Friday, October 31

Freedom to Learn

Epictetus once wrote in his "Discourses" that 'we must not believe the many, who say that only free people ought to be educated, but we should rather believe the philosophers who say that only the educated are free'. The best of my academic background up to two years ago has formally majored in the field of the humanities. To be perfectly honest, I find much greater pleasure in discovering about the human body and science than reading volumes of literature and philosophy. However, I have always been brought up to respect and revere the knowledge of those who came before me, the valuable lessons that history can teach us and to the wisdom of the ancients. Around about 400 B.C., the historian Tucidides first wrote about the lessons that are to be learnt from history which, as later on Giambattista Vico reinforced, repeats itself. I have always believed that notion to be true.. unlike most Italian politicians! I find myself rather disgusted by the state of our parliament which seems to represent us Italians less and less. We have come a long way since the 1970's..the days when Italians begun to make their voices heard protesting and fighting through the weapons of free speech their dissent on civil rights, education, equality. By the 1980's my parents' generation had obtained for us everything we would have ever needed and more: a stable, prospering economy, highly bureaucratic yet perfectly efficient free public health,educational and legal systems..and the luring presence of private broadcasting. Under the false illusion of colour TV, increasingly shorter skirts and mind-numbing programs..Silvio Berlusconi begun his crusade for personal gain though corruption, delusion, politics and privatization. I am not here to make of him the "Antichrist" but imagine living in a country governed by, as an American television put it, "one man combines the political powers of President Bush, the media influence of Rupert Murdoch and the wealth and ambition of Ross Perot and Steve Forbes" (If you have about 30 minutes to spare and the necessary empathy to find out more about the devastation that is taking place in my beloved homeland, please to follow the link above and spread the word around!!!!) A new law was just approved yesterday on Italian education (from primary to University and Research) which risks to dangerously undermine our educational system by making university into elite privatized factories for the wealthy, making our country poorer and poorer and less knowledgeable which in my opinion implies making it easier for unscrupulous leaders to subdue the masses. Let us keep our freedom to learn.

***The pictures in this post were taken by me this week at the protests where thousands of intellectuals, students, teachers, professors, researchers and common people alike have been demonstrating apolitically against the newly approved 133 law. We are currently awaiting the possibility of an abrogative referendum.***

Wednesday, October 8

The Bionic Woman

On the way back from a delightful evening at the cinema with friends, we laughed away and discussed about life, how it's changed us, what we have become. So it seemed that us 20 something girls have gone from dreamy-eyed, romantics to seemingly cold-hearted, pragmatics..some sort of bionic women!

I have grown cynical.

All this makes me wonder whether I was always this way, or something along the way changed me into being like this.
Was I always as independent and non-conformist, was I conditioned somewhere down the line into becoming a little princess, dreaming of wearing a white meringue dress, giggling at banal cheesy chick flick movie lines and expecting that same cinematographic behaviour in my own relationships? I remember a phase of my life where I would be watching pop girls’ films, long for a tall, blue eyed "Prince Charming", becoming a Betty Crocker style mother, a perfect wife, an exquisite chef and hostess, condescending with wistful eyes to my lover’s desires.. not too far behind down memory lane, however, there is me skinny brown eyed self-confident tomboy, who loves climbing up trees and demands to be taught how to read and write aged 4… who enjoys solitude, nature, beauty and adventure…who wants to graduate as her top ambition…who is not afraid of competition nor spiders or sleeping in the dark alone… who is unafraid of thinking and acting outside of a box, but is fearful of becoming a stereotype, of being stuck in a box.
I think the wild little girl with grass stains on her knees, uncombed hair and lively eyes is back and she is happy and feels so free to be herself again…too bad that now some people would like her back onto being a little princess. Now the question is: would men of our time be able to deal with all this? I wish I could be the kind of girl who loves conventionally, who, when you give her a flower, doesn't laugh in your face and actually appreciates that you took her out on a romantic dinner, who could love a traditionalist man as well as he deserves to be loved… Am I unable to commit? Am I just scared of taking the plunge again? Or is this just the way things are meant to be for now? God, am I a cynic?

