ITALY BEHIND POSTCARDS
You know that nothing is the way it appears, so don’t believe postcards either!
Italy is an uninhabited peninsula where flowers don’t grow, birds don’t fly, seas don’t sway, and dolphins don’t play, because everyone is waiting for the approval of Municipal Government. But our Government is in Eternal crisis, so stop to nature’s breathing!
In the land of sun the sun is lacking. It went out with the last shots of Red Brigades, after that we lived in darkness for decades (funds for illumination of subspaces have been stolen by politicians of the moment). Recently our SUN has been substituted with EURO, whose flat circle shines without warming.
In the midst of decomposing heaps of garbage are fluttering in the wind illegible photocopies depicting faces of a nation which ceased to exist quite awhile ago.
How come photocopies came out so badly? Seems like History was doing apprenticeship at the Roman Quirinal, where it has learned how to dilute the ink.
What about collective imagination, myths? Let’s say, Romeo and Juliet?
Sorry. Bad news on romantic front: Romeo does not jump over Juliet’s wall.
He is writing a project to get funding from the European Community which will permit him to jump over the wall. These days his focus is upon detailed list of expenses:
- Money for the ladder...
- Insurance against unfortunate fall from the balcony
- Canned meat to prevent dog from barking
- A foreign caretaker to wash and iron sheets after night’s of love
-condoms (one can’t take risks these days...)
- Viagra-just in case...
Juliette being quicker witted than Romeo, already got the money. Now she is busy organizing initiatives:
To Run for Africa .(Romeo? Oh, please, no...)
Courses for the disabled. ( It’s a gold mine! Take a cold shower, Romeo, too bad if you are burning with desire!)
Recycling and re-use of garbage. ( To SLEEP with Romeo? One has to be always on alert, so as to control new government bands.)
Eternal City is not quite there either: half of ancient churches are covered with gigantic publicity posters explaining garbage beings how to spend their money.
However down south of our uninhabited peninsula, there is a Lighthouse. That’s where lives Fata Morgana. One could also call her "a reward for courage", or "the busiest fairy of this world", or "the clairvoyant who does not believe in God".
A true aristocrat, she knows that a palace is nothing without travelling actors, street musicians, adventurers. In her house there is a room with narrow squeaky bed reserved for shipwrecked dreamers. When everything has failed, when one has no force to struggle, when one is alone, abandoned, and in the eyes are multiplying only penguins, she arrives from nowhere and brings you home, to the Lighthouse.
For a traveler to end up there is like for a soldier to be decorated with most rare medals; I was one out of many lucky guests.
Before me there stayed a courageous Georgian sailor who ventured on a trip around the world without sponsor. He sailed a boat held together by the screws recuperated from disintegrating Soviet Union.
Before him there slept Lenin, a South American musician whom she found on the street
hungry, without money, before him...well, the list is very long, but did you get the concept?..
I’ve travelled much and slept in many places. Now I know: one dreams well only in the shadow of another dreamer.
In her town the water springs are owned by the Mafia. If uncle Beppe decides to raise the price, agriculture of the entire region withers. In the midst of that ruthless sell out of nature runs the purest source which winds, unnoticed, in no man’s land. This source feeds from poetry hidden in the deep aquifers of desert; it’s Fata Morgana’a whimsical talk:
-Have you heard that Etna is exploding?
-I have heard. Let’s hope that there won’t be much destruction.
-Let’s hope so... On the other hand, each eruption is a great occasion for creation of new buildings which for now is being wasted. Imagine if one were to throw into boiling lava empty geometric forms, they will remain inside like bubbles. When lava will cool down, one could make a hole for door, and you’ve got a house.
And while looking for a book to show me some picture, a book lost in enormous room full of various beginnings which will never be terminated, she adds thoughtfully:
-A volcano in eruption is a great ceramic kiln.
Imagine: if one were to throw into boiling lava colors-what designs would be created when it would cool down! It would transform entire Etna!
Have you ever seen thirsty tourists drinking from the fountains in Rome? Joining their hands as if in prayer, they gather water and drink it like sacred words. And so do I, each time we meet, join my hands and wait with reverence for her whimsical talk to fill them.
But she does not have much time; there is always someone who requires her attention."At the balcony there is a dove with broken wing! But she had to come right here, to this house inhabited by the entire army of cats! Everything must be re-organized immediately."
My hands joined in prayer remain empty.
