the brotherhood of man generally and specifically of your love for my country and its people. That you do so despite their widespread rejection of the European Union in the recent elections to the Parliament is a measure of your sincerity.

Yes, the British do feel neglected by Europe. We feel treated unfairly, as a caricature of ourselves, that our pioneering contributions to European culture, democracy, justice, law, science, industry and peace are sidelined, misunderstood or even ridiculed. Our expectations, despite our massive sacrifices and investment in Europe over the last 300 years, and particularly over the last 100 years, bear hardly a consideration, as evidenced by the fact that the recent vote will make hardly any difference to our voice in Europe.

I myself have not lost hope in the European project, but believe that nations require their identity to be returned to enable them to be heard and to retain what is familiar to them so they may prosper together. Rightly or wrongly, there are those who reckon that some in Europe hope to win some sort of long-term cultural war through the medium of the EU, when there need be no war at all. This fear is behind the current crisis in the Ukraine.

Adaptability of form and purpose is the key to a united Europe, no less in its central organisation than in its constituent parts, and a willingness to abandon obsolete “visions” and obsessive “principle”. That headlong idée fixe has acquired a separate existence detrimental to the ideal. Real lessons can be learned from the UK and how it maintained many of the practical traditions of the constituent nations. In many ways the UK can be seen as a Scottish take-over as well as an English one. I know that we face the real possibility of Scotland’s severance, but it is a union that has lasted for 300 years, not without its difficulties, for sure, but of great mutual benefit, not only to ourselves but also to Europe and the whole world, by and large. It is significant that many true Scots who play such a large part in the running of the UK have no vote in the forthcoming referendum because they live in England. Our cultures are closely intertwined and most of us in England feel as one. I myself have Scottish antecedents on both parents’ sides and I am a Presbyterian – of a most liberal and broad-minded kind, I hasten to suggest.

Bigger is not necessarily better and if an organisation is unwieldy it is more likely to lead to unfairness, authoritarianism, disruption, rejection and, in the worst analysis, bitter conflict, than it is to peace.

MoR: [writing his novel, he needs:]

“An Invocation, before a mind journey

To my belovéd Anglo Saxon friends,
And to Chaerie dearest Faerie,
Queene of the Greatest Isle, Américà.

O Goddess, Thou, so heauenly and so bright!

Shed pls thy faire beams into our feeble eyne,
And raise, our thoughts being humble and too vile,
The argument of our afflicted style.

M. P. L(entulus) Maxumus

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.


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.


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.


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.


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



The gentle nature of friendship

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Alma Tadema 001_Small

Invocation, before a mind journey

To my belovéd Anglo Saxon friends,
And to Chaerie dearest Faerie,
Queene of the Greatest Isle, Américà.

O Goddess, Thou, so heauenly and so bright!

Shed pls thy faire beams into our feeble eyne,
And raise, our thoughts being humble and too vile,
The argument of our afflicted style.

M. P. L. M.

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

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Pursuit of 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]


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


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)

😈 😳 😳 ]


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


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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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?


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 …

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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La morte è la vita. Il perfetto è l’imperfetto. Devinez (ἀληθινὴ ὃρασις)

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“Una bellezza perfetta è più imperfetta”
“E una bellezza imperfetta?”


“La morte è la vita”
“E la vita?”


“καὶ ἡ κάμμυσιϛ τῶν ὁφθαλμῶν?”
[e il chiudere gli occhi?]



Video Games for Roman History Buffs. The Young (and the Sun) are a Blessing

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Antonio from Venafrum (Οὐέναφρον) chances upon a friend in a Roman alley.


“Hi, how’s is it going?”

“We’re all fine, thank you. How about you? Already moved to your new job’s office?”

“I’ve only got the first meeting in half an hour so I’ll run away. I’ve been thinking, why don’t you try one of those luscious video-games about Rome?”


“I mean … Hey, listen to me – his voice now firm though gentle – you’re a Rome fiend, there’s a whole variety out there … let me see (*reading quickly from his smartphone*).”

“Here we are. Rome Total War; Glory of the Roman Empire; Caesar; Europa Universalis etc. You search high and low and you’ll surely find what better suits you, ok? I’ll rush now, bye!”


An outdoors cafe in Rome

People dining at outdoor tables on Piazza Navona outdoors cafe in Rome. Courtesy of Lonely Planet



A tough and swift young man, no doubt.

Minutes later the old man, tired and perplexed, is sitting at an outdoors cafe in Piazza Navona. Clouds are all over the sky, a strange light looming over the ‘Caffè Dolce Vita’, heavily crowded.

Then, in a flash, the sun floods everywhere by piercing through the clouds. Everybody lights up, Romans and tourists now chatting happily or, in the piazza in front, strolling by cheerfully in the piazza once the Stadium of Domitian.


“The sun (and the young) are always a great resource …”

.. he muses, sipping calmly, in satisfaction, his classic cappuccino.


Look, it is so clear from this angle: piazza Navona is the  ancient Roman Stadium of Domitianus!  (Courtesy of 'An Aggie's Blog While Abroad'. Click for file source)

Look, so clear from this viewpoint, Piazza Navona was the ancient Roman Stadium of Domitianus (Courtesy of ‘An Aggie’s Blog While Abroad’. Source )

Man of Roma. Un bilancio (assessment)

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Man of Roma a piazza Navona

MoR in Piazza Navona. Click for a larger view. Pic taken by Devinder Singh with my brand new Galaxy Tablet. Dev, an Indian blogger, was in Rome last May. He had presented a short (and great) film at Cannes. See 2 links on Piazza Navona at the foot of the post

[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).

Piazza Navona today. Via Wikipedia. Click for a larger view

Piazza Navona, Rome, former Circus of Emperor Domitian located to the north of the Campus Martius. Via Wikipedia. Click for a larger view

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.

Bust of Roman Emperor Domitian who reigned from 81 to 96 CE. Roma, Musei Capitolini

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 insegnantefiero 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.

Domitian's Stadium, built in 86 CE conceived for Greek athletics that the Romans considered immoral (nakedness etc.). Later become 'Circus Agonalis' the population watched there agones (games, from αγών: any contest), whence 'agone', which possibly merged into 'navone' (big ship), whence Navona. Voilà, Piazza Navona! Click for credits

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.

Piazza Navona, air view. Click for credits

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

Nota. Per piazza Navona vedi queste notizie storico-archeologiche in italiano e in inglese.


Post correlati (bilanci, audience e temi, man mano che il blog cresceva):

[Related posts (assessment, audience & themes as the blog progressed in time]

Are We Going Anywhere?

This Blog’s First Birthday

Post sul Metodo (see the English original of this, well, wild post)

100 Posts. I’ll Celebrate My Own Way. 1

100 Posts. I’ll Celebrate My Own Way. 2

Merry Saturnalia! And a Roman New Blog

Locking Horns with a Young Roman

Themes from Man of Roma: a site map