Sunday, August 17

Crime and Punishment

I have been renown for opposing to death penalty as a method of crime punishment. Coming from a very long line of literary tradition, from Cesare Beccaria's "On Crimes and Punishments" to Alessandro Manzoni, Dostoevsky, Ghandi, Martin Luther King, I just cannot possibly bring myself to accepting that someone may ever take responsability to decide of somebody else's death, unless expressedly and informedly asked by that same person to do so. Even when it comes to horrific crimes such as paedophilia, I much rather impose life sentences, hard jail and chemical castration than death row. I have suffered over the years watching the executions in various so-called civil countries, but why is that that I often feel a satifying sigh of relief, the feeling one has at the end of an action movie when the good ones beat the evil. I have many reservations on the American war on terror, but I secretly rejoiced in seeing the footage of Saddham being executed. I feel ashamed of what the Nazi and the Fascists did in 1900, despised their brutal massacres and racist politics, yet stifled when I first came across the picture of Mussolini and his closest being hung upside down in a public square at the end of WW2. I cried when I saw Sudanese armies torturing women guilty of violating retrograde points of the Shia constitution. Knowing that Hitler had died in a house fire made me happy. So what is it that makes killing another right? What may be logical and just for me may not be for another and viceversa. All of a sudden it is like not being able to wish that the Joker may die at the end of "The Dark Night", because it is like, now, it is not only the evil Joker, but it is someone you have got to know and whose death you may not possibly wish any longer.

Friday, August 8

Pillows of Salt and Sand..

Brand new sounds for my beloved Coldplay. Audacious, experimental, fresh, impressive. "Viva la Vida and Death or Death and All His Friends" is currently my favourite album - I have been listening to it for over a month now repetedly and totally enjoyed the discovery of increasingly more profound meanings and interesting musical nouànce. We have been singing "Lost!", as an anthem of hope and rebirth, sweetly, "Lovers in Japan" and, as singing "Viva la Vida" ... perplexedly stopped at the enigma over what it could mean..

Before I tell you what I think, I would like to hear what you make of this song - unabridged, spontaneous, unconditional. My next post is already written.. I value your opinion.



I used to rule the world
Seas would rise when I gave the word
Now in the morning I sleep alone
Sweep the streets I used to own

I used to roll the dice
Feel the fear in my enemies eyes
Listen as the crowd would sing:
"Now the old king is dead! Long live the king!"

One minute I held the key
Next the walls were closed on me
And I discovered that my castles stand
Upon pillars of salt, and pillars of sand

I hear Jerusalem bells are ringing
Roman Cavalry choirs are singing
Be my mirror my sword and shield
My missionaries in a foreign field
For some reason I can not explain
Once you know there was never, never an honest word
That was when I ruled the world

It was the wicked and wild wind
Blew down the doors to let me in.
Shattered windows and the sound of drums
People could not believe what I'd become
Revolutionaries Wait
For my head on a silver plate
Just a puppet on a lonely string
Oh who would ever want to be king?

I hear Jerusalem bells are ringing
Roman Cavalry choirs are singing
Be my mirror my sword and shield
My missionaries in a foreign field
For some reason I can not explain
I know Saint Peter won't call my name
Never an honest word
And that was when I ruled the world

Hear Jerusalem bells are ringings
Roman Cavalry choirs are singing
Be my mirror my sword and shield
My missionaries in a foreign field
For some reason I can not explain
I know Saint Peter will call my name
Never an honest word
But that was when I ruled the world

Saturday, July 26

What if?

Regardless of my many attempts to write a post on the "What ifs" of life, this is the first time I feel daring enough to go through with it.
"No regrets!" has always been my motto, but what if the turn I took, the road I chose, the things I did, felt or said were a different closed envelop than the one I picked? The movie "Sliding Doors" (1998) may not be the best film ever produced and we all might agree on the fact that Gwyneth Paltrow's best feature is Mr Chris Martin, but it is a great starting point for a discussion of what would have happened if someone missed a certain sliding door in life..would that just mean they'd have to catch the next train to the same station or the possibility of commencing a brand new life adventure..
As you all know, I have recently returned back to where it all started from and I am glad I did even if this choice carries along a great deal of implications. Fox is currently showing a TV serial called "October Road" - the show has actually been on for the past year or so, but I have not managed to watch any of it if not the trailer. Apparently it tells the story of an author who returns home after 10 years to face the people he had based his book on. The catch phrase is "because only the fool does not return to the place where he had been happy". I wanna be no fool. Despite my constant criticism of Naples and of the things I disagree of on my hometown, I lived wonderful years here.
Exactly a week ago I was at possibly the swankiest pool party of the year for a dear friend's graduation. Elegant venue, chic dresses, superb cusine, free bar, good music, beutiful young people, warm laughters, genuine affection.. perfect, I'd say. I was at first a little apprehensive about seeing people I had not met in 3,5,10 years even. What would they make of my life story? How would they perceive me? Would I be pretty in their eyes? Don't get me wrong: I am a generally extremely self-confident person, very much at peace with my self and, as I said, with "no regrets". But the situation required a little self awareness, I guess. So I got ready, adjusted the last few details before the mirror by the entrance door and entered into a new/familiar world. Beyond any of my expectations, it was like being once again the popular girl in jr high, but I did not have to pretend to be anyone else but me. After a couple of years of feeling worthless, ugly and misunderstood, I felt..well..at home!
All this often made me wonder on whether ever going away was the right choice.. what if the cute young doctor who was chatting me up had been a classmate of mine five years ago, what if I hadn't snobbed off that group of people, what if I had never fallen in love with the guy who ended up scarring me for life, what if..what if..what if...!??!?!?!
But the answer is always the same: you cannot judge life backwards because the person we are today is inevitably the result of experience - the right choices and the wrong turns alike.