I look at her and think, "I don’t desire only words, I’d like to divide long silences together, only Russians know how to do it well." But it cannot be-she has no friends and does not wish to have them, for her I am just another homeless kitten saved from hostile weather.
In the meantime Fata Morgana has found the photo, and she tells me:
"Look, do you see these faces in the mountain? This is the most ancient cartoon in the entire world. Those faces are designed by shadows, each drawing changes as soon as one makes one step aside. Those are faces of unknown, ancient people. One can see them best at sunset, with last sun rays; it is incredible with what mastery the shadows are delineating their refined features."
Beautiful indeed... from where comes aggressive mindless matter’s desire to affirm itself by solidifying? Would it not be better if human beings remained shadows which transform themselves with every step, similar to sculptures in that mountain?
She does not answer, but pulls out from the chocolate box some photos:
"Once our land was called "the land of Giants". No one knows why. In my opinion it was because the mountains looked like profiles of enormous heads lying in the middle of the meadows, their faces turned to Heaven. It’s enough to look from right perspective at right time and one can see that. I believe these faces indicated traveler’s direction where to go..."
"Will we go there?"
"But of course we’ll go!"
My bed is occupied by a huge roll: in it there is my artwork. This time I do not know if I will survive another Italian icy summer. It is useless to unroll my art work in the midst of Mafia run cities, something else is needed, and something much more focused.
But then I remember vest of the Georgian sailor which was hanging here before my arrival, and Lenin’s guitar that will rest here soon after my departure, and think, "Shipwrecks of brave are a reward in itself, and when arrives Fata Morgana with her stories- that is true luck, even if by now you feel like wounded mute mermaid waiting to expire ...Who knows: maybe there is no need to try to stop disasters (they are favorite God’s music), but rather one should choose the sweetest ones, where pain is mixed with poetry? We all are fragments of a boat that fell to pieces, floating in the sea each one on its own. In our private shipwrecks we are repeating Universal rhythms, without this valzing entire God’s Creation would stop and wait for the Municipal approval (but our government is in eternal crisis, so take cold shower God in case you are impatient!)
Then again-could it be that I am in crisis, just like our Municipal Government? Why wonder about people whom I never met? Why should I care about Georgian adventurer, whom I don’t even know? He is not someone concrete like, say, my friend Daniele.
Daniele is a filmmaker, he always brings me DVD with alternative cinema, he has good connections in film circles, we have fun together, we are neighbors. As for the Georgian sailor, maybe his striped T-shirt does not even have stripes, as I imagine!
Then again, why should I care about hungry Lenin with his guitar, I have never seen that nutty wonderer. Alberto is something else-we paint together. Being a Buddhist he is infinitely patient: if there is something heavy to be moved, I call him and he moves it.
Maybe it is rather nasty on my part to say it, but one could easily substitute Daniele and Alberto with Martino and Petro, all of those fellows have insurance against fall from the balcony...
Artists who protocol their dreams at Municipality, with hope of reaching beautiful Juliette will never reach her. Everything that’s nurtured by EC funding dies at birth, those funds are cellulite in blood, Art created with it is but a Romeo insured from all disasters.
Big dreams make flowers grow, they move seas, give voice to birds, make sun shine! Only Dreams can transform well patined lies of postcards into a beautiful country which Italy was once upon a time. Things that matter at the end are: wonder boat made from remnants of Empire’s wreckage, my collage exposed in spite of Mafia in southern towns, me telling fairy tales about future to Sicilian children, Lenin singing songs of Freedom to whoever wants to listen.
Fata Morgana, I am not in crisis, but do not disappear! Your poetic thinking gives me courage; I am looking forward to disasters, just as you have taught me. Thanks to you I know my destiny:
...when volcanoes will erupt together, for all the shipwrecked people it will be the beginning of a new life, we will travel together! And then we will send postcards to History assuring her that we are doing well even in the middle of a storm.
She doesn’t approve of what I say, however. "You are a character from a fairy tale, but they do not serve any more. Fairy tales are merely a substitute for true existence. Just take any country road and look around with attention: you’ll see that fairy tale is everywhere...
What do I need for "true existence"?
You’ll have to find a shadow of your stature, a convincing denial of yourself.
You’ll need a body which will not drown in dreams at every puff of wind.
You’ll have to learn how to live in three dimensions.
Seeing me grow sad, she smiles:
Don't disappear either, I also love you. Come back some time like that, without reason, we will divide long silences. Bring with you a package with your postcards; we’ll see together how to disenchant them...