Sunday, December 21, 2008

Musical Rambling XI: Eivør Pálsdóttir 's vocal magic

After the mesmerizing photos of the brave Rebekka Guðleifsdóttir I feel like indulging a bit more in this country of sagas, this last speck of Dreamland, the far north....

And what could be better than the voice of Eivør Pálsdóttir? There was a time in which music was magic, conjuring the elementals, and the voice was the wand which commanded the unknown..

Monday, November 10, 2008

Rebekka Guðleifsdóttir's Fairish World

I have confessed that I believe in Fairies. As a matter of fact, I do believe in more: somewhere, perhaps next door, there is a different world, FairyLand, where fairies and other magical creatures live and prosper.
Once upon a time the boundaries between our world, The Gray World, and FairyLand were somewhat more porous.
Not anymore.
Yet, every now and then, some terse eyes can sometimes cross those boundaries and take a glimpse of that enchanted land.
Such are the eyes of Rebekka Guðleifsdóttir. I have nothing more to say, but this:
click and watch

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Poetry Readings VIII: Stef Grassi's Frosty Trap

This fragment is from the notebook of Stefania Grassi, a contemporary tuscan poet, from her 2006 visit to Russia. It was not intended for publication, at least in this preliminary form, but I find it nonetheless extremely powerful as it is, a speck of burning heat in the midst of Moscow's frost.

A minimal metrical editing has been done by myself.


la neve
la striscia
di desideri
non formulati
E il fuoco
con meno
io stessa
di carta
per farlo

calore liquido
dalla bocca

Ma troppo
a lungo
è stato
per poter
i capelli
e vedere
ciò che
If only the snow knew
to trace the footprints
of unformulated desires
And the fire follow me
with less damage.
I would prepare
heaps of papers
'to make it blaze
liquid heat
from the mouth
finally open.
But all too long
it has been cold
to untie
my hair
and see
(translation by PolyMathicus 2008)
Stefania Grassi retains all the rights of the above. No copy or redistribution is allowed without explicit permission of the author. She can be contacted at her blog Aobliquo.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Musical Rambling X: Libre Vermell

The Libre Vermell found in the monastery of Monserrat is a magnificent example of sacred music with an underlying profane texture.

It is precisely this mix of religious and secular, holy and earthly, that fascinates me to the extreme.

Here is one of the 10 surviving songs, Cuncti sumus conanentes, in the magisterial direction of Jordi Savall.

Earth and Heaven are not that far, if our hearts are open..

Friday, September 26, 2008

Poetry Reading VI: From Daumal to Pradal

Rene' Daumal was no minor fellow: in his brief life he managed to be a mountain climber, a writer, an orientalist, a poet, and most important of all, a Truth Seeker.

Recently I have found a small poem of his which left an indelible impression when I first read it, years ago. Here it is:

Je suis mort parce que je n’ai pas de désir,

Je n’ai pas de désir parce que je crois posséder,

Je crois posséder parce que je n’essaye pas de donner.

Essayant de donner, on voit qu’on n’a rien,

Voyant qu’on n’a rien, on essaye de se donner,

Essayant de se donner, on voit qu’on n’est rien,

Voyant qu’on n’est rien, on désire devenir,

Désirant devenir, on vit..."


I have died because I do not have desires,

I do not have desires because I think that I own,

I think that I own because I do not try to give.

Trying to give, one see that one has nothing,

Seeing that one has nothing, on tries to give oneself,

Trying to give oneself, one seer that he is nothing,

Seeing that he is nothing, one desires to become,

Desiring to become, one lives...

(poor translation is mine)


Now comes the funny part: after I posted it somewhere on the Social Web, Caroline Pradal, a french artist and a contributing member of AristoKracy, wrote this small poem in reply (she of course retains the copyright of this delicious creature), which I found witty and lovely (and I am sure Daumal, were he still alive, would forget her little "impertinence"):

Je suis en vie parce que je n'ai que des désirs,

J'ai des désirs parce que je les possède,

Je les possède parce que je les donne.

Essayant de donner, on voit que l'on a tout,

Voyant qu'on a tout, on essaye de ne rien donner,

Essayant de ne rien donner, on voit que l'on est Tout.

Voyant que l'on est Tout, on ne désire plus Etre,

Désirant ne plus Etre, on meurt...


I am alive because I have only desires,

I have desires because I own them,

They are mine because I give them.

Trying to give, you see that you have everything

Seeing that you have everything, you try not to give

Trying not to give, you see that you are All.

Seeing that you are All, it no longer wants to Be,

Desiring not to Be, you die ...