Tuesday, July 22

Determined..

Coldplay, "Lost", (Viva la Vida or Death and All of His Friends)



Coldplay Lyrics
Lost Lyrics

As You Really Are..

Typing on the notes of Giovanni Allevi, a young musical genious if you ask me, I am going through the emotions of the past few hours..of the past few days..the past few months..years even.. it all feels like a flow; an unstoppable, alternate flow which sometimes feels like a flood..at times like a dry river bank in the hottest season..sometimes its flow is nice,smooth,constant; others it is rough like a stormy sea..and I may feel like the boat that floats and sinks and sails and harbours..or feel like the river itself which, to people's not noticing, feels and sees and hears and cries and smiles and lives. Learning. Learning that even to the most righteous, intentions must be examined before expressing judgement on one's actions. Learning that the people we put the most expectations upon are the ones who, rather predictably, are most likely to fail those expectations and, viceversa, those we sometime overlook, may be the most suitable canditates to amaze us. There is a lovely analogy in the movie "Under the Tuscan Sun" where a rather odd lady tells the story of her being a little girl desperately looking for a ladybird for hours and hours until she fell on the grass, started to despair and eventually fell asleep. To much of her surprise, by the time she got up she was covered in ladybirds. We are often too busy looking for something that is right under our noses. Another really good line is in the follow up from "Bruce Almighty" when the "Noah" of the situation talks to God and God tells him that He does not answer to our prayers by giving us something other than what he has already provided for us, but rather by offering us situations which will enable us to take what we have asked for. It's only movies, they are only words, but I am beginning to learn to embrace whatever beautiful surrounds me in this unlikely beautiful world of ours...thus embracing the life which was not so freely given to me.

Thursday, July 3

Beyond Writers Block





Hi there

Just read Tanya's message and feel really quite bad for having abandoned the bloggers' world!!
I would have so much to say, but this does not compare to the little time I find myself having to spare to elaborate my many opinions and thoughts into a comprehensible written babble..apologies,will try to get back asap.

Just hang in there! xx

Saturday, April 5

To Stay Focused...








...without ever depersonalising people,situations,variables around you. Staying true to what you believe whilst keeping interested and attentive to the issues and needs of those around you. To stay focused on the goal whilst keeping a 360 degrees view. That's my desire.

Friday, March 28

Tickled by a Gentle Soap Bubble

When my mother was still undergoing treatment, she wrote me a text message to encourage me throughout a time of great emotional and existentialist turmoil for me. Yap. How strange? She was sick and I was disconforted! Anyway. My phone broke the other day and I am now using an older phone where some dated messages were stored. The message read: "I love you. When one is serene and accommodating of other people's needs it means that you appreciate the gifts God gives." It didn't make much sense then. Now it is perfectly clear. Don't get cross; don't try to make justice for yourself; don't torture your mind with neverending "why's?". Love unconditionally. Love will bounce back at you as a gentle soap bubble, a soft breeze on a spring day, a lighthouse out at see at night.
(Matthew 13:1-23)

