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The World Of The Novel ‘“Petersburg’” By Andrei Bely

Mstislav Dobuzhinsky, City Types, City Grimaces, 1908

The Russian symbolist Andrei Bely was one of the pioneers of experimental aesthetics. Bely’s creative
method in the novel Petersburg was based on his perception of symbolism, which he associated
with ethics and religion. To create the world of the novel, he used symbolic-anthroposophical artistic
approaches. The world of the novel differs from reality, which is, according to non-materialistic philosophies,
apart from God, because it is created by God. It is as if the symbolic reality of Petersburg
were divine, as if it should have been God or God-Devil, here represented by the author’s subject.
Steiner’s deity, the most universal being of the human ego, so-called manas comes to life. It embodies
the author’s anthroposophical “ego”. The text of the novel, which is simultaneously the author’s world,
was created in the disharmonious relation of the author’s subject to external reality. It can be perceived
as a form of the occult text that became popular in twentieth-century literature.
Continue to read The World Of The Novel ‘“Petersburg’” By Andrei Bely (application/pdf Object).

On Lolita, Rose La Touche, Saint Ursula and The 11,000 Virgins

Vittore Carpaccio, Apotheosis of St. Ursula, 1491

E’ indubbio ‘Lolita’ di Vladimir Nabokov un romanzo controverso che a oggi crea ancora sensazione e divide i lettori; tanti si rifiutano di leggerlo precludendo a se stessi la possibilità di farsene un’opinione, eventualmente apprezzarlo, eventualmente ignorarne i contenuti o disprezzarlo; quanti lo hanno letto in inglese converranno con me nel ritenerlo un capolavoro di stile in quanto a eleganza e misura. Il romanzo ha dato motivo a tanti registi di adattare la trama per il cinema, e mi sbaglierò affermando la versione di Kubrick di tutte la più denigratoria e allo stesso tempo tendenziosa; da una parte non rende giustizia al romanzo fuorviando l’opinione pubblica, penalizzando la maestria di Nabokov e riducendo l’affair Humbert-Lolita a una squallida e morbosa concupiscenza tra un degenerato in andropausa e una giovane ninfetta illibata; dall’altra personifica in Lolita la malizia dello spettatore, la malizia di colui che guarda con sospetto, avversione, disappunto, la storia d’amore tra un uomo adulto e una ragazzina civettuola. Ne risulta la trasposizione in celluloide di un pregiudizio in bianco e nero, che a mio parere va confutato soltanto attraverso la lettura del romanzo, denso in colori e ricco di sfumature.
Pomeriggio ho scoperto secondo lo studioso Wolfgang Kemp [#] Lolita trae ispirazione dalla storia d’amore fra il pittore, poeta, scrittore e critico d’arte londinese John Ruskin, e Rose La Touche, sua allieva e protagonista del romanzo Sesame and Lilies (1865). John Ruskin, molti studiosi e appassionati d’arte lo sapranno, viene ricordato principalmente per l’opera in cinque volumi Modern Painters, cui interpretazioni dell’arte e dell’architettura influenzarono in maniera determinante l’estetica vittoriana ed edoardiana. La biografia di Ruskin si contraddistingue specialmente per la vastissima produzione letteraria, i lunghi viaggi all’estero, l’impegno civile, la fondazione di una società chimerica di stampo medievale chiamata Guild of St.George, la costruzione di un museo, a Sheffield, dedicato agli operai del posto, e per l’incredibile propulsione ideale e morale che sottintende in ognuna delle iniziative da lui intraprese con grande passione e struggle, tensione e fatica. A buon ragione potremmo definire John Ruskin un eroe romantico per antonomasia.
Il primo incontro fra John Ruskin e Rose risale al 3 gennaio 1858, quando cioè il critico d’arte viene presentato dalla marchesa di Waterford alla benestante famiglia irlandese La Touche. Prima di raccontare l’accaduto, bisogna specificare Ruskin, ai tempi, aveva 39 anni, mentre Rose, appena 9; Ruskin è un evangelico, Rose, la famiglia La Touche, è protestante. E’ la madre di Rose a volere Ruskin in casa perchè la bambina venisse educata al disegno e alla storia dell’arte. Ruskin pare innamorarsene segretamente fin da subito sebbene aspetta il diciottesimo compleanno della bambina per chiederla in sposa alla famiglia. Perchè protestante, Rose rifiuta la proposta invitando Ruskin ad aspettare ancora tre anni; una volta compiuti i 21 anni, la ragazza potrà scegliere di propria volontà chi sposare senza dovere per questo dipendere dall’approvazione della famiglia. Trascorsi i tre anni, Ruskin si ripresenta all’attenzione di Rose, ma questa, incredibilmente, rifiuta ancora una volta il matrimonio a causa delle divergenze religiose. Fatto inaspettato, Rose muore a 27 anni -secondo alcune voci di anoressia, isteria, esaurimento nervoso, mania religiosa. Sconvolto dalla perdita e sopraffatto dal dolore, Ruskin subisce un crollo di nervi, si ammala di depressione, si dà allo spiritualismo; convinto della personificazione di Rose in Santa Orsola – rappresentata in un dipinto del pittore rinascimentale Vittore Carpaccio- Ruskin cerca da allora, e invano, di mettersi in contatto con l’amata attraverso una serie di sedute spiritiche che, come è immaginabile, lo porteranno a un ulteriore crollo di nervi e a un definitivo esaurimento nervoso.
Il quadro del pittore rinascimentale Vittore Carpaccio rappresenta l’apoteosi di Santa Orsola, secondo la leggenda vissuta tra il IV e il V secolo, santa della Chiesa Anglo-Cattolica, promessa sposa del governatore pagano Conan Meriadoc, vergine e martire. Cito da Wikipedia

Saint Ursula (“little female bear” in Latin) is a British Christian saint. Her feast day in the extraordinary form calendar of the Catholic Church is October 21. Because of the lack of definite information about the anonymous group of holy virgins who on some uncertain date were killed at Cologne, their commemoration was omitted from the Catholic calendar of saints for liturgical celebration when it was revised in 1969, but they have been kept in the Roman Martyrology.

Her legend, probably unhistorical, is that she was a Romano-British princess who, at the request of her father King Dionotus of Dumnonia in south-west England, set sail to join her future husband, the pagan Governor Conan Meriadoc of Armorica, along with 11,000 virginal handmaidens. After a miraculous storm brought them over the sea in a single day to a Gaulish port, Ursula declared that before her marriage she would undertake a pan-European pilgrimage. She headed for Rome with her followers and persuaded the Pope, Cyriacus (unknown in the pontifical records), and Sulpicius, Bishop of Ravenna, to join them. After setting out for Cologne, which was being besieged by Huns, all the virgins were beheaded in a massacre. The Huns’ leader shot Ursula dead, in about 383 (the date varies).

Interessante, a proposito di Vladimir Nabokov, questo articolo che mi è capitato leggere sul The Guardian

[#] Kemp, Wolfgang. The Desire of My Eyes: The Life and Work of John Ruskin. 1990

La Sensibilità Sospesa

Willem van Aelst. Still Life with flowers, 1675

Sapete che cos’è la sensibilità sospesa, questa specie di vitalità terrifica e scissa in due, questo punto di necessaria coesione a cui l’essere non s’innalza più, questo luogo minaccioso, questo luogo costernante?
da Il Pesa-Nervi, Frammenti, Antonin Artaud, 1925-1927

Pleasure is often spoiled by describing it – Stendhal

Christian Northeast

‘The ox becomes furious if a red cloth is shown to him; but the philosopher, who speaks of colour only in a general way, begins to rave’Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (*)

L’800, il secolo delle isterie. Ho iniziato a leggere un saggio di Goethe, Theory of Colours, del 1810, nel quale lo scrittore s’impunta, ci tiene, a smentire una teoria messa a punto da Newton nel 1704 e presentata nell’ Opticks: or a treatise of the reflexions, refractions, inflexions and colours of light’, considerato un caposaldo della letteratura scientifica (che io non ho letto).
Ho un po’ di pudore a dirlo ma sono dell’opinione non si dovrebbero mai scrivere libri quando si è al picco dell’innamoramento, un po’sudati, sovraeccitati, fuori controllo e disposti persino a negare l’evidenza; Newton considera la luce un cono bianco che proiettato attraverso un prisma dà esito a sette fasci di colore puro: rosso, arancione, giallo, verde, blu, indigo, viola (se avete presente la copertina di The dark side of the Moon). Goethe ci pensa sopra, si offende prima, lo snobba (come lo snobba)

‘Along with the rest of the world I was convinced that all the colours are contained in the light; no one had ever told me anything different, and I had never found the least cause to doubt it, because I had no further interest in the subject.’ (**)

e ‘Adesso ti sistemo io’, scrive un saggio dettagliatissimo al pari di Opticks in cui intende dimostrare, punto per punto, l’incantesimo della luce, gamma pressochè infinita di sfumature che attraverso lo spettro dell’anima, consentono allo sguardo di contemplare il mondo in posa estatica, al picco di una sindrome di Stendhal, soggiogati da un sortilegio, un idillio, al culmine della Lisztomania, rapiti da un incanto che è la vita a colori. Bha. E’ chiaro i romantici non vivevano in uno squash di periferia no furniture included a due passi da una zona industriale.
Eppure questa  Hungarian Rhapsody No. 2  scritta da Franz Liszt nel 1847 è talmente incantevole da rapire in un sogno. Pare Liszt abbia creato incredibile ammirazione ed estasi fra i suoi fan, una manata di isterici idealisti in lista dagli analisti nel ‘900.
L’800, il secolo dell’estasi.

(*)(**) taken from Theory of Colours, by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, 1810

She Came And Was Supposed To Stay


Ho iniziato a svuotare i cassetti, riunire tutta le cose in giro per camera e decidere che fare, cosa tenere, spedire, buttare, donare. E’ in momenti come questi che provo un beato senso di gratitudine verso le cose – mi ricordano di cosa posso fare a meno e di quanto è inutile possedere alcune di loro; prima usavo essere troppo possessiva e gelosa delle cose, accumulate cianfrusaglie, giornali, ritagli di giornale, bric-a-brac di dubbio valore estetico raccattati nelle bancarelle, adesso potessero staccarmisi le mani dai polsi se mi frugo in tasca in cerca di un penny da spendere tendo a tenermi alla larga da certe tentazioni pericolose esposte negli scaffali delle librerie, certe chitarre elettriche che ringhiano fuori i negozi di vinili, certi mercatini vintage d’occasioni sprecate.
Questa città è un rischio, un investimento, un asso di bastoni, un piglia tutto, uno scacco matto. Monopoli, il gioco dell’oca, la battaglia navale. Bisogna non averci un soldo in tasca, per non cadere in tentazione, basta appena una distrazione, un luccichio. Londra è piena di luccichii, Londra è una svista, è tutto un luccichio e insegne al neon, Eat here, Come In, Drink there, Stand up, Dig In, Enjoy! Have Fun! Have a try! Let’s go crazy! Rock n’ Roll Babe!
Balli, te ne vai o rimani a bordo pista. It’s up to u.
Ebbene qualche anno fa mi sono detta la scommessa più grande quella di partire con in mano una sola valigia. Sempre più piccola. Ci sono quasi – la scommessa non include quelle due o tre scatole di libri che devo spedire a casa, e leggere non equivale a peccare di lussuria, dunque direi sono sulla buona strada per vincere la scommessa e ottenere la santificazione entro la fine di quest’anno.
Se c’è una cosa che invidio agli uomini è la tasca dei pantaloni, dentro contiene giusto il necessario, ciò di cui hanno bisogno, il più delle volte portafogli e chiavi di casa. Perchè noi donne ogni volta che usciamo abbiamo bisogno di portarci dietro casa, in borsa? addirittura col rischio di rimanere fuori, fuori casa, quelle volte che non riusciamo a trovare la chiave dentro la borsa, il baule, l’armadio-borsa, la valigia, in mezzo a tutto quel marasma di agende, reggiseni, calze, lucidalabbra, cartoline, tamponi, filtrini, apriscatole, spazzolini, anelli, cartine, fotografie, un set di cucito, un nastro adesivo, puntine, quaderni, libri, salviettine, caramelle, gommine, accendini. Bha. Una volta ho chiesto alla mia collega di dirmi qual’è l’oggetto più strano che usa tenere sempre in borsa. Sono sempre stata curiosa di sapere cosa tiene in borsa una donna, dentro casa. Fanni mi ha sorpresa più di quanto potessi sperare, tiene in borsa una calcolatrice analitica. Perchè non c’ho pensato prima! e si signori, tremate, qui è chiaro si tratta di una donna d’acciaio, ligia al dovere, solida, compatta, dedita all’accudimento della famiglia e alla contabilità del marito. Regina di Coppe, Regina di Spade.
Intanto che sistemo e riposo, mi sono rituffata nella lettura di alcuni libri che avevo lasciato in sospeso.
Probabilmente anche voi, io ho l’abitudine di leggere più libri contemporaneamente; ammetto di essere una lettrice molto capricciosa e delle volte superficiale, a cui piace mettere il naso in più cose contemporaneamente, delle volte sbuffando annoiata, altre appassionandomi, innamorandomi follemente di un’idea, poi abbandonandola, quindi riprendendola più in là nel tempo. Non sono un’amante costante, ho certe priorità, una fascinazione impulsiva a cui non so resistere ragionelvolmente. Fossi una carta sarei il cavaliere di spade, un inchino e un pizzicotto. Così, per capriccio, perchè mi va e qui decido io.
Stavo considerando di suggerirne alcuni quando invece ho pensato alla possibilità di questo post come a un test, per verificare la fondatezza di un pregiudizio.
Dunque. Ho ripreso la lettura di She Came to stay, di Simone De Bevauvoir. Non fate domande. L’ho ripreso. In poche parole e stando a un mio pregiudizio – maturato durante la lettura dei primi capitoli del romanzo – Madame De Beauvoir vorrebbe convincermi della propria emancipazione femminile e sessuale soltanto perchè si porta a letto una donna, che ha il cattivo gusto di riprendere con fare da maestrina, e trattare come fosse un’ alunna, e verso cui ha la stessa opinione e considerazione dell’uomo che per prima riprovera di patriarcato e accusa di maschilismo. Mi rendo conto, si tratta di una faccenda complicata. E si tratta di una donna e filosofa francese, amante di un esistenzialista.
Certo Sartre, vecchia volpe sorniona, dev’essere stato un bel capriccio d’uomo e un bell’osso duro da rosicchiare, eppure, a leggere i primi capitoli del romanzo, sembra lei fargli da madre e asservire docilmente al ruolo di musa e nutrice.
Perchè v’accanite su di una donna per rimproverare gli uomini, Madame De Bevauvoir?
She came to stay è il primo romanzo di Madame De Bevauvoir che leggo, e io ho svoltato appena una trentina delle quattrocento pagine che lo compongono, ma questa è l’opinione che la lettura mi ha suggerito di primo acchitto, per ignoranza e superficialità. Un pregiudizio. Perch’io possa verificare questo pregiudizio, devo leggere fino alla fine il romanzo. E’probabile mi fermerò molte volte prima di concludere la lettura e svoltare finalmente l’ultima pagina, ma alla fine lo avrò verificato. E vi farò sapere.

On Great Immaturity of Humanity and Pornografia by Witold Gombrowicz

‘All writers are vain, selfish and lazy, and at the very bottom of their motives there lies a mystery. Writing a book is a horrible, exhausting struggle, like a long bout of some painful illness. One would never undertake such a thing if one were not driven on by some demon which one can neither resist nor understand.’
George Orwell
Da adolescente avevo una cotta per Andrea De Carlo. Avevo una cotta per De Carlo perchè Andrea, a differenza degli altri scrittori italiani che leggevo, era l’unico ad ascoltare i Rolling Stones in macchina, a vivere in una casa sperduta in campagna, ad essere caduto da cavallo (rimanendovi paralizzato per metà del corpo), a suonare la chitarra, e teneva sempre a esibire quell’aria posticcia e cagionevole, romantica e decandente, che ai tempi deve aver esercitato su di me un forte appeal.
Mi ricordo com’è iniziata; avevo 15 anni, vivevo ancora a casa dei miei, lavoravo nel negozio di dischi in via Natoli e Irene, la proprietaria del negozio, usava tenere i libri di Andrea sotto la cassa, in uno scaffale. L’infatuazione è partita con ‘Treno di Panna’, è proseguita con ‘Due di Due’,‘Nel momento’,‘Di noi tre’, ha raggiunto il sublime, l’apice della parabola d’amore con ‘Arco d’Amore’, e si è esaurita con ‘Pura Vita’. Non ricordo più neanche perchè. Anzi me lo ricordo, a un certo punto mi sono accorta De Carlo è un uomo. E borghese. Delle volte inconcludente, polemico, vanitoso, pigro, egocentrico, bugiardo, noioso. Come tutti gli uomini, proletari e me compresa. Quello che voglio dire è che vedendo in De Carlo l’uomo, ho smitizzato l’eroe e un assoluto, la sua proiezione ideale, che ho ridotto a pura finzione. Imparando a distinguere l’eroe dall’uomo, e l’uomo dallo scrittore, avrei dovuto imparare anche a distinguere la realtà dalla finzione. Missione fallita, quello di idealizzare gli uomini e innamorarmi degli scrittori che leggo è un vizio che continuo ad avere e in parte è dovuto al fatto che sono un soggetto bipolare con tendenza al delirio d’amore e alla sindrome dell’amante immaginario di De Clérembault (erotomania di Esquirol inclusa); in parte perchè trascorro leggendo quasi tutto il tempo libero che mi rimane da lavoro (ragione per cui mi piace scegliere sempre con cura e attenzione gli scrittori che mi porto a letto); ma soprattutto perchè scrivendo uno scrittore dà il meglio di sè e io, che malamente resisto alla vanità del satiro, ne rimango lusingata, quite flattered indeed. C’è quel lato civettuolo di me che adora essere sedotto dalle parole, dalla loro disposizione, dalla logica che le tiene insieme e si sviluppa in concetti, non importa la materia del discorrere; io adoro l’idea di un uomo che pur di eccitare il mio interesse, la mia curiosità, la mia attenzione, trascorre ore, giorni, settimane, in alcuni casi anni, in posa creativa, sotto sforzo intellettuale, in piena tribolazione, pur di compiacere la mia immaginazione e farmi godere il libro. Fosse leggere un atto sessuale squisitamente intellettuale e il libro un oggetto del piacere oggettivamente.. scomodo, ne convengo. Non solo, credo un libro un atto d’amore. Tanto più bello il libro, tanto più significativa la generosità d’animo dello scrittore. La bellezza di un libro dipenderà dal grado di corrispondenza e impatto che questo avrà in oguno di noi, per questo trovo volgari certi ‘eliterismi’ di nicchia che tendono a classificare la qualità dei libri, dunque anche quella dei lettori.
Qualche tempo fa mi sono avvicinata alla lettura dello scrittore e drammaturgo polacco Witold Gombrowicz, di cui ho letto Cosmos; ieri ho ripreso il romanzo Pornografia, che trovo di difficile lettura in inglese ma interessante perchè scritto postumo agli anni di occupazione tedesca in Polonia, dunque in un clima di tensioni culturali che in seguito hanno compromesso la pubblicazione del romanzo e incoraggiato lo scrittore a emigrare in Argentina. Il romanzo sviluppa il concetto dell”immaturità’, tipica della giovinezza quanto dell’età adulta, nel primo caso una componente del carattere, socialmente condivisa, nel secondo rimproverata e resa oggetto di inevitabili finzioni e alterazioni della personalità; una delle ragioni che spinge alcune donne a chiedersi Ancora perchè l’uomo di una volta non esiste più; l’uomo di una volta non è mai esistito, è un mito, pura finzione letteraria, un’icona; secondo Gombrowicz, in età adulta quella immaturità verrebbe dall’uomo nascosta attraverso una maschera, che indossa e rappresenta un mito, il mito di sè stesso; quello del vincente, del temerario, dell’eroe, cui virtù, in verità, non lo rappresentano nella sostanza e infine rendono responsabile della propria infelicità.
La trama del romanzo vuole due anziani intellettuali di campagna sedotti dalla passionalità di una giovane coppia di amanti che inducono a commettere un crimine. Pulsioni di vita, pulsioni di morte, Eros, Thanatos
Dice Witold Gombrowicz nella prefazione al romanzo

‘I do not believe in a nonerotic philosophy. I do not trust any desexualized idea. It’s hard to believe that Hegel’s Science of Logic or Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason could have been conceived if their authors had not kept a certain distance from their bodies. But pure conscience, when it is hardly realized, must be steeped again in the body, in sex, in Eros; the artist must plunge the philosopher in enchantment, charm, and grace’

e continua

‘A Polish author once wrote to me asking about the philosophical meaning of Pornografia.
I replied:
‘Let us try to express ourselves as simply as possible. Man, as we know, aims at the absolute. At fulfillment. At truth, at God, at total maturity.. To seize everything, to realize himself entirely – this is his imperative.
‘Now, in Pornografia it seems to me that another of man’s aims appears, a more secret one, undoubtedly, one which is in some way illegal: his need for the unfinished..for imperfection..for inferiority..for youth’

Gombrowicz è maggiormente conosciuto per il romanzo di debutto Ferdydurke, pubblicato nel 1937, di cui Pornografia è l’epilogo

‘Ferdydurke is undoubtedly my basic work, the best introduction to what I am and what I represent. Written twenty years later, Pornografia originates from Ferdydurke. I should therefore say a few words about this book.
It’s the grotesque story of a gentleman who becomes a child because other people treat him like one. Ferdydurke is intended to reveal the Great Immaturity of humanity. Man, as he is described in this book, is an opaque and neutral being who has to express himself by certain means of behavior and therefore becomes, from outside – for others – far more definite and precise than he is for himself.
Hence a tragic disproportion between his secret immaturity and the mask he assumes when he deals with other people. All he can do is to adapt himself internally to his mask, as though he really were what he appears to be.
It can therefore be said that the man of Ferdydurke is created by others, that men create each other by imposing forms on each other, or what we would call facons d’etre.
Ferdydurke was published in 1937 before Sartre formulated his theory of the regard d’autrui. But it is owing to the popularization of Sartrean concepts that this aspect of my book has been better understood and assimilated.
And yet Ferdydurke ventures on other, lesser known ground, the word ‘form’ is associated with the word ‘immaturity’. How can this Ferdydurkean man be described? Created by form he is created from outside, in other words unauthentic and deformed. To be a man means to be oneself.
He is also a constant producer of form: he secretes form tirelessly, just as the bee secretes honey.
But he is also at odds with his own form. Ferdydurke is the description of the struggle of man with his own expression, of the torture of humanity on the Procrustean bed of form.
Immaturity is not always innate or imposed by others. There is also an immaturity which culture betters us against when it submerges us and we do not manage to hoist ourselves up to its level. We are ‘infantilized’ by all ‘higher’ forms. Man, tortured by his mask, fabricated secretly, for his own usage, a sort of ‘subculture’ : a world made out of the refuse of a higher world of culture, a domain of trash, immature myths, inadmissible passions.. a second domain of compensation. That is where a certain shameful poetry is born, a certain compromising beauty..
Are we not close to Pornografia?
[..] And what if Pornografia were an attempt to renew Polish eroticism? .. An attempt to revive an eroticism which would bear a stronger relationship to our destiny and our recent history – composed of rape, slavery, and boyish squabbles- a descent to the dark limits of the conscience and the body?’
Text entirely taken from Cosmos and Pornografia, Two novels by Witold Gombrowicz, Preface, 1985

Da qualche giorno mi chiedo perchè la lettura di Dangling man ha avuto in me un così forte impatto
credo leggere romanzi in lingua originale ha soprattutto il vantaggio di permettere una maggiore comprensione dell’uso che lo scrittore fa della parola, non solo dal punto di vista grammaticale, ma espressivo e concettuale; Bellow ha grande controllo della scrittura, che esercita quasi con autorità, soprattutto precisione. Ed è morboso, sottile, pregiudiziale, ‘sacramentale’.
In molte delle considerazioni di Joseph ho riletto i sospetti che avevo da ragazzina, quella diffidenza, quell’aspettarsi niente e per niente, quella delusione, è davvero tutto qui? è davvero questo a cui ci siamo ridotti?
In passato ho disertato la lettura di questo libro, certo per ignoranza e soprattutto superficialità. Oggi questo libro crea in me sensazione; delle volte m’è sembrato un rimprovero, altre un tiro mancino, in alcuni momenti un ricordo. Ricordo una volta c’era una casa, il sole, un’infanzia, una famiglia, una stanza, un cortile, delle zie, reggiseni. Certi pettegolezzi, certe arie, certi dolcetti, certe preghiere, certe bestemmie, un cimitero, il sindaco pelato, i ceri rossi nell’altare, il postino in bicicletta, un kimono azzurro nell’armadio, l’assessoressa in minigonna, le sottane stese al vento, i baffi gialli del nonno.
Per qualche ragione mi pare capire da cosa nasce la rabbia di Joseph, da cosa quella frustrazione, quell’oppressione, quel fastidio, le idealizzazioni, l’insolenza di certe osservazioni, tanto parlare, concludere poco.
Parole parole parole, quante parole avrò detto in vita mia, quante stronzate ho avuto la pretesa di sostenere, quanto poco ho fatto di quello che ho detto. Parole. Bellow me le rinfaccia tutte, una per una, e fa incazzare. Bellow mi ricorda ho peccato, ho mancato, ho disobbedito al mio dio, ho disobbedito a me stessa. Certo, scegliere ho scelto. Ma non ho esercitato una concreta, effettiva, volontà di potenza. Per questo ho fallito. Continuo a fallire ancora e ancora a ripetermi negli stessi errori. Il superuomo è un folle. Non chiedetevi se siete liberi, chiedetevi cosa fare della vostra libertà; lì vi voglio; è a quel punto che l’orso deve avere chiaro in mente cosa fare e come farlo. Non c’è peccato originale, vanità, trauma infantile, adolescenza abusata, vecchiaia precoce, che tenga. Io, io sono una debole. Questo so di essere. E’dura doverlo ammettere. Ma tant’è, è. Ho delle alternative, però. Se non posso cambiare la mia vita, posso superare me stessa. Al di là del bene e del male. I agree there are advantages and disadvantages.
Di cosa vado lamentandomi, in fondo? Disprezzo negli altri ciò che riconosco mio ma non voglio ammettere tale. Nel provare delusione nei confronti del mondo e degli uomini, commisero me stessa.
C’è nella scrittura di Bellow una forte componente allegorica che si esprime per parabole espressive molto convincenti. C’è nella scrittura di Bellow come una sacralità, che pare dignitoso rispettare e non insinuare di pretese e concettualismi. Per questo, ho letto il libro tacendo. Ne ho lette tante e di grosse, ma a bocca zitta. A qualcosa doveva servirmi, e m’è servito.
Ho riflettuto molto sul concetto di guerra. Guerra, denaro, Pace, Libertà. C’è un’osservazione che fra tutte è quella che ha provocato in me maggiore reazione. Joseph dice

‘I support the war, though perhaps it is gratuitous to say so; we have the habit of making these things issues of personal morality and private will, which they are not at all. The equivalent would be to say, if God really existed, yes, God does exist. He would exist whether we recognized him or not. But as between their imperialism and ours, if a full choice were possible, I would take ours. Alternatives, and particularly desirable alternatives, grow only on imaginary trees.
Yes, I shall shot, I shall take lives; I shall be shot at, and my life may be taken. Certain blood will be given for half-certain reasons, as in all wars. Somehow I cannot regard it as a wrong against myself’

In altri tempi avrei considerato questa di Bellow una bestemmia. E’ una provocazione. Siamo in guerra, ognuno di noi tutti i giorni viene chiamato alle armi. Che si tratti di scegliere un leader politico, di una disputa a lavoro, di una qualche questione controversa, di un duello d’amore, di un blocco emotivo. Quel dio è forse la verità. C’è chi la cerca nella giustizia, chi nella solidarietà, chi nel profitto, chi nell’amore, nel sapere, nelle arti, nella scienza, nel caos, nella musica. C’è chi la rifiuta, chi la disprezza, chi se ne compiace, chi tende a mistificarla, chi a farne una ragione di vita. Le armi sono parole, i fatti storia. Si può scegliere di usarle, si può scegliere di tacerle, le si possono usare per distruggere, per uccidere, per amare, per costruire pace, per liberare. Ognuno ne ha libero arbitrio e più o meno facoltà d’utilizzo e comprensione.
Guerra e Pace. L’altro giorno, non è una stronzata, mi è capitato comprarne una copia in una libreria a Charing Cross
Dico al tizio dello shop, ‘How can you value such a priceless masterpiece?’
Well, I guess it’s your lucky day darling, you owe me £ 1.90 only. Thanks!
Un pound e 90, tanto vale Guerra e Pace. Ora, i fatti vogliono ch’io riesca a leggerlo tutto, dalla prima all’ultima pagina, come mi sono sempre rimpromessa di fare. E io questa volta voglio riuscirci. Bisogna pur iniziare da un principio
L’altro giorno ho trovato su ‘Russia Beyond the Headlines’ questa intervista al critico letterario Pavel Basinsky che svela un paio di segreti su Tolstoy, perchè rifiuta la Chiesa, cosa è stato del figlio illegittimo
A prominent literary critic reveals Tolstoy’s mystery | Russia Beyond The Headlines.
Più vado avanti e imparo, meno conosco e sono sicura di sapere.

Blossom Restaurant, 103 Bowery by Berenice Abbott in 1935, NY

_________________________________________________________January 13
A DARK, burdensome day. I stormed up from sleep this morning, not knowing what to do first – whether to reach for my slippers or begin immediately to dress, turn on the radio for the news, comb my hair, prepare to shave.
I fell back into bed and spent an hour or so collecting myself, watching the dark beams from the slats of the blind wheeling on the upper wall. Then I rose. There were low clouds; the windows streamed. The surrounding roofs – green, raw red blackened brass – shone like potlids in a darkened kitchen.
At eleven I had a haircut. I went as far as Sixty-third Street for lunch and ate at a white counter amid smells of frying fish, looking out on the iron piers in the street and the huge paving bricks like the plates of the boiler- room floor in a huge liner. Above the restaurant, on the other corner, a hamburger with arms and legs balanced on a fiery wire, leaned toward a jar of mustard. I wiped up the sweet sediment in my cup with a piece of bread and went out to walk through large melting flakes. I wandered through a ten- cent store, examining the comic valentines, thought of buying envelopes, and bought instead a bag of chocolate creams. I ate them hungrily. Next, I was drawn into a shooting gallery. I paid for twenty shots and fired less than half, hitting none of the targets. Back in the street, I warmed myself at a salamander flaming in an oil drum near a newsstand with its wall of magazines erected under the shelter of the El. Scenes of love and horror. Afterward, I went into a Christian Science reading room and picked up the Monitor. I did not read it. I sat holding it, trying to think of the name of the company whose gas stoves used to be advertised on the front page of the Manchester Guardian. A little later I was in the street again, in front of Coulon’s gymnasium, looking at photographs of boxers. ‘Young Salemi, now with the Rangers in the South Pacific.’ What beautiful shoulders!
I started back, choosing unfamiliar streets. They turned out to be no different from the ones I knew. Two men were sawing a tree. A dog sprang from behind a fence without warning, yapping. I hate such dogs. A man in a mackinaw and red boots stood in the center of a lot, throwing boxes into a fire. At the high window of a stone house, a child, a blond boy, was playing king in a paper crown. He wore a blanket over his shoulders and, for a scepter, he held a thin green stick in his thin fingers. Catching sight of me, he suddenly converted his scepter into a rifle. He drew a bead on me and fired, his lips moving as he said, ‘Bang!’. He smiled when I took off my hat and pointed in dismay to an imaginary hole.
The book arrived in the noon mail. I will find it tonight. I hope that will be the last deception imposed to me.
Text entirely taken from Dangling Man, by Saul Bellow, 1944

SOFA’ SOGOOD # 4 DANGLING MAN BY SAUL BELLOW

Saul Leiter‘, ‘Phone Call’, NY, 1957

La mancata consegna di un premio Pulitzer alla letteratura per l’edizione di quest’anno ha lasciato tutti interdetti e aperto dibattiti circa la questione. Saul Bellow è l’unico scrittore americano ad essere stato insignito di 3 National book awards con i romanzi ‘The adventures of Augie March’, ‘Herzog’, e ‘Mr Sammler’s Planet‘; nel 1975 di un Pulitzer Prize per il romanzo Humboldt’s Gift; nel 1976 di un Nobel Prize in Literature ‘for the human understanding and subtle analysis of contemporary culture that are combined in his work’
Dangling man, primo dei suoi romanzi pubblicato nel 1944, anticipa l’intera produzione letteraria dello scrittore e sembra rispondere alle polemiche circa il futuro della letteratura. Bellow colloca l’uomo al centro dell’indagine letteraria e lo fa ponendo particolareggiata attenzione ai conflitti che derivano dal confronto con la società che lo circonda, lo opprime, lo ‘strania’ e verso cui prova un sentimento di alienazione. Il più della critica concerne stile della scrittura e gli elementi di cui Bellow si serve per configurare background e ragioni di un conflitto che rappresenta il teorema uomo – umanità – società moderna. E’ certo la sensibilità di Bellow nel trattare la materia umana deriva lui dall’essere figlio di mercanti ebrei emigrati in Canada e vissuti in Russia. Saul è ultimo di quattro figli cresciuti a Chicago e nati a Montreal. I genitori parlano fra loro ebraico e russo, i ragazzi inglese, yiddish e francese. L’identità culturale di Bellow attinge dalla ricca tradizione ebraica, francese e russa, e converge nella mistificazione e conseguente disillusione del sogno americano; sono gli anni della Grande Depressione, della grande immigrazione, del grande Gatsby, del quarto potere, della chiamata alle armi, del calypso e del rockabilly. Trovo il virtuosismo dell’America condensato tutto nell’intensità accelerata di quegli anni di grave crisi sociale che hanno piegato alle ginocchia milioni di persone e rimesso in discussione le sorti di una nazione intera. Io credo è stato soltanto allora che i bianchi si sono finalmente uniti ai neri, centinaia di lingue si sono mescolate alla lingua, decine di nazioni si sono strette in una, capace di risollevarsi dalle macerie attraverso duro lavoro, sacrifici e tanta immaginazione. Del virtuosismo americano amo il senso della possibilità, quel why not? che è ottimismo e apertura, un accogliere, uno sfidare la sorte, un giocare la partita, un pensare straordinario, immaginifico, lungimirante, in funzione del domani
Secondo il dizionario inglese che ho qui con me, to dangle ha due significati:
transitive and intransitive verb hang loosely: to swing or hang loosely, or cause something to swing or hang loosely
transitive verb offer something as inducement: to offer or display something as an enticement or inducement
Dangling man sembra appunto offrire an inducement, uno stimolo, un motivo, un incentivo a considerare la storia un punto d’arrivo e un’occasione di partenza, e l’uomo un ‘mezzo’, letteralmente un mezzo, a cui viene chiesto di attraversare il presente consapevolmente. In Dangling man Bellow attenta a descrivere da cosa deriva quella consapevolezza, che è coscienza individuale dunque esito sociale. Quella consapevolezza nasce da una colluttazione ideale di principi e forze opposte, ora l’esercizio di una volontà di potenza, il trionfo del Romanticismo, l’eroismo del Titano, ora l’assurdità delle guerre, un crollo di valori, l’oltre uomo in crisi esistenzialista, sviscerato dalla psicoanalisi e teso al  nichilismo e all’isolazione.
Il romanzo è una retrospettiva che procede per date e minuziose digressioni all’infanzia e alla giovinezza. Joseph, il protagonista, sembra guardarsi allo specchio e non riconoscersi nell’immagine che vede di sè; si agita, è nervoso, perde il senno, sembra non avere più il controllo della propria vita e sulle proprie emozioni
L’edizione che ho qui, della Penguin, è introdotta da J. M. Coetzee, che del romanzo dice nel finale
‘Dangling Man is long on reflection, short on action. It occupies the uneasy ground between the novella proper and the personal essay or confession. Various personages come onstage and exchange words with the protagonist, but beyond Joseph in his two sketchy manifestations there are no characters, properly speaking. Behind the figure of Joseph can be discerned the lonely, humiliated clerks of Gogol and Dostoevsky, brooding upon revenge; the Roquentin of Sartre’s Nausea, the scholar who undergoes a strange metaphysical experience that estranges him from the world; and the lonely young poet of Rilke’s Notebook of Malte Laurids Brigge. In this slim first book Bellow has not yet developed a vehicle adequate to the kind of novel he is feeling his way towards, one that will offer the customary novelistic satisfactions, including involvement in what feels like real- life conflict in a real-life world, and yet leave the author free to deploy his reading in European literature and thought in order to explore problems in contemporary life. For that step in Bellow’s evolution we will have to wait for Herzog (1964)
J. M. Coetzee
Ho amato questo libro dalla prima all’ultima pagina, e dalla prima all’ultima pagina questo libro ha lenito un po’ della mia solitudine e fatto stare bene, fossero state le parole un abbraccio, una mano che tiene la mano, una lettera che dà conforto.
Le parti del libro da citare sarebbero tantissime, ma ci sono due passi che fra tutti mi hanno colpita particolarmente

___________________________________________________________January 5

THIS AFTERNOON I emptied the closet of all its shoes and sat on the floor polishing them. Surrounded by rage, saddle soap, and brushes – the brown light of the street pressing in at the window, and the sparrows bickering in the dead twigs – I felt tranquil for a while and, as I set Iva’s shoes out in a row, I grew deeply satisfied. It was a borrowed satisfaction; it was doing something I had done as a child. In Montreal, on such afternoon as this, I often asked permission to spread a paper on the sitting- room floor and shine all the shoes in the house, including Aunt Dina’s with their long tongues and scores of eyelets. When I thrust my arm into one of her shoes it reached well above the elbow and I could feel the brush against my arm through the soft leather. The brow fog lay in St Dominique Street; in the sitting room, however, the stove shone on the devenport and on the oilcloth and on my forehead, drawing the skin pleasantly. I did not clean shoes because I was praised for it, but because of the work and the sensations of the room, closed off from the wet and the fog of the street, with its locked shutters and the faint green of the petal pipes along the copings of its houses. Nothing could have tempted me out of the house.
I have never found another street that resembled St Dominique. It was in a slum between a market and a hospital. I was generally intensely preoccupied with what went on in it and watched from the stairs and the windows. Little since then has worked upon me with such force as, say, the sight of a driver trying to raise his fallen horse, of a funeral passing through the snow, or of a cripple who taunted his brother. And the pungency and staleness of its stores and cellars, the dogs, the boys, the French and immigrant women, the beggars with sores and deformities whose like I was not to meet again until I was old enough to read of Villon’s Paris, the very breezes in the narrow course of that street, have remained so clear to me that I sometimes think it it the only place where i was ever allowed to encounter reality. My father blamed himself bitterly for the poverty that forced him to bring us up in a slum and worried lest I see too much. And I did see, in a curtainless room near the market, a man rearing over a blond woman on his lap. But less easily forgotten were a cage with a rat in it thrown on a bonfire, and two quarrelling drunkards, one of whom walked away bleeding, drops falling from his head like the first slow drops of a heavy rain in summer, a crooked line of drops left on the pavement as he walked.

_____________________________________________________________January 6

ABT HAS sent me a copy of a pamphlet he wrote on the government of the Territories. Expects a flattering comment, no doubt, and I shall have to rig one up. He will want me to tell him that no one else could have written such a pampleth. Suppose I were try to tell him what I thought of him. He would reply coldly, ‘I don’t know what you’re talking about.’ He has a way of turning aside everything he has no desire to understand.
Abt, more than anyone I have known, has lived continually in need of being consequential. Early in life he discovered that he was quicker, abler, than the rest of us, and that he could easily outstrip us in learning and in skills. He felt he could be great in anything he chose. We roomed together in Madison as freshmen. He was very busy that first year keeping us all his accomplishments, his music, his politics, his class work. Living with him had a bag effect on me, for I withdrew from any field he entered. People came from other campuses to consult him on doctrinal matters; no one had as much out-of-the-way information as he; he read foreign political journals the rest of us had never heard of, and reports of party congresses, those dun, mimeographed sheets on international decisions in France and Spain. No one was so subtle with opponents. Nor did many students get as much attention as he got from his teachers. A few were afraid of him and learned to avoid challenging him publicly. late afternoons, he played the piano. I would often stop by for him at the music building on the way to dinner and spend half an hour listening. He did not waste time maturing, he did not make any of the obvious mistakes. His hold was too good. That winter he was Lenin, Mozard, and Locke all rolled into one. But there was unfortunately not enough time to be all three. And so, in the spring, he passed through a crisis. It was necessary to make a choice. But, whatever it was he chose, that would be the most important. How could it be otherwise? He gave up attending meetings and practising the piano, he banished the party reports as trash, and decided to become a political philosopher. There was a general purge. Everything else went.
Anti-Duhring and The Critique of the Gotha Program sank to the rear of the bottom shelf of his bookcase and were supplanted at the top by Bentham and Locke. Now he had decided, and in dead earnestness the followed greatness. Inevitably, he fell short of his models. He would never admit that he wanted to become another Locke, but there was, wearing himself thin with the effort of the emulation, increasingly angry at himself, and unable to admit that the scale of his ambition was defeating him.
He is stubborn. Just as, in the old days, it disgraced him to confess that he was not familiar with a book or a statement that came under his jurisdiction, he now cannot acknowledge that his plan has miscarried. But then, it bothers him to be found guilty even of small errors. He does not like to forget a date or a name or the proper form of a foreign verb. He cannot be wrong, that is his difficulty. If you warn him that there is a fissure at his feet, he answers, ‘ no, you must be mistaken.’ But when it can no longer be ignored he says, ‘Do you see it?’ as though he has discovered it.
Of course, we suffer from bottomless avidity. Our lives are so precious to us, we are so watchful of waste. Or perhaps a better name for it would be the Sense of Personal Destiny. Tes, I think that is better than avidity. Shall my life one-thousandth of an inch fall short of its ultimate possibility? It is a different thing to value oneself, and to prize oneself crazily. And then there are our plants, idealizations. These are dangerous, too. They can consume us like parasites, eat us, drink us, and leave us lifelessly prostrate. And yet we are always inviting the parasite, as if we were eager to be drained and eaten.
It is because we have been taught there is no limit to what a man can be. Six hundred years ago, a man was what he was born to be. Satan and Church, representing God, did battle over him. He, by reason of his choice, partially decided the outcome. But whether, after life, he went to hell or to heaven, his place among other men was given. It could be contested. But, since, the stage has been reset and human being only walk on it, and, under this revision, we have, instead, history to answer to. We were important enough then for our souls to be fought over. Now, each of us is responsible for his own salvation, which is in his greatness. And that, that greatness, is the rock our hearts are abraded on. Great minds, great beauties, great lovers and criminals surround us. from the great sadness and desperation of Werthers and Don Juans we went to the great ruling images of Napoleons; from these to murderers who had that right over victims because they were greater than the victims; to men who felt privileged to approach others with a whip; to schoolboys and clerks who roared like revolutionary lions; to those pimps and subway creatures, debaters in midnight cafeterias who believed they could be great in treachery and catch the throats of those they felt were sound and well in the lassos of their morbidity; to dreams of greatly beautiful shadows embracing on a flawless screen. because of these things we hate immoderately and punish ourselves and one another immoderately. The fear of lagging pursues and maddens us. The fear lies in us like a cloud. It makes an inner climate of darkness. And occasionally there is a storm and hate and wounding rain out of us.

Text entirely taken from ‘Dangling Man’, by Saul Bellow, 1944

The work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction by Walter Benjamin

sculpture by Brian Dettmer

Sto leggendo un saggio profezia del filosofo tedesco Walter Benjamin,’The work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction, scritto al tempo in cui Hitler era stato già elevato Chancellor of Germany e l’Europa si ripreparava alle armi. In questo Benjamin spiega le ragioni del postmodernismo a partire da un’indagine all’avanguardia marxista d’esito nella produzione delle arti e della riproduzione delle arti, l’impatto delle arti nella sfera politica e sociale. Meglio questo saggio delinea una teoria
[..]a theory of art that would be “useful for the formulation of revolutionary demands in the politics of art.In the absence of any traditional, ritualistic value, art in the age of mechanical reproduction would inherently be based on the practice of politics. L’arte come atto di ribellione.
Ho trovato un articolo di Claudio Bianco (FILOSOFICO.NET – La filosofia e i suoi eroi) che ne fa una critica molto interessante
Dice
Il saggio L’opera d’arte nell’epoca della sua riproducibilità tecnica viene scritto da Walter Benjamin (1892-1940) nel 1935 subito dopo aver partecipato come uditore al I Congresso internazionale degli scrittori, organizzato a Parigi al fine di dar vita a un’ampia mobilitazione intellettuale contro la diffusione del fascismo . Nel 1936 il saggio è pubblicato, nella traduzione francese di Pierre Klossowski , sulla celebre rivista Zeitschrift fur Sozialforschung , che in quel periodo si stampava a Parigi e il cui gruppo dirigente era costituito da Theodor Wiesengrund Adorno (1903-1969) , Max Horkheimer (1895-1973) e Herbert Marcuse (1898-1979) , fondatori dell’Istituto per la ricerca sociale di Francoforte. In una lettera del 16 ottobre 1935 a Horkheimer, Benjamin descrive il saggio come “una puntata in direzione di una teoria materialistica dell’arte”; in effetti la sua problematica adesione al marxismo e i rapporti con il gruppo di Adorno e con Bertolt Brecht costituiscono un quadro di riferimento imprescindibile per comprendere un testo che lega il problema del mutato statuto dell’opera d’arte – a seguito della diffusione di nuove tecniche di riproduzione- a considerazioni di carattere politico e sociale.

L’adesione di Benjamin al “materialismo storico”, ossia alla dottrina associata principalmente alle figure di Karl Marx (1818 – 1883) e Friedrich Engels (1820-1895) , secondo cui le produzioni cosiddette “spirituali” degli uomini – arte, religione e filosofia – sarebbero determinate, in quanto “sovrastruttura” , dalle strutture economiche soggiacenti delle diverse relazioni sociali e dei diversi modi di produzione, è sin dall’inizio assai problematica e originale. Nel saggio Eduard Fuchs, il collezionista e lo storico, Benjamin individua come compito del materialismo storico il superamento dell’atteggiamento “contemplativo” e neutrale assunto dallo storicismo per introdurre una visione dialettica della storia. Il passato non deve essere considerato come inserito in un ordine lineare e progressivo, bensì come qualcosa di unico, un’”esperienza originaria” in cui il presente si incontra con il passato in una “costellazione critica” che “fa deflagrare la continuità della storia”. L’idea di un presente nel quale si incontrano i diversi registri temporali dell’eternità e dell’istante era probabilmente maturata in Benjamin attraverso la lettura di Baudelaire, il quale, come abbiamo visto, nei saggi de Il pittore della vita moderna aveva definito la modernità come coesistenza, nel presente, del transitorio e dell’effimero con l’eterno e l’immutabile.

La critica della concezione della storia come progresso lineare e ascendente ritorna nelle tesi Sul concetto di storia (1940) , dove il compito del materialista storico è descritto come quello di “scardinare il continuum della storia”, a partire da “un presente che non è passaggio, ma nel quale il tempo è in equilibrio ed è giunto a un arresto (…) quel presente in cui egli, per quanto lo riguarda, scrive storia”. Il presente non è un istante astratto e anonimo dell’omogeneo fluire del tempo, né un’agostiniana distensio animi tutta racchiusa nell’interiorità della coscienza: esso è,invece, istanza originaria generatrice del tempo storico, luogo della sospensione e della critica in cui la storia è narrata e costruita guardando al futuro, a partire dalle urgenze dell’attualità (Jetztzeit). Questa costellazione di presente, passato e futuro, implicante al tempo stesso critica dell’esistenze e apertura verso il futuro, si rivela allo sguardo dello storico purificato dalle pecche dello storicismo sotto le sembianze di quella che Benjamin chiama un’”immagine dialettica”: un’immagine improvvisa, balenante, nella quale passato e futuro si illuminano a vicenda a partire dal presente.

E’nella sezione N del libro incompiuto dedicato ai passages di Parigi, intitolata “Elementi di teoria della conoscenza, teoria del progresso” che Benjamin sviluppa questo concetto, sostenendo che è solo attraverso le immagini dialettiche che la storia giunge alla leggibilità in una determinata epoca, là dove improvvisamente il passato subisce una sorta di “teléscopage” attraverso il presente: “Non è che il passato getti la sua luce sul presente o il presente la sua luce sul passato, ma immagine è ciò in cui quel che è stato si unisce fulmineamente con l’ora (Jetzt) in una costellazione. In altre parole: immagine è la dialettica nell’immobilità . Poiché, mentre la relazione del presente con il passato è puramente temporale,continua, la relazione tra ciò che è stato e l’ora è dialettica: non è un decorso, ma un’immagine discontinua, a salti. Solo le immagini dialettiche sono autentiche immagini (cioè non arcaiche); e il luogo, in cui le si incontra, è il linguaggio”. L’immagine dialettica appare là dove il pensiero si arresta in una costellazione, dove passato, presente e futuro si manifestano improvvisamente alla luce di una “vera sintesi” in cui appare ciò che Benjamin , riprendendo un termine fondamentale della morfologia goethiana , chiama un “fenomeno originario della storia”.

La riflessione benjaminiana su cosa significhi un approccio materialistico e dialettico alla storia e all’arte sta sullo sfondo del saggio L’opera d’arte nell’epoca della sua riproducibilità tecnica , che nella “premessa” è presentato come una raccolta di “tesi sopra le tendenze dello sviluppo dell’arte nelle attuali condizioni di produzione”. In apertura del saggio Benjamin cita un passo di un breve testo di Paul Valéry (1871-1945) , “La conquete de l’ubiquité”, pubblicato nel 1931 nella raccolta Pièce sur l’art. In questo testo Valéry si interroga sui mutamenti in atto nella nozione stessa di arte – nelle tecniche artistiche, nella concezione della creazione, nella riproduzione e trasmissione delle opere – in seguito all’incremento stupefacente del nostro “potere di azione sulle cose”. La futura diffusione di nuovi mezzi di comunicazione analoghi alla radio e al telefono avrebbe presto consentito, secondo Valéry, di “trasportare o ricostituire in ogni luogo il sistema di sensazioni – o più esattamente, il sistema di eccitazioni – provocato in un luogo qualsiasi da un oggetto o da un evento qualsiasi”. Nel caso dell’arte, ciò avrebbe significato la possibilità per le opere di avere una sorta di “ubiquità” , ossia di divenire delle “fonti” o “origini” i cui effetti potrebbero essere avvertiti ovunque. Su un piano più generale, lo scenario evocato da Valéry è quello di una società futura in cui sarebbe possibile suscitare un flusso di immagini visive o di sensazioni uditive con un semplice gesto, una società caratterizzata dalla possibilità di una “distribuzione della Realtà Sensibile a domicilio”. In questo aumentato potere di riprodurre e diffondere le opere, che Valéry vede già compiersi nel caso della musica, risiederebbe la “condizione essenziale della resa estetica più elevata”, ossia la possibilità di sganciare la fruizione dell’opera d’arte dall’hic et nunc della sua collocazione materiale o della sua esecuzione per renderla accessibile nel momento spirituale più favorevole e fecondo.

La stessa riflessione sui mutamenti in atto nello statuto e nella fruizione dell’arte in seguito all’elaborazione di nuove tecniche di riproduzione e trasmissione delle opere che anima il breve testo di Valéry è al centro del saggio di Benjamin, che ha come presupposto la grande diffusione della fotografia e del cinema nei primi decenni del secolo e il lavoro di sperimentazione condotto su queste due forme espressive da avanguardie artistiche come il dadaismo, il surrealismo o il costruttivismo. A differenza di Valéry, Benjamin conferisce però alla propria analisi una valenza esplicitamente politica, in quanto nelle nuove forme di produzione e trasmissione dell’arte messe in atto da cinema e fotografia vede la possibilità di liberare l’esperienza estetica dal sostrato religioso-sacrale che ne accompagnava la fruizione da parte della borghesia, impedendo l’instaurazione di un nuovo rapporto tra l’arte e le masse. Quelle proposte da Benjamin, secondo le sue stesse parole, sono tesi “che eliminano un certo numero di concetti tradizionali – quali i concetti di creatività e di genialità, di valore eterno e di mistero -, concetti la cui applicazione incontrollata (…) induce a un’elaborazione in senso fascista del materiale concreto”. Scopo dell’analisi deve essere elaborare concetti “del tutto inutilizzabili ai fini del fascismo”, concetti che consentano, al contrario, “la formulazione di esigenze rivoluzionarie nella politica culturale”.

Una riflessione sulla riproducibilità dell’opera d’arte non può non partire dalla constatazione che, “in linea di principio”, l’opera d’arte è sempre stata riproducibile”. La riproduzione intesa come imitazione manuale di disegni, quadri o sculture è sempre stata parte integrante della pratica artistica, dell’apprendimento e della messa in circolazione delle opere. Nel caso della musica,poi, l’opera stessa esiste innanzitutto come ri-esecuzione . Ciò che interessa a Benjamin , però, non è la riproduzione intesa in questo senso bensì la riproduzione tecnica delle opere d’arte, qualcosa che nella storia si è manifestato progressivamente nelle pratiche della fusione del bronzo, del conio delle monete, della silografia e della litografia come riproduzione della grafica e, soprattutto, della stampa come riproducibilità tecnica della scrittura. Con l’invenzione della fotografia e del cinema, la riproducibilità del visibile attinge a una dimensione nuova, sganciandosi ulteriormente dal condizionamento della manualità e velocizzandosi enormemente. Di fronte a una tale rivoluzione tecnica, il compito del critico, secondo Benjamin, consiste nel riflettere sul modo in cui questo tipo di riproducibilità dell’opera d’arte finisce per imporre una ridefinizione dello statuto stesso dell’arte nella sua forma tradizionale.

La tesi centrale del saggio di Benjamin risiede nell’affermazione che nella riproduzione fotografica di un’opera viene a mancare un elemento fondamentale : “l’hic et nunc dell’opera d’arte, la sua esistenza unica e irripetibile nel luogo in cui si trova”. Nell’unicità della collocazione spazio-temporale dell’opera risiede il fondamento della sua autenticità e della sua autorità come “originale”, ossia la sua capacità di assumere il ruolo di testimonianza storica. La trasmissione di un’eredità culturale poggia infatti sul permanere nel tempo dell’unicità e dell’autorità delle opere e sulla loro conservazione e celebrazione in spazi dedicati, come i musei, o nei quali esse si radicano nella loro unicità (una chiesa, un palazzo). Benjamin riassume i valori di unicità,autenticità e autorità dell’opera d’arte nella nozione di “aura” , un termine ricorrente nel lessico storico-artistico ed esoterico di inizio secolo nell’accezione di “aureola” (come quella che circonda le immagini dei santi) o in quella, assai più ambigua, di “alone” che circonda e avvolge ogni individuo, come negli scritti di carattere misterico o teosofico.

Il “declino”, il “venir meno” dell’aura (Verfall der Aura) determinato dall’avvento dei mezzi di riproduzione tecnica delle opere, sarebbe il sintomo, secondo Benjamin , di un più vasto mutamento “nei modi e nei generi della percezione sensoriale”: a ogni periodo storico corrispondono infatti determinate forme artistiche ed espressive correlate a determinate modalità della percezione, e la storia dell’arte deve essere accompagnata da una storia dello sguardo. Proseguendo la riflessione sul progressivo impoverirsi dell’esperienza avviata nel saggio Il Narratore. Considerazioni sull’opera di Nicola Leskov, in L’opera d’arte nell’epoca della sua riproducibilità tecnica Benjamin constata come nella società a lui contemporanea, mediante la diffusione dell’informazione e delle immagini, tenda ad affermarsi sempre più un’esigenza di avvicinamento, alle cose e alle opere.