(translation by Caroline Pradal, all rights reserved)

Saturday, September 6, 2008

The Theological Dream of C.S. Lewis

The same friend who prompted me to look into Chesterton is the motor behind my current reading: I am happily finishing The Great Divorce, by Clive Staples Lewis.

It is a small book, so small one can easily carry it in a pocket. Nevertheless, it is filled with wisdom, and uncanny insights. One wonders if it is only the product of a fertile fantasy, or something more..

What I found ironic here is that it was written as a response to The Marriage of Heaven and Hell, by William Blake. And yet, as different as their vision of the beyond is, these two bright fellows agree on one thing: the door to Heaven are in forgiveness.

Nay, not just forgiveness, that has been repeated ad nauseam.

Forgetfulness is the right word. Forgetting the evil we received and we imparted, that is the key.

Hell remembers, Heaven forgets..

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Poetry Readings V: Lispector's Dangerous Clarity

Scouring Youtube for a recitation of Clarice Lispector 's A dangerous Clarity I found these two videos. Which one to choose? The first one energetic, vigorous, almost dry, the second more intimistic, introspective, refleshingly humid. I feel a tad like Buridan's ass. Well, there is a way out: I shall not choose. They are both right. A poem, a real one, has many identities, it supports an almost endless number of interpretations. A poem is reborn each time is recited. Always the same, always different.

Hear the voice of the most dangerous clarity.

A Lucidez Perigosa

Estou sentindo uma clareza tão grande
que me anula como pessoa atual e comum:
é uma lucidez vazia, como explicar?
Assim como um cálculo matemático perfeito
do qual, no entanto, não se precise.
Estou por assim dizer
vendo claramente o vazio.
E nem entendo aquilo que entendo:
pois estou infinitamente maior que eu mesma,
e não me alcanço.
Além do que:
que faço dessa lucidez?
Sei também que esta minha lucidez
pode-se tornar o inferno humano
- já me aconteceu antes.
Pois sei que
- em termos de nossa diária
e permanente acomodação
resignada à irrealidade -
essa clareza de realidade
é um risco.
Apagai, pois, minha flama, Deus,
porque ela não me serve para viver os dias.
Ajudai-me a de novo consistir
dos modos possíveis.
Eu consisto,
eu consisto,

my translation:

The Dangerous Lucidity

I am feeling a clarity so great
that erases me as a real and common person:
it is an empty clarity, how to explain?
like a perfect mathematical calculation
which, however, is not needed.
I am as, it were,
seeing clearly the void.
Nor do I understand what I see
for I am infinitely greater than me
and I do not reach myself.
what do I do with this clarity?
I also know that this clarity of mine
can turn into a human hell
- it happened to me already-
Thus I know that
- in terms of our daily
and permanent arrangements
resigned to unreality-
this clarity of reality
is a risk.
Quench, God, my flame
for it doesn't help me to live the days.
Help me to consist
of the possible modes.
I consist,
I consist,

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Musical Rambling IX: Sainte Colombe's pensive viola da gamba

I owe to a great friend the lucky discovery of the austere delights of music for viola da gamba. Amongst the greatest practitioners one must number the Sieur de Sainte Colombe, whose aloofness in life is magnificently reflected in his impeccable music.

When the fumes of turbid sentimentalism fog one's spirit, this music acts a potent medicine.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Ibsen's oxymoric farewell message

Recently I have been taken by the fancy of writing a play. As I have absolutely no precedent to rely upon, I decided to follow the old adage: climb on the shoulders of giants. There is hardly any giant in the world of modern playwriting larger than Henrik Ibsen (just look at his stately face, it tells volumes about the man).

So I have spent a few days reading some of his late plays. It would be quite tempting to indulge in some impromptu ramblings on these monumental works, particularly because I have watched Master Builder in the 1960 interpretation starring E.G. Marshall and Lois Smith, a truly outstanding performance.

I shall leave Ibsen's plays and characters to another time. Reading bits of his biography, I found out about his senile love for the young Emilie Bardach, with whom he corresponded for a while, and to whom the impetuous character of Hilde in Master Builder is perhaps inspired.

Here is his last message to Emile, dated September 20, 1889:

Hohes, schmerzliches Glück , um das Unerreichbare zu ringen

which translates:

High, painful luck, to struggle for the unattainable

Dear old Ibsen....