Thursday, March 13

Facticious

I have always considered Robin Williams to be a versatile and very talented actor. From Peter Pan to Patch Adams to Good Will Hunting, he has never failed my expectations. Tonight I am feeling a little sleepless, so I thought I'd kick in the good old blogging habit after watching yet another Robin William's movie, The Night Listener (2006). To be fair, I found it a rather predictable psychological thriller..yet another one based upon a successful American novel
( Armistead Maupin, "The Night Listener", 2000), a roman
à clef as they call it. Robin Williams was intriguing in his I believe first role as an older gay writer. Gray intellectual beard, a bit of a belly, cord trousers and reading glasses look. Very intriguing,charming. The focal surprising twist towards the end is,however, not about the protagonist, but the undermining and unfathomable dualism of mental illness. Fascinating. I have always found the issue of mental illness interesting. Knowing how complex and perfect machines the human bodies are is one thing, but the ability of the mind it's quite a stunning concept. The issues highlighted by the movie can be related to a series of syndromes known as Factitious Disorders, when a person's mind is able to recreate the pathology of the illness they believe to be affected by or even arrive to the point of making illness up of their keens or even make up the people in their care. At first sight,these disorders could be assessed as blatant lies of unbalanced, shameless subjects. However, on a closer analysis it is easier to noticed that this is often the subconscious work of unhealthy people who, out of feeling unworthy of attention, recreate desperate situations, personages, "lies" which they believe will gain them more popularity. As many of you probably already know, I wrote my BA dissertation on the possible contribution of psychiatry and religion to the cure of mentally ill patients, with particular regard to schizophrenia. Despite the fact I was on the point of giving up on a number of occasions (here it's a recomandation to anyone undertaking an undergrad degree not to complicate your life with a difficoult topic for your first dissertation!!!), I thoroughly enjoyed the research and I was pleased with the end result. What stunned me the most is how mental disorders are nothing much more than the exasperation of human emotions which should make us all more symphatetic to those issues. Maybe none of us would have result to similar solutions as those highlighted by the movie (am trying real hard not to spoil the movie for you!) but who has never,not once felt unworthy of love to the point of being willing even to lie in order to feel better included? To undergo compromises. To lie. To exaggerate a story. To laugh at a rude joke. To cheat. Just for that priceless feeling of acceptance,belonging. If we think hard enough we are never too far from those we are judging and condemning.

Sunday, February 3

A Deeper Way of Loving

"How do we befriend our inner enemies, lust and anger? By listening to what they are saying. They are saying "I have some unfulfilled needs" and "Who really loves me?". Insted of pushing our anger and lust away as unwelcomed guests, we can recognise that our anxious, driven hearts need some healing. Our restlessness calls us to look for the true inner rest where lust and anger can be converted into a deeper way of loving.
There is a lot of unruly energy in lust and anger! When that energy can be directed towards loving well, we can transform not only ourselves but even those who might otherwise become the victims of our anger and lust. This takes patience, but it can be done."
Elsewhere he also says that patience it is not waiting for something out of our control to happen, like waiting for it to rain, but "Patience asks us to live the moment to the fullest, to be completely present to the moment, to taste here and now, to be where we are. When we are impatient we try to get away from where we are. We act like as if the real thing will happen tomorrow, later or somewhere else. Let's be patient and trust that the treasure we look for is hidden in the ground on which we stand."

I found this quite inspirational and I thought I'd share it with you all. Words from my most cherished late author, Henry JM Nouwen, "Bread for the Journey".

Saturday, January 26

Scarlet

I often find myself reminiscing about my childhood. Maybe because it was a carefree, happy period of my life – the best dare I say. Possibly because deep down I am disappointed with the way I have turned out to be as an adult…do I really match up to the woman I dreamt of becoming as a little girl. Maybe I just find it hard to accept the fact that, in reality, I don’t seem to have changed that much. Tonight, for instance, I feel lonely and rejected like that one time when I walked over the lizard all the boys were playing with, thus ending the ‘game’, I guess. They hated me at that particular moment and made sure I knew about it too. Fair enough everything was soon forgiven and forgotten, but their refusal upset me a great deal. I remember I cried for hours…even ended up vomiting on my parents costume-made silk sate. They weren’t impressed either but, like today, they were understanding of me. Parents. Shortly after the lizard episode, we were climbing up trees again, but that period in between my peers rejection and one of them knocking on our front door whilst the others were waiting on the landing trying to look the least mischievous they could (useless attempt must say..), hurt me, like this self perceived distance is hurting me now. Even though we are not climbing up trees anymore, I am still waiting for you to knock on our front door, hold my hand again and hear you say, ‘She is my best friend!” – with pride, joy, nostalgia, awe.

Teach a child the way that he should walk, and even when he will be old, he shall not depart from it” Proverbs.

Saturday, January 19

Farewell

Farewell it's a word that I cherish. It is not as harsh as 'adieu' nor as semplistic as 'good-bye'. Nevertheless, I still don't like good-byes. I have learnt to be less emotive about it, I am contineously seeking not to get too involved emotionally..but I still don't seem to have learnt how to be detached, emotionless. I get attached, I love, I care, sometimes I love people so much I can't help but overwhelm them with affection, thus, to pull them away from me..and that kills me from the inside, it rottens me like a worm slowly consumes an apple cork, like a burning fire painfully consumes a log of wood..reducing it to ashes, mere dust, easily swept away by the gentle breeze.. Why couldn't love be easier?

Sophia - from the album, De Nachten...
If only
hand in hand we spend the night
love comes easy by candlelight

we lie about our past to make each other believe
that this is the love that will last for eternity

if only, if only
if only, if only
if only I could believe that tomorrow
when I wake from my sleep
that you'll still be with me
oh my love
my love will always be