Ciò che però viene meno, in un’epoca caratterizzata dal bisogno di “rendere le cose, spazialmente e umanamente, più vicine” e in cui “ si fa valere in modo sempre più incontestabile l’esigenza di impossessarsi dell’oggetto da una distanza il più possibile ravvicinata nell’immagine, o meglio nell’effigie, nella riproduzione”, è quel peculiare intreccio di vicinanza e lontananza nel quale risiede, secondo Benjamin, l’essenza dell’aura: “Cade qui opportuno illustrare il concetto, sopra proposto, di aura a proposito degli oggetti storici mediante quello applicabile agli oggetti naturali. Noi definiamo questi ultimi apparizioni uniche di una lontananza, per quanto questa possa essere vicina. Seguire, in un pomeriggio d’estate, una catena di monti all’orizzonte oppure un ramo che getta la sua ombra sopra colui che si riposa – ciò significa respirare l’aura di quelle montagne, di quel ramo”. Fine dell’aura significa fine di quell’intreccio tra lontananza, irripetibilità e durata che caratterizzava il nostro rapporto con le opere d’arte tradizionali, e avvento di una fruizione dell’arte basata sull’osservazione fugace e ripetibile di riproduzioni.

Originariamente, le opere d’arte erano parte inscindibile di un contesto rituale, prima magico e poi religioso; la loro autorità e autenticità, la loro aura, era determinata proprio da questa appartenenza al mondo del culto. In forme secolarizzate, l’atteggiamento rituale e culturale nei confronti dell’arte sarebbe poi trapassato nelle forme profane del culto della bellezza, che nasce nel Rinascimento e dura fino alle ultime derive del Romanticismo. L’avvento della riproducibilità tecnica e la sua diffusione mediante la fotografia segnano per la prima volta la possibilità di emancipare l’arte rispetto all’ambito del rituale: venendo meno i valori dell’unicità e dell’autenticità, si apre la possibilità di conferire all’arte una nuova valenza politica, al valore cultuale (Kultwert) dell’opera si sostituisce progressivamente il valore espositivo (Ausstellungswert).

Il discorso benjaminiano sulla fine dell’aura non è quindi riconducibile a una forma di nostalgia, bensì è un tentativo di individuare le potenzialità ancora non del tutto esplicitate della riproducibilità. Nella fotografia la dissoluzione del valore cultuale in favore del valore di esponibilità non è ancora completa, in quanto l’aura mantiene una sua ultima forma di sopravvivenza nel “volto dell’uomo”. Non è un caso che le prime fotografie siano state soprattutto dei ritratti, miranti a fissare e a tramandare nel tempo l’identità e lo sguardo dei soggetti fotografati:”Nell’espressione fuggevole di un volto umano, dalla prime fotografie, emana per l’ultima volta l’aura. E’ questo che ne costituisce la malinconica e incomparabile bellezza”. Il profondo legame tra l’immagine fotografica e l’unicità del soggetto rappresentato nell’hic et nunc del suo essere rappresentato, e quindi il legame tra immagine, temporalità e morte- che Roland Barthes (1915-1980avrebbe successivamente tematizzato tramite il concetto di punctum nel celebre saggio La chambre claire – viene meno con il cinema. La rappresentazione cinematografica, a differenza di quella teatrale, è fatta di mediazione , differimento, scomposizione: le azioni che ci si presentano nella loro sequenzialità sono girate in momenti diversi, e ciò che vediamo è il risultato di una serie di scelte legate all’inquadratura e al montaggio. A differenza del pittore – che è come un mago nel mantenere la distanza tra sé e ciò che è oggetto della rappresentazione e nel conferire un’autorità auratica alla rappresentazione stessa- l’operatore cinematografico è come un chirurgo ; penetra nelle immagini, le frammenta, le scompone, ne ridefinisce la sequenza, finendo però per eliminarne l’aura.

Lungi dal condividere il senso di disagio provato da Pirandello nei confronti della presenza del mezzo tecnico nella realizzazione dell’immagine cinematografica, come testimonia il romanzo Si gira del 1915, Benjamin afferma che proprio questa mediatezza consente al cinema di determinare un significativo approfondimento delle nostre capacità percettive. La possibilità di moltiplicare i punti di vista e le inquadrature mediante quella che Benjamin chiama “la dinamite dei decimi di secondo” rende infatti più libero e indipendente il nostro sguardo sulle cose. Lo spazio che si rivela alla cinepresa è, inoltre, profondamente diverso da quello che si rivela allo sguardo empirico: “ al posto di uno spazio elaborato dalla coscienza dell’uomo interviene uno spazio elaborato inconsciamente”. Quello rivelato dall’istantaneità dell’immagine fotografica e dalla sequenzialità dell’immagine in movimento è dunque un “inconscio ottico” che si rivela soltanto attraverso di esse, così come l’inconscio istintivo viene portato alla luce nella psicoanalisi.

La portata “rivoluzionaria” che Benjamin attribuisce alla fotografia come tecnica della riproduzione e,in maggior misura, al cinema, si esplica dunque su diversi piani: dissoluzione dell’aura attraverso riproduzioni che sottraggono l’opera d’arte all’hit et nunc della sua esistenza materiale e della sua fruizione, rivelazione di una visibilità che rimane inaccessibile all’occhio empirico e diventa invece accessibile grazie alla mediazione del dispositivo, contestazione di ogni atteggiamento cultuale e “feticistico”, tipicamente borghese, nei confronti dell’autenticità e dell’autorità dell’opera. Riguardo a quest’ultimo punto, Benjamin sottolinea come il cinema, a differenza della pittura, non consenta un atteggiamento puramente contemplativo, fatto di esaltazione e rapimento. Quella del cinema non è una fruizione fatta di raccoglimento ma una fruizione “distratta” in cui lo spettatore non si perde nell’opera, ma si mantiene in un atteggiamento nel quale piacere e giudizio critico coesistono senza limitarsi a vicenda. Il cinema, in altre parole, si allontana dal naturalismo e dall’illusionismo teatrale e consente di conservare la “distanza” e lo “straniamento” che erano al centro, negli stessi anni, della riflessione sul teatro di Brecht.

La capacità di ridefinire il rapporto tra l’arte e le masse aperta dal cinema, dunque, risiede per Benjamin nella possibilità di una fruizione collettiva nella quale la critica non è soffocata da una forma di devozione cultuale nei confronti dell’immagine. Certo, anche nel cinema è presente un residuo di aura, in particolare nel culto della personality che trasforma gli attori in divi, e del resto è chiaro che l’”industria cinematografica ha tutto l’interesse a imbrigliare, mediante rappresentazioni illusionistiche e mediante ambigue speculazioni, la partecipazione delle masse”. Alla ricognizione delle possibilità espressive del mezzo cinematografico operata da registi come Ejzenstejn si contrapponeva, in quegli stessi anni, l’impiego dell’immagine cinematografica da parte dei regimi fascisti a fini propagandistici – basti pensare al contributo della regista Leni Riefenstahl nel definire l’iconografia del nazismo – , testimoniando così come questa forma espressiva avesse un potenziale ambiguo, , che sarà poi analizzato da Adorno e Horkehimer , in relazione all’industria culturale americana, in Dialettica dell’illuminismo (1946). Rispetto a questo testo, l’analisi di Benjamin mostra di condividere l’interesse e le aspettative nutrite da diversi movimenti degli anni Venti e Trenta (neoplasticismo, costruttivismo, Bauhaus), oltre che dai giovani Lukàcs e Brecht , nei confronti dei nuovi mezzi espressivi, pur riconducendo la riflessione sull’arte a una finalità prettamente politica: Benjamin risponde infatti all’estetizzazione della politica e della guerra proposte dal fascismo, e condivise da futuristi come Martinetti, sostenendo la necessità di una “politicizzazione dell’arte” proprio a partire dal potenziale rivoluzionario e democratico del cinema.
via WALTER BENJAMIN. L’opera d’arte nell’epoca della sua riproducibilità tecnica (a cura di Claudia Bianco).

Il saggio si compone di tre parti
The Work of Art of Mechanical Reproduction
Franz Kafka: On the Tenth Anniversary of His Death
Picturing Proust
E questa è l’introduzione e il primo capitolo

_________The Work of Art of Mechanical Reproduction_____________

The establishment of the fine arts and their division into various categories go back to a time that differed radically from ours and to people whose power over things and circumstances was minute in comparison with our own.
However, the astounding growth that our resources have undergone in terms of their precision and adaptability will in the near future confront us with very radical changes indeed in the ancient industry of the beautiful. In all arts there is a physical component that cannot continue to be considered and treated in the same way as before; no longer can it escape the effects of modern knowledge and modern practice. Neither matter nor space nor time is what, up until twenty years ago, it always was. We must be prepared for such profound changes to alter the entire technological aspect of the arts, influencing invention itself as a result, and eventually, it may be, contriving to alter the very concept of art in the most magical fashion.
Paul Valery, Pieces sur l’art
FOREWORD
When Marx set out to analyze the capitalist mode of production, that mode of production was in its infancy. Marx so ordered his endeavours that they acquired prognosticative value. Looking back at the basic circumstances of capitalist production, he presented them in such a way as to show what capitalism might be thought capable of years to come. What emerged was that it might not only be thought capable of increasingly severe exploitation of proletarians; ultimately, it may even bring about conditions in which it can itself be done away with.
The transformation of the superstructure, which proceeds far more slowly than that of the substructure, has taken more than half a century to bring out the change in the conditions of the production in all spheres of civilization. Only now can the form that this has assumed be revealed. Of those revelations, certain prognosticative demands need to be made. However, such demands will be met not so much by prepositions concerning the art of the proletariat after it has seized power, let alone that of the classless society, as by propositions concerning how art will tend to develop under current conditions of productions. The dialects of those propositions makes itself no less apparent in the superstructure than in the economy. It would be wrong, therefore, to underestimate the combative value of such propositions. They oust a number of traditional concepts – such as creativity and genius, everlasting value and secrecy- concepts whose uncontrolled (and at the moment scarcely controllable) application leads to a processing of the facts along the lines of Fascism. The following concepts, here introduced into art theory for the first time, differ from more familiar ones in that they are quite useless for the purpose of Fascism. They can, on the other hand, be used to formulate revolutionary demands in the politics of art.
____________________CHAPTER 1_____________________

In principle, the work of art has always been reproducible. What mas has made, mas has always been able to make again. Such copying was also done by pupils as an artistic exercise, by masters in order to give works wider circulation, ultimately by anyone seeking to make money. Technological reproduction of the work of art is something else, something that has been practiced intermittently throughout history, at widely separated intervals though with growing intensity. The Greeks had only two processes for reproducing works of art technologically: casting and embossing. Bronzes, terracottas and coins were the only artworks that they were able to manufacture in large numbers. All the rest were unique and not capable of being reproduced by technological means. It was wood engraving that made graphic art technologically reproducible for the first time; drawings could be reproduced long before printing did the same for the written word. The huge changes that printing (the technological reproducibility of writing) brought about in literature are well known. However, of the phenomenon that we are considering on the scale of history here they are merely a particular instance- though of course a particularly important one. Wood engraving is joined in the course of the Middle Age by copperplate engraving and etching, then in the early nineteenth century by lithography.
With lithography, reproductive technology reaches a radically new stage. The very much speeder process represented by applying a drawing to a stone as opposed to carving it into a block of wood or etching it onto a market its products not only in great numbers (as previously) but also in different designs daily. Lithography made it possible for graphics art to accompany everyday life with pictures. It started to keep pace with printing.
However, in these early days it was outstripped, mere decades after the invention of lithography, by photography. With photography, in the process of pictorial reproduction the hand was for the fist time relieved of the principal artistic responsibilities, which henceforth lay with the eye alone as it peered into the lens. Since the eye perceives faster than the hand can draw, the process of pictorial reproduction was so enormously speeded up that it was able to keep pace with speech. The film operator, turning the handle in the studio, captures the images as rapidly as the actor speaks. Whilst in lithography the illustrated magazine was present in essence, in photography it was the sound film. The technological reproduction of sound was tackled at the end of the last [nineteenth] century. These convergent endeavours rendered foreseeable a situation that Paul Valery described in the sentence: ‘Just as water, gas and electric power come to us from afar and enter our homes with almost no effort on our part, there serving our needs, so we shall be supplied with pictures or sound sequences, at the touch of a bottom, almost a wave of the end, arrive and likewise depart.’ Around 1900 technological reproduction had reached a standard at which at had not merely begun to take the totality of traditional artworks as its province, imposing the most profound changes on the impact of such works; it had even gained a place for itself among artistic modes of procedure. As regards studying that standard, nothing is more revealing than how its twin manifestations – reproduction of the work of art and the new art of cinematography – redound upon art in its traditional form.
Text entirely taken from ‘The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction’, by Walter Benjamin, 1936

The Experimental Plagiarism. A Fake Novel Of Real Novels


Charles Earland – Intergalactic Love Song, off l’album Odyssey, del 1976. Ho impiegato settimane a ricordare titolo e autore di questo brano che, finalmente, ieri notte mi è venuto in mente e sembra confermare un sospetto di plagio. Il brano originale che me lo ricorda è di Donald Byrd, Flight time, del 1973. Il pezzo di Earland ne è forse il rifacimento? Gli accordi iniziali di Intergalactic Love song sembrano ricordare quelli di Flight time e confermare il sospetto.
Ancora, qualche mese fa mi è capitato leggere un post su ‘You are not so smart‘, comparso poi in un altro blog, di un altro blogger americano, che si è indebitamente impossessato dell’articolo postandolo nel proprio blog e spacciandolo per proprio (il pezzo originale:The Overjustification Effect « You Are Not So Smart).
Il plagio, è il caso di dirlo, non è una novità; quell’articolo comparso a pagina 52 del New Yorker di febbraio,’The Plagiarist’s Tale‘ (Quentin Rowan, a.k.a. Q. R. Markham, Plagiarism Addict : The New Yorker, da me citato nel pezzo su Beckett della settimana scorsa), racconta appunto di questo scrittore esordiente americano, Quentin Rowan, cui romanzo ‘Assassin of Secrets’ è stato ritirato dal mercato perchè contenente una copiosa riproduzione di paragrafi ‘ritagliati’ da altri romanzi e indebitamente ‘incollati’ nel proprio. Non conoscessimo certe dinamiche che ruotano intorno al settore editoriale, verrebbe da chiedersi com’è possibile nessuno, prima di pubblicarlo, si sia accorto del plagio; persino la critica aveva annunciato il romanzo come un ‘debutto sfavillante’ nel genere noir. Un classico delle bufale, in poche parole. Che si sia trattato di una trovata pubblicitaria soltanto?
‘Originality is a relative concept in literature. As writers from T. S. Eliot to Harold Bloom have pointed out, ideas are doomed to be rehashed. This wasn’t always regarded as a problem. Roman writers subscribed to the idea of imitatio: they viewed their role as emulating and reworking earlier masterpieces. It wasn’t until the Romantic era, which introduced the notion of the author as solitary genius, that originality came to be viewed as the paramount literary virtue. Plagiarism was and remains a murky offense, ‘best understood not as a sharply defined operation, like beheading, but as a whole range of activities, more like cooking,’ the English professor James R. Kincaid wrote in this magazine in 1977. Imagine a scale on one end of which are authors who poach plot ideas (Shakespeare stealing from Plutarch) and on the other are those who copy passages word for word: Jacob Epstein, who cribbed parts of his novel ‘Wild Oats’ from Martin Amis’s ‘The Rachel Papers“; the Harvard sophomore Kaavya Viswanathan, whose novel plagiarized chick lit.
Roman’s method, though- constructing his work almost entirely from other people’s sentence and paragraphs- makes his book a singular literary artifact, a ‘literal mashup’.
(The New Yorker, Feb.12 & 20, 2012)
Questa del literal mashup, però, mi è sembrata un’idea niente male che mi ha dato modo di riflettere e ingegnarmi in un esperimento concettuale, un ‘finto romanzo’ dei romanzi, che ho intenzione di ricavare, quindi ‘scrivere’, facendo esattamente copia e incolla dai classici della letteratura internazionale. Niente di originale, mi rendo conto. Quello che però potrebbe risultare interessante, è l’esito. Voglio vedere dove porta, e a che porta. E’ chiaro sarà difficile far coincidere tutti i pezzi insieme secondo un principio di armonia e fluidità del testo, ma ho pensato interessante sovvertire le trame dei romanzi, ri-adattare gli spazi, scombinare le strutture, scardinare esiti e fini, smantellare interi impianti narrativi, per crearne uno ‘nuovo’, un fake, che ricicla, contiene, si riproduce all’infinito, offre infinite possibilità di trama, ed ha forma e specificità propria; un ‘romanzo’ che ha un inizio, una continuità, ma non una fine. Fosse questo fake sperimentale una torre e un puzzle, per ricordare Perec, e i tasselli di questo immenso puzzle i classici della letteratura, che via via andrò ad aggiungere come mattoni perchè la storia prenda vita e presenti un senso ragionevolmente compiuto (delle volte astratto, surreale, assurdo).
Non sono sicura di poter utilizzare il materiale di cui avrò bisogno, è probabile l’iniziativa viola certi diritti d’autore, tuttavia mi sono detta questo fake è solo un esperimento e un passatempo, che non verrà pubblicato e potrebbe offrire tanti spunti di riflessione oltre che di approfondimento alle letture citate. Tengo a ribadire quest’idea non ha nessun fine ma quello di distrarre, divertire, e in qualche modo permettermi di sperimentare, esplorare, e giocare con la letteratura, perchè non rimanga ‘muta’ e scritta soltanto ma venga condivisa in maniera attiva. Se tuttavia qualcuno di voi ritenesse ‘illegale’, ‘immorale’ o ‘offensivo’ quanto creato, si senta libero di farmelo presente e discuterne.
Mi rendo conto sarebbe bello citare i romanzi in italiano, ma ho qui soltanto libri in inglese, dunque non posso che utilizzare quelli.
Ho pensato intitolare il ‘romanzo’: ‘The Experimental Plagiarism. A fake novel of real novels’, e di iniziarlo con una prima sentenza tratta dal Romanzo dei Romanzi, Anna Karenina, di Tolstoj. Ho poi ritagliato una parte tratta da un racconto breve, [2], ‘The third son’, di Andrey Platonovich Platonov (contenuto in Russian Short Stories from Pushkin to Buida, che sto leggendo), e continuato il capitolo aggiungendo:
[3] una parte tratta da ‘Sinbad the Sailor‘, di Yuri Vasilyevich Buida (che è vero, non è un classico, ma da cui ho ritagliato appena tre linee soltanto)
[4] la parte introduttiva di ‘Life A User’s manual’, di Georges Perec, e infine [5] un’ultima parte tratta dall’inizio de ‘The Secret House’, di Edgar Wallace.
Questo quello che ne è venuto fuori.

____THE EXPERIMENTAL PLAGIARISM. A FAKE NOVEL OF REAL NOVELS___

PREFACE
‘The Experimental Plagiarism. A fake novel of real novels’, is an experimental and conceptual literary mess which aims to create a fake novel of real novels collected in one and kept together by a more or less cohesive -sometimes senseless, surreal, absurd – plot created by cutting and pasting paragraphs, short sentences, quotes, taken from classics of world literature and redirected into a text that contains them all but develops in its own way and direction. In a few words, ‘The Experimental Plagiarism. A fake novel of real novels’, is a killtime (and well, a killnovels as well) especially created for amusement only whom contents will not be published and aims are to cite, share and enjoy literature in a ‘creative’ and ‘experimental’ way.
Each paragraph, short sentence, quote, taken from a novel won’t be manipulated in any way and I’ll make sure to report name of the author, title of the book and date of publishing (when known).
To create the first chapter, I used:
[1] the first sentence taken from ‘Anna Karenina‘, by Lev Tolstoy, 1877
[2] a part taken from ‘The third son‘, by Andrey Platonovich Platonov
[3] a part taken from ‘Sinbad the Sailor’, by Yuri Vasilyevich Buida (I know, that’s not a classic, but it made sense and took 3 lines only)
[4] a part taken from ‘Life A User’s manual’, by Georges Perec, 1978
[5] a part taken from ‘The Secret House’, by Edgar Wallace, 1917
So here it goes, hope you enjoy it

__________________________CHAPTER 1_________________________________

Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way
Anna Karenina, Lev Tolstoy

[2] An old woman died in a provincial town. Her husband, a seventy-year-old retired worker, went to the telegraph office and handed in six telegrams for different regions and republics, with the unvarying words: MOTHER DEAD COME HOME FATHER.
The elderly clerk took a long time doing the sums, kept makin mistakes, and wrote out the receipts and stamped them with trembling hands. The old man looked meekly at her through the wooden hatch; his eyes were red and he was absent- mindedly thinking something, trying to distract grief from his heart. It seemed to him that the woman, also had a broken heart and a soul now confused for ever- perhaps she was a widow or a wife who had been cruelly abandoned.
And so here she was, muddling money, losing her memory and attentiveness; even for ordinary, straightforward labour, people need to have inner happiness.
After sending off the telegrams, the old father went back home; he sat on a stool by a long table, at the cold feet oh his dead wife, smoked, whispered sad words, watched the solitary life of a grey bird hopping from perch to perch in its cage, sometimes cried quietly to himself and then calmed down, wound up his pocket watch, glanced now and again through the window, beyond which, out in nature, the weather kept changing- leaves were falling, along with flakes of wet tired snow, then there was rain, then a late sun shone, with no warmth, like a star – and the old man waited for his sons.
The eldest son arrived by plane the very next day. The other five sons all gathered within two more days.
One of them, the third son, came with his daughter, a six year old who had never seen her grandmother.
The mother had been waiting on the table for more than three days, but her body did not smell of death, so neat and clean had it been rendered by illness and dry exhaustion; after giving plentiful and healthy life to her sons, the old woman had kept a small, miserly body for herself and had tried for a long time to preserve it, if only in the most pitiful state, so that she could love her children and be proud of them- until she died.
The huge men, aged from twenty to forty, stood in silence round the coffin of the table. There were six of them – seven including the father, who was smaller than even his very youngest son, and weaker too. In his arms he held his granddaughter, who was screeming up her eyes from fear of a dead old woman she had never met and whose white unblinking eyes could just see her from beneath their half- closed lids.
The sons silently wept occasional slow tears, twisting their faces in order to bear grief without a sound. The father was no longer crying; he had cried himself out alone, before the others, and now, with secret excitement and an out-of-place joy, he was looking at his sturdy band of sons. Two of them were sailors – captain of ships; one was an actor from Moscow; the one with the daughter was a physicist and a Party member; the youngest was studying to be an agronomist; and the oldest was a head engineer in an aeroplane factory and wore on his chest a medal for honourable labour. All six of them – seven including the father- were silent around the dead mother and mourned her without a word, hiding from one another their despair, their memories of childhood and of love’s departed happiness, which had sprung up continually, making no demands, in their mother’s heart and which had always found them – even across thousands of miles- and they had sensed it constantly and instinctively and this had made them stronger and they had been successful in life more boldly. Now their mother had turned into a corpse; she could no longer love anyone and was lying there like an indifferent stranger, an old woman who had nothing to do with them.
Each of her sons felt lonely and frightened now, as if somewhere in the darkness a lamp had been burning on the windowsill of an old house far from anywhere, and the lamp had lit up the night, the flying beetles, the blue grass, the swarms of midges in the air- an entire childhood world abandoned by those who had been born there; the doors of that house had never locked, so that those who went out could always go back, but no one had gone back. And now it was as of the light had been extinguished in that night window, and reality had turned into memory.
[3] Before dying, Katerina Ivanovna Momotova sent for Doctor Sheberstov, who’d treated her all her life and had been pensioned off a long ago. She handed him the key to her little house and a scrap of paper folded in four, asking him to burn it along with all the others.
‘They are at home’, she explained in embarrassment.’But please don’t tell anyone. I’d have done it myself, only you see how it’s all turned out…’
[4] Yes, it could begin this way, right here, just like that, in a rather slow and ponderous way, in this neutral place that belongs to all and to none, where people pass by almost without seeing each other, where the life of the building regularly and distantly resounds. What happens behind the flats’ heavy doors can most often be perceived only through those fragmented echoes, those splinters, remnants, shadows, those first moves or incidents or accidents that happen in what are called the ‘common areas’, soft little sounds damped by the red woollen carpet, embryos of communal life which never go further than the landing.The inhabitants of a single building live a few inches from each other, they are separated by a mere partition wall, they share the same spaces repeated along corridor, they perform the same movements at the same times, turning on a tap, flushing the water closet, switching on a light, laying the table, a few dozen simultaneous existences repeated from storey to storey, from building to building, from street to street. They entrench themselves in their domestic dwelling space- since that is what it is called – and they would prefer nothing to emerge from it; but the little they do let out – the dog on a lead, the child off to fetch the bread, someone brought back, someone sent away- comes out by way of the landing.
For all that passes, passes by the stairs, and all that comes, comes by the stairs: letters, announcements of births, marriages, and deaths, forniture brought in or taken out by removers, the doctor called in an emergency, the traveler returning from a long voyage. It’s because of that that the staircase remains an anonymous, cold, and almost hostile place. In old buildings there used to be stone steps, wrought – iron handrails, sculptures, lamp- holders, sometimes a bench to allow old folk to rest between floors. In modern buildings there are lifts with walls covered in would- be obscene graffiti, and so- called ‘emergency’ staircases in unrendered concrete, dirty and echoing. In this block of flats, where there is an old lift almost always out of order, the staircase is an old-fashioned place of questionable cleanliness, which declines in terms of middle-class respectability as it rises from floor to floor: two thickness of carpet as far as the third floor, thereafter only one, and none at all for the two attic floors.
[5] A man stood irresolutely before the imposing portals of Cainbury House, a large office building let out to numerous small tenants, and harbouring, as the indicator on the tiled wall of the vestibule testified, some thirty different professions. The man was evidently poor, for his clothes were shabby and his boots were down at heel. He was as evidently a foreigner. His clean-shaven eagle face was sallow, his eyes were dark, his eyebrows black and straight.
He passed up the few steps into the hall and stood thoughtfully before the indicator. Presently he found what he wanted. At the very top of the list and amongst the crowded denizens of the fifth floor was a slip inscribed:
“THE GOSSIP’S CORNER”
He took from his waistcoat pocket a newspaper cutting and compared the two then stepped briskly, almost jauntily, into the hall, as though all his doubts and uncertainties had vanished, and waited for the elevator. His coat was buttoned tightly, his collar was frayed, his shirt had seen the greater part of a week’s service, the Derby hat on his head had undergone extensive renovations, and a close observer would have noticed that his gloves were odd ones.
He walked into the lift and said, “Fifth floor,” with a slight foreign accent.
He was whirled up, the lift doors clanged open and the grimy finger of the elevator boy indicated the office. Again the man hesitated, examining the door carefully. The upper half was of toughened glass and bore the simple inscription:
“THE GOSSIP’S CORNER.
KNOCK.”
Obediently the stranger knocked and the door opened through an invisible agent, much to the man’s surprise, though there was nothing more magical about the phenomenon than there is about any electrically controlled office door.
He found himself in a room sparsely furnished with a table, a chair and a few copies of papers. An old school map of England hung on one wall and a Landseer engraving on the other. At the farthermost end of the room was another door, and to this he gravitated and again, after a moment’s hesitation, he knocked.
“Come in,” said a voice.
He entered cautiously.
The room was larger and was comfortably furnished. There were shaded electric lamps on either side of the big carved oak writing-table. One of the walls was covered with books, and the litter of proofs upon the table suggested that this was the sanctorum.
But the most remarkable feature of the room was the man who sat at the desk. He was a man solidly built and, by his voice, of middle age. His face the new-comer could not see and for excellent reason. It was hidden behind a veil of fine silk net which had been adjusted over the head like a loose bag and tightened under the chin.
The man at the table chuckled when he saw the other’s surprise.
“Sit down,” he said–he spoke in French–“and don’t, I beg of you, be alarmed.”
“Monsieur,” said the new-comer easily, “be assured that I am not alarmed. In this world nothing has ever alarmed me except my own distressing poverty and the prospect of dying poor.”
The veiled figure said nothing for a while.
“You have come in answer to my advertisement,” he said after a long pause.
The other bowed.
“You require an assistant, Monsieur,” said the new-comer, “discreet, with a knowledge of foreign languages and poor. I fulfill all those requirements,” he went on calmly; “had you also added, of an adventurous disposition, with few if any scruples, it would have been equally descriptive.”
The stranger felt that the man at the desk was looking at him, though he could not see his eyes. It must have been a long and careful scrutiny, for presently the advertiser said gruffly:
“I think you’ll do.”
“Exactly,” said the new-comer with cool assurance; “and now it is for you, dear Monsieur, to satisfy me that you also will do. You will have observed that there are two parties to every bargain. First of all, my duties?”
The man in the chair leant back and thrust his hands into his pockets.
“I am the editor of a little paper which circulates exclusively amongst the servants of the upper classes,” he said. “I receive from time to time interesting communications concerning the aristocracy and gentry of this country, written by hysterical French maids and revengeful Italian valets. I am not a good linguist, and I feel that there is much in these epistles which I miss and which I should not miss.”
The new-comer nodded.
“I therefore want somebody of discretion who will deal with my foreign correspondence, make a fair copy in English and summarize the complaints which these good people make. You quite understand,” he said with a shrug of his shoulders, “that mankind is not perfect, less perfect is womankind, and least perfect is that section of mankind which employs servants. They usually have stories to tell not greatly to their masters’ credit, not nice stories, you understand, my dear friend. By the way, what is your name?”
The stranger hesitated.

Production and Metaphysics*


In the background Sodom and Gomorra still burn. Lot and his daughters could escape in time before the inferno began. Lot’s wife was not that fortunate: she was transformed into a pillar of salt because she looked back, against God’s command. She can be seen standing on the wooden bridge.

As Lot has no male children, his daughters decide to help him. They make him drunk with lots of wine. The children that were conceived that night would become the ancestors of the Moabites and the Ammonites, neighbours of Israel.

via Lucas van Leyden: Lot and his Daughters (oil paint).

There is a work by a primitive painter in the Louvre, whether known or unknown I cannot say, who will never represent a major school in art history. The artist’s name is Lucas van Leyden and to my mind he invalidates the four or five hundred years of painting coming after him, rendering them useless. The painting in question is entitled Lot and His Daughters, a biblical subject in the style of the period. The Middle Ages certainly did not interpret the Bible as we do today and this painting is a strange example of the mystical inferences which can be deduced from it. In any event, its phatos is noticeable even from a distance, since it affects the mind by a kind of sticking visual harmony, intensely active in the whole work yet caught at a glance.
Even before we have made out the subject, we get the feeling something important is happening and it seems the ear is as affected by it as the eye. A tremendously important mental drama appears accumulated there, like a sudden cloud formation which the wind or some more immediate fate has blown there to assess their thunderbolts.
And, in fact, in the painting the sky is dark and overcast, but even before we can make out that this drama originated in the heavens, took place in the heavens, the strange colouring and jumble of forms, the impression emanating from it at a distance, all foretells a kind of natural drama, and I defy any other artist of the Golden Ages to offer us anything like it.
A tent is pitched on the shore, in front of which Lot is seated, wearing a breastplate and sporting a fine red beard, watching his daughters parade before him as if he were a guest at a prostitutes’ banquet.
And in fact they strut about, some mothers, others Amazons, combing their hair or fencing, as if they had never had any other object than to please their father, to serve as his creatures or playthings. Here we see the deeply incestuous nature of this old subject which the artist has developed in sexual imagery, a proof that he has fully understood all its deep sexuality in a modern way, that is to say as we would understand it ourselves. A proof that its deeply sexual but poetic nature did not escape him any more than it did us.
On the left of the painting, slightly in the background, a black tower rises to fantastic heights, its base supported by a network of rocks and plants, twisting roads marked by milestones, with houses dotted here and there. And by an apt perspective effect, one of these paths which had been threading its way through the maze stands out at a given spot, crosses a bridge, is finally caught in a shaft of that stormy light spilling out between the clouds, in which the region is fitfully bathed. In the background, the sea is very high besides being extraordinarily calm, considering the fiery web seething in one corner of the sky.
Sometimes, when we are watching exploding fireworks, some details of the landscape stand out against the darkness in the ghostly light, in the nocturnal gunfire of shooting stars, sky rockets and Roman candles; trees, tower, mountains and houses appear in relief before our eyes, their colour and appearance for ever remaining associated in our minds with a notion of ear-splitting noise. There is no better way of conveying how the various aspects of the landscape conform to this fire revealed in the sky than by saying that although they possess their own colour, in spite of everything, they remain related to it like muted echoes, like living points of reference born within it, put there to allow it to exert its full destructive power.
Besides, there is something horribly forceful and disturbing about the way the painter depicts this fire, like active, changing features in a set expression. It makes little difference how this effect is achieved, it is real. One has only to see the painting to be convinced of it.
In any case, this fire, which no one will deny gives one the impression of an evil intellect emanating from it, by its very violence mentally serves to counterbalance the heavy material solidity of the remainder.
To the right, on the same perspective level as the black tower, a narrow spit of land surrounded by a ruined monastery juts out between the heavens and high seas.
This spit of land, however near it may appear to the shore where the Lot’s tent is pitched, still leaves room for a vast gulf where an unprecedented maritime disaster seems to have taken place. Ships broken in two but not yet sunk are propped on the sea as if on crutches, while the water round about them is full of their uprooted masts and broken spars.
It is hard to say why such an impression of absolute disaster emanates from the sight of one or two shipwrecked vessels.
It seems as though the painter knew certain secrets about linear proportion and how to make it affect the mind directly like a physical reagent. In any case this impression of intellect spread abroad in outdoor nature, especially the manner of portraying it, is apparent in several other details on the canvas, such as the bridge standing out against the sea, high as an eight-storey house, with people filing across it, like Ideas in Plato’s cave.
It would be untrue to claim that the thoughts emerging from this painting are clear. At all events they are of a grandeur to which we have become totally unaccustomed during the last few centuries by painting that was merely painting.
In addiction, Lot and his daughters suggest an idea of sexuality and reproduction, and Lot seems placed like a drone, to take improper advantage of his daughters.
This is almost the only idea in the picture.
All the other ideas are metaphysical. I am sorry to have to use that word, but that is what they are called. And I might even say their poetic greatness, their tangible effect on us arises from the fact that they are metaphysical, that their mental profundity cannot be separated from the painting’s formal, external symmetry.
Furthermore there is an idea of change in the different landscape details and the way they are painted, their levels annulling or corresponding to one another, that leads us into the mind in painting the same way as in music.
There is another idea about Fate, revealed not so much by the appearance of that sudden fire as by the solemn way in which all forms are arranged or disarranged beneath it, some as of bent beneath a gust of irresistible panic, the others motionless, almost ironic, all obeying a powerful intelligent consistency, seemingly nature’s mind externalized.
There are also ideas on Chaos, the Marvellous and Balance. There are even one or two on the importance of Words, this supremely anarchic, material painting seeming to establish their futility.
In any event I must say this painting is what theatre ought to be, if only it knew how to speak its own language.
Text entirely taken from ‘The Theatre and its Double’, by Antonin Artaud, 1978
Off Production and Metaphysics*

Missed Crimes. Pulp Rehash. Resurrection by Lev Tolstoy


_______________Chapter 1.Maslova in Prison_________________
Though hundreds of thousands had done their very best to disfigure the small piece of land on which they were crowded together, by paving the ground with stones, scraping away every vestige of vegetation, cutting down the trees, turning away birds and beasts, and filling the air with the smoke of naphtha and coal, still spring was spring, even in the town.

The sun shone warm, the air was balmy; everywhere, where it did not get scraped away, the grass revived and sprang up between the paving-stones as well as on the narrow strips of lawn on the boulevards. The birches, the poplars, and the wild cherry unfolded their gummy and fragrant leaves, the limes were expanding their opening buds; crows, sparrows, and pigeons, filled with the joy of spring, were getting their nests ready; the flies were buzzing along the walls, warmed by the sunshine. All were glad, the plants, the birds, the insects, and the children. But men, grown-up men and women, did not leave off cheating and tormenting themselves and each other. It was not this spring morning men thought sacred and worthy of consideration not the beauty of God’s world, given for a joy to all creatures, this beauty which inclines the heart to peace, to harmony, and to love, but only their own devices for enslaving one another.

Thus, in the prison office of the Government town, it was not the fact that men and animals had received the grace and gladness of spring that was considered sacred and important, but that a notice, numbered and with a superscription, had come the day before, ordering that on this 28th day of April, at 9 a.m., three prisoners at present detained in the prison, a man and two women (one of these women, as the chief criminal, to be conducted separately), had to appear at Court. So now, on the 28th of April, at 8 o’clock, a jailer and soon after him a woman warder with curly grey hair, dressed in a jacket with sleeves trimmed with gold, with a blue-edged belt round her waist, and having a look of suffering on her face, came into the corridor.

“You want Maslova?” she asked, coming up to the cell with the jailer who was on duty.

The jailer, rattling the iron padlock, opened the door of the cell, from which there came a whiff of air fouler even than that in the corridor, and called out, “Maslova! to the Court,” and closed the door again.

Even into the prison yard the breeze had brought the fresh vivifying air from the fields. But in the corridor the air was laden with the germs of typhoid, the smell of sewage, putrefaction, and tar; every newcomer felt sad and dejected in it. The woman warder felt this, though she was used to bad air. She had just come in from outside, and entering the corridor, she at once became sleepy.

From inside the cell came the sound of bustle and women’s voices, and the patter of bare feet on the floor.

“Now, then, hurry up, Maslova, I say!” called out the jailer, and in a minute or two a small young woman with a very full bust came briskly out of the door and went up to the jailer. She had on a grey cloak over a white jacket and petticoat. On her feet she wore linen stockings and prison shoes, and round her head was tied a white kerchief, from under which a few locks of black hair were brushed over the forehead with evident intent. The face of the woman was of that whiteness peculiar to people who have lived long in confinement, and which puts one in mind of shoots of potatoes that spring up in a cellar. Her small broad hands and full neck, which showed from under the broad collar of her cloak, were of the same hue. Her black, sparkling eyes, one with a slight squint, appeared in striking contrast to the dull pallor of her face.

She carried herself very straight, expanding her full bosom.

With her head slightly thrown back, she stood in the corridor, looking straight into the eyes of the jailer, ready to comply with any order.

The jailer was about to lock the door when a wrinkled and severe-looking old woman put out her grey head and began speaking to Maslova. But the jailer closed the door, pushing the old woman’s head with it. A woman’s laughter was heard from the cell, and Maslova smiled, turning to the little grated opening in the cell door. The old woman pressed her face to the grating from the other side, and said, in a hoarse voice:

“Now mind, and when they begin questioning you, just repeat over the same thing, and stick to it; tell nothing that is not wanted.”
“Well, it could not be worse than it is now, anyhow; I only wish it was settled one way or another.”

“Of course, it will be settled one way or another,” said the jailer, with a superior’s self-assured witticism. “Now, then, get along! Take your places!”


via Book 1 Chapter 1. Maslova In Prison [Resurrection: Leo Tolstoy’s Novel].

“I know, brother, that you are a straightforward man, and that you pride yourself on it. But put one question to yourself: why in fact should one tell the truth? What obliges us to do it? And why do we consider telling the truth a virtue? Imagine that you meet a madman, who claims that he is a fish and that we are all fish. Are you going to argue with him? Are you going to undress in front of him and show him that you don’t have fins? Are you going to say to his face what you think? Well, tell me!’ His brother was silent and Edward went on: ‘If you told him the whole truth and nothing but the truth, only what you really thought, you would enter into a serious conversation with a madman and you yourself would become mad. And it is the same way with the world that surrounds us. If I obstinately told a man the truth to his face, it would mean I was taking him seriously. And to take something so unimportant seriously means to become less than serious oneself. I, you see, must lie, if I don’t want to take madmen seriously and become one of them myself.”― Milan Kundera, Laughable Loves

SOFA’ SOGOOD # 3 WAITING FOR GODOT by SAMUEL BECKETT

A occhio e croce direi questo di Samuel Beckett, Waiting for Godot, un libro non superiore ai 200 grammi di peso, di seconda mano, invecchiato a secco, una tacca su dieci di umidità, retro-sentore di scantinato, nessuna illustrazione, stampato per la prima volta a Londra nel 1956. La copertina, nera, titolata di bianco e verde, presenta uno strappo al margine superiore, lungo appena un centimetro, e una chiazza scura, nel retro, ampia tre millimetri almeno. E’probabile chi lo ha letto stesse intanto bevendo caffè, ma potrebbe trattarsi di tea, forse un black russian, forse Jameson whiskey e cranberry juice. Non lo saprò mai. In compenso so chi me l’ha venduto è americano, e vive a Glasgow, il che presuppone potrebbe piuttosto trattarsi di scotch. Altrimenti, non si spiegherebbe il tremore nervoso della calligrafia, schizzata a inchiostro nero nel pacchetto. Mr Jenet deve certamente essere un uomo irritabile, ma scrupoloso; tutte le ‘i’ della lettera di commissione non mancano di un solo puntino. In compenso un triangolo edipico, ma la lettiera del gatto sempre pulita. Le ciabatte disposte in ordine sotto il letto; But not for me di Chet Baker nel giradischi, una copia di PlayBoy sotto le coperte, una del New Yorker sopra il cuscino, aperta a pagina 52
___________________THE PLAGIARIST’S TALE_____________________
The author of ‘Assassin of Secrets’ had a secret of his own
by Lizzie Widdicombe

Spy novels embrace clichés- the double agent, the bomb-rigged briefcase- and ‘Assassin of Secrets,’ published last fall, made a virtue of this tendency piling one trope onto another to create a story that rang with wry knowingness. The book is set in the midst of the Cold War. The protagonist is Jonathan Chase, a suave secret agent with a background in martial arts- part James Bond, part Jason Bourne. In the first chapter, Chase meets Frankie Farmer, a sexy former field agent who presents him with ‘personalized matching luggage’ loaded with surveillance gear. They head back to her place, where Chase eyes the water bed while Farmer slips into something more comfortable:
The he saw her.. a small light dim but growing to illuminate her as she stood naked but for a thin, translucent nightdress; her hair undone and falling to her waist- hair and the thin material moving and blowing as thought caught in a silent zephyr.
Chase caught hold of her, pulled her close. She slid her hands to his shoulders, gently pushing him away.
‘What’s it like to kill somebody? They say you’ve had to kill a lot of people during your time in the Division.’
‘Then they shouldn’t talk so much.’
Ho aspettato trent’anni, prima di ricevere il libro. E quando è arrivato, ho tardato due settimane ancora prima di andare all’ufficio postale. Quando sono arrivata all’ufficio postale, due tizi, a dire dei badge Pozzo e Lucky, mi hanno detto di ripassare un altro giorno, Godot non era arrivato. Ai due ho fatto presente l’errore, ma questi hanno scartato l’errore, e detto di aspettare ancora. Godot sarebbe arrivato da lì a qualche giorno, impacchettato e infiocchettato per benino.
Da lì a qualche giorno sono andata all’ufficio postale, e quando sono arrivata ho trovato due che litigavano davanti allo sportello reclami. Vladimiro sei un idiota! Estragone sei un imbecille! e cicicì e chachachà, tutto un gran parlare e darsi creduloni! fanatici! Io, sono arrivato prima io! Tu, togliti di mezzo tu! e sgambettate a destra  e balzi a sinistra, un due tre chachacha un due tre chachacha un due tre quaquaqua.
S’è capito Nulla.

Fatto sta, di Godot avete notizie, sapete è arrivato? dico ai tizi dell’ufficio postale.
Manco per sogno, mi fanno loro.
“We wait. We are bored. (He throws up his hand.) No, don’t protest, we are bored to death, there’s no denying it. Good. A diversion comes along and what do we do? We let it go to waste… In an instant all will vanish and we’ll be alone once more, in the midst of nothingness!”
– Samuel Beckett, Waiting for Godot

Favorite Snacks of the Great Writers – NYTimes.com


Walt Whitman began the day with oysters and meat, while Gustave Flaubert started off with what passed for a light breakfast in his day: eggs, vegetables, cheese or fruit, and a cup of cold chocolate. The novelist Vendela Vida told me she swears by pistachios, and Mark Kurlansky, the author of “Salt” and “Cod,” likes to write under the influence of espresso, “as black as possible.” For some writers, less is more. Lord Byron, a pioneer in fad diets as well as poetry, sipped vinegar to keep his weight down. Julia Scheeres, the author of the memoir “Jesus Land,” aims for more temporary deprivation. “When in the thick of writing I minimize food intake as much as possible,” she told me. “I find I work better when I’m a little starved.”

via Favorite Snacks of the Great Writers – Interactive Feature – NYTimes.com.

On Counterculture. The Hall of the Singing Caryatids by Victor Pelevin


Anni che piovono investimenti da tutte le latitudini, fiumi di denaro a secchiate, a cascate, a sprecare, e l’Inghilterra si ritrova oggi con l’acqua alla gola. Certi giorni di temporale a boccheggiare.
‘Mothers are on the brink. Cost of living is forcing 1 in 5 to skip meals to feed their children’
More than 70 per cent of families are financially ‘on the edge’, according to research published today.
Struggling families are on the brink of poverty and could face ruin if hit by further price increases or falls in their income, the study by parenting website Netmums found.
via 70 per cent of British families on the brink of poverty, research claims | Metro.co.uk.
Il 70% delle famiglie inglesi è a rischio povertà e una madre su cinque rinuncia a un pasto al giorno per dare da mangiare ai propri figli. Cameron aumenta le tasse e accorcia il braccino. Non è un caso il film The Iron Lady, uscito nei cinema a gennaio. Il messaggio mi pare chiaro, ladies and gentlemen, torniamo alle maniere dure di sempre. Right Now.
L’Europa piange, l’America annaspa, il Medio Oriente muore, l’Asia si trascina. Siamo in guerra. Ed è una guerra d’avanguardia, che non ha precedenti e si distingue per violenza e impatto nella sfera sociale; le trincee sono nei mercati finanziari, i soldati in banca, i dissidenti in rete; il denaro è virtuale, le bombe chimiche, le stragi silenziose. Moriamo di depressione, di cancro, di tumori, di anoressia, di bulimia, di overdose. Di stress. La propaganda Anti-Crisi si diffonde per radio, televisione, internet, a suon di pop e marionette. Tutto è spettacolo, tutto è d’oro, tutto è magia e possibilità. Yes, you can. Why not?
Perchè le istituzioni, i media, sono corrotti? Perchè nascono dall’investimento di denaro, ed è il denaro che crea potere, dominio, primato, e corrompe il sistema. Come possono i giornalisti della rai lamentarsi delle censure se per lavorare come giornalisti della rai hanno dovuto investire milioni (in studi, in aggiornamenti, in viaggi, in raccomandazioni) pur di farsi assumere dal governo italiano. Un figlio può disobbedire al padre, essergli irriconoscente, voltargli le spalle? Con un mutuo da pagare e una vacanza alle canarie da disdire? Alcuni lo hanno fatto. Alcuni si sono ribellati al padre. E io trovo tutto quel lamentarsi, capricci e ripicche da bambini. C’è tanta gente che lavora sodo e fa informazione lontano i riflettori del grande palcoscenico statale. E lo fa’ molto spessp gratis, per passione e romanticismo. NO, io non credo alla libertà di parola. Credo ai fatti e i fatti dicono che il sistema è corrotto. Bando agli idealismi. Che si fa?
Chiunque di noi si dice disgustato dalle raccomandazioni, sebbene chiunque di noi sarebbe disposto a vendersi la pelle pur di avere un posto fisso. Ognuno di noi ogni giorno si prostituisce in cambio di denaro, affermazione, prestigio. A lavoro, nelle relazioni sociali. Chi per vanità, chi per gioco, chi per noia, chi per debolezza.
Io credo l’unica delle possibilità che abbiamo per arginare la crisi, è dire di NO. NO. NO. E NO. NO, cazzo. Noi non abbiamo bisogno di un’applicazione nel telefonino che ci dica come stare a dieta, noi abbiamo bisogno di cibo per sfamare i bambini che muoiono di fame, vengono abbandonati, sono vittima di violenze domestiche. Noi non abbiamo bisogno di macchine nuove, un nuovo guardaroba, l’ultimo taglia-acqua elettrico, noi abbiamo bisogno di medicine, se siamo malati, di un’adeguata istruzione, perchè siamo ignoranti, di investire nella ricerca, nella medicina. Io non voglio lanciare una provocazione e tirarmi indietro, o fare polemica per noia o cattivo gusto. Io ho il dovere di ribellarmi, e l’unica maniera che ho di ribellarmi è agire e parlarne.
Qualche mese fa mi proposero a lavoro di diventare shift leader e iniziare così una strepitosa e brillante carriera nel glorioso avvenire del caffè. Io ho detto di NO. Io sono una barista, e mi piaccio così. Essere shift leader vuol dire assumersi certe responsabilità non adeguatamente ricompensate economicamente, soprattutto, dovere sempre e a qualunque condizione dire di SI. Per contratto. E io non ho intenzione di dire di si a una compagnia che basa la propria ricchezza sullo sfruttamento della classe operaia e l’investimento di capitali in Arabia Saudita e Polonia. Che non paga la malattia fino a prima del sesto giorno di assenza da lavoro. Che non paga bank holidays e corsi di formazione al personale. Io soffro a sapere loro arricchirsi alle mie spalle e le spalle dei miei colleghi, in prevalenza dell’Est, provati dalla povertà e disposti a dire di Si a qualunque condizione. E perchè soffro? Perchè sono anni che lavoro al minimo della paga e al massimo dello sfruttamento, e non posso neanche permettermi un dentista o un terapeuta per curarmi la schiena. Perchè se mai dovessi ammalarmi di un accidenti, sarò fottuta. Non la prima, nè l’ultima. Ed è questo che mi rende impotente e fa’ soffrire. Non posso fare nulla per proteggere me, chi mi sta vicino e sta peggio di noi.
Certo, qualcuno griderà, lavoro! Ti serve un dentista? Ti serve un terapeuta? Hai un lavoro, lavora! Lavora di più. NO io non lavoro di più. Io non mi faccio spremere come un limone per soddisfare la tua sete di potere e denaro.
Il tempo è denaro, dicono. NO, il denaro è tempo. Il denaro stabilisce quante ore di lavoro un dipendente deve fare e quanto denaro quel dipendente deve pontenzialmente fruttare. Nel mio caso, 73 pounds all’ora. Contro i 6 e 10 di paga netta per ora.
Il denaro permette di acquistare il tempo, di scambiare del tempo per del tempo, che viene comprato indirettamente e subordinato a un vincolo, il rapporto compratore-venditore, quindi consumatore-stipendiato. Questo rapporto è sempre a svantaggio del consumatore-stipendiato. Quando un consumatore compra un prodotto, paga il tempo che è stato necessario a creare quel prodotto ma ad un prezzo più alto rispetto allo stipendio che gli viene dato e in proporzione al tempo che gli ci è voluto per crearlo.
Esempio: in una fabbrica un taglia-acqua elettrico viene costruito in 8 ore di lavoro, da 20 dipendenti stipendiati (compreso il settore commerciale e il lavoro incluso per fabbricare il materiale di produzione utilizzato). Lo stipendio di ogni singolo dipendente dovrebbe quindi corrispondere a 1/20 del prezzo del taglia-acqua elettrico, ossia 1000 pounds se il taglia-acqua elettrico vale 20000 pounds. Questo dovrebbe corrispondere ad uno stipendio di 22000 pounds al mese (22 giorni di lavoro). Per la maggior parte dei lavoratori lo stipendio consiste nel minimo di quella cifra. Nella stragrande maggioranza dei casi le proporzioni sono spaventosamente invertite e il lavoratore è l’unico a esserne penalizzato. I beneficiari del tempo rubato ai dipendenti stipendiati sono le ditte e i loro dirigenti, ma anche gli Stati, dal momento che gli imposti e le tasse prelevate sui lavoratori non vengono utilizzati per l’interesse generale ma vengono usati per arricchire le tasce dei ministeri e investire capitali nel privato.
Perchè continuo a lavorare in quel posto? Perchè sono codarda. Perchè so che se me ne vado non troverò un altro lavoro. Perchè so non c’è lavoro. Perchè non ho il coraggio di mollare tutto e vivere per strada. Sono una fifona. E in fondo mi piace, il confort di un posto caldo dove dormire e almeno un pasto al giorno di cui cibarmi. Sono una donna sofisticata.
Dei giorni andare a lavoro mi pare una violenza. Il coraggio non sta nell’andare a lavoro. Il coraggio starebbe semmai nel mollarlo. Più della metà di tutti i lavori che facciamo è assolutamente inutile e non porta a niente di edificante e attributivo all’intera società. Vendiamo beni altrui, costruiamo cianfrusaglie inutili, ci sprechiamo in cambio di carta straccia. Schifosissima e maledetta carta straccia puzzolente e sporca di sangue.
Sto leggendo un bel romanzo, in questi giorni. S’intitola The Hall of the Caryatids, dello scrittore russo Victor Pelevin, classe ’62, moscovita, ingegnere elettro-meccanico e scrittore spadaccino di cui lessi l’articolo che segue in questo magazine on-line Russia Beyond The Headlines: Russian News (disponibile anche in italiano)
In his recent works, Russian master of postmodern science fiction Victor Pelevin has shifted his satirical focus from the absurdities of the communist regime to the iniquitous consumerism of post-Soviet Russia.

In this surreal story, The Hall of Singing Caryatids, by the Russian master of postmodern science fiction, Victor Pelevin, young Lena is employed to stand naked for hours at a time and sing – when they are not indulging the excessive fantasies of oligarchs. She and her fellow “caryatids” are decorative pillars in an elite underground nightclub. The girls are injected with a classified serum, ‘Mantis-B,’ which enables them to stand totally still for up to two days. Lena’s encounters with a giant, telepathic praying mantis, while under the influence of the serum, radically alter her perspective on the outside world, revealing an alternative universe of wordless clarity.

In true postmodern style, Pelevin intersperses these drug-induced episodes with other voices. There are the pseudo-pretentious extracts from Counterculture magazine that Lena reads in the minibus back to Moscow. She also meets concept artists, girls dressed as mermaids, important clients in bathrobes, guards in suits, and the sinister, ironic-slogan-toting Uncle Pete.

Pelevin has been perplexing and delighting readers with his unique brand of polyphonic sci-fi comedy for more than two decades now. His first novel, Omon Ra, published in 1992, portrays a protagonist attempting to escape the Soviet nightmare by becoming a cosmonaut, only to find himself part of a farcical, mock-heroic moon landing during which he drives his lunar bike along a derelict underground tunnel.

While the political landscape may seem to have altered seismically around him, Pelevin has had no trouble shifting his satirical focus from the absurdities of the communist regime to the iniquitous consumerism of post-Soviet Russia. Pelevin’s most recent book, Pineapple Water for a Beautiful Lady, has just been short-listed for the Nose literary prize.

via Revealing drawbacks of post-Soviet consumerism | Russia Beyond The Headlines.

Il romanzo ricorda molto il bunga bunga affair ed è principalmente indirizzato a polemizzare la corruzione dell’oligarchia russa sotto il governo Putin.
Chi sono le cariatidi canterine? Dal greco, figure portanti. Un gruppo di giovani prostitute, addestrate, drogate, coinvolte da una società segreta in un affare politico.
C’è una parte del libro, molto bella, in cui Lena e le altre ragazze vengono convocate da Uncle Pete e portate in un luogo segreto. Intanto che aspettano, Lena trova una rivista, e Pevelin il pretesto per parlare di controcultura e fare polemica

‘She took the driver’s well thumbed copy of Eligible Bachelors of Russia magazine. Inside it was another slim, badly tattered magazine, titled Counterculture. It wasn’t clear if this was printed or simply a supplement. Counterculture was printed on poor quality newsprint and looked very dubious, even sordid, but Vera explained that that was deliberate.
“It’s counterculture,” she said, as if the word explained everything.
“And what’s that?” Lena asked.
“That’s when they use dirty words on cheap paper,” Vera explained. “So they can badmouth the glossies. It’s hot shit nowadays.”
Asya frowned.
“That’s not right,” she said, “it doesn’t have to be on cheap paper, sometimes the paper’s expensive. Counterculture’s..” She hesitates for a moment, as if she was trying to recall a phrase that she’d heard somewhere. “It’s the aesthetic of anti-bourgeois revolt, expropriated by the ruling elite, that’s what it is.”
“But how can you expropriate an aesthetic?” Vera asked.
“NO problem,” replied Asya. “Nowadays, everyone who’s got a competent PR manager is a rebel. Any dumb bitch on TV can say she’s on the run from the FSB…I don’t get you girls; I don’t see why we should have any complexes about the job. Because everyone’s a prostitute nowadays, even the air- for letting the radio waves pass through it.”
“You take such an emotional view of everything, seeing it all with your heart,” said Kima. “You won’t last long like that. And anyway, that’s not what counterculture is.”
“Then what is it?” asked Asya.
“It’s just a market niche,” Kima replied with a shrug, “And not just here, it’s the same all over the world. Think of it – ‘counter’-counterculture is any commodity someone’s hoping to sell big-time, so they put it on the checkout counter. Lena, why are you so quiet?”
“I am reading,” Lena replied. “I don’t understand why they use dotted lines for profanity, if they’re in revolt.”
“That’s to attract more readers.”
“Aha. And here they write:’brilliant intellectual, experimenting within the mainstream…’ Is that counterculture?”
“No,” said Asya. “That’s one cute guy on the make and another one doing his PR.”
Lena didn’t ask any more question, but she was still wondering what counterculture really was, and decided to read right through the supplement.
She half listened to the girls with one ear as she read the article: “The 100 Most Expensive Wh…s in Moscow (with Phone Numbers and Addresses)” – followed by the comments on it (one commentator wrote in to ask why was that Drozdovets, the host of the popular talk show “Hats Off!”, wasn’t in the list – was it because of a sudden moral transformation or a temporary decline in his ratings?). Then she frowned at a strange advertisement (“Weary of the hustle and bustle of the city? In just two minutes, you can be in a pine forest. Washing lines from the Free Space factory!”), leafed through an article about the singer Shnurkov (“Why, of all the warriors doing battle against the dictatorship of the manager, was this sophisticated Che Guevara, known to many well-to-do gentlemen for his scintillating songs at exclusive corporate events, the first to point out that he was no slouch when it came to picking up on the ringtone? Because he realized that these days it’s the only way to get his ringtone playing on your iPhone, dear manager!”), then Lena read an interview with Shnurkov himself (“The composer of ‘Ham ..r that C..t’ and ‘D..k in a Con..m’ reflects on the trends and metamorphoses of contemporary Russian cinema”), and then – probably because of the tiresome countercultural profanities – she started feeling depressed and lonely, so she closed the supplemt and dived into the quiet, glossy waters of Eligible Bachelors of Russia.
Immediately she came across a large article titled “The last Russian Macho.” It was devoted to the oligarch Botvinik, whom it called “Russia’s No. 1 Eligible Bachelor.”
Lena peered, gimlet-eyed, at the photo of a stocky, chubby individual with an unnatural, bright blush right across his cheeks – as if she were trying to drill a fishing hole in the glossy surface and hook the key to some kind of secret code out of it.
“Could you love someone like that?” Asya asked, glancing into the magazine.
“Why not?” replied Lena. “You can always find something good in anyone. And when someone has a few billion dollars, you can find an awful lot of something good. You just have to look for it.”
Text entirely taken from ‘The Hall of the Singing Caryatids’ by Victor Pelevin.
Translated from the Russian by Andrew Bromfield.

SOFA’ SOGOOD #2 THE BREAST by PHILIP ROTH

‘Alas, what has happened to me is like nothing anyone has ever known: beyond understanding, beyond compassion, beyond comedy, though there are those, i know, who claim to be on the brink of some conclusive scientific explanation; and those, my faithful visitors, whose compassion is deeply felt, sorrowful and kind; and there are still others — there would have to be — out in the world who cannot help but laugh. And I, at times, am one with them: I understand, I have compassion, I see the joke.’

Mettiamola così: un giorno come un altro vi svegliate, vi alzate dal letto, andate in bagno, vi specchiate nella toilette del lavandino, e scoprite, con orrore, di esservi trasformate. Non vi è ancora chiaro in cosa, ma certamente in qualcosa di molle. E rosa. Una specie di fungo, a cappella stretta e chiusa.
Fate per portarvi le mani alla bocca, ma non avete braccia. Abbassate lo sguardo ai piedi, ma non avete piedi. Avete due sacche, al posto dei piedi. Due sacche gonfie e piene. E non avete gambe, siete un tutt’uno di carne moscia e grinze. Un pene, signore. Non agitatevi, potreste eiaculare
La domanda: Che fate? Voi, donne, che fareste se mai un giorno vi trasformaste in un pene? (Si, è ammesso importunare le vecchine del centro geriatrico locale, ma solo se le vecchine vi provano gusto. E si, sono ammessi blitz nei monasteri e alle poste. A rischio i Lesbian Clubs)
L’ho chiesto ad alcune amiche
‘Oh mio Dio ah ah ah’- Federica
‘you ok Laurjutka?’- Tatijana
‘E’chiaro, mollo tutto e parto alla ricerca della mia Vagina’- Lidia
‘WTF?’-Fanny
‘Offro il mio seme alle donne single che vogliono avere un bambino’- mia sorella
‘Mi spaccio per leghista e infiltro a palazzo chigi come spia dei Vespri- Svesda
‘Me la godo’- io. Voglio sapere com’è, come ci si sente quando si è eccitati e si sta per venire. Dentro una donna. Dentro un uomo. Dentro una bocca, dentro l’acqua, in ascensore, in coda al traffico, davanti a un tramonto, mentre si sogna.
How does it feel like? Che pacchia
Il 18 Febbraio 1971 David Kepesh si trasforma in un seno e l’episodio in un romanzo breve di Philip Roth che a me non è piacito e ho rischiato più volte di abbandonare; il fatto viene rivelato a pag.12, senza phatos nè suspance. Il resto del romanzo è l’elucubrazione di un uomo in crisi, che desidera copulare ma non può e per questo si sente frustrato, quanto se non più di una donna che non riesce ad avere un orgasmo da penetrazione. (Benvenuto nel club, prof). David Kepesh ci prova in tutte le maniere, facendosi massaggiare il capezzolo e perfino strofinandolo agli orifizi genitali dell’amante e del corpo infermieristico che lo assiste nella clinica dov’è ricoverato sotto osservazione. Niente però sembra soddisfarlo abbastanza quanto il rimpianto di un’eiaculazione.
Nelle intenzioni di Roth questo romanzo doveva essere un omaggio alla metamorfosi di Kafka e forse un tentativo di emulazione all’ironia di Gogol, sebbene, a mio parere, l’inefficacia delle digressioni e le tante citazioni.
Questa una bella recensione
The Mookse and the Gripes » Philip Roth: The Breast.

I am a breast. A phenomenon that has been variously described to me as ‘a massive hormonal influx’,’an endocrinopathic catastrophe,’ and/or ‘a hermaphroditic explosion of chromosomes’ took place within my body between midnight and four A.M. on February 18, 1971, and converted me into a mammary gland disconnected from any human form, a mammary gland such as could only appear, one would have thought, in a dream or a Dali painting. They tell me that I am now an organism with the general shape of a football, or a dirigible: I am said to be of a spongy consistency, weighing in at one hundred and fifty-five pounds (formerly I was one hundred and sixty-two), and measuring, still, six feet in length. Though I continue to retain, in damaged and ‘irregular’ form, much of the cardiovascular and central nervous system, an excretory system described as ‘reduced and primitive’-tubes now help me to void- and a respiratory system that terminates just above my midsection in something resembling a navel with a flap, the basic architecture in which these human characteristics are disarranged and buried is that of the breast of the mammalian female.
The bulk of my weight is fatty tissue. At one of my ends I am rounded off like a watermelon; at the other I terminate in a nipple, cylindrical in shape, projecting five inches from my ‘body’, and perforated at the tip with seventeen openings, each about half the size of the male urethral orifice. I am told that these are the apertures of the lactiferous ducts. As I am able to understand it without the benefit of diagrams- I am sightless- the ducts branch back into lobules composed of cells of the sort that secrete the milk that is carried to the surface of the ordinary nipple when it is being suckled, or milked by mechanical means.
My flesh is smooth and ‘youthful’ and I am still a ‘Caucasian’, they say. My nipple is rosy pink in color. This last is thought to be unusual in that in my former incarnation I was an emphatic brunette. As I told the endocrinologist who made this observation, I myself find it less ‘unusual’ than certain other aspects of the transformation, but then I am not the endocrinologist around here. The wit was bitter, but it was wit at last, and it must have been observed and noted that I was making an ‘adjustment’ to my new situation.
My nipple is rosy pink in color- as was the stain I had discovered at the base of my penis upon stepping into the shower the night this all happened to me.
In that the apertures in the nipple provide me with something remotely like a mouth and ears- at least I am able to make myself understood through my nipple, and, faintly, to hear what is going on around me- I myself had assumed at first that it was my head that become my nipple. The doctors, however, hypothesize otherwise, at least as of this month.
With little more evidence, I would think, to support this conjecture over any other, they now maintain that the wrinkled, roughened skin of the nipple- which, admittedly, is exquisitely sensitive to touch like no tissue on the face, including the mucous membrane of the lips- was formed out of the glans penis. So too the puckered pinkish areola that encircles the nipple and contains the muscle system that stiffens the nipple when I am aroused, is said to have metamorphosed from the shaft of the penis under the assault (some say) of a volcanic secretion from the pituitary of ‘mammogenic’ fluid. Two fine long reddish hairs extend from one of the small elevations on the rim of the areola. ‘They must look strange. How long are they?’
‘Seven inches exactly’
‘My antennae.’ The bitterness. Then the disbelief.
‘Will you pull on one of them, please?’
‘If you like, David, I’ll pull gently.’
Dr.Gordon wasn’t lying. A hair on my body had been tugged. It was familiar sensation, and it made me want to be dead.
Of course it was days after the change had taken place before I even regained consciousness, and another week before they would tell me anything other than that I had been ‘very ill’ with ‘an endocrine imbalance,’and even then, I howled so wretchedly in rediscover each time I awoke that I could neither see, smell, taste, or move, that I had to be kept under heavy sedation. When my ‘body’ was touched I did not know what to make of. The sensation was, unexpectedly, soothing and pleasant, but of an undifferentiated kind, reminding me of water lapping over the skin more than anything else. One morning I awakened to feel something strange happening to one of my extremities. Nothing like pain, yet I screamed, ‘I’ve been burned! I was in a fire!’
Text entirely taken from The breast, by Philip Roth, 1972

Goodbye To Berlin

Berlin, Unter den Linden, Victoria Hotel zwischen 1890 und 1900 (wiki)

Quella notte che dormii per strada, a Berlino, fu la notte seguente al primo giorno che vi arrivai, un mattino di sette anni fa. Faceva febbraio fuori. Avevo viaggiato in treno tutta la notte, da Hauptbahnhof Station (Monaco), attraverso la Bavaria, la Turingia, Brandeburgo, fino a Zoologischer Garten, la stazione a ovest di Berlino in cui mi fermai. Non conoscevo nessuno, non avevo un posto dove dormire, appena 250 euro dentro la tasca dei jeans.
Di Zoologischer Garten avevo letto da ragazzina in quel romanzo di Christiane F., poi diventato un film nell’81.
C’è una cosa che caratterizza e distingue i luoghi, e questa è la luce. Berlino è una città di ombre. Profuma di sporco e graffiato. E’ una scheggia tra le costole degli edifici monumentali, le costruzioni moderne, tracce di guerra, avanzi di storia nelle rovine. Il Funkturm, la Neue Synagoge, il Muro, Christopher Street Day, il Checkpoint Charlie, Good Bye Lenin. Ogni angolo di Berlino è rottura e giunzione. Il tempo è una fotografia sgualcita e accartocciata negli angoli.
Qualche settimana fa ho trovato un romanzo che ho pensato sarebbe stato bello leggere a quei tempi, Goodbye to Berlin, dello scrittore inglese Christopher Isherwood. ‘Brilliant skretches of a society in decay’, avrebbe detto George Orwell
Christopher Isherwood nasce nel 1904 a Wyberslegh Hall, High Lane, Cheshire, in North West England, da padre tenente colonnello delle armi inglesi, morto durante la prima guerra mondiale. Dopo la morte del padre, Christopher la madre e il fratello minore si trasferiscono a Londra, dove lo scrittore intraprende un corso di medicina. Isherwood inizia a scrivere da ragazzino, dapprima poesie, poi un primo romanzo, All the Conspirators, del 1928, che non riscuote grande fortuna.
In quegli anni conosce W. H. Auden, di cui si innamora e per il quale abbandona medicina e si trasferisce a Berlino, dove i due vivranno insieme, con spirito da kamikaze, fino al ’38. E’ durante gli anni trascorsi nella repubblica di Weimar che Isherwood concentra la propria produzione narrativa prima di un definitivo trasferimento in America, da dissidente, dove inizia ad occuparsi di cinema, teatro e commedia.
Qualche anno prima, al cugino francese Ferdinand Bardamu, protagonista del romanzo Viaggio al termine della notte, di Louis-Ferdinand Céline, sarebbe toccata ben altra sorte; partito per la guerra, la prima, e rientrato a Parigi dall’America, avvierà uno studio medico a La Garenne-Rancya, rinomato sobborgo parigino che farà da cornice agli sproloqui dello scrittore contenuti  in questo romanzo meraviglioso pubblicato a cavallo fra le due guerre.
Goodbye to Berlin, del 1939, è parte di una raccolta ‘The Berlin Stories’ che inquadra la società berlinese attraverso gli occhi e l’umore della gente che Isherwood incontra per strada, nei campi da golf, nei club, le sale da tea, i salotti. Quasi la guerra fosse appena un contrattempo e un fastidio, e a farla soltanto i soldati e la gente ammazzata oltre il confine. I campi di concentramento uno scherzo d’ebrei, l’omosessualità una malattia infettiva, il nazismo una preghiera, Hitler un messia.

A collection of six overlapping short stories set against the backdrop of the declining Weimar republic as Hitler rose to power. Isherwood, appearing himself as a fictional narrator, lives as a struggling author in the German capital, describing his meetings with the decadent, often doomed eccentrics, bohemians, and showgirls around him. The sense of oblivious naivety to the gathering storm around them gives his characters tremendous pathos and tragedy. The title refers not just to Isherwood’s departure from a city he clearly loved, but also to the sense that the Berlin of the early thirties was irrecoverably destroyed by the rise of the Nazis, and the destruction of the Weimar State. Isherwood is evoking an age that will never be seen again. It’s not so much a story of sorrowful departure as an obituary.

via . BOOK REVIEW CHRISTOPHER ISHERWOOD GOODBYE TO BERLIN

The Berlin Stories ispirò il regista John Van Druten a dirigere il film ‘I am a Camera’, del 1951, una commedia ‘Cabaret’, del 1966, e l’omonimo film del 1972 che valse a Liza Minelli un Academy Award per aver interpretato Sally, una giovane flapper inglese in cerca di fortuna come attrice a Berlino
E’ giusto Sally Bowles il racconto più spassoso contenuto in Goodbye to Berlin, di cui vi propongo una parte
She lived a long way down the Kurfustendamm on the last dreary stretch which rises to Halensee. I was shown into a big gloomy half-furnished room by a fat untidy landlady with a pouchy sagging jowl like a toad. There was a broken-down sofa in one corner and a faded picture of an eighteenth-century battle, with the wounded reclining on their elbows in graceful attitudes, admiring the prancings of Frederick the Great’s horse.
‘Oh, hullo, Chris darling!’ cried Sally from the doorway. ‘How sweet of you to come! I was feeling most terribly lonely. I’ve been crying on Frau Karpf’s chest. Nicht wahr, Frau Karpf?’ She appealed to the toad landlady, ‘ich habe geweint auf Dein Brust.’ Frau Karpf shook her bosom in a toad-like chuckle.
‘Would you rather have coffee, Chris, or tea?’ Sally continued. ‘You can have either. Only I don’t recommend the tea much. I don’t know what Frau Karpf does to it; I think she empties all the kitchen slops together into a jug and boils them up with the tea-leaves.’
‘I’ll have coffee, then.’
‘Frau Karpf, Liebling, willst Du sein ein Engel und bring zwei Tassen von Koffee?’ Sally’s German was not merely incorrect; it was all her own. She pronounced every word in a mincing, specially ‘foreign’ manner. You could tell that she was speaking a foreign language from her expression alone. ‘Chris darling, will you be an angel and draw the curtains?’
I did so, although it was still quite light outside. Sally, meanwhile, had switched on the table-lamp. As I turned from the window, she curled herself up delicately on the sofa like a cat, and opening her bag, felt for a cigarette. But hardly was the pose complete before she’d jumped to her feet again:
‘Would you like a Prairie Oyster?’ She produced glasses, eggs and a bottle of Worcester sauce from the boot-cupboard under the dismantled washstand: ‘I practically live on them.’ Dexterously, she broke the eggs into the glasses, added the sauce and stirred up the mixture with the end of a fountain-pen: ‘They’re about all I can afford.’ She was back on the sofa again, daintily curled up.
She was wearing the same black dress today, but without the cape. Instead, she had a little white collar and white cuffs. They produced a kind of theatrically chaste effect, like a nun in grand opera. ‘What are you laughing at, Chris?’ she asked.
‘I don’t know, ‘I said. But still I couldn’t stop grinning. There was, at that moment, something so extraordinarily comic in Sally’s appearance. She was really beautiful, with her little dark head, big eyes, and finally arched nose- and so absurdly conscious of all these features. There she lay, as complacently feminine as a turtle-dove, with her poised self-conscious head, and daintily arranged hands.
‘Chris, you swine, do tell me why you’re laughing?’
‘I really haven’t the faintest idea.’
At this, she began to laugh too:’You are mad, you know!’
‘Have you been here long? I asked, looking round the large gloomy room.
‘Ever since I arrived in Berlin. Let’s see- that was about two months ago.’
Taken from ‘Goodbye to Berlin, by Christopher Isherwood, 1939

Some Of Those Days

La Musique des Pucese by Robert Doisneau

-Madeleine, if you please, play something on the phonograph. The one I like, you know: Some of these days.
Madeleine turns the crank on the phonograph. I only hope she has not made a mistake; that she hasn’t put on Cavalleria Rusticana, as she did the other day. But no, this is it, I recognize the melody from the very first bars. It is an old rag-time with a vocal refrain. I heard American soldiers whistle it in 1917 in the streets of LaRochelle. It must date from before the War. But the recording is much more recent. Still, it is the oldest record in the collection, a Pathe record for sapphire needle.
The vocal chorus will be along shortly: I like that part especially and the abrupt manner in which it throws itself forward, like a cliff against the sea. For the moment, the jazz is playing; there is no melody, only notes, a myriad of tiny jolts. They know no rest, an inflexible order gives birth to them and destroys them without even giving them time to recuperate and exist for themselves. They race, they press forward, they strike me a sharp blow in passing and are obliterated. I would like to hold them back, but I know if I succeeded in stopping one it would remain between my fingers only as a raffish languishing sound. I must accept their death; I must even will it. I know few impressions stronger or more harsh.
I grow warm, I begin to feel happy. There is nothing extraordinary in this, it is a small happiness of Nausea: it spreads at the bottom of the viscous puddle, at the bottom of our time—the time of purple suspenders and broken chair seats; it is made of wide, soft instants, spreading at the edge, like an oil stain. No sooner than born, it is already old, it seems as though I have known it for twenty years.
There is another happiness: outside there is this band of steel, the narrow duration of the music which traverses our time through and through, rejecting it, tearing at it with its dry little points; there is another time.
“Monsieur Randu plays hearts..and you play an ace.
The voice dies away and disappears. Nothing bites on the ribbon of steel, neither the opening door, nor the breath of cold air flowing over my knees, nor the arrival of the veterinary surgeon and his little girl: the music transpierces these vague figures and passes through them. Barely seated, the girl has been seized by it: she holds herself stiffly, her eyes wide open; she listens, rubbing the table with her fist.
A few seconds more and the Negress will sing. It seems inevitable, so strong is the necessity of this music: nothing can interrupt it, nothing which comes from this time in which the world has fallen; it will stop of itself, as if by order. If I love this beautiful voice it is especially because of that: it is neither for its fulness nor its sadness, rather because it is the event for which so many notes have been preparing, from so far away, dying that it might be born. And yet I am troubled; it would take so little to make the record stop: a broken spring, the whim of Cousin Adolphe. How strange it is, how moving, that this hardness should be so fragile. Nothing can interrupt it yet all can break it.
The last chord has died away. In the brief silence which follows I feel strongly that there it is, that something has happened.
Some of these days You’ll miss me honey
What has just happened is that the Nausea has disappeared. When the voice was heard in the silence, I felt my body harden and the Nausea vanish. Suddenly: it was almost unbearable to become so hard, so brilliant. At the same time the music was drawn out, dilated, swelled like a waterspout. It filled the room with its metallic transparency, crushing our miserable time against the walls. I am in the music. Globes of fire turn in the mirrors; encircled by rings of smoke, veiling and unveiling the hard smile of light. My glass of beer has shrunk, it seems heaped up on the table, it looks dense and indispensable. I want to pick it up and feel the weight of it, I stretch out my hand..God! That is what has changed, my gestures. This movement of my arm has developed like a majestic theme, it has glided along the song of the Negress; I seemed to be dancing.
Adolphe’s face is there, set against the chocolate-coloured wall; he seems quite close. Just at the moment when my hand closed, I saw his face; it witnessed to the necessity of a conclusion. I press my fingers against the glass, I look at Adolphe: I am happy.
-Wow
A voice rises from the tumult. My neighbour is speaking, the old man burns. His cheeks make a violet stain on the brown leather of the bench. He slaps a card down on the table. Diamonds.
But the dog-faced young man smiles. The flushed opponent, bent over the table, watches him like a cat ready to spring.
“Et voila!”
The hand of the young man rises from the shadow, glides an instant, white, indolent, then suddenly drops like a hawk and presses a card against the cloth. The great red-faced man leaps up:”Hell! He’s trumped.”
The outline of the king of hearts appears between his curled fingers, then it is turned on its face and the game goes on. Mighty king, come from so far, prepared by so many combinations, by so many vanished gestures. He disappears in turn so that other combinations can be born, other gestures,attacks, counterattacks, turns of luck, a crowd of small adventures.
I am touched, I feel my body at rest like a precision machine. I have had real adventures. I can recapture no detail but I perceive the rigorous succession of circumstances. I have crossed seas, left cities behind me, followed the course of rivers or plunged into forests, always making my way towards other cities. I have had women, I have fought with men; and never was I able to turn back,any more than a record can be reversed. And all that led me—where? At this very instant, on this bench, in this translucent bubble all humming with music.
And when you leave me
Yes, I who loved so much to sit on the banks of the Tiber at Rome, or in the evening, in Barcelona, ascend and descend the Ramblas a hundred times, I, who near Angkor, on the island of Baray Prah-Kan, saw a banyan tree knot its roots about a Naga chapel, I am here, living in the same second as these card players, I listen to a Negress sing while outside roves the feeble night.
The record stops.
Night has entered, sweetish, hesitant. No one sees it, but it is there, veiling the lamps; I breathe something opaque in the air: it is night. It is cold. One of the players pushes a disordered pack of cards towards another man who picks them up. One card has stayed behind. Don’t they see it? It’s the nine of hearts. Someone takes it at last, gives it to the dog-faced young man.
“Ah. The nine of hearts.”
Enough, I’m going to leave. The purple-faced man bends over a sheet of paper and sucks his pencil. Madeleine watches him with clear, empty eyes. The young man turns and turns the nine of hearts between his fingers. God! . . .
I get up with difficulty; I see an inhuman face glide in the mirror above the veterinary’s head. In a little while I’ll go to the cinema.
Jean – Paul Sartre, Nausea, 1938.

SOFA’ SOGOOD # 1 LIFE A USER’S MANUAL by GEORGES PEREC


‘Nobody lives on the third floor right. The owner is a certain Monsieur Foureau, who is said to live on an estate at Chavignolles, between Caen and Falaise, in a farm of thirty- eight hectares, with a sort of manor house. Some years ago, a television drama was filmed there, under the title The Sixteenth Edge of This Cube; Remi Rorschach took part in the shooting but never met this owner.
Nobody ever seems to have seen him. There is no name on the door on the landing, nor on the list fixed on the glass pane of the concierge’s office door. The blinds are always drawn.’

Se per qualche ragione vi foste trovati a Parigi intorno alla fine degli anni ’70, e in cerca di Trelkovski, L’Inquilino del Terzo Piano (forse perchè vi doveva una scommessa, o quasi certamente perchè eravate voi a dovergli più di qualcosa), allora avreste fatto bene a cercarlo in Rue Simon-Crubellier. Sottoscrive Perec, al terzo piano di Rue Simon-Crubellier, numero 11, non vive nessuno, ma il sospetto di un omicidio. Lo stesso filmato da Roman Polanski due anni prima l’uscita del romanzo ‘La vita, Istruzioni per l’uso‘,? Sarebbe azzardato credere Trelkovski l’inquilino mancante a chiudere il ‘tour’ e rendere possibile il Percorso del Cavallo tracciato da Perec attraverso questo romanzo?

Knight's Tour. Image credit Wikipedia. Click on

Prendete una scacchiera e sfidate un cavaliere in una crociata, in palio la soluzione a un quesito matematico: come attraversare la scacchiera partendo da D7, compiere una sola volta tutte le mosse di gioco, visitare tutte le case della scacchiera, quindi concludere il tour in F7, esattamente nella casa vicina a quella di partenza.
Poniamo Perec abbia utilizzato una scacchiera 10×10, pari ai 10 piani in Rue Simon-Crubellier, e alle dieci camere in ciascuno dei piani. Una camera un capitolo, un capitolo una storia, una storia una mossa del cavaliere. 99 personaggi, ognuno con un passato diverso e un futuro in comune; 99 storie nella storia, una sola mossa mancante a rendere possibile una sfida letteraria quasi riuscita.
La sfida in questione rientra nell’ambizioso progetto visionario lanciato dalla Oulipo, una sorta di circolo, una confraternita del Merlot, fondata nel 1960 da Raymond Queneau e François Le Lionnais, che riunisce scrittori e artisti per lo più francesi (Italo Calvino un infiltrato speciale) cui obiettivo è quello di realizzare un’opera attraverso precise regole, coordinate stilistiche, poste a soluzione di un problema matematico, un lipogramma (di Perec anche La scomparsa, del 1969, un romanzo scritto senza la vocale ‘e’, e Le ripetizioni, un romanzo scritto di sole vocali ‘e’), palindromi, anagrammi.
Ne La vita, istruzioni per l’uso, la toponomastica esistenziale tracciata da Perec definisce una dimensione in cui convergono e si intersecano Arte, Storia, ‘Umanesimo’e Scienze. Ho ammirato con stupore e meraviglia la maniera in cui Perec dà respiro al romanzo affascinato dal potenziale visionario delle parole, delle immagini, dei colori, dei suoni, dei ricordi. Dev’essere stato un bel viaggio.
Mi rendo conto leggere questo romanzo è una sfida. Perec è un autore pretenzioso. Pretende noi si venga informati bene circa i fatti. Pretende noi ci si dedichi esclusivamente alla lettura del testo, in totale isolamento e regressione spazio temporale da ciò che ci circonda.

Sophie Calle (born 1953) is a French writer, photographer, installation artist, and conceptual artist. Calle's work is distinguished by its use of arbitrary sets of constraints, and evokes the French literary movement of the 1960s known as Oulipo. Her work frequently depicts human vulnerability, and examines identity and intimacy. She is recognized for her detective-like ability to follow strangers and investigate their private lives. Her photographic work often includes panels of text of her own writing (WK)

Del resto l’intero appartamento in Rue Simon-Crubellier sembra esistere nello spazio in una dimensione propria di trascendentale realizzazione causale e implicativa, rimandata al passato, interposta nel presente, e convergente nel futuro. Nel romanzo niente viene lasciato al caso, ogni attimo assemblato, composto entro un’unica cornice, un preciso ordine stabilito, la perfetta realizzazione di un puzzle umano e vivente, ricostruito minuziosamente attraverso una progressiva esarazione delle storie perchè ‘la storia’ centrale abbia a realizzarsi nell’insieme.
Preamble
To begin with, the art of jigsaw puzzles seems of little substance, easily exhausted, wholly dealt with by a basic introduction to Gestalt: the perceived object – we mai be dealing with a perceptual act, the acquisition of a skill, a physiological system, or, as in the present case, a wooden jigsaw puzzle – is not a sum of elements to be distinguished from each other and analyzed discretely, but a pattern, that is to say a form, a structure: the element’s existence does not precede the existence of the whole, it comes neither before nor after it, for the parts do not determine the pattern, but the pattern determines the parts: knowledge of the pattern and of its laws, of the set and its structure, could not possibly be derived from discrete knowledge of the elements that compose it. That means that you can look at a piece of a puzzle for three whole days, you can believe that you know all there is to know about its colouring and shape, and be no further on than when you started. The only thing that counts is the ability to link this piece to other pieces, and in that sense the art of jigsaw puzzle has something in common with the art of go. The pieces are readable, take on a sense, only when assembled; in isolation, a puzzle piece means nothing – just an impossible question, an opaque challenge. But as soon as you have succeeded, after minutes of trial and error, or after a prodigious half-second flash of inspiration, in fitting it into one of its neighbours, the piece disappears, ceases to exist as a piece. The intense difficulty preceding this link-up – which the English word puzzle indicates so well – not only loses its raison d’etre, it seems never to have had any reason, so obvious does the solution appear. The two pieces so miraculously conjoined are henceforth one, which in its turn will be a source of error, hesitation, dismay, and expectation.
The role of the puzzle-maker is hard to define. In most cases – and in particular in all cardboard jigsaw – the puzzles are machine-made, and the lines of cutting are entirely arbitrary: a blanking die, set up once and for all, cuts the sheets of cardboard along identical lines every time. But such jigsaw are eschewed by the true puzzle-lover, not just because the solutions are printed on the boxes the come in, but because this type of cut destroys the specific nature of jigsaw puzzles. Contrary to a widely and firmly held belief, it does not really matter whether the initial image is easy ( or something taken to be easy – a genre scene in the style of Vermeer, for example, or a color photograph of an Austrian castle) or difficult ( a Jackson Pollock, a Pissarro, or the poor paradox of a blank puzzle). It’s not the subject of the picture, or the painter’s technique, which makes a puzzle more or less difficult, but the greater or lesser subtlety of the way it jas been cut; and an arbitrary cutting pattern will necessarily produce an arbitrary degree of difficulty, ranging from the extreme of easiness – for edge pieces, patches of light, well-defined object, lines, transitions – to the tiresome awkwardness of all the other pieces (cloudless skies, sand, meadow, ploughed land, shaded areas, ect.).
Pieces in a puzzle of this kind come in classes of which the best-known are
the little chaps
the double crosses
and the crossbars
and once the edges have been put together, the detail pieces put in place – the very light, almost whitish yellow fringe on the carpet on the table holding the lectern with an open book, the rich edging of the mirror, the lute, the woman’s red dress – and the bulk of the background pieces parcelled out according to their shade of grey, brown, white, or sky blue, then solving the puzzle consists simply of trying all the plausible combinations one by one.
The art of jigsaw puzzling begins with wooden puzzles cut by hand, whose maker undertakes to ask himself all the questions the player will have to solve, and , instead of allowing chance to cover his tracks, aims to replace it with cunning, trickery, and subterfuge. All the elements occurring in the image to be reassembled – this armchair covered in gold brocade, that three-pointed black hat with its rather ruined black plume, or that silver-brained bright yellow livery – serve by design as points of departure for trails that lead to false information. The organized, coherent, structured signifying space of the picture is cut up not only into inert, formless elements containing little information or signifying power, but also into falsified elements, carrying false information; two fragments of cornice made to fit each other perfectly when they belong infact to two quite separate sections of the ceiling, the belt buckle of a uniform which turns out in extremis to be a metal clasp holding the chandelier, several almost identically cut pieces belonging, for one part, to a dwarf orange tree placed on a mantelpiece and, for the other part, to its scarcely attenuated reflection in a mirror, are classic examples of the types of traps puzzle-lovers come across.
From this, one can make a deduction which is quite certainly the ultimate truth of jigsaw puzzles: despite appearances, puzzling is not a solitary game: every move the puzzler makes, the puzzle-maker has made before; every piece the puzzler picks up, and picks up again, and studies and strokes, every combination he tries, each hope and each discouragement have all been designed, calculated, and decided by the other.

Avendo letto questo romanzo in inglese, mi sono concentrata più sul vocabolario e meno sull’ architettura della trama e il procedimento logico di progressione al vertice finale e conclusivo del testo. E’stato bello abbandonarsi all’evasività della lettura, carezzevole e pigra, ma è stato specialmente faticoso trovare il tempo e la concentrazione necessari a leggere Perec fra le righe e con la dovuta attenzione.
Non ho le competenze tecniche necessarie ad analizzare il romanzo dal punto di vista estetico, figurativo e stilistico, ma credo di aver individuato una sostanziosa quantità di suggerimenti, tecniche di componimento, tendenziosità allo spettacolarismo dei dettagli, che potrebbero tornare utili nell’organizzazione di un testo narrativo, per esempio.
Perec è insieme architetto e portinaio, poeta ed esteta, matematico e pittore. Perchè no, a suo modo un voyeur, e Parigi sullo sfondo la cornice di un’epoca.
Cercando delle immagini dello scrittore da inserire nel post, ho trovato quest’articolo meraviglioso che commenta, dal punto di vista estetico, le opere realizzate da Bartlebooth : Life A User’s Manual – Evening All Afternoon. Non mi permetto di rubare l’originalità delle considerazioni poste dall’autrice a commento delle opere, per questo ve ne consiglio la lettura.
E voi che mi dite, piaciuto?
Chi di voi vorrebbe aggiungere particolari alla descrizione del romanzo? A quali coinquilini vi siete affezionati, quale quadro vi ha suggestionati e impressionati maggiormente.
Volendo prendere a esempio il romanzo e improvvisare un esercizio di scrittura, potremmo anche noi catalogare degli oggetti, e sulla base di un finale, costruire un racconto che li comprenda
Ho per le mani una raccolta di storie, Last Night, a mio parere assai noiosa, dello scrittore americano James Salter. Si tratta di una coincidenza soltanto se avendone aperto a caso una pagina, è venuto fuori questo finale, tratto da Platinum, che recita
‘Tahar made another gesture of slight annoyance. For him, it was only the beginning.’

Non vi nascondo ho spedito all’inesistente indirizzo del palazzo, uno scarabocchio di Londra, realizzato a matita su un foglio A4
Monsieur Gaspard Winckler,
here a view of London I was working on a whole night
in solitude and ecstasy
Cheers from Hyperuranian
🙂
A breve posterò il calendario delle altre letture; perchè mattoni, ho considerato i libri più voluminosi da inserire alla fine, in modo da iniziare a leggerli, a poco a poco, già da adesso.
Vada per Il Seno di Philip Ruth, come lettura di febbraio?
Avrei voluto postare qualcosa lo scorso venerdì, in occasione della Giornata della Memoria (la madre di Perec fra le vittime della Shoah), ma sono stata via una settimana e ho avuto poco tempo a disposizione. Dal profondo un pensiero di pace, e un augurio. Che gli orrori del passato non abbiano a ripetersi nel futuro, come già nel presente e, purtroppo, ancora.
Buona Domenica a noi tutti

‘Look with all your eyes, look’
(Jules Verne, Michael Strogoff)

About the Art Of The Novel


Invito Milan Kundera a uno shisha hour in una coffeehouse in Nowhere Street. L’appuntamento è alle diciotto, ma io mi presento in anticipo di mezz’ora; al mio arrivo, Kundera siede già al tavolo che ho riservato per noi, fuori in un Vasto Giardino, come piace a lui . Sorseggia maroccam mint tea, gioca a scacchi contro Il Turco. Un vecchio grammofono polveroso suona un pezzo di Lady Gogo.
Perchè so Kundera un appassionato di jazz, mi presento all’appuntamento con in mano un vecchio vinile dei Soft Machine. Seven, del 1974. Mi dico sorpresa di essere arrivata in ritardo, pur essendo in anticipo. Kundera sorride, si compiace della mia apprensione, e invita a sedere di fianco al Turco.
Chiedo a Kundera se al momento sta leggendo niente di interessante, e questi mi risponde ‘Smatrex M-788NK, Il manuale delle istruzioni’ (per chi non lo sapesse ancora, lo Smatrex M-788NK è un androide di ultima generazione, CGV di precisione, FVB 77 a raggi UV, KMb1 ad alta risoluzione, NGU2 termoregolabile, connessione YVeta a FGH78 e 678 uscite BX, che oltre a funzionare da apparecchio telefonico, stira, cucina, lava, e si ricarica nel microonde in appena un nano-secondo)
La provocazione è sottile e allude al catastrofismo teoretico mosso da Husserls e posto a dibattito da Kundera nel primo capitolo del saggio ‘The Art Of The Novel’ , del 1988.
In una celebre lettura del 1935, Edmund Husserl parla di una crisi dell’umanità europea che ha influenzato negativamente le arti. Secondo il padre della fenomenologia, questa crisi è iniziata nell’Età Moderna, con Galileo e Descartes, e l’acquisizione, da parte dell’uomo, di un primato sulla natura
“Once elevated by Descartes to ‘master and proprietor of nature’, man has now become a mere thing to the forces (of technology, of politics, of history) that bypass him, surpass him, possess him. To those forces, man’s concrete being, his ‘world of life’ (die Lebenswelt), has neither value nor interest: it is eclipsed, forgotten from the start.”
“The rise of the sciences propelled man into the tunnels of specialized disciplines. The more he advanced in knowledge, the less clearly could he see either the world as a whole or his own self, and he plunged further into what Husserl’s pupil Heidegger called, in a beautiful and almost magical phrase, ‘the forgetting of being’.
“Indeed, all the great existential themes Heidegger analyzes in Being and Time- considering them to have been neglected by all earlier European philosophy– had been unveiled, displayed, illuminated by four centuries of the novel (four centuries of European reincarnation of the novel). In its own way, throught its own logic, the novel discovered the various dimension of existence one by one: with Cervantes and his contemporaries, it inquires into the nature of adventure; with Richardson, it begins to examine “what happens inside”, to unmask the secret life of the feelings; with Balzac, it discovers man’s rootedness in history; with Flaubert, it explores the terra previously incognita of the everyday; with Tolstoy, it focuses on decisions. It probes time: the elusive past with Proust, the elusive present with Joyce. With Thomas Mann, it examines the role of the myths from the remote past that control our present actions. Et cetera, et cetera.’
Secondo Kundera, anticipatore dell’Età Moderna non è solo Descartes, ma anche Cervantes
‘Perhaps it is Cervantes whom the two phenomenologists neglected to take into consideration in their judgment of the Modern Era. By that I mean: if it is true that philosophy and science have forgotten about man’s being, it emerges all the more plainly that with Cervantes a great European art took shape that is nothing other than the investigation of this forgotten being.’
[3.]’As God slowly departed from the seat whence he had directed the universe and its order of value, distinguished good from evil, and endowed each thing with meaning, Don Quixote set forth from his house into a world he could no longer recognize. In the absence of the Supreme Judge, the world suddenly appeared in its fearsome ambiguity; the single divine Truth decomposed into myriad relative truths parceled out by men. Thus was born the world of the Modern Era, and with it the novel, the image and model of that world.
To take, with Descartes, the thinking self as the basis of everything, and thus to face the universe alone, is to adopt an attitude that Hegel was right to call heroic. To take, with Cervantes, the world as ambiguity, to be obliged to face not a single absolute truth but a welter of contradictory truths (truths embodied in imaginary selves called characters), to have as one’s only certainty the wisdom of uncertainty, requires no less courage.
What does Cervantes’ great novel mean? Much has been written on the question. Some see in it a rationalist critique of Don Quixote’ s hazy idealism. Others see it as a celebration of that same idealism. Both interpretations are mistaken because they both seek at the novel’s core not an inquiry but a moral position.
Man desires a world where good and evil can be clearly distinguished, for he has an innate and irrepressible desire to judge before he understands. Religions and ideologies are founded on this desire. They can cope with the novel only by translating its language of relativity and ambiguity into their own apodictic and dogmatic discourse. They require that someone be right: either Anna Karenina is the victim of a narrow- minded tyrant, or Karenin is the victim of an immoral woman; either K. is an innocent man crushed by an unjust Court, or the Court represents divine justice and K. is guilty.
This ‘either- or’ encapsulates an inability to tolerate the essential relativity of things human, an inability to look squarely at the absence of the Supreme Judge. This inability makes the novel’s wisdom ( the wisdom of uncertainty) hard to accept and understand.
[4.]’Don Quixote set off into a world that opened wide before him. He could go out freely and come home as he pleased. The early European novels are journeys through an apparently unlimited world. The opening of Jacques le Fataliste comes upon the two heroes in mid- journey; we don’t know where they’ve come from or where they’re going. They exist in a time without beginning or end, in a space without frontiers, in the midst of a Europe whose future will never end.
Half a century after Diderot, in Balzac, the distant horizon has disappeared like a landscape behind those modern structures, the social institutions: the police, the law, the world of money and crime, the army, the State. In Balzac’s world, time no longer idles happily by as it does for Cervantes and Diderot. It has set forth on the train called History. The train is easy to board, hard to leave. But it isn’t at all fearsome yet, it even has its appeal; it promises adventure to every passenger, and with it fame and fortune.
Later still, for Emma Bovary, the horizon shrinks to the point of seeming a barrier. Adventure lies beyond it, and the longing becomes intolerable. Within the monotony of the quotidian, dreams and daydreams take on importance. The lost infinity of the outside world is replaced by the infinity of the soul. The great illusion of the irreplaceable uniqueness of the individual- one of the Europe’s finest illusion- blossoms forth.
But the dream of the soul’s infinity loses its magic when History (or what remains of it: the suprahuman force of an omnipotent society) takes hold of man. History no longer promises him fame and fortune; it barely promises him a land- surveyor’s job. In the face of the Court or the Castle, what can K.do? Not much. Can’t he at least dream as Emma Bovary used to do? No, the situation’s trap is too terrible, and like a vacuum cleaner it sucks up all his thoughts and feelings: all he can think of is his trial, his surveying job. The infinity of the soul- if it ever existed- has become a nearly useless appendage.’
Non c’è grandezza nelle miserie della vita, nè possibilità di fuga dal mondo. La realtà manca di poesia, gli uomini di coraggio. Don Chisciotte è stato arrestato alla frontiera, K. processato in televisione, Winston Smith ingaggiato alla conduzione di un nuovo reality show. ‘How to make money’ figura ancora al primo posto nella classifica dei libri più letti in formato digitale.
Chiedo a Kundera che ruolo avrebbe la letteratura in tutto questo, quale sarebbe la ragione d’essere di un romanzo
‘The sole raison d’etre of a novel is to discover what only the novel can discover. A novel that does not discover a hitherto unknown segment of existence is immoral. Knowledge is the novel’s only morality.’
Kundera si prende sul serio.
Delle volte mi chiedo come sarà la letteratura del futuro ( non intendo la sci-fiction). Il linguaggio di ciascuno di noi si evolve ogni giorno arricchito di parole nuove, un vocabolario criptato a noi fino a prima di adesso del tutto sconosciuto e in alcuni casi ancora incomprensibile. La realtà muta di forma e sostanza, e noi con essa, in un processo di metamorfosi sociale e culturale, perpetua e incoercibile. Ci si incontra e innamora su internet, si comunica by email, si viene assunti su Skype, licenziati su Facebook, mollati su Twitter. Chiedo a Kundera come immagina la letteratura del futuro, quali i conflitti, le tensioni ideali rispetto al contesto storico, i dialoghi, l’atmosfera, i luoghi. Ma Kundera non mi ascolta neanche più, ha appena scoperto di avere Hungry Bird nel telefonino.
Quanto al Turco, sparito. Con la gynoid seduta al tavolo di fianco al nostro.

Texts entirely taken from ‘The Art of the Novel’, Milan Kundera, 1988
Paris Review – The Art of Fiction No. 81, Milan Kundera.

Block, off Seven, Soft Machine, 1974

A Terrible Beauty

‘I feel at home here in this chaos because chaos suggests images to me’
Francis Bacon
On Bacon, The Logic Of Sensation by Deleuze

Lunar Caustic

Louis Stettner.Times Square Sailor, c. 1952

‘A man leaves a dockside tavern in the early morning, the smell of the sea in his nostrils, and a whisky bottle in his pocket, gliding over the cobbles lightly as a ship leaving harbour’

quell’uomo si chiama Bill Plantagenet ed è un pianista jazz e un ex marinaio sopravvissuto alla guerra. Un poeta maledetto, alla maniera di Baudelaire, nostalgico, alla maniera di Rimbaud. Uno scrittore alcolizzato, e romantico, l’alter Ego letterario di Malcolm Lowry nel breve romanzo autobiografico Lunar Caustic, del 1968.
Lo scrittore inglese, già apprezzato dalla critica per il romanzo Under the Volcano ( del 1947, undicesimo nella classifica dei cento romanzi migliori votati dalla Modern Library, dal quale è stato tratto l’omonimo film del regista John Huston, nel 1984), racconta di un uomo in rovina, approdato a New York e confinatosi, di propria volontà, presso il Bellevue Psychiatric Hospital, il più antico manicomio newyorkese (fondato nel 1736), dove effettivamente lo scrittore chiede ricovero per un breve periodo a causa di un crollo nervoso; la biografia dello scrittore fa nota di un evento tragico, all’origine dell’inquietudine di Lowry: ancora ai tempi del college, nel 1931, il compagno di stanza Paul Frite, innamoratosi di lui (e da Lowry mai corrisposto), si suicida,  lasciandolo preda di un senso di colpa onnipresente e tale da consumarlo nello spirito.
Finito il college, Lowry si rifiuta di lavorare per il padre e a una carriera manageriale preferisce il mare, arruolandosi come marinaio; gira il mondo, subisce gli orrori della guerra, va a caccia di storie (in buona parte contenute nel romanzo di debutto Ultramarine, del 1933). Insegue la propria stella.
In Lunar Caustic, Lowry, figlio della luna, si scopre un uomo vinto dalle passioni, tanto sensibile quanto irrequieto; un eroe romantico e dimesso, decadente e smanioso d’avventure in mare; Bill Plantagenet sembra barcollare tra realtà e sogno, flashbacks e finzione, in uno stato febbrile di oscena lucidità e delirio; dentro il manicomio realizza l’orrore della follia, le deprecabili condizioni in cui vivono i pazienzi ricoverati nell’ospedale. La vita non è un baccanale, e il mare, quel mare d’inquietudine e sregolatezze, notti di whisky e jazz,  non è che una sfida senza vincitori, nè gloria.

‘Darkness was falling through the clearing haze the stars came out. Over the broken horizon the Scorpion was crawling. There was the red, dying sun, Antares. To the south-east, the Retreat of the Howling Dog appeared. The stars taking their places were wounds opening in his being, multiple duplications of that agony, of that eye. The constellations might have been monstrosities in the delirium of God. Disaster seemed smeared over the whole universe. It was as if he were living in the preexistence of some unimaginable catastrophe, and he steadied himself a moment against the sill, feeling the doomed earth itself stagger in its heaving spastic flight towards the Hercules Butterfly’

Questi i links a un sito dedicato a Lowry e un articolo, nel quale si racconta della vita dello scrittore
Malcolm Lowry @ The 19th Hole
Life and Letters: Day of the Dead : The New Yorker.
Sotto, il primo capitolo del libro
A man leaves a dockside tavern in the early morning, the smell of the sea in his nostrils, and a whisky bottle in his pocket, gliding over the cobbles lightly as a ship leaving harbour.
Soon he is running into a storm and tacking from side to side, frantically trying to get back. Now he will go into any harbour at all.
He goes into another saloon.
From this he emerges, cunningly repaired; but he is in difficulties once more. This time is serious: he is nearly run over by a street car, he bangs his head on a wall, once he falls over an ashcan where he has thrown a bottle. Passers- by stare at him curiously, some with anger; others with amusement, or even a strange avidity.
This time he seeks refuge up an alley, and leans against the wall in an attitude of dejection, as if trying to remember something.
Again the pilgrimage starts but his course is so erratic it seems he must be looking for, rather than trying to remember something. Or perhaps, like the poor cat who had lost an eye in a battle, he is just looking for his sight?
The heat rises up from the pavements, a mighty force, New York groans and roars above, around, below him: white birds flash in the quivering air, a bridge strides over the river. Signs nod past him: The Best for Less, Romeo and Juliet, the greatest love story in the world, No Cover at Any Time, When pain threatens, strikes-
He enters another tavern, where presently he is talking of people he had never known, of places he had never been. Through the open door he is aware of the hospital, towering up above the river. Near him arrogant bearded derelicts cringe over spittoons, and of these men he seems afraid. Sweat floods his face. From the depths of the tavern comes a sound of moaning, and a sound of ticking.
Outside, again the pilgrimage starts, he wanders from saloon to saloon as though searching for something, but always keeping the hospital in sight, as if the saloons were only points on his circumference. In a street along the waterfront where a bell is clanging, he halts; a terrible old woman, whose black veil only partly conceals her ravaged face, is trying to post a letter, trying repeatedly and falling, but posting it finally, with shaking hands that are not hands at all.
A strange notion strikes him: the letter is for him. He takes a drink from the bottle.
In the Elevated a heavenly wind is blowing and there is a view of the river, but he is walking as though stepping over obstacles, or like Ahab stumbling from side to side on the careening bridge, ‘feeling that he encompassed in his stare oceans from which might be revealed that phantom destroyer of himself.’
Down in the street the heat is terrific. Tabloid headlines: Thousands collapse in Heat Wave. Hundreds Dead. Roosevelt Raps Warmongers. Civil War in Spain.
Once he stops in a church, his lips moving in something like a prayer. Inside is cool: around the walls are pictured the stages of the cross. Nobody seems to be looking . He likes drinking in churches particularly.
But afterwards he comes to a place not like a church at all.
This is the hospital: all day he has hovered round it; now it looms up closer than ever. This is objective. Tilting the bottle to his mouth he takes a long, final draught: drops run down his neck, mingling with the sweat.
‘I want to hear the song of the Negroes,’ he roars.’Veut-on que je disparaisse, que je plonge, à la recherche de l’anneau…I am sent to save my father, to find my son, to heal the eternal horror of three, to resolve the immedicable horror of opposites!’
With the dithering crack of a ship going on the rocks the door there was grass growing down to the East River. But between
taken from Lunar Caustic, cap 1, by Malcolm Lowry, (1968)

Banned Books 2011. Challenging Censorship in Literature


“The books that the world calls immoral are the books that show the world its own shame”Oscar Wilde.
Dallo scorso settembre, le biblioteche inglesi sono state ingaggiate del compito di raccogliere, entro una lista, i libri che nel corso degli anni passati sono stati bannati, non solo in Inghilterra, ma nel resto del mondo. Perchè sessualmente troppo espliciti nel linguaggio, blasfemi dal punto di vista religioso, d’opposizione alle politiche governative e ai regimi.
Da questa iniziativa è nato un sito, che li raccoglie in parte ed è possibile consultare a questo link
Banned Books.
Fra questi, Alice nel paese delle meraviglie, di Lewis Carrol, bannato in Cina, nel 1931, perchè ritenuto offensivo nel porre gli animali sullo stesso piano d’azione degli uomini; Il Diario di Anna Frank, bannato in Libano per aver rivelato gli orrori del nazismo; Tropico del Cancro, di Henry Miller, bannato negli Usa e in Inghilterra per via del linguaggio considerato scurrile e volgare; Il Pasto Nudo di William Burrough, bannato in alcuni stati americani perchè tendenzioso all’utilizzo di droghe (in effetti bisogna esser fatti per leggerlo, e per vederne il film, eventualmente); La fattoria degli animali, di George Orwell, bannato non solo nella vecchia URSS, ma più di recente, nel 2002, negli Emirati Arabi. Persino Harry Potter e la Pietra Filosofale, di J K Rowling, bannato in molte scuole cattoliche inglesi e americane perchè ritenuto una minaccia nella promozione della magia e delle arti divinatorie.
Il fascino dei libri proibiti è inequivocabile e, in parte, spiega le ragioni della letteratura erotica, per esempio, o della cyber punk fiction (mai letto Guts by Chuck Palahniuk, l’autore di Fight Club?). Quanto più viene proibito un libro, tanto più si avrà voglia di leggerlo. Miss Fanny Hill, un post che mi capitò di scrivere qualche tempo fa ispirata dalla pornografia letteraria di fine ‘700, rimane in assoluto quello più cliccato nel mio blog.
A proposito di proibito, ho giusto letto di un saggio che spero  trovare su internet, pubblicato nel 1996 dallo storico statunitense Robert Darnton Libri proibiti: Pornografia, satira e utopia all’origine della rivoluzione francese , di cui è interessante leggere questo vecchio articolo di approfondimento su il Corriere della Sera
Illuminismo: vedi alla voce porno.

On Literature and other Visionary Speculations

Jean-Paul Sartre by Russ Cook
'Yeah cherie, I know what ya mean. All that I know about my life, it seems, I have learned in books.'

Quelle volte che penso agli anni del liceo, ho come la sensazione di essermi persa qualcosa; non solo scuola (che marinavo d’abitudine, 3 volte a settimana- almeno), ma forse quel sentimento di partecipazione collettiva, le gite fuori-porta, i bigliettini sotto-banco, i pomeriggi a studiare con le amichette, il tormento delle interrogazioni. Cose così.
Il fatto è che io trovavo noioso andare a scuola, e di gran lunga più divertente trascorrere, da sola, una mattinata al parco, a piedi nudi sull’erba. O al mare, sugli scogli, a leggere dei dolori del giovane Werther, delle bravate di Holden, dei tormenti di madame Bovary, del lupo nella steppa, dei padri e dei figli della rivoluzione russa.
M’è sempre parso una perdita di tempo, andare a scuola.
E poi avevo la pessima abitudine di litigare coi professori. E di starmene in disparte dalla classe. Meglio ancora se fuori, a fumare nei giardinetti del cortiletto vicino la palestra.
Che poi in fondo, ai professori, devo aver fatto pure un favore. Io marinavo scuola, loro non dovevano preoccuparsi di redimermi, o punirmi. Il direttore di sospendermi. E tutti eravamo felici.
C’è un libro, che conservo nella memoria come il ricordo di quegli anni, a cui sono molto affezionata e che se mai mi fosse stato suggerito dalla mia insegnante di italiano (probabilmente) sarebbe valso a farmi amare almeno l’ora di letteratura; l’ho trovato l’altro giorno in libreria e rileggerlo, sebbene in inglese, ha lo stesso potere, come allora anche oggi, di affascinarmi, emozionarmi.
Sapete ci sono scrittori che amano scopare con le parole. Te ne accorgi dalla passione esagerata, quell’orgia sentimentale d’inchiostro nero schizzato sulla carta di getto, al climax del piacere intellettuale.
What is literature è un libro sensuale. E, a mio parere, un capolavoro della critica e della prosa letteraria.La ragione per cui amo leggere Sartre consiste appunto nello stile, elegante, netto, attento, acuto, della scrittura.
In What is Literature, Sartre s’interroga circa il ruolo dello scrittore, impegnato, e della letteratura.
Questo un meraviglioso articolo, estratto dal Corriere della Sera
SARTRE Quel che resta dell’ intellettuale impegnato
Questa, una meravigliosa critica del libro, di Morgan Palmas
1libro1giorno: “Che cos’è la letteratura?” di Jean-Paul Sartre.
Sotto, l’introduzione e una parte del libro, tratta dal capitolo primo
A fine testo, il link tramite cui accedere alla lettura dell’intero volume, e ancora una critica, in inglese, taken from Philosophy Now | a magazine of ideas.