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Aldo Andreotti's Math Lesson

It was long ago in Pisa. Scuola Normale Superiore, Science Division. The students were waiting anxiously for the famous geometer, Aldo Andreotti, a legend of modern day italian mathematics.
The place: a lecture room, in the old Palazzo dei Cavalieri. Time: evening, before dark.
November, perhaps. Perhaps not.
At a certain point, a clumsy, chubby fellow shows up and announces that Prof. Andreotti will be late, and that he will start the lecture in his stead. There was nothing remarkable about it, the fellow writes formulae monotonously, one after the other, on the wide chalky blackboard.
Time passes, endless, tedious time.
Then, suddenly, as if materializing out of thin air, Professor A. shows up. He stares at the formulae, dismisses briskly the chubby and clumsy fellow, and begins writing, as if talking to himself.
He may have continued for a few minutes, he may have asked a few questions, I have no clear recollection.
Once again, as suddenly as he had appeared, he stops.
He sits on his chair, his jaws contracted, and looks at all of us, with a deep, almost annoyed, penetrating eye.
There is a sense of oppression, of thick clouds gathering, a palpable mute tension.
Professor A. finally open his mouth and utters the following words, in a strong tuscan accent (how strange it sounded in that momentous event):
- Let me tell you one thing. Math is hard, very hard. I worked all my life to understand it, and it is still hard. Each day. You must be prepared to work just as hard, or you better not waste your time, better go out and work in the fields-
(the last sentence, -andate a lavorar' ne' campi - echoes in my mind like a harsh, ironic mantra)
Then he pauses, an unfathomable pain engraved in his face, he toils with something on the desk, perhaps a cheap packet of cigarettes:
-The lesson is over-
I will never forget that class, Professor Andreotti, as long as I live. It took me so many years to understand it, but now I know. You were right, math is hard, and so is everything worth while in this world.You better be prepared to do your best, or let it go, before it is too late to regret it.
PS For the cognoscenti, Aldo Andreotti appears in the monumental and very idiosyncratic mathematical autobiography of Alexander Grothendieck, Recoltes et Semailles. Andreotti is one of the rare individuals whom AG seems to remember with affections, from his previous academic life.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Poetry Readings IV: Gerard De Nerval's Divine Enchantress

Recently I have been visiting, after so many years (too many, alas!), my native homeland, la bella Italia, and have drank once more the heady cocktail of life that Toscana offers to all. In a brief stop from my restless motorcycle rides up and down the Apuan Alps, I was glancing into the greenery of the Mediterranean landscape, and all of a sudden the first verse of Nerval's Myrtho resounded like a hypnotic melody from a never forgotten past:


Je pense à toi, Myrtho, divine enchanteresse,
Au Pausilippe altier, de mille feux brillant,
A ton front inondé des clartés d'Orient,
Aux raisins noirs mêlés avec l'or de ta tresse.

C'est dans ta coupe aussi que j'avais bu l'ivresse,
Et dans l'éclair furtif de ton oeil souriant,
Quand aux pieds d'Iacchus on me voyait priant,
Car la Muse m'a fait l'un des fils de la Grèce.

Je sais pourquoi, -bas, le volcan s'est rouvert...
C'est qu'hier tu l'avais touché d'un pied agile,
Et de cendres soudain l'horizon s'est couvert.

Depuis qu'un duc normand brisa tes dieux d'argile,
Toujours, sous les rameaux du laurier de Virgile,
Le pâle Hortensia s'unit au Myrte vert!

here is my translation:
Of you I think, Myrtho, divine enchantress
Of proud Posillipo, bright with million fires,
Of your face flooded in the clarity of the East,
Of black grapes mixed with the gold of your braids.

From your goblet I too drank euphoria
in the furtive flash of your smiling eye,
When at Iacchus' feet I was seen suppliant
For the muse has made me one of Greece sons.

I know why over there the volcano erupts once more…
Because yesterday you stroked it with your agile foot,
and suddenly the horizon was buried in ashes.

Since a Norman duke broke your clay gods,
Forever, under the branches of Virgil's laurels,
The pale Hortensia & the green Myrtle entwine !

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

The Grail of Java Web Development

Almost a year ago, in a post on metaprogramming, I announced that I would spend a few lines on my experience with Grails. I must tell you why I needed it: I wanted to develop some quick-and-dirty R&D Web prototype for my former employer, and also another one for my own pet project (a bleeding edge social web application, more later...).

I am a java fellow, not too keen on web programming (yes, I have done J2EE, servlets, a bit of Spring, and all that jazz, but my core interest is algorithms dev, not web architectures, plus patience is most definitely not my chief virtue), thus I needed something that would get me going real fast.

Rails? yes, but I had no time to learn Ruby well enough, and moreover I had some java code I wished to reuse, without any further ado.

The choice was obvious: Grails.

I have got to say that the very first minutes were truly blessed: seeing an entire web app coming out of nowhere was extremely gratifying. Customization? Well, it was a bