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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

Annunci

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*

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

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

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.

The Importance Of Music To Girls

Questo di Lavinia Greenlaw (poetessa, novellista, giornalista inglese, di Londra) è una compilation di racconti a tinte pop, in forma di diario, con a tema centrale la musica e i ricordi d’adolescenza e d’infanzia, ad essa legati; la prima volta che la scrittrice si innamora, le scorribande con gli amici, le cacce all’ultimo Lp punk, la volta in cui balla un waltz piedi-sui-piedi del padre, tema del primo racconto d’apertura al libro.
Lavinia Greenlaw racconta dell’importanza della musica nella sua vita
‘If I had not kissed anyone, or danced with anyone, or had a reason to cry, the music made me feel as if I had gone through all that anyway’

  My papa’s waltz

The hand that held my wrist
Was battered on one knuckle;
At every step you missed
My right ear scraped a buckle.
Theodore Roethke, ‘My Papa’s Waltz’

I remember the dancing of my earliest years in silence, as about the body alone. My father must have hummed a tune as I stood on his shoes and he waltzed me, but what I remember are the giant steps I was suddenly making. The world rose up under one foot and pushed my body to one side as that foot set off in a high violent arc. I didn’t know if I was going to be able to follow but at the last moment the world gathered up the rest of me. And so it went on: the world pulled and shoved while I lurched and stretched.
This was not a gentle game, which was why we four children loved it. We liked to be thrown about- by a rollercoaster, slide or swing, in a rough sea, on a trampoline, or by grownups who in moving us at their force and speed, gave us a taste of the dimensions of adult life. We had a young uncle who played less carefully than my father. He would take me by the hands and spin me round like a teacloth full of wet lettuce until I thought my arms would be wrenched from their sockets. As the pain bunched in my shoulders and my brain shrank, I was amazed that such movement was possible. I wasn’t scared. I knew that I could break and had an idea of what it felt like to break, but I also knew I wasn’t going to.
The waltz was more interesting than other such games because its force had to be met. It depended upon the tension between trying not to move and letting yourself be moved. I trod down hard on my father’s shoes, braced my arms and dug my nails into his shirt-cuffs like someone finding a hold on a cliff. This is the starting point of dance: something- the music, the steps, your partner- holds you but you also have to hold it and to achieve the necessary tension, hold yourself against it.
A lot of my childhood was about being held back or slowed down. It took hours to leave the house as to get us all ready, and keep us ready, was like trying to keep four plates spinning. Someone lost a glove or refused their coat, was cross or hungry or needed a clean nanny. We spent a lot of time waiting -to be delivered or collected, for the school day to end or the night to be over. We moved in caravan formation and at the speed of camels, taking two days to drive the 250 miles from London to the west coast of Wales, pottering along in a pair of Morris Travellers.
Once released, we were fizzy and impatient. If something was high we climbed it and jumped off; if it was steep we hurtled down it on cycles, sledges or trays. We ran or rolled down any hill we came to regardless of nettles, glass, dog shit or stones. If the landscape filled up with rain, leaves, fog or snow, we continued to move through it as fast as we could, not fearing what might now be concealed.
Every now and then the world gathered itself in refusal. I slammed into it and got hurt. At four, I went down a slide sucking on a bamboo garden cane which hit the ground before I did. The top two inches jammed into the roof of my mouth and I stood over a basin and watched it fill up with blood, feeling nothing, interested only in my sister offering me a teddy bear she would not normally part with. When I woke up after the operation to remove the piece of cane, I was curious only about the coal fire opposite my bed and the taste of hospital ice-cream.
For a long time, this accident was just something that had happened to my mouth. Other people had to make the connections for me.
‘That cane was lodged very close to your brain,’my mother later said. ‘We could tell you were more or less alright but the surgeons didn’t know if they could remove it without doing any damage.’
My brother added, ‘It’s why people shoot themselves that way.’
‘And it could have affected your speech,’ continued my mother,’ by changing the shape of the roof of your mouth.’
Being pushed out of shape made me realise that I had a shape to return to, like my toy cat who sat on a drum and whose parts were kept in tension by elastic. If I pressed the underneath of the drum, the cat fell to its knees or slumped to one side. I let go and the cat sprang to one side as if jiving. I was fascinated by the instant way it changed shape and then snapped back, and by the ambiguity of its bright little face- so eager to please and yet so imperturbable.
My body had felt like that of the toy cat, an arrangement of parts. I would watch my hand touch the bar of an electric fire or my foot trad on a nail, and discover that they belonged to me. I now knew that my mouth shaped my voice and that my brain was right there, just above it. I saw this most clearly thirty years later on a X-ray which showed that instead of arching back to cradle my skull, the vertebrate at the top of my spine thrust my head forward. In that accident, my head had been thrown back so abruptly that it had been compensating ever since, leaving me with the feeling of being precipitate, of tipping into rather than entering the next moment, thought or sentence.
So the body adds up and the world reminds you of the body’s limits, although it can be surprisingly kind. At eight I jumped through a window and can still remember how the glass billowed and held me before it exploded. I was mid-air, I had escaped the person I was running away from, and I was being held. Nothing has seemed as peaceful since. I stepped out of that ring of shattered glass like a corpse from a chalk silhouette and walked away with a cut on each knee.
These collisions with the world taught me its substance and laws as well as my own. I had danced before I knew what my body was, and did not understand what moved me. It was not music yet.
Taken from The Importance of Music to Girls, by Lavinia Greenlaw, 2007
The web site of poet and novelist Lavinia Greenlaw.

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.