                                                          FOREWORD
“If you want to engage yourself,” writes a young imbecile, “what are you waiting for? Join the Communist Party.” A great writer who engaged himself often and disengaged himself still more often, but who has forgotten, said to me, “The worst artists are the most engaged. Look at the Soviet painters” An old critic gently complained,”You want to murder literature. Contempt for belles-lettres is spread out insolently all through your review.” A petty mind calls me pigheaded, which for him is evidently the highest insult. An author who barely crawled from one war to the other and whose name sometimes awakens languishing memories in old men accuses me of not being concerned with immortality; he knows, thank God, any number of people whose chief hope it is. In the eyes of an American hack-journalist the trouble with me is that I have not read Bergson or Freud; as for Flaubert, who did not engage himself, it seems that he haunts me like
remorse. Smart-alecks wink at me, “And poetry? And painting? And music? You want to engage them, too?”
And some martial spirits demand, “What’s it all about? Engaged literature? Well, it’s the old socialist realism, unless it’s a revival of populism, only more aggressive.” What nonsense. They read quickly,badly, and pass judgment before they have understood. So let’s begin all over. This doesn’t amuse anyone, neither you nor me. But we have to hit the nail on the head. And since critics condemn me in the name of literature without ever saying what they mean by that, the best answer to give them is to examine the art of writing without prejudice. What is writing? Why does one write? For whom? The fact is, it seems that nobody has ever asked himself these questions.
WHAT IS WRITING?
No, we do not want to “engage” painting, sculpture, and music too, or at least not in the same way. And why would we want to? When a writer of past centuries expressed an opinion about his craft, was his immediately asked to apply it to the other arts? But today it’s the thing to do to “talk painting” in the argot of the musician or the literary man and to “talk literature” in the argot of the painter, as if at bottom there were only one art which expressed itself indifferently in one or the other of these languages, like the Spinozistic substance which is adequately reflected by each of its attributes.
Doubtless, one could find at the origin of every artistic calling a certain undifferentiated choice which circumstances, education, and contact with the world particularized only later. Besides, there is no doubt that the arts of a period mutually influence each other and are conditioned by the same social factors. But those who want to expose the absurdity of a literary theory by showing that it is inapplicable to music must first prove that the arts are parallel.
Now, there is no such parallelism. Here, as everywhere, it is not only the form which differentiates, but the matter as well. And it is one thing to work with color and sound, and another to express oneself by means of words. Notes, colors, and forms are not signs. They refer to nothing exterior to themselves. To be sure, it is quite impossible to reduce them strictly to themselves, and the idea of a pure sound, for example, is an abstraction. As Merleau- Ponty has pointed out in The Phenomenology of Perception, there is no quality of sensation so bare that it is not penetrated with signification. But the dim little meaning which dwells within it, a light joy, a timid sadness, remains immanent or trembles about it like a heat mist; it is color or sound. Who can distinguish the green apple from its tart gaiety? And aren’t we already saying too much in naming “the tart gaiety of the green apple?” There is green, there is red, and that is all. They are things, they exist by themselves.
It is true that one might, by convention, confer the value of signs upon them. Thus, we talk of the language of flowers. But if, after the agreement, white roses signify “fidelity” to me, the fact is that I have stopped seeing them as roses. My attention cuts through them to aim beyond them at this abstract virtue. I forget them. I no longer pay attention to their mossy abundance, to their sweet stagnant odor. I have not even perceived them. That means that I have not behaved like an artist. For the artist, the color, the bouquet, the tinkling of the spoon on the saucer, are things, in the highest degree. He stops
at the quality of the sound or the form. He returns to it constantly and is enchanted with it. It is this color-object that he is going to transfer to his canvas, and the only modification he will make it undergo is that he will transform it into an imaginary object. He is therefore as far as he can be from considering colors and signs as a language.
What is valid for the elements of artistic creation is also valid for their combinations. The painter does not want to create a thing. And if he puts together red, yellow, and green, there is no reason for the ensemble to have a definable signification, that is, to refer particularly to another object. Doubtless this ensemble is also inhabited by a soul, and since there must have been motives, even hidden ones, for the painter to have chosen yellow rather than violet, it may be asserted that the objects thus created reflect his deepest tendencies. However, they never express his anger, his anguish, or his joy as do words or the expression of the face; they are impregnated with these emotions; and in order for them to have crept into these colors, which by themselves already had something like a meaning, his emotions get mixed up and grow obscure. Nobody can quite recognize them there.
Tintoretto did not choose that yellow rift in the sky above Golgotha to signify anguish or to provoke it. It is anguish and yellow sky at the same time. Not sky of anguish or anguished sky; it is an anguish become thing, an anguish which has turned into yellow rift of sky, and which thereby is submerged and impasted by the proper qualities of things, by their impermeability, their extension, their blindpermanence, their externality, and that infinity of relations which they maintain with other things.
That is, it is no longer readable. It is like an immense and vain effort, forever arrested half-way between sky and earth, to express what their nature keeps them from expressing.
Similarly, the signification of a melody if one can still speak of signification is nothing outside of the melody itself, unlike ideas, which can be adequately rendered in several ways. Call it joyous or somber.
It will always be over and above anything you can say about it. Not because its passions, which are perhaps at the origin of the invented theme, have, by being incorporated into notes, undergone a transubstantiation and a transmutation. A cry of grief is a sign of the grief which provokes it, but a song of grief is both grief itself and something other than grief. Or, if one wishes to adopt the existentialist vocabulary, it is a grief which does not exist any more, which is. But, you will say, suppose the painter does houses? That’s just it. He makes them, that is, he creates an imaginary house on the canvas and not a sign of a house. And the house which thus appears preserves all the ambiguity of real houses.
The writer can guide you and, if he describes a hovel, make it seem the symbol of social injustice and provoke your indignation. The painter is mute. He presents you with a hovel, that’s all. You are free to see in it what you like. That attic window will never be the symbol of misery; for that, it would have to be a sign, whereas it is a thing. The bad painter looks for the type. He paints the Arab, the Child, the Woman; the good one knows that neither the Arab nor the proletarian exists either in reality or on his canvas. He offers a workman, a certain workman. And what are we to think about a workman? An infinity of contradictory things. All thoughts and all feelings are there, adhering to the canvas in a state of
profound undifferentiation. It is up to you to choose. Sometimes, high-minded artists try to move us. They paint long lines of workmen waiting in the snow to be hired, the emaciated faces of the unemployed, battle fields. They affect us no more than does Greuze with his “Prodigal Son. 53 And that masterpiece, “The Massacre of Guernica, ‘does any one think that it won over a single heart to the Spanish cause?’ And yet something is said that can never quite be heard and that would take an infinity of words to express. And Picasso’s long harlequins, ambiguous and eternal, haunted with inexplicable meaning, inseparable from their stooping leanness and their pale diamond-shaped tights, are emotion become flesh, emotion which the flesh has absorbed as the blotter absorbs ink, and emotion which is unrecognizable, lost, strange to itself, scattered to the four corners of space and yet present to itself.
I have no doubt that charity or anger can produce other objects, but they will likewise be swallowed up; they will lose their name; there will remain only things haunted by a mysterious soul. One does not paint significations; one does not put them to music. Under these conditions, who would dare require that the painter or musician engage himself?
On the other hand, the writer deals with significations. Still, a distinction must be made. The empire of signs is prose; poetry is on the side of painting, sculpture, and music. I am accused of detesting it; the proof, so they say, is that Les Temps Modernes publishes very few poems.
On the contrary, this is proof that we like it. To be convinced, all one need do is take a look at contemporary production. “At least,critics say triumphantly, “you can’t even dream of engaging it.” Indeed. But why should I want to? Because it uses words as does prose? But it does not use them in the same way, and it does not even use them at all, I should rather say that it serves them. Poets are men who refuse to utilize language. Now, since the quest for truth takes place in and by language conceived as a certain kind of instrument, it is unnecessary to imagine that they aim to discern or expound the true. Nor do they dream of naming the world, and, this being the case, they name nothing at all, for naming implies a perpetual sacrifice of the name to the object named, or, as Hegel would say, the name is revealed as the inessential in the face of the thing which is essential. They do
not speak, neither do they keep still; it is something different. It has been said that they wanted to destroy the “word” by monstrous couplings, but this is false. For then they would have to be thrown into the midst of utilitarian language and would have had to try to retrieve words from it in odd little groups, as for example “horse” and “butter” by writing “horses of butter.”
Besides the fact that such an enterprise would require infinite time, it is not conceivable that one can keep one- self on the plane of the utilitarian project, consider words as instruments, and at the same contemplate taking their instrumentality away from them. In fact, the poet has withdrawn from language-instrument in a single movement. Once and for all he has chosen the poetic attitude which considers words as things and not as signs. For the ambiguity of the sign implies that one can penetrate it at will like a pane of glass and pursue the thing signified, or turn his gaze toward its reality and consider it as an object. The man who talks is beyond words and near the object, whereas the poet is on this side of them. For the former, they are domesticated; for the latter they are in the wild state. For the former, they are useful conventions, tools which gradually wear out and which one throws away when they are no longer serviceable; for the latter, they are natural things which sprout naturally upon the earth like grass and trees.
But if he dwells upon words, as does the painter with colors and the musician with sounds, that does not mean that they have lost all signification in his eyes. Indeed, it is signification alone which can give words their verbal unity. Without it they are frittered away into sounds and strokes of the pen. Only, it too becomes natural. It is no longer the goal which is always out of reach and which human transcendence is always aiming at, but a property of each term, analogous to the expression of a face, to the little sad or gay meaning of sounds and colors. Having flowed into the word, having been absorbed by its sonority
or visual aspect, having been thickened and defaced, it too is a thing, increate and eternal.
For the poet, language is a structure of the external world. The speaker is in a situation in language; he is invested with words. They are prolongations of his meanings, his pincers, his antennae, his eyeglasses. He maneuvers them from within; he feels them as if they were his body; he is surrounded by a verbal body which he is hardly aware of and which extends his action upon the world. The poet is outside of language. He sees words inside out as if he did not share the human condition, and as if he were first meeting the word as a barrier as he comes toward men. Instead of first knowing things by their name, it seems that first he has a silent contact with them, since, turning toward that other species of thing which for him is the word, touching them, testing them, palping them, he discovers in them a slight luminosity of their own and particular affinities with the earth, the sky, the water, and all created things.
Not knowing how to use them as a sign of an aspect of the world, he sees in the word the image of one of these aspects. And the verbal image he chooses for its resemblance to the willow tree or the ash tree is not necessarily the word which we use to designate these objects. As he is already on the outside, he considers words as a trap to catch a fleeing reality rather than as indicators which throw him out of himself into the midst of things. In short, all language is for him the mirror of the world. As a result, important changes take place in the internal economy of the word. Its sonority, its length, its masculine
or feminine endings, its visual aspect, compose for him a face of flesh which represents rather than expresses signification. Inversely, as the signification is realized, the physical aspect of the word is reflected within it, and it, in its turn, functions as an image of the verbal body. Like its sign, too, for it has lost its pre-eminence; since words, like things, are increate, the poet does not decide whether the former exist for the latter or vice-versa.
Taken from ‘What is Literature’, by Jean-Paul Sartre, 1949.
Translated from the French by Bernard Frechtman
via What Is Literature.
Sartre on Literature | Philosophy Now.

Jorge Luis Borges by Cameron Stewart

image credit http://heyoscarwilde.com/
“A book is more than a verbal structure or series of verbal structures; it is the dialogue it establishes with its reader and the intonation it imposes upon his voice and the changing and durable images it leaves in his memory. A book is not an isolated being: it is a relationship, an axis of innumerable relationships.
I am not sure that I exist, actually. I am all the writers that I have read, all the people that I have met, all the women that I have loved; all the cities I have visited.”
Jorge Luis Borges
(Buenos Aires, August 24, 1899 – Ginevra,June 14, 1986)


“But most of them believe that it is only by constraint they can get any good out of themselves, and so they live in a state of psychological distortion. It is his own self that each of them is most afraid of resembling. Each of them sets up a pattern and imitates it; he doesn’t even choose the pattern he imitates; he accepts a pattern that has been chosen for him. And yet I verily believe there are other things to be read in man. But people don’t dare to- they don’t dare to turn the page. Laws of imitation! Laws of fear, I call them. The fear of finding oneself alone- that is what they suffer from- and so they don’t find themselves at all. I detest such moral agoraphobia- the most odious of cowardice, I call it. Why, one always has to be alone to invent anything- but they don’t want to invent anything. The part in each of us that we feel is different from other people is just the part that is rare, the part that makes our special value- and that is the very thing people try to suppress. They go on imitating. And yet they think they love life.
[..]
“Do you know the reason why poetry and philosophy are nothing but dead-letter nowadays? It is because they have severed themselves from life. In Greece, ideas went hand in hand with life; so that the artist’s life itself was already a poetic realization, the philosopher’s life a putting into action of his philosophy; in this way, as both philosophy and poetry took part in life, instead of remaining unacquainted with each other, philosophy provided food for poetry, and poetry gave expression to philosophy- and the result was admirably persuasive. Nowadays beauty no longer acts; action no longer desires to be beautiful; and wisdom works in a sphere apart.”
Taken from The Immoralist,André Gide-1902

Djuna Barnes photographed by Berenice Abbott, Paris, 1926

“She was nervous about the future; it made her indelicate. She was one of the most unimportantly wicked women of her time –because she could not let her time alone, and yet could never be a part of it. She wanted to be the reason for everything and so was the cause of nothing. She had the fluency of tongue and action meted out by divine providence to those who cannot think for themselves. She was the master of the over-sweet phrase, the over-tight embrace.”
— Djuna Barnes (Nightwood)

NightWood

Au Café by Maurice Brange, Solita Solano and Djuna Barnes in Paris, 1922

“The unendurable is the beginning of the curve of joy.”

Djuna Barnes (12 June 1892 – 18 June 1982)

Questo di Djuna Barnes,Nightwood,pubblicato per la prima volta a Londra nel 1936,è considerato essere un romanzo cult non solo per il sensazionalismo della trama,contorta e con espliciti riferimenti all’omosessualità di Robin Vote,la protagonista,donna inquieta e alla tormentata ricerca di avventure,dapprima divenuta moglie di un barone “immaginario”,Felix Volkbein,investito del titolo nobiliare per vocazione al bello e romantico,amante del circo e del teatro,al quale darà un figlio,Guido,erede del presunto titolo di fantasia,poi,amante di una donna,Nora Flood,con la quale si trasferirà dagli Stati Uniti a Parigi,lasciando marito e figlio,quindi travolta da un turbinio bohemien di relazioni nella relazione,tra le braccia di Jenny Petherbridge,una 4 volte vedova che la terrà lontana da Nora e sarà all’origine della sua solitudine.
Quello a risaltare nel romanzo è lo stile gotico della prosa,il lirismo poetico e l’intricata trama rococò delle parafrasi,per questo,di difficile lettura-a volte comprensione,in inglese.
Centrale,nel romanzo, la figura del Dr. Matthew O’Connor,che si finge nel ruolo di dottore,in realtà un travestito,scampato alla Prima Guerra Mondiale,cui fantasia è quella di essere l’amante donna di un soldato,per buona parte del romanzo voce narrante,puntiglioso in cinismo,ironia e autocommiserazione.
Secondo la critica meno indulgente,il romanzo avrebbe avuto fortuna grazie all’entusiastica prefazione,del 1957,di T.S.Eliot,mentre proprio Eliot si fa scrupolo di sottolineare l’entusiasmo deriva tutto da spettacolarità,magnificenza,musicalità e ritmo della prosa
‘To say that NightWood will appeal primarily to readers of poetry does not mean that it is not a novel, but that it is so good a novel that only sensibilities trained on poetry can wholly appreciate it.
T.S.Eliot
Di seguito una parte del libro tratta dal quinto capitolo-‘Watchman,what of the night?’

T. Renner, Improvisation for Djuna Barnes (Nightwood #3)

‘Have you ever thought of the night?’ the doctor inquired with a little irony; he was extremely put out, having expected someone else, though his favorite topic, and one which he talked on whenever he had a chance, was the night. ‘Yes,’ said Nora, and sat down on the only chair.’I’ve thought of it, but thinking about does not help.’
‘Have you’,said the doctor,’ever thought of the peculiar polarity of times and times; and of sleep? Sleep the slain white bull? Well,I, doctor Mathew-Mighty-grain-of-salt-Dante-O’Connor, will tell you how the day and the night are related by their division. The very constitution of twilight is a fabulous reconstruction of fear, fear bottom-out and wrong side up. Every day is thought upon and calculated, but the night is not premeditated. The Bible lies the one way, but the night gown the other. The Night, “Beware of that dark door!”‘
‘I used to think’, Nora said, ‘that people just went to sleep, or if they did not go to sleep, that they were themselves, but now,’ she lit the cigarette and her hands trembled,’ now I see that the night does something to a person’s identity, even when asleep.’
‘Ah!’ exclaimed the doctor. ‘Let a man lay himself down in the Great Bed and his “identity” is no longer his own, his “trust” is not with him, and his “willingness” is turned over and is of another permission. His distress is wild and anonymous. He sleeps in a Town of Darkness, member of a secret brotherhood. He neither knows himself nor his outriders, he berserks a fearful dimension and dismounts, miraculously, in bed!
‘His heart is tumbling in his chest, a dark place! Though some go into the night as a spoon breaks easy water, others go head foremost against a new connivance; their horns make a dry crying,like the wings of the locust,late come to their shedding.
‘Have you thought of the night, now, in other times,in foreign countries- in Paris? When the streets were gall high with things you wouldn’t have done for a dare’s sake, and the way it was then; with the pheasants’ necks and the goslings’ beaks dangling against the hocks of the gallants,and not a pavement in the place, and everything gutters for miles and miles, and a stench to it that plucked you by the nostrils and you were twenty leagues out! The cries telling the price of wine to such good effect that the dawn saw good clerks full of piss and vinegar, and blood-letting in side streets where some wild princess in a night shift of velvet howled under a leech; not to mention the palaces of Nymphenburg echoing back to Vienna with the night trip of late kings letting water into plush cans and fine woodwork, no, ‘he said looking at her sharply, ‘I can see you have not! You should, for the night has been going on for a long time.’
She said, ‘I’ve never known it before- I thought I did, but it was not knowing at all.’
‘Exactly,’ said the doctor,’ you think you knew, and you hadn’t even shuffled the cards- now the nights of the period are not the nights of another. Neither are the nights of one city the nights of another. Let us take Paris for an instance, and France for a fact. Ah,Mon Dieu! La nuit effroyable! La nuit, qui est une immense plaine, et le coeur qui est une petit extremite! Ah, good Mother mine, Notre Dame-de-bonne-garde! Intercede for me now, while yet I explain what I am coming to! French nights are those which all nations seek the world over- and have you noticed that? Ask Doctor Mighty O’Connor; the reason the doctor knows everything is because he’s been everywhere at the wrong time and has now become anonymous.’
‘But,’ Nora said,’I never thought of the night as a life at all- I’ve never lived it- why did she?’
‘I’m telling you of French nights at the moment,’the doctor went on,’and why we all go into them. The night and the day are two travels, and the French -gut-greedy and fist-tight though they often are- alone leave testimony of the two in the dawn, we tear up the one for the sake of the other, not so the Fremch.
‘And why is that, because they think of the two as one continually, and keep it before their mind as the monks who repeat,”Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy upon me!” Some twelve thousand or more times a twenty-four hours, so that it is finally in the head, good or bad,without saying a word. Bowing down from the waist, the world over they go, that they may resolve about the Great Enigma- as a relative about a cradle- and the Great Enigma can’t be thought of unless you turn the head the other way, and come upon thinking with the eye that you fear, which is called the back of the head, it’s the one we use when looking at the beloved in a darl place, and she is long time coming from a great way. We swoon with the thickness of our own tongue when we say,” I Love You”, as in the eye of a child lost a long while will be found the contraction of that distance- a child going small in the claws of a beast, coming furiously up the furlongs of the iris.
We are but skin about a wind,with muscles clenched against mortality. We sleep in a long reproachful dust against ourselves. We are full to the gorge with our own names for misery. Life, the pasture in which the night feeds and prunes the cud that nourishes us to despair. Life, the permission to know death.We were created that the earth might be made sensible of her inhuman taste; and love that the body might be so dear that even the earth should roar with it. Yes, we who are full to the gorge with misery, should look well around, doubting everything seen, done, spoken, precisely because we have a word for it, and not its alchemy.
‘To think of the arcon it is necessary to become the tree, And the tree of night is the hardest tree to mount, the dourest tree to scale, the most difficult of branch, the most febrile to the touch, and sweats a resin and drips a pitch against the palm that computation has not gambled. Gurus, who, I trust you know, are Indian teachers, expect you to contemplate the acorn ten years at a stretch, and if, in that time, you no wiser about the nut, you are not very bright, and that may be the only certainty with which you will come away, which is a post-graduate melancholy- for no man can find a greater truth than his kidney will allow. So I, Doctor Matthew Mighty O’Connor, ask you to think of the night the day long, and of the day the night through, or at some reprieve of the brain it will come upon heavily- an engine stalling itself upon your chest, halting its wheels against your heart; unless you have made a roadway for it.
taken from Nightwood,by Djuna Barnes,1936
Tony Renner, Artist.

Vanitas-Fernando Vicente (Corazonada)

they call it bipolar disorder, I name it ‘Werther Syndrome
,such a romantic disease

‘Witness, Heaven, how often I lie down in my bed with a wish, and even a hope, that I may never awaken again. And in the morning, when I open my eyes, I behold the sun once more, and am wretched. If I were whimsical, I might blame the weather, or an acquaintance, or some personal disappointment, for my discontented mind; and then this insupportable load of trouble would not rest entirely upon myself. But, alas! I feel it too sadly. I am alone the cause of my own woe, am I not? Truly, my own bosom contains the source of all my sorrow, as it previously contained the source of all my pleasure. Am I not the same being who once enjoyed an excess of happiness, who, at every step, saw paradise open before him, and whose heart was ever expanded toward the whole world? And this heart is now dead, no sentiment can revive it; my eyes are dry; and my senses, no more refreshed by the influence of soft tears, wither and consume my brain. I suffer much, for I have lost the only charm of life: that active, sacred power which created worlds around me, — it is no more. When I look from my window at the distant hills, and behold the morning sun breaking through the mists, and illuminating the country around, which is still wrapped in silence, whilst the soft stream winds gently through the willows, which have shed their leaves; when glorious nature displays all her beauties before me, and her wondrous prospects are ineffectual to extract one tear of joy from my withered heart, I feel that in such a moment I stand like a reprobate before heaven, hardened, insensible, and unmoved. Oftentimes do I then bend my knee to the earth, and implore God for the blessing of tears, as the desponding labourer in some scorching climate prays for the dews of heaven to moisten his parched corn.
But I feel that God does not grant sunshine or rain to our importunate entreaties. And oh, those bygone days, whose memory now torments me! why were they so fortunate? Because I then waited with patience for the blessings of the Eternal, and received his gifts with the grateful feelings of a thankful heart.’
Taken from ‘The Sorrows of Young Werther‘ by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
Fernando Vicente Vanitas: Vanitas – Corazonada.

This piece represents the perpetual conflict between the Id and the Ego. The bass, repetitive, shows the selfishness of the Id constantly trying to feed its basic desires. The right hand depicts the delicacy, fragility and humanity of the Ego. At 2:14, the Id starts to seek different, darker desires. The Ego, resistant, will not so easily let the Id satisfy his evil desires and takes action against it. The battle starts. The ego keeps refusing and fights for goodness.
The battle leads to a peaceful negotiation at 3:02. The Id, sure of itself, lets the Ego get tired of exposing his meaningless arguments. The Id knows it will always win. The Ego finally runs out of arguments at 3:25. The Id shows its power by crushing the Ego. At 3:50, the Ego understood and will not fool around with the Id anymore. First theme comes back, life coming back to its old, usual routine.
(Edou467,you tube)

Lo.Lee.Ta

Gabriel Smy by flickr

“Lolita,light of my fire,fire of my loins. My sin,my soul. Lo-lee-ta: the tip of the tongue taking a trip of three steps down the plate to tap, at three,on the teeth.Lo.Lee.Ta.”

Ci sono libri dei quali si teme la lettura; le ragioni sono personali,i timori molto spesso infondati.Per molti anni ho voluto,intenzionalmente,tenermi alla larga dagli esistenzialisti per averne letto il manifesto di Sartre(motivo sufficiente a spiegare le ragioni di questa scelta),da Samuel Beckett, William Faulkner,Jorge Luis Borges-senza nessuna ragione in particolare(se non per il fatto di non ritenermi all’altezza della lettura e alla partecipazione critica ed empatica delle idee).
Ricordo di un libro,letto in adolescenza,di Luciano De Crescenzo-credo Panta Rei,nel quale lo scrittore racconta di una donna della quale si innamora perchè in grado di poter citare Finnegans Wake a memoria; inutile nascondere sono stata intrigata da questa sfida e ho desiderato potervi riuscire anch’io (sebbene consapevole quello di James Joyce un capolavoro della letteratura assai esclusivo,cui lettura è riservata a quei pochi in grado di smisurata conoscenza letteraria-che io non ho).
Forse un giorno.Il bello della letteratura sta proprio nel consentire a ciascuno,attraverso la lettura,di esplorare diversi,differenti,stati dell’essere a cavallo la pluralità di personaggi e storie,apparentemente diversi,fondamentalmente unici e peculiari l’uomo e la vita, i dubbi,le tensioni ideali, i moti dello spirito,le piccole battaglie interiori,gli armistizi dell’anima.Molti sottovalutano il potere indagativo,rivelativo,conoscitivo della letteratura,e riducono la lettura a perditempo,gli scrittori a giocolieri del verbo,mentre è alla letteratura e agli scrittori che bisogna riconoscere il merito d’avere esemplificato il temperamento di un’epoca,descritto l’umore della storia,ponderato patemi esistenziali,indugiato alternative,dal punto di vista intellettuale e sentimentale,emotivo e descrittivo,metafisico e reale.
Vorrà suonare strano,ma c’è un romanzo che,per qualche ragione,non ho mai avuto il coraggio leggere finora e questo romanzo è Lolita di Vladimir Nabokov.Probabilmente perchè suggestionata dalla critica sbrigativa e spicciola che se n’è sempre fatta per schedulare la trama entro uno steriotipo un po’accattivante/un po’ commiserativo-forse,o forse perchè insofferente all’idea di un uomo di mezza età attratto in maniera morbosa da una-appena dodicenne-ragazzina. In realtà,per comprendere le ragioni che fanno di Lolita un capolavoro meraviglioso della letteratura,e i motivi per cui lo stesso è considerato essere uno dei migliori classici del ventesimo secoli,è necessario leggerlo in inglese,perchè è soltanto in inglese, a mio parere, che questo romanzo si rivela in tutto il suo incredibile fascino narrativo; c’è niente di più misurato e sentimentale della prosa, del piglio visionario a contorno delle immagini a onore della ninfetta Lolita suggerite da Humbert.
Quello che secondo me è importante sottolineare per rendere onore al romanzo,non è tanto la trama( uomo attempato che si innamora di una dodicenne smaliziata,personificazione del Complesso di Elettra) quanto la psicologia di questo amore. Humbert si innamora di Lolita perchè è tramite Lolita che Humbert ritorna ragazzino; il richiamo,in questo romanzo,è a quell’amore smaliziato e puro della prima infanzia,poi dell’adolescenza,che poco ha a che fare con quello adulto,spesso controverso, difficoltoso, impegnativo, cerebrale,complesso. L’amore di Humbert per Lolita è un amore semplice,fatto ancora di sensazioni,di ricordi legati alla prima infanzia, al sapore, all’odore delle cose,alla primordialità degli istinti,d’amore,di passione,di pudore,di paure,di sussulti e nostalgie.
Lolita, rappresenta per Humbert l’incarnazione di Annabel,primo amore dell’uomo,morta in giovane età, e insieme,la possibilità di riamarla,averla vicina,rivivere quell’amore mancato.Il riferimento è spicciolo,palese,reso già al terzo capitolo,con naturalezza e quasi pudore,tatto e malinconia.
A mio avviso frainteso da Kubrick in una prima rappresentazione cinematogrfica del 1962, merita la seppure smielata e pietosa interpretazione di Adrianne Lyne,del 1992.
A seguire il terzo e quarto capitolo
Cap 3
Annabel was,like the writer, of mixed parentage: half English, half Dutch, in her case. I remember her features far less distinctly today that I did a few years ago, before I knew Lolita. There are two kinds of visual memory : one when you skillfully recreate an image in the laboratory of your mind, with your eyes open (and then I see Annabel in such general terms as: “honey-colored skin,””thin arms,””brown bobbed hair,””long lashes,””big bright mouth”); and the other when you instantly evoke,with shut eyes, on the darl innerside of your eyelids, the objective, absolutely optical replica of a beloved face, a little ghost in natural colors(and this is how I see Lolita).
Let me therefore primly limit myself, in describing Annabel, to saying she was a lovely child a few months my junior. Her parents were old friends of my aunt’s and, as stuff as she. They had rented a villa not far from Hotel Mirama. Bald brow Mr.Leight and fat, powdered Mrs.Leight (born Vanessa van Ness). How I loathed them! At first, Annabel and I talked of peripheral affairs. She kept lifting handfuls of fine sand and letting it pour through her fingers. Our brains were turned the way those of intelligent European preadolescents were in our day and set, and I doubt if much individual genius should be assigned to our interest in the plurality of inhabited worlds, competitive tennis,infinity,solipsism and so on. The softness and fragility of baby animals caused us the same intense pain. She wanted to be a nurse in some famished Asiatic country; I wanted to be a famous spy.
All at once we were madly,crumsily,shamelessly, agonizingly in love with each other; hopelessly, I should add,because that frenzy of mutual possession might have been assuaged only by our actually imbibing and assimilating every particle of each other’s soul and flesh; but there we were, unbale even to mate as slum children would have so easily found an opportunity to do. After one wild attempt we made to meet at night in her garden (of which more later), the only privacy we were allowed was to be out of earshot but not out of sight on the populous part of the plage. There, on the soft sand, a few feet away from our eleders, we would sprawl all morning, in a petrified paroxysm of desire,and take advantage of every blessed quirk in space and time to touch each other; her hand, half-hidden in the sand, would creep toward me, its slender brown fingers sleepwalking nearer and nearer; then, her opalescent knee would start on a long cautious journey; sometimes a chance rampart built by younger children granted us sufficient concealment to graze each other’s salty lips; these incomplete contacts drove our healthy and inexperienced young bodies to such a state of exasperation that not even the cold blue water, under which we still clawed at each other,could bring relief.
Among some treasures I lost during the wanderings of my adult years, there was a snapshot taken by my aunt which showed Annabel, her parents and the staid, elderly,lame gentleman, a Dr.Cooper, who that same summer courted my aunt, grouped around a table in a sidewalk café. Annabel did not come out well, caught as she was in the act of bending over her chocolat glacé, and her thin bare shoulders and the parting in the hair were about all that could be identified ( as I remember that picture) amid the sunny blur into which her lost loveliness graded; but I, sitting somewhat apart from the rest, came out with a kind of dramatic conspicuousness; a moody, beetle-browed boy in a dark sport hirt and well-tailored white shorts, his legs crossed, sitting in profile, looking away. That photograph was taken on the last day of our fatal summer and just a few minutes before we made our second and final attempt to thwart fate. Under the flimsiest of pretexts ( this was our very last chance, and nothing really mattered) we escaped from the café to the beach, and found a desolate stretch of sand, and there, in the violet shadow of some red rocks forming a kind of cave, had a brief session of avid caresses, with somebody’s lost pair of sunglasses for only witness. I was on my knees, and on the point of possessing my darling, when two bearded bathers, the old man of the sea and his brother, came out of the sea with exclamations of ribald encouragement, and four months later she died of typhus in Corfu.
                                                                         Cap 4
I leaf again and again through these miserable memories, and keep asking myself, was it then, in the glitter of that remote summer, that the rift in my life began; or was my excessive desire for that child only the first evidence of an inherent singularity? When I try to analyze my own cravings, motives, actions and so forth, I surrender to a sort of retrospective imagination which feeds the analytic faculty with boundless alternatives and which causes each visualized route to fork and re-fork without end in the maddeningly complex prospect of my past. I am convinced, however, that in a certain magic and fateful way Lolita began with Annabel.
I also know that the shock of Annabel’s death consolidated the frustration of that nightmare summer, made of it a permanent obstacle to any further romance throughout the cold years of my youth. The spiritual and the physical had been blended in us with a perfection that must remain incomprehensible to the matter-of-fact, crude,standard-brained youngsters of today. Long after her death I felt her thoughts floating through mine. Long before we met we had had the same dreams. We compared notes. We found strange affinities. The same June of the same year (1919) a stray canary had fluttered into her house and mine, in two widely separated countries. Oh, Lolita, had you loved me thus!
I have reserved for the conclusion of my “Annabel” phase the account of our unsuccessful first tryst. One night, she managed to deceive the vicious vigilance of her family. In a nervous and slender-leaved mimosa grove at the back of their villa we found a perch on the ruins of a low stone wall. Through the darkness and the tender trees we could see the arabesques of lighted windows which, touched up by the colored inks od sensitive memory, appear to me now like playing cards- presumably because a bridge game was keeping the enemy busy. She trembled and twitched as I kissed the corner of her parted lips and the hot lobe of her ear. A cluster of stars palely glowed above us, between the silhouettes of long thin leaves; that vibrant sky seemed as naked as she was under her light frock. I saw her face in the sky, strangely distinct, as if it emitted a faint radiance of its own. Her legs,her lovely live legs, were not too close together, and when my hand located what it sought, a dreamy and eerie expression, half-pleasure,half-pain, came over those childish features. She sat a little higher than I,and whenever in her solitary ecstasy she was led to kiss me, her head would bend with a sleepy, soft,drooping movement that was almost woeful, and her bare knees caught and compressed my wrist,and slackened again; and her quivering mouth, distorted by the acridity of some mysterious potion, with a sibilant intake of breath came near to my face. She would try to relieve the pain of love by first roughly rubbing her dry lips against mine; then my darling would draw away with a nervous toss of her hair, and then again come darkly near and let me feed on her open mouth, while with a generosity that was ready to offer her everything, my heart, my throat, my entrails,I gave her to hold in her awkward fist the scepter of my passion.
I recall the scent of some kind of toilet powder- I believe she stole it from her mother’s Spanish maid- a sweetish, lowly, musky perfume. It mingled with her own biscuity odor, and my senses were suddenly filled to the brim; a sudden commotion in a nearby bush prevented them from overflowing- and as we drew away from each other, and with aching veins attended to what was probably a prowling cat, there came from the house her mother’s voice calling her, with a rising frantic note- and Dr.Cooper ponderously limped out into the garden. But That mimosa grove-the haze of stars,the tingle,the flame,the honey-dew, and the ache remained with me,and that little girl with her seaside limbs and ardent tongue haunted me ever since- until at last,twenty-four years later, I broke her spell incarnating her in another.
Taken from Lolita,by Vladimir Nabokov,1955
The Reading Life: Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov.

Clafoutis Grandmère à la Virginia Woolf

A proposito di cibo,l’altro giorno mi è capitato trovare un ricettario davvero speciale che ha la particolarità di riunire in un unico volumetto di appena 130 pagine la storia della letteratura contemporanea raccontata in 17 ricette.Il libro-Kafka’s Soup-mette ai fornelli 17 scrittori contemporanei ai quali Mark Crick,autore del libro,chiede di presentare e cucinare un piatto ciascuno.
Queste le ricette
-Lamb with Dill Sauce à la Raymond Chandler
-Tarragon Eggs à la Jane Austin
-Quick Miso Soup à la Franz Kafka
-Rich Chocolate Cake à la Irvine Welsh
Tiramisù à la Marcel Proust
-Coq Au Vin à la Gabriel Garcia Marquez
-Mushroom Risotto à la John Steinbeck
-Boned Stuffed Poussins à la Marquis de Sade
-Fenkata à la Homer
-Vietnamese Chicken à la Graham Greene
-Sole A La Dieppoise à la Jorge Luis Borges
Cheese On Toast à la Harold Pinter
-Onion Tart à la Geoffrey Chaucer
-Rosti à la Thomas Mann
-Moules Mariniere à la Italo Calvino
-Plum Pudding à la Charles Dickens

Questa la mia ricetta preferita
Clafoutis Grandmère à la Virginia Woolf

500 g cherries
3 eggs
150 g flour
150 g sugar
10 g yeast,prepared in warm water if necessary
100g butter
1 cup of milk

She placed the cherries in a buttered dish and looked out of the window. The children were racing across the lawn,Nicholas already between the clumps of red-hot-pokers,turning to wait for the others.Looking back at the cherries,that would not be pitted,red polka dots on white,so bright and jolly,their little core of hardness invisible,in pity she thought of Mrs Sorley,that poor woman with no husband and so many mouths to feed,Mrs Sorley who knew the hard core but not the softness; and she placed the dish of cherries to one side.
Gently she melted the butter,transparent and smooth,oleaginous and clear,clarified and golden,and mixed it with the sugar in a large bowl.Should she have made something traditionally English?(Involuntarily,piles of cake rose before her eyes).Of course the recipe was French,from her grandmother.English cooking was an abomination: it was boiling cabbages in water until they were liquid; it was roasting meat until it was shrivelled; it was cutting out the flavours with a blunt knife.
She added an egg,pausing to look up at the jacmanna,its colour so vivid against the whitewashed wall. Would it not be wonderful if Nicholas became a great artist, all life stretching before him, a blank canvas,bright coloured shapes gradually becoming clearer? There would be lovers, triumphs, the colors darkening,work,loneliness,struggle.She wished he could stay as he was now, they were so happy; the sky was so clear,they would never be as happy again.With great serenity she added an egg, for was she not descended from that very noble,French house whose female progeny brought their arts and energy, their sense of colour and shape,wit and poise to the sluggish English? She added an egg, whose yellow sphere ,falling into the domed bowl,broke and poured,like Vesuvius erupting into the mixture, like the sun setting into a butter sea. Its broken shell left two uneven domes on the counter, and all the poverty and all the suffering of Mrs Sorley had turned to that,she thought.
When the flour came it was a delight, a touch left on her cheek as she brushed aside a wisp of hair, as if her beauty bored her and she wanted to be like other people, insignificant, sitting in a window’s house with her pen and paper, writing notes, understanding the poverty, revealing the social problems (she folded the flour into the mixture). She was so commanding (not tyrannical, not domineering; she should not have minded what people said), she was like an arrow set on a target. She would have liked to build a hospital, but how? For now, this clafoutis for Mrs Sorley and her children (she added the yeast, prepared in warm water).
The yeast would cause the mixture to rise up into the air like a column of energy, nurtured by the heat of the oven, until the arid kitchen knife of the male, cutting mercilessly, plunged itself into the dome, leaving it flat and exhausted.
Little by little she added the milk, stopping only when the mixture was fluid and even, smooth and homogenous, lumpless and liquid, pausing to recall her notes on the iniquity of the English diary system. She looked up: what demon possessed him, her youngest, playing on the lawn, demons and angels? Why should it change, why could they not stay as they were, never ageing? ( She poured the mixture over the cherries in the dish.) The dome was now become a circle, the cherries surrounded by the yeast mixture that would cradle and cushion them, the yeast mixture that surrounded them all, the house, the lawn, the asphodels, that devil Nicholas running past the window, and she put it in a hot oven. In thirty minutes it would be ready.

Recipe taken from “Kafka‘s Soup”-A complete History of Literature in 17 recipes
written and illustrated by Mark Crick

Blood and Guts in High School

Kathy Acker

Blood and Guts in High School” della scrittrice americana Kathy Acker (1947-1997) è considerato essere il libro più rappresentativo della letteratura punk(in inglese punklit o punk lit)genere letterario nato dalla sottocultura punk esplosa in Inghilterra,America e Australia nella seconda metà degli anni’70.
Il genere è maggiormente conosciuto negli ambienti punk e comprende una stringata lista di autori che hanno,in seguito,influenzato letteratura cyberpunktransgressive fiction,genere letterario confinato all’emarginazione per via delle tematiche anti-sociali in cui i protagonisti infrangono il rigore delle leggi deturpando violentemente ogni codice morale e taboo (basti pensare a”A Clockwork Orange” dello scrittore Anthony Burgess,libro del 1962 ambientato a Londra,riarrangiato per il cinema nel 1971 da Stanley Kubrick).
Più diffusa della letteratura punk è la poesia punk,cui poeti sono spesso musicisti;fra questi Patty Smith,Richard Hell(che ebbe grande influenza sui Sex Pistols),

John Cooper Clarke

John Cooper Clarke(d’ispirazione alle maggiori punk bands inglesi come i Joy Division,i Buzzcocks,Elvis Costello,Siouxsie and the Banshees,New Order,i Sex Pistols),Steven Wells(meglio conosciuto come feroce giornalista musicale che poeta punk) e Jim Carroll,poeta e scrittore,da cui autobiografiaThe Basketball Diaries,del 1978,è stato tratto un film onomino nel 1995,con Leonardo DiCaprio.
Kathy Acker,autrice di “Blood and Guts in High School”è forse tra le più note scrittrici bohemian della letteratura punk,fortemente influenzata dalla filosofia,William S. Burroughs(scrittore americano e propulsore della Beat Generation),David Antin(poeta americano),la Teoria Critica Francese (che fa principalmente perno sulle teorie economiche marxiste),la pornografia(cosa per cui la Acker si guadagnerà il titolo di sex positive feminist).I suoi romanzi raccontano di violenza,donne controverse in delicato rapporto con gli uomini,la società,l’amore,l’affermazione e indipendenza sessuale.
(Kathy Acker è anche autrice di un saggio sulla vita e la morte di Pier Paolo PasoliniMy death,my life,by Pier Paolo Paolini).
Blood and Guts in High School,che sto leggendo,è stato scritto nei primi anni del 1970(nel’78 un primo copyright),e pubblicato soltanto nel 1984.La storia racconta di una bambina americana di dieci anni,Janey Smith,che è stata cresciuta in Messico ma ancora giovane verrà spedita dal padre,con cui vive una relazione sessuale,nella città di New York (perchè questi sta frequentando una donna.La madre di Janey sarà morta qualche anno dopo la nascita della bambina).L’incesto tra il padre e la figlia viene raccontato dalla Acker con voluta ironia e mai con fare pietistico(immancabile,tra le righe,la denuncia all’immoralità blasfema del padre,simbolo della decadenza sociale). Janey è chiaramente una bambina in crisi che vede il padre ora come amico e amante,ora come un carnefice verso il quale prova una violenta gelosia immancabilmente scaturitale dal rapporto di questi con una donna,odiosa rivale che insinuerà in lei il tarlo dell’abbandono(tant’è il padre si libererà di lei facendola trasferire a New York appunto).
Il libro,o almeno nella versione che ho,la prima del 1978,è corredato di illustrazioni e ricco di poesie al suo interno,poesie scritte di pugno dalla stessa Janey in cui è evidente il disagio della bambina,il riflesso delle proprie paure,il bisogno di evasione,l’amore infantile che la lega al padre misto al senso di repulsione.
La trama della storia vuole intenzionalmente mettere in risalto l’ambiguità del sentimento americano votato al cattolicesimo e al patriottismo di contro all’abuso di questo sentimento di facciata che si macchia di ripugnanza nelle azioni più abiette e contro ogni morale.
Sotto una parte del libro in cui Janey,che ha già lasciato il Messico per New York,fa riferimento a “La Lettera Scarlatta”,classico della letteratura americana del 1850,dello scrittore Nathaniel Hawthorne,ambientato in Nuova Zelanda durante gli anni del Puritanesimo(diciassettesimo secolo);per chi non lo avesse ancora letto,La Lettera Scarlatta verte sui temi della legalità,il peccato,la colpa,e racconta la storia di Hester Prynne,macchiatasi di aduleterio,condannata ed emarginata dalla società per aver avuto un bambino di cui si rifiuterà rivelare il padre(la lettera scarlatta si riferisce a un marchio,una ‘A’,di fuoco al petto che varrà a indicarla come una peccatrice da cui stare lontani. Hester Prynne verrà accusata proprio dall’uomo,il reverendo della chiesa locale,che l’ha ingravidata e di cui non può rivelare il nome).Per molti versi e per questo rimarcato senso della colpa, Hester Prynne ricorda molto la Katjuša Maslova di Tolstoj nel romanzo Resurrezione(di cui parlerò presto),condannata di un crimine alla corte in cui presiede proprio colui che fu responsabile della sua rovina e miseria,sebbene-diversamente da Nathaniel Hawthorne-Tolstoj fa di questo romanzo storico e sentimentale motivo di espiazione e redenzione.
Di seguito un brano tratto dal romanzo;nella prima parte la Acker approfitta de La lettera scarlatta per sottolineare come tutto,a questo mondo,comprese le idee,sia compromesso da un’unica merce di scambio e valore-il denaro.Di significato la parte finale in cui Janey fa riferimento alla possibilità di amare un uomo che l’ama e di quanto questo-farci l’amore,averlo accanto-significhi per lei.La Acker pone la faccenda in termini strettamente sessuali,alludendo specialmente alla fisicità e carnalità di quest’uomo ipotetico che desidera(Janey ne desidera il cazzo,detta in soldoni).Il riferimento è puramente sessuale e certamente-volutamente provocatorio,mentre trovo proprio in questa carnalità,tanto schietta quanto sincera,quanto di più  romantico e puro è possibile pensare dell’amore.

Sessualità,ambiguità,provocazione,denuncia.

-We don’t have a clue what it is to be male or female, or if there are intermediate genders. Male and female might be fields which overlap into androgyny or different kinds of sexual desires. But because we live in a Western, patriarchal world, we have very little chance of exploring these gender possibilities-Kathy Acker

A book report
We all live in prison.Most of us don’t know we live in prison.
A throng of bearded men,in sad-colored garments,were assembled in front of a gaol.They were waiting for a woman named Hester Prynne to walk out of the gaol.
All of them even the hippies hated Hester Prynne because she was a freak and because she couldn’t be anything else and because she wouldn’t be quiet and hide her freakness like a bloody Kotex and because she was as wild and insane as they come.
Long ago,when Hawthorne wrote The Scarlet Letter,he was living in a society that was more socially repressive and less materialist that ours.He wrote about a wild woman.This woman challenged the society by f****** a guy who wasn’t her husband and having his kid.The society punished her by sending her to gaol,making her wear a red ‘A’ for adultery right on her tits,and excommunicating her.
Nowadays most women f*** around ‘cause f****** doesn’t mean anything.All anybody cares about today is money.The woman who lives her life according to nomaterialistic ideals is the wild antisocial monster;the more openly she does so,the more everyone hates her.
Women today don’t get put in gaol for being bloody pieces of Kotex-only streetwalkers and junkies land up in gaol,gaol-and-law now being a business like any other business-they just starve to death and everyone hates them.Physical and mental murder help each other out.
The society in which I am living is totally fucked up.I don’t know what to do.I am just one person and I’m not very good at anything.I don’t want to live in hell my whole life.If I knew how this society got so fucked-up,if we all knew,maybe we’d have a way of destroying hell.I think that’s what Hawthorne thought.He set his story in the time of the fist Puritans: the first people who came to the northern North American shore and created the society Hawthorne lived in,the society that created the one we live in today.
Another reason Hawthorne set his story in the past (in lies) was ‘cause he couldn’t say directly all the wild things he wanted to say.He was living in a society to which ideas and writing still mattered.In ‘The Custom House’,the introduction to The Scarlet Letter,Hawthorne makes sure he tells us the story of The Scarlet Letter occurred long time ago and has nothing to do with anyone who’s now living. After all,Hawthorne had to protect himself so he could keep writing.Right now I can speak as directly as I want ‘cause no one gives a s*** about writing and ideas,all anyone cares about is money.Even if one person in Boise,Idaho,gave half-a-s***,the only book Mr Idaho can get his hands on is a book the publishers,or rather the advertisers(‘cause all businessmen are now advertisers) have decided will net half-a-million in movie and/or TV rights. A book that can be advertised.Define culture that way.
You see,things are much better nowadays than in those old dark repressed Puritan days:anybody can say anything today;progress does occur.
It’s possible to hate and despise and detest yourself ‘cause you’ve been in prison so long.It’s possible to get angrier and angrier.It’s possible to hate everything that isn’t wild and free. A girl is wild who likes sensual things: doesn’t want to give up things being alive: rolling in black fur on top of skin ice-cold water iron crinkly leaves seeing three brown branches against branches full of leaves against dark green leaves through this the misty grey wanders in garbage on the streets up to your knees and unshaven men lying under cocaine piled on top of cocaine colours colours everything happening! one thing after another thing!
…you keep on going,there are really no rules: it doens’t matter to you whether you live or die,but every now and then there’s a kind of territory and you might get stuck that’s OK too if you really don’t give a s***,but who doens’t give a s***! Loving everything and rolling in it like it’s all gooky s*** goddamnit make a living grow up no you don’t want to do that.
The Massachussetts seacoast in the middle of the seventeenth century looked the same as it does now:WILD. Trees and bushes an weeds and wind and water.Trees and bushes and wind and water are always moving every moment the whole world is a totally different world air rides over shivering water so those water areas shiver harder grow darker below the water hit the sharper rocks harder splash! foam appears. And disappears.
My father told me the day after he tried to rape me that security is the mos important thing in the world.I told him sex is the most important thing in the world and asked him why he didn’t f*** my mother. In Hawthorne’s and our materialistic society the acquisition of money is the main goal ‘cause money gives the power to make change stop,to make the universe die; so everything in the materialistic society is the opposite of what it really is.Good is bad. Crime is the only possible behavior.
Hetster Prynne,Hawthorne tells us ,had wanted to be a good girl. I remember I wanted to be a good girl for my father.Her loving husband sent her to the New World to prepare a way for him. Traveling in those days was dangerous –there were no roads- and her husband never showed up. Two years passed.Hester was being a good dead girl. Suddenly a little unsuspected ecstatic crazy-making overtaking wildness like a big King Viper spreading his hood,rising up and spreading overtaking everything, that’s what love’s like,snake-insane rose up in Hester she f*****. Pregnancy made her wildness or evil (that’s the religious word for wildness) public. The child was the sign of her nastiness and disintegration and general insanity.
Hawthorne gives us a description of motherhood in the fucked-up society: All the people around Hester hate her and despise her and think she’s total freak. The kid’s beyond human law and human consideration. How do you feel about yourself when every human being you hear and see and smell every day of your being thinks you’re worse than garbage? Your conception of who you are has always, at least partially, depended on how the people around you behaved towards you. You sense the people around you aren’t right: what you did, your need, you weren’t defying them to defy them, it was your need, was OK. You don’t know. How can you know anything? How can you know anything? You begin to go crazy.
Hester’s just stepping out of prison ,out of prison, but this is worse: huge staring eyes,whispers,her child laughed at, mocked, she’s a woman, this isn’t reality, the eyes turn around and around she can’t be who she is, when suddenly she sees her long-lost husband.
This husband is now called Roger Chillingworth.
The cops are screaming at Hester: ‘You hideous woman.’ ‘Look at the hideous woman.’ ‘Who did the hideous woman f***?’ ‘You’re such a nice hideous woman,we know you didn’t mean to do the tremendously horrible thing you did,just pretty please tell us who you f*****. We know what’ll make you feel better.’
Hester’s husband’s a scholar. A scholar is a top cop ‘cause he defines the roads by which people live so they won’t get in trouble and so society will survive. A scholar is a teacher. Teachers replace living dangerous creating whit dead ideas and teach these ideas as the history and meaning of the world. Teachers torture kids . Teachers teach you intricate ways of saying one thing and doing something else.
The top cops start laughing at and mocking Hester and telling the crowd to laugh at and mock Hester ‘cause she won’t tell them who her baby’s father is. Hester’s acting out of love.
This husband, being a teacher, is a zombie and a ghoul. He sees his wife being tortured by lots of people, he sees his wife in pain and agony, he sees his wife nursing a strange kid,and he doesn’t feel anything. He just wonders, intellectually wonders, who the kid’s father is.
A final scene focuses this swirling horror. The young handsome Reverend who everyone thinks is gentle, honest, and kind takes up the spreading mockery and hatred and vomiting and says to Hester: ‘You are the worst piece of trash-cunt whoever live, no one will ever ever love you, there will be no more love in your life because, mainly because, you won’t tell us who your bastard’s father is.’ Hester can’t reply ‘cause the guy who’s screming at her is the guy who fuc*** her. How can HE scream at her? All that she has left of the world : her memories disappear. Do you understand what reality is? She begins to go crazy…
Boppy doppy doopy wah yahyah mm. Is that what you think craziness is? Are you scared you’re going crazy? Do people who go crazy freak you? Look sweetheart.
I woke up in my attic that the winds swept through and all the world was grey and black. I saw pine trees covering the grey sky and sea, tall trees, boats, tall trees, boats.
I walked along the highway. I was looking for a place to sit down, for some grass I could walk in, for a wood I could explore. I walked for hours. All the land on both sides of the highway, cultivated and wild, was private. I had to keep walking on the highway. I thought that people today when they move move only on roads. They perceive only the roads, the map, the prison. I think it’s becoming harder to get off the road.
I live on a desert island. It’s a nice desert island. I like it here. This is what I do: I eat; I sleep; when it rains and gets cold,I hide under some rocks. I like it here. But I am getting bored… What can I do? I can repeat what I see. I can draw this old grey trunk and make it look different. People got cures for polio and syphilis by imagining. People have and can change the world. In the beginning, on the desert island, the world is totally beautiful. Today in my room in New York City the world is horrible and disgusting. What the hell happened?
I don’t want to be a slave, I don’t want to be a whore, I don’t want to be lonely and without love for the rest of my long life. I’ve got to find out how I got so fuc***-up.
Hester and her husband are sitting, after the torture, in her prison cell. Her husband has come inside to make her well again. He’s a doctor.
‘Fuc**** Is the most wonderful thing in the world’. Hester is crazy.
‘I want to fuc* you right now’,her husband replies.
‘Ugh.I wouldn’t fuc*you if you were the last man on earth. You make me sick to my stomach.’
A slight grimace crosses his face,but he manages to suppress it.
‘Remember when we used to fuc*? By the fireside in Amsterdam.’ Tears appear in his thin eyes. ‘You’d lay your head on my lap and we’d look into the fire.’
Hester’s thinking the most wonderful thing in the world is to fuc* a man you love. God she wishes she had it right now. Loving a man and being right next to him: naked against him there’s no need to talk: naked wet warm his face his skin naked wet warm his thick lips glazed eyes you’re on top of him naked wet warm never let you go the peace of the world never never never.
‘I’m the guilty one,’the husband says. ‘If I hadn’t sent you alone to America, you never would’ve done this horrible inhuman thing.’
‘Oh, I am the guilty one.’
‘I hate you now. I don’t even hate you. I just want nothing to do with you. You’re not to reveal that you have ever known me or had anything to do with me. Whatever love and affection occurred between us is now dead. We’re dead people.’
Fuc**** with love must be the gift of God. His eyes his nose his hot breath the shadow under his neck his thick arms the fat around his sides the bones sticking out of his thighs his coc*waving in that mess of hair I want him so much I am going crazy. I want his eyes I want his nose I want his hot breath reeking all over my body I want to stick my tongue in neck I want his arms around me I’ve forgotten what it’s like to want a man I roll my hands in his fat and bite it and rub my dying-to-come hips against the bones sticking out of his thighs so maybe I’ll come that way his coc*, if I could just touch his coc* just for a second, I don’t want to touch it more than that, a quick kiss, wet and slimy, don’t take me away from it, don’t take me away from it you creep meanie: this is my home.
‘Who’s your brat’s father?’
‘I love him. I am not going to tell you who he is.’
‘I am going to find out who he is. I am simply interested who he is. I am one of the most brilliant men in America and Europe and can learn anything. I’m going to find out who he is!’.
She shivers before this example of the divorcement of body and mind. She’s seeing terror and hatred and hypocrisy beginning to spread over the earth.
‘Don’t you tell anyone who I am.’
WHEN SOMEONE’S IN PAIN,HE CRIES OUT.
Taken from “Blood and Guts in High School” by Kathy Acker

A misunderstood genius

Catrin Welz-Stein-Unborn Ideas

“There is in every madman
a misunderstood genius
whose idea
shining in his head
frightened people
and for whom delirium was the only solution
to the strangulation
that life had prepared for him.”
Antonin Artaud
(September 4, 1896, in Marseille – March 4, 1948 in Paris)
French playwright, poet, actor and theatre director.

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