L’Impresa

Mancano 3 giorni all’inizio della più incredibile sfida letteraria lanciata nel web dall’America e accolta nel mondo da migliaia di aspiranti scrittori, il National Novel Writing Month, trenta giorni di tempo per scrivere un romanzo in 50,000 parole- in contemporanea nel web
L’iniziativa è nata un luglio del 1999, con all’attivo soltanto 21 partecipanti moltiplicatisi in milioni gli anni a seguire
Per partecipare è necessario soltanto iscriversi al sito, indicare un profilo e l’indirizzo del blog dove raccogliere la sfida scrivendo, un post al giorno, di circa 2000 parole
Aprile il mese dello Script Frenzy, trenta giorni di tempo per scrivere un film, una commedia, uno show televisivo, una graphic novel in 100 pagine
Questi i links

(Londra organizza parties e write-in days in caffè e accademie, oltre 7000 gli scrittori partecipanti)

Bisognerà iniziare ad allenarsi

– It’s Time to Write it Down

Adaptation (Fake Criterion) by Heath Killen

[good thursday resolutions]

Be Sexy, Be Cool, Be Smart, Be Rich, Always Be Yourself.


Qualche tempo fa mi capitò leggere un saggio circa la vita di Barack Obama; ancora prima di essere eletto presidente degli Stati Uniti, quando ancora nel 2004 si presentò candidato al Senato Federale, Barack Obama, ottenuta la vittoria alle primarie democratiche e affermatosi figura di spicco nel partito Democratico, terrà un discorso,keynote address, nel quale farà riferimento alla prefazione della Dichiarazione d’Indipendenza degli Stati Uniti d’America, documento firmato il 4 luglio 1776,che vuole 13 delle colonie britanniche dell’America Settendrionale indipendenti dall’Impero Britannico. Dice Barack Obama
I stand here today, grateful for the diversity of my heritage, aware that my parents’ dreams live on in my precious daughters. I stand here knowing that my story is part of the larger American story, that I owe a debt to all of those who came before me, and that, in no other country on earth, is my story even possible. Tonight, we gather to affirm the greatness of our nation, not because of the height of our skyscrapers, or the power of our military, or the size of our economy. Our pride is based on a very simple premise, summed up in a declaration made over two hundred years ago, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal. That they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights. That among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”
E continua il testo della Dichiarazione
That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.
Questo il preambolo della Dichiarazione,il fulcro di un testamento universale: agli uomini spettano diritti, quando un governo viola questi diritti,gli uomini hanno il diritto, fra gli altri, di modificare o abolire, alter or abolish, quel governo.
Questo, anche, il principio che definisce the Right of revolution, curiosamente in italiano tradotto Diritto di Resistenza, e cito da wikipedia*
Il diritto di resistenza discende anche dal contrattualismo e dalla teoria politica di John Locke [..] Se i governanti calpestano i diritti naturali, vengono meno i fondamenti del patto e si configura il diritto del popolo a resistere.
Right of revolution, o right of rebellion-in inglese;diritto di resistenza-in italiano.
Chiedo a mister wikipedia di spiegarmi cosa intende per right of revolution,e questi mi risponde
-In political philosophy, the right of revolution (or right of rebellion) is the right or duty, variously stated throughout history, of the people of a nation to overthrow a government that acts against their common interests. Belief in this right extends back to ancient China, and it has been used throughout history to justify various rebellions, including the American Revolution and the French Revolution.
Dunque il diritto di rivoluzione, o diritto di ribellione, sarebbe, secondo la filosofia politica, il diritto del popolo di una nazione a rovesciare (ribaltare) un governo che agisce contro l’interesse comune.
Secondo la dichiarazione di indipendenza,io, giovane donna americana, ho il diritto di ribellione, il diritto di ribellarmi. Suona bene. Suona liberatorio. Qualcuno stabilisce ribellarsi è un diritto, e io che sono incazzata, mi ribello, ho diritto a incazzarmi e a ribellarmi. Se non da sola, insieme a un gruppo di altri incazzati e ribelli, io ho il diritto a ribaltare un governo.
Mi chiedo cosa manca, allora, a rendere un diritto,il dovere.Cosa trattiene ciascuno dall’esercitare questo diritto.Cosa trattiene ciascuno dall’esercitare questo dovere.
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal. That they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights. That among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
Vita.Libertà.Ricerca della Felicità.Valori universali,patrimonio dell’umanità tutta.
Mi pare di sentire Peter Finch in Quinto Potere ( e mi esalto)
Sono incazzata nera, e tutto questo non l’accetterò più!
Ahh liberatorio
La settimana scorsa sono stata a un meeting di lavoro; la compagnia ne organizza uno al mese in ognuno degli stores.Gli argomenti trattati durante il meeting ruotano intorno certi aggiornamenti promozionali introdotti nel mercato dalla compagnia( offerte, lancio nuovi prodotti, promozioni, aggiornamento prezzi [da un anno a questa parte pari l’inflazione in rialzo nel mercato di tutto il paese. In parole concrete, un aumento- leggevo sull’Indipendent- pari a qualcosa come da 5 a 15 p sulla maggior parte dei prodotti alimentari e da distribuzione. Aumentati anche i costi degli affitti e dei trasporti. Qui Uk]) e altre rotture che riguardano più nello specifico l’andamento dello store, del team.
L’altra sera argomento centrale del meeting, l’ottimizzazione dei tempi di lavoro.
Bisogna ottimizzare i tempi. Metti il tempo un’arancia e i minuti gli spicchi. Bisogna che noi si sprema gli spicchi di quell’arancia fino all’ultima delle gocce e alla metà dei secondi necessari a farlo.Se per fare un espresso ci vogliono 15 secondi-15,in ordine all’ottimizzazione dei tempi,io, in 15 secondi devo:

1)attenermi alle 4 golden priorities dell’Onnisciente Barista (customer is the King,on top)
2)seguire diligentemente i 6 customer service steps
3)prendere altre 3 ordinazioni
4)far pagare il cliente
5)timbrargli la loyalty card
6) augurargli una buona giornata
e who is the next? avanti un altro
Questo vuol dire, ottimizzare i tempi. Quindici secondi moltiplicato 2 fa mezzo minuto, mezzo minuto moltiplicato 2 fa un minuto. Un minuto moltiplicato 60 fa un’ora, un’ora moltiplicata 8 fa 28800 secondi che mi spremono come un’arancia, al minimo sindacale e al massimo dell’imbarbarimento, selvaggio, nevrotico,bulimico,del capitalismo aziendale. 28800 secondi che mi spremo le meningi e immagino altrove, da qualche parte al sicuro,metti in montagna, in giacca di lana e berretto, a raccogliere funghi e castagne.Aria pulita, silenzio intorno, appena il tossio del vento nell’aria fresca, pace dentro. Simbiosi. Osmosi. Armonia.Che meraviglia.
Certi giorni è un calvario. Lo store in cui lavoro si trova a due passi da una stazione metro e ficcato nel cuore di un quartiere commerciale, uffici intorno, e banche, tante
banche ovunque banche. Banche e banche. L’80 % almeno dei clienti è impiegata nel settore commerciale, finanziario,redditizzio; l’80 % almeno dei clienti conclude affari al bar. Tra un cappuccino, un americano, una chocolate cheesecake, un apple and cinnammon muffin.
Io me li vedo passare davanti tutti, in processione ordinata, con al collo un cappio e in valigetta l’ultima dose buona di cocaina. Drogati di lavoro, di successo, di fama, di denaro.
Produrre Incrementare Ottimizzare Ridurre Accellerare
Strategia Successo Standards Soldi
Produci Consuma Mangia Ammalati
Se è vero che la classe operaia va in paradiso, non resta che di morire e finalmente felici,in linea con gli standards e la dichiarazione.E Amen.
C’è un libro, attento, cerebrale, che ho da poco finito di leggere e trovato incredibilmente interessante; il titolo White Noise, l’autore Don DeLillo, americano di New York; White Noise, d’avvio al realismo isterico nel genere letterario, non si risparmia dal rovistare,a mani nude e con fare analitico, nel torbido della psiche umana,lì dove marciano assurdo e paradossi della società contemporanea. Sebbene scritto nel 1985, White Noise risulta quanto mai attuale, anzi sembra addirittura profetizzare, anticipare i tempi, alla maniera di Orwell in 1984.Leggere White Noise è come riabituare gli occhi alla vista (di ciò che non risulta visibile, ma c’è, è presente, e condiziona la vita di ciascuno)e la mente all’osservazione critica del reale.
Il plot vuole una famiglia americana, allargata, composta da un accademico (Hitler il corso di studi tenuto dal professore), una moglie-regina del focolare domestico, 6 figli. Sottofondo la quotidianità di questa famiglia, l’isteria del capitalismo commerciale,l’impulso all’acquisto convulsivo, bulimico, veicolato, somatico; l’isteria dei sistemi mediatici, la spettacolarizzazione del dolore, dell’assurdo, il diffondersi di un’epidemia sociale, virus panico, ansia, l’onnisciente timore di ammalarsi e morire, ancora l’esplosione di un vagone merci trasportante sostanze chimiche, sintomi deja vu e mancata consapevolezza del reale.A mio avviso un libro meravigliso.
Questa una scheda interessante del libro, in italiano (via casa80.it)
Rumore Bianco (Don DeLillo).
Sotto una parte del libro, tratta dal diciassettesimo capitolo, in inglese

[…]
The family is the cradle of the world’s misinformation. There must be something in family life that generates factual error. Over-closeness, the noise and heat of being. Perhaps something even deeper, like the need to survive. Murray says we are fragile creatures surrounded by a world of hostile facts. Facts threaten our happiness and security. The deeper we delve into the nature of things, the looser our structure may seem to become. The family process works toward sealing off the world. Small errors grow heads, fictions proliferate. I tell Murray that ignorance and confusion can’t possibly be the driving forces behind family solidarity. What an idea, what a subversion. He asks me why the strongest family units exist in the lasts developed societies. Not to know is a weapon of survival, he says. Magic and superstition become entrenched as the powerful orthodoxy of the clan. The family is strongest where objective reality is most likely to be misinterpreted. What a heartless theory, I say. But Murray insists it’s true.
In a huge hardware store at the mall I saw Eric Massingale, a former microchip sales engineer who changed his life by coming out here to join the teaching staff of the computer center at the Hill. He was slim and pale, with a dangerous grin.
“You’re not wearing dark glasses, Jack.”
“I only wear them on campus.”
“I get it.”
We went our separate ways into the store’s deep interior. A great echoing din, as of the extinction of a species of beast, filled the vast space. People bought twenty-two-foot ladders, six kinds of sandpaper, power saws that could fell trees. The aisles were long and bright, filled with oversized brooms, massive sacks of peat and dung, huge Rubbermaid garbage cans. Rope hung like tropical fruits, beautifully braded strands, thick, brown, strong. What a great thing a coil of rope is to look at and feel. I bought fifty feet of Manila hemp just to have it around, show it to my son, talk about where it comes from, how it’s made. People spoke English, Hindi, Vietnamese, related tongues.
I ran into Massingale again at the cash terminals.
“I’ve never seen you off campus, Jack. You look different without your glasses and gown. Where did you get the sweater? Is that a Turkish army sweater? Mail order, right?”
He looked me over, felt the material of the water- repellent jacket I was carrying draped across my arm. Then he backed up, altering his perspective, nodding a little, his grin beginning to take on a self-satisfied look, reflecting some inner calculation.
“I think I know those shoes,” he said.
What did he mean, he knew these shoes?
“You’re a different person altogether.”
“Different in what way, Eric?”
“You won’t take offense?” he said, the grin turning lascivious, rich with secret meaning.
“Of course not. Why would I?”
“Promise you won’t take offense.”
“I won’t take offense.”
“You look so harmless, Jack. A big harmless, aging, indistinct, sort of guy.”
“Why would I take offense?” I said, paying for my rope and hurrying out the door.
The encounter put me in the mood to shop. I found the others and we walked across two parking lots to the main structure in the Mid- Village Mall, a ten-story building arranged around a center court of waterfalls, promenades and gardens, Babette and the kids followed me into the elevator, into the shops set along the tiers, through the emporiums and department stores, puzzled but excited by my desire to buy. When I could not decide between two shirts, they encouraged me to buy both. When I said I was hungry, they fed me pretzels, beer, souvlaki. The two girls scouted ahead, spotting things they thought I might want or need, running back to get me, to clutch my arms, plead with me to follow. They were my guides to endless well-being. People swarmed through the boutiques and gourmet shops. Organ music rose from the great court. We smelled chocolate, popcorn, cologne; we smelled rugs and furs, hanging salamis and deathly vinyl. My family gloried in the event. I was one of them, shopping, at last. They gave me advice, badgered clerks on my behalf. I kept seeing myself unexpectedly in some reflecting surface. We moved from store to store, rejecting not only items in certain departments, not only entire departments but whole stores, mammoth corporations that did not strike our fancy for one reason or another. There was always another store, three floors, eight floors, basement full of cheese graters and paring knives. I shopped with reckless abandon. I shopped for immediate needs and distant contingencies. I shopped for its own sake, looking and touching, inspecting merchandise I had no intention of buying, then buying it. I sent clerks into their fabric books and pattern books to search for elusive designs. I began to grow in value and self-regard. I filled myself out, found new aspects of myself, located a person I’d forgotten existed. Brightness settled around me. We crossed from furniture to men’s wear, walking through cosmetics. Our images appeared on mirrored columns, in glassware and chrome, on TV monitors in security rooms. I traded money for goods. The more money I spent, the less important it seemed. I was bigger than these sums. These sums poured off my skin like so much rain. These sums in fact came back to me in the form of existential credit. I felt expansive, inclined to be sweepingly generous, and told the kids to pick out their Christmas gifts here and now. I gestured in what I felt was an expensive manner. I could tell they were impressed. They fanned out across the area, each of them suddenly inclined to be private, shadowy, even secretive. Periodically one of them would return to register the name of an item with Babette, careful not to let the others know what it was. I myself was not to be bothered with tedious details. I was the benefactor, the one who dispenses gifts, bonuses, bribes, baksheesh. The children knew it was the nature of such things that I could not be expected to engage in technical discussions about the gifts themselves. We ate another meal. A band played live Muzak. Voices rose ten stories from the gardens and promenades, a roar that echoed and swirled through the vast gallery, mixing with noises from the tiers, with shuffling feet and chiming bells, the hum of escalators, the sound of people eating, the human buzz of some vivid and happy transaction.
We drove home in silence. We went to our respective rooms, wishing to be alone. A little later I watched Steffie in front of the TV set. She moved her lips, attempting to match the words as they were spoken.

taken from seventeenth White Noise chapter,by Don DeLillo, 1985

“I’m only saying. How does it happen that Thursday seems like Friday? We’re out of the city. We’re off the calendar. Friday shouldn’t have an identity here. Who wants more coffee?”


Chapter 1
Time seems to pass. The world happens, unrolling into moments, and you stop to glance at a spider pressed to its web. There is a quickness of light and a sense of things outlined precisely and steaks of running luster on the bay. You know more surely who you are on a strong bright day after a storm when the smallest falling leaf is stabbed with self-awareness. The wind makes a sound in the pines and the world comes into being, irreversibly, and the spider rides the wind-swayed web.
It happened this final morning that they were here at the same time, in the kitchen, and they shambled past each other to get things out of cabinets and drawers and then waited one for the other by the sink or fridge, still a little puddled in dream melt, and she ran tap water over the blueberries bunched in her hand and closed her eyes to breathe the savor rising.
He sat with the newspaper, stirring his coffee. It was his coffee and his cup. They shared the newspaper but it was actually, unspokenly, hers.
“I want to say something but what.”
She ran water from the tap and seemed to notice. It was the first time she’d ever noticed this.
“About the house. This is what it is,” he said. “Something I meant to tell you.”
She noticed how water from the tap turned opaque in seconds. It ran silvery and clear and then in seconds turned opaque and how curious it seemed that in all these months and all these times in which she’d run water from the kitchen tap she’d never noticed how the water ran clear at first and then went not murky exactly but opaque, or maybe it hadn’t happened before, or she’d noticed and forgotten.
She crossed to the cabinet with the blueberries wet in her hand and reached up for the cereal and took the box to the counter, the mostly brown and white box, and then the toaster thing popped and she flipped it down again because it took two flips to get the bread to go brown and he absently nodded his acknowledgement because it was his toast and his butter and then he turned on the radio and got the weather.
The sparrows were at the feeder, wing-beating, fighting for space on the curved perches.
She reached into the near cabinet for a bowl and shook some cereals out of the box and then dropped the berries on top. She rubbed her hand dry on her jeans, feeling a sense somewhere of the color blue, runny and wan.
What’s it called, the lever. She’d pressed down the lever to get his bread to go brown.
It was his toast, it was her weather. She listened to reports and called the weather number frequently and sometimes stood out front and looked into the coastal sky, tasking the breeze for latent implications.
“Yes exactly. I know what it is,” he said.
She went to the fridge and opened the door. She stood there remembering something.
She said, “What? Meaning what did you say, not what did you want to tell me.
She remembered the soya granules. She crossed to the cabinet and took down the box and then caught the fridge door before it swung shut. She reached in for the milk, realizing what it was he’d said that she hadn’t heard about eight seconds ago.
Every time she had to bend and reach into the lower and remote parts of the refrigerator she let out a groan, but not really every time, that resembled a life lament. She was too trim and limber to feel the strain and was only echoing Rey, identifyingly, groaning his groan, but in a manner so seamless and deep it was her discomfort too.
Now that he’d remembered what he meant to tell her, he seemed to lose interest. She didn’t have to see his face to know this. It was in the air. It was in the pause that trailed from his remark of eight, ten, twelve seconds ago. Something insignificant. He would take it as a kind of self- diminishment, bringing up a matter so trivial.
She went to the counter and poured soya over the creal and fruit. The lever sprang or sprung and he got up and took his toast back to the table and then went for the butter and she had to lean away from the counter when he approached, her milk carton poised, so he could open the drawer and get a butter knife.
There were voices on the radio in like Hindi it sounded.
She poured milk into the bowl. He sat down and got up. He went to the fridge and got the orange juice and stood in the middle of the room shaking the carton to float the pulp and make the juice thicker. He never remembered the juice until the toast was done. Then he shook the carton. Then he poured the juice and watched a skim of sizzling foam appear at the top of the glass.
She picked a hair out of her mouth. She stood at the counter looking at it, a short pale strand that wasn’t hers and wasn’t his.
He stood shaking the container. He shook it longer than he had to because he wasn’t paying attention, she thought, and because it was satisfying in some dumb and blameless way, for its own childlike sake, for the bounce and slosh and cardboard orange aroma.
He said, “Do you want some of this?”
she was looking at the hair.
“Tell me because I am not sure. Do you drink juice?” he said., still shaking the damn thing, two fingers pincered at the spout.
She scraped her upper teeth over her tongue to rid her system of the complicated sense memory of something else’s hair.
She said, “What? Never drink the stuff. You know that. How long have we been living together?”
“Not long,” he said.
He got a glass, poured the juice and watched the foam appear. Then he wheeled a little achingly into his chair.
“Not long enough for me to notice the details,” he said.
“I always think this isn’t supposed to happen here. I think anywhere but here.”
He said, “What?”
“A hair in my mouth. From someone else’s head.”
He buttered his toast.
“Do you think it only happens in big cities with mixed populations?”
“Anywhere but here.” She held the strand of hair between thumb and index finger, regarding it with mock aversion, or real aversion stretched to artistic limits, her mouth at a palsied slant. “That’s what I think.”
“Maybe you’ve been carrying it since childhood.” He went back to the newspaper. “Did you have a pet dog?”
“hey. What woke you up?” she said.
It was her newspaper. The telephone was his except when she was calling the weather. They both used the computer but it was spiritually hers.
She stood at the counter looking at the hair. Then she snapped it off her fingers to the floor. She turned to the sink and ran hot water over her hands and then took the cereal bowl to the table. Birds scattered when she moved near the window.
“I’ve seen you drink gallons of juice, tremendous, how can I tell you? he said.
Her mouth was still twisted from the experience of sharing some food handler’s unknown life or from a reality far stranger and more meandering, the intimate passage of the hair from the person to person and somehow mouth to mouth across years and cities and diseases and unclean foods and many baneful fluids.
“What? I don’t think so,” she said.
Okay, she put the bowl on the table. She went to the stove, got the kettle and filled it from the tap. He changed stations on the radio and said something she missed. She took the kettle back to the stove because this is how you live a life even if you don’t know it and then she scraped her teeth over her tongue again, for emphasis, watching the flame shoot blue from the burner.
She’d had to sort of jackknife away from the counter when he approached to get the butter knife.
She moved toward the table and the birds went cracking off the feeder again. They passed out of the shade beneath the eaves and flew into sunglare and silence and it was an action she only partly saw, elusive and mutely beautiful, the birds so sunstruck they were consumed by light, disembodied, turned into something sheer and fleet and scatter- bright.
She sat down and picked through sections of newspaper and realized she had no spoon. She looked at him and saw sporting a band- aid at the side of the jaw.
She used the old dented kettle instead of the new one she’d just bought because- she didn’t know why.
It was an old frame house that had many rooms and working fireplaces and animals in the walls and mildew everywhere, a place they’d rented unseen, a relic of the boom years of the lumbering and shipbuilding trades, way too big, and there were creaking floorboards and number of bent utensils dating to god knows.
She half fell out of her chair in a gesture of self- ridicule and went to the counter to get a spoon. She took the soya granules back to the table as well. The soya had a smell that didn’t seem to belong to the sandy stuff in the box. It was a faint wheaty stink with feet mixed in. Every time she used the soya she smelled it. She smelled it two or three times.
“Cut yourself again.”
“What?” He put his hand to his jaw, head sunk in the newspaper. “Just a nick.”
She started to read a story in her part of the paper. It was an old newspaper, Sunday’s from town, because there were no deliveries here.
“That’s lately, I don’t know, maybe you shouldn’t shave first thing. Wake up first. Why shave at all? Let your mustache grow back. Grow a beard.”
“Why shave at all? There must be a reason,” he said. “I want God to see my face.”
He looked up from the paper and laughed in the empty way she didn’t like. She took a bite of cereal and looked at another story. She tended lately to place herself, to insert herself into certain stories in the newspaper. Some kind of daydream variation. She did it and then became aware she was doing it and then sometimes did it again a few minutes later with the same or a different story and then became aware again.
She reached for the soya box without looking up from the paper and poured some granules into the bowl and the radio played traffic and talk.
The idea seemed to be that she’d have to wear out the old kettle, use it and use it until it developed rust bubbles and then and only then would it be okay for her to switch to the kettle she’d just bought.
“Do you have to listen to the radio?”
“No,” she said and read the paper.”What?”
“It is such astonishing shit.”
The way he stressed the t in shit, dignifying the word.
“I didn’t turn on the radio. You turned on the radio,” she said.
He went to the fridge and came back with a large dark fig and turned off the radio.
“Give me some of that,” she said, reading the paper.
“I was not blaming. Who turned it on, who turned it off. Someone’s a little edgy this morning. I’m the one, what do I say, who should be defensive. Not the young woman who eats and sleeps and lives forever.”
“What? Hey,Rey. Shut up.”
He bit off the stem and tossed it toward the sink. Then he split the fig open with his thumbnails and took the spoon out of her hand and licked it off and used it to scoop a measure of claret flesh out of the gaping fig skin. He dropped this stuff on his toast – the flesh, the mash, the pulp- and then spread it with the bottom of the spoon, blood-buttery swirls that popped with seedlife.
“I’m the one to be touchy in the morning. I’m the one to moan. The terror of another ordinary day,” he said slyly. “You don’t know this yet.”
“Give us all a break,” she told him.
She leaned forward, he extended the bread. There were crowns in the trees near the house, taking up a raucous call. She took a bite and closed her eyes so she could think about the taste.
He gave back her spoon. Then he turned on the radio and remembered he’d just turned it off and he turned it off again.
She poured granules into the bowl. The smell of the soya was somewhere between body odor, yes, in the lower extremities and some authentic podlife of the earth, deep and seeded. But that didn’t describe it. She read a story in the paper about a child abandoned in some godforsaken. Nothing described it. It was pure smell. It was as thought and she nearly said something to this effect because it might amuse him but then she let it drop- it was as though some, maybe, medieval scholastic had attempted to classify all known odors and had found something that did not fit into his system and had called it soya, which could easily be part of a lofty Latin term, but no it couldn’t, and she sat thinking of something, she wasn’t sure what, with the spoon an inch from her mouth.
He said,” What?”
“I didn’t say anything”
She got up to get something. She looked at the kettle and realized that wasn’t it. She knew it would come to her because it always did and then it did. She wanted honey for her tea even though the water wasn’t boiling yet. She had a hyper-preparedness, or haywire, or hair-trigger, and Rey was always saying, or said once, and she carried a voice in her head that was hers and it was dialogue or monologue and she went to the cabinet where she got the honey and tea bags- a voice that flowed from a story in the paper.
“Weren’t you going to tell me something?”
He said, “What?”
She put a hand on his shoulder and moved past to her side of the table. The birds broke off the feeder in a wing-whir that was all b’s and r’s, the letter b followed by a series of vibrato r’s. But that wasn’t it at all. That wasn’t anything like it.
“You said something.I don’t know. The house.”
“It’s not interesting. Forget it.”
“I don’t want to forget it.”
“It’s not interesting. Let me put it another way. It’s boring.”
“Tell me anyway.”
“It’s too early. It’s an effort. It’s boring.”
“You’re sitting there talking. Tell me,” she said.
She took a bite of cereal and read the paper.
“It’s an effort. It’s like what. It’s like pushing a boulder.”
“You’re sitting there talking.”
“Here,” he said.
“You said the house. Nothing about the house is boring. I like the house.”
“You like everything. You love everything. You’re my happy home. Here,” he said.
He hanged her what remained of his toast and she chewed it mingled with cereal and berries. Suddenly she knew what he’d meant to tell her. She heard the crows in large numbers now, clamorous in the trees, probably mobbing a hawk.
“Just tell me. Takes only a second,” she said, knowing absolutely what it was.
She saw him move his hand to his breast pocket and then pause and lower it to the cup. It was his coffee, his cup and his cigarette. How an incident described in the paper seemed to rise out of the inky lines of print and gather her into it. You separate the Sunday sections.
“Just tell me okay. Because I know anyway.”
He said, “What? You insist you will drag this thing out of me. Lucky we don’t normally have breakfast together. Because my mornings.”
“I know anyway. So tell me.”
He was looking at the paper.
“You know. Then fine. I don’t have to tell you.”
He was reading, getting ready to go for his cigarettes.
She said, “The noise.”
He looked at her. He looked. The he gave her the great smile, the gold teeth in the great olive-dark face. She hadn’t seen this in a while, the amplified smile, Rey emergent, his eyes clear and lit, deep lines etched about his mouth.
“The noises in the walls. Yes. You’ve read my mind.”
“It was one noise. It was one noise,” she said. “And it wasn’t in the wall.”
“One noise. Okay. I haven’t heard it lately. This is what I wanted to say. It’s gone. Finished. End of conversation.”
“True. Except I heard it yesterday, I think.”
“Then it’s not gone. Good. I am happy for you.”
“It’s an old house. There’s always a noise. But this is different. Not those damn scampering animals we hear at night. Or the house settling. I don’t know,” she said, not wanting to sound concerned. “Like there’s something.”
She read the paper, voice trailing off.
“Good. I’m glad,” he said. “You need the company.”
You separate the Sunday sections and there are endless identical lines of print with people living somewhere in the words and the strange contained reality of paper and ink seeps through the house for a week and when you look at a page and distinguish one line from another it begins to gather you into it and there are people being tortured halfway around the world, who speak another language, and you have conversations with them more or less uncontrollably until you become aware you are doing it and then you stop, seeing whatever is in front of you at the time, like half a glass of juice in your husband’s hand.
She took a bite of cereal and forgot to taste it. She lost the taste somewhere between the time she put the food in her mouth and the regretful second she swallowed it.
He put down the juice glass. He took the pack out of his shirt and lit up a cigarette, the cigarette he’d been smoking with his coffee since he was twelve years old, he’d told her, and he left the match burn down a bit before he shook it out in meditative slow motion and put it at the edge of his plate. It was agreeable to her, the smell of tobacco.It was part of her knowledge of his body. It was the aura of the man, a residue of smoke and unbroken habit, a dimension in the night, and she lapped it off the curled gray hairs on his chest and tasted it in his mouth. It was who he was in the dark, cigarettes and mumbled sleep and a hundred other things nameable and not.
But it wasn’t one of his, the hair she’d found in her mouth. Employees must wash hands before leaving toilet. It was his toast but she’d eaten nearly half of it. It was his coffee and cup. Touch his cup and he looks at you edgewise, with the formal one-eyed glare of a boxer touching gloves. But she knew she was making this up because he didn’t give a damn what you did with his cup. There were plenty of cups he could use. The phone was his. The birds were hers, the sparrow pecking at sunflowers seeds. The air was somebody else’s.
He said something about his car, the mileage, gesturing. He liked to conduct, to guide an extended remark with his hand, a couple of fingers jutting.
“All day yesterday I thought it was Friday”.
He said,”What?”
Or you become someone else, one of the people in the story, doing dialogue of your own devising. You become a man at times, living between the lines, doing another version of the story.
She thought and read. She groped for the soya box and her hand struck the juice container. She looked up and understood he wasn’t reading the paper. He was looking at it but not reading it and she understood this retroactively, that he’d been looking at it all this time but not absorbing the words on the page.
The container remained upright. She poured a little more soya into the bowl, for grainy texture and long life.
“All day yesterday I thought it was Friday.”
He said,”Was it?”
She remembered to smile.
He said,”What does it matter anyway?”
She’d put a hand on his shoulder and then nearly moved it up along the back of his neck and into his hair, caressingly, but hadn’t.
“I’m only saying. How does it happen that Thursday seems like Friday? We’re out of the city. We’re off the calendar. Friday shouldn’t have an identity here. Who wants more coffee?”
She went to pour water for her tea and paused at the stove, waiting for him to say yes or no to coffee. When she started back she saw a blue jay perched atop the feeder. She stopped dead and held her breath. It stood large and polished and looked royally remote from the other birds busy feeding and she could nearly believe she’d never seen a jay before. It stood enormous, looking in at her, seeing whatever it saw, and she wanted to tell Rey to look up.
She watched it, black-barred across the wings and tail, and she thought she’d somehow only now learned how to look. She’d never seen a thing so clearly and it was not simply because the jay was posted where it was, close enough for her to note the details of cresting and color. There was also the clean shock of its appearance among the smaller brownish birds, its mineral blue and muted blue and broad dark neckband. But if Rey looked up, the bird would fly.
She tried to work past the details to the bird itself, nest thief and skilled mimic, to the fixed interest in those eyes, a kind of inquisitive chill that felt a little like a challenge.
When birds look into houses, what impossible worlds they see. Think. What a shedding of every knowable surface and process. She wanted to believe the bird was seeing her, a woman with a teacup in her hand, and never mind the folding back of day and night, the apparition of a space set off from time. She looked and took a careful breath. She was alert to the clarity of the moment but knew it was ending already. She felt it in the blue jay.Or maybe not. She was making it happen herself because she could not look any longer. This must be what it means to see if you’ve been near blind all your life. She said something to Rey, who lifted his head slightly, chasing the jay but leaving the sparrows unstartled.
“Did you see it?”
He half turned to answer.
“Don’t we see them all the time?”
“Not all the time. And never so close.”
“Never so close. Okay.”
“It was looking at me.”
“It was looking at you.”
She was standing in place, off his left shoulder. When she moved toward her chain the sparrows flew.
“It was watching me.”
“Did it make your day?”
“It made my day. My week.What else?”
She drank her tea and read. Nearly everything she read sent her into reverie.
She turned on the radio and tracked showly along the dial, reading the paper, trying to find the weather on the radio.
He finished his coffee and smoked.
She sat over the bowl of cereal. She looked past the bowl into a space inside her head that was also here in front of her.
She folded a section of newspaper and read a line or two and read some more or didn’t, sipping tea and drifting.
The radio reported news about a missile exploding mysteriously, underground, in Montana, and she didn’t catch if it was armed or not.
He smoked and looked out the window tho his right, where are untended meadow tumbled to the rutted dirt road that led to a gravel road.
She read and drifted. She was here and there.
The tea had no honey in it. She’d left the honey jar unopened by the stove.
He looked around for an ashtray.
She had a conversation with a doctor in a new story.There were two miles of gravel before you reached the paved road that led town.
She took the fig off his plate and put a finger down into it and reamed around inside for flesh.
A voice reported the weather but she missed it. She didn’t know it was the weather until it was gone.
He eased his head well back and rolled it slowly side to side to lessen the tension in his neck.
She sucked the finger on her fig-dipping hand and thought of things they needed from the store.
He turned off the radio.
She sipped her tea and read. She more or less saw herself talking to a doctor in the bush somewhere, with people hungry in the dust.
The cigarette was burning down in his hand.
She picked up the soya box and tipped it toward her face and smelled inside.
When he walked out of the room, she realized there was something she wanted to tell him.
Sometimes she doesn’t think of what she wants to say to him until he walks out of whatever room they’re in. Then she thinks of it. Then she either calls after him or doesn’t and he responds or doesn’t.
She sat there and finished her tea and thought of what she thought of, memory traces and flary images and a friend she missed and all the shadow-dappled stuff of an undividable moment on a normal morning going crazy in ways so humanly routine you can’t even stop and take note except for the Ajax she needs to buy and the birds behind her, rattling the metal frame of the feeder.
It’s such a stupid thing to do, read the newspaper and eat.
She saw him standing in the doorway.
“Have you seen my keys?”
She said, “What?”
He waited for the question to register.
“Which keys?” she said.
He looked at her.
She said, “I bought some lotion yesterday. Which I meant to tell you. It’s a muscle rub. It’s a green and white tube on the shelf in the big bathroom upstairs. It’s greaseless. It’s a muscle rub. Rub it in, my love. Or ask me nice, I’ll do it for you.”
“All my keys are on one ring,” he said.
She almost said, Is that smart? But then she didn’t. Because what a needless thing. Because how petty it would be to say such a thing, in the morning or any time, on a strong bright day after a storm.
Taken from The Body Artist, Don DeLillo,2001

Infinite Monkey Theorem


‘Have you considered writing this story in the third monkey rather than the first monkey?’
Infinite monkey theorem – Wikipedia
[Image credit-The New Yorker]
“Everybody knows the thing about an infinite number of monkeys,” Fenig said. “An infinite number of monkeys is put to work at an infinite number of typewriters and eventually one of them reproduces a great work of literature. In what language I don’t know. But what about an infinite number of writers in an infinite number of cages? Would they make on monkey sound? One genuine chimp noise? Would they eventually swing by their toes from an infinite number of monkey bars? Would they shit monkey shit? It’s academic, you say. You may be right.”
— Don DeLillo (Great Jones Street)

Date Time Here


Da qualche tempo seguo con interesse un blog di cultura cinematografica vintage, Quixotando,cui posts trattano-metaforicamente-la sublimazione visiva e l’orgiastica rappresentazione del romantico e ideale nel cinema d’annata.Dei posts degli ultimi giorni, ho trovato interessante una classifica che l’autrice stila degli scrittori che morirebbe dalla voglia incontrare; fra questi Marcel Proust,Oscar Wilde,Lord Byron.
Questo l’articolo:
Top Ten Authors I Would DIE to meet . | Quixotando.
Ho poi riflettuto circa un articolo di James Day,letto ieri sul Metro e titolato ‘Learn the fine art of seduction‘; in questo,il giornalista,segnala una scuola di seduzione,The London School of Attraction,per soli uomini,che promette di trasformare un primato alfabetizzato in un cavaliere shakespeariano al costo di soli £75 a seduta, a tu per tu con un guru del rimorchio,specializzato in galanteria (£500 il full intensive week end course); oltre i suggerimenti di tipo tecnico concernenti l’approccio “intellettuale”(qualcosa come-‘Lead with 70 to 80 per cent of the talking in the first five minutes.When a stranger starts asking questions too early you’ve not invested in the conversation and she’ll think “Why should I even answer?”- e – When approaching girls in a group, you can afford to be direct. Pick out the girl you fancy and go over and tell her.It’s intense but unbelievably effective because you’re singling her out as a special in front of her friends. A really powerful move is to say-‘Can I borrow your friend for a while?’), c’è poi una lista di suggerimenti di tipo pratico e immediato che valgono ad acquistare punteggio in corso al Seduction Game. Fra le tips
-When you’re walking down the street: Address the randomness of the situation directly by saying: ‘Hi, I know this is very forward but I saw you walk by and you’re so cute that I’d regret it all day if I didn’t chat you up’
score:10 (per il romanticismo arcaico del I’d regret it all day)
-When she’s with her friends: Start a conversation with the whole group and say: ‘My friends and I saw you and were trying to work out what you all do. I said I thought you were secret agents celebrating the end of an assignment- am I close?
score:5 (Play it again,Sam)
-When you’re feeling nervous: The opinion opener is a simple way to guarantee yourself a few minutes of interesting conversation: ‘Let me ask you a quick question. My friend has just got a girl’s number- how long do you think he should wait before texting her?
score:8 (per la perspicacia da stratega)
-When she’s on her own: Give the girl very specific compliment and let her know exactly why you like her:’I saw you as soon as I walked in and you look so striking in that dress and those killer heels, I had to come and say hello.’
score:10 (per aver notato quanto she surely is in pain because of those killer heels)
-When you’re on public transport: Use your Metro as the perfect prop. Turn to the girl, point to a picture of a guy in the paper and ask her: ‘Do you think he’s good looking? My friend, Claire, is obsessed with him but I can’t see what all the fuss is about.’
score: prrrrrr thumbs down
Riflettevo dunque-è davvero possibile imparare l’arte della seduzione,ma soprattutto pensare possibile una donna non si accorga della differenza fra un uomo che,naturalmente,esibisce tanta galanteria a manifestazione di un senso innato di eleganza e gentilezza d’animo,e un altro che se ne appropria facendone costume di scena soltanto?
La domanda è -da cosa nasce tanta eleganza e galanteria? Cosa vale a fare di un uomo un-letteralmente parlando-eroe romantico? Si badi non mi riferisco a un uomo solito regalare fiori e organizzare romantiche cene a lume di candela,no. Mi riferisco a quella tensione ideale,passione,intelligenza,empatia,gentilezza d’animo che valgono a rendere un uomo Eroe Romantico,sentimentale,ideale,d’azione. Mi dico,tutto questo si può davvero acquisire? Addirittura acquistare? (sembrerebbe di si)

Umh in realtà credo £75 o 500 non servano a fare di un uomo un Uomo sensibile nei modi e nelle maniere,di spirito, audacia e passione insieme.La gentilezza d’animo di cui parlo,specialmente, nasce da un innato senso di considerazione e quasi gratitudine che deriva dalla consapevolezza di essere figli di donna-prima,e uomini-poi.Certi uomini sembrano scordare sono stati partoriti da una donna perchè soltanto una donna è nelle possibilità di generare vita. Distratti uomini.
However,prendendo spunto dall’articolo su Quixotando,ho immaginato,su due piedi e d’istinto,una “lista intuitiva”di personaggi letterari coi quali sarei più che lieta avere un date. Mi piace l’idea di un cinema-prima and a cozy pub or coffee shop where chilling and enjoying a nice drink and some fine music-poi.Amaranto il colore dell’atmosfera.
(Esclusi dalla lista esistenzialisti,nichilisti e Gaspadin N [ personaggio chiave in Asia,di Ivan Sergeevič Turgenev])
Eccoli:
Winston Smith (personaggio chiave in 1984,di George Orwell). Intellettualoide sentimentale,dotato di senso critico e pragmatismo-mi piace.
-Hanno Buddenbrook(personaggio chiave in Buddenbrooks, di Thomas Mann).Anima inquieta e indipendente,apparentemente fragile ma oppositivo,di grande forza interiore-mi piace.
-Murphy(personaggio chiave nell’omonimo romanzo di Samuel Beckett-eccezione alla regola di cui sopra).Uomo dal quale avrei molto da imparare-mi piace.
-Michel (personaggio chiave in L’Immoralista di André Gide).Con Michel non sarebbe proprio un date,ma il preludio a una piacevole amicizia di certo-mi piace.
-Jake Donaghue (personaggio chiave in Under the Net,di Iris Murdoch).Chissà che l’uno non sblocchi l’altro e insieme si riesca a trovare il bandolo di questa grande matassa che è l’esistenza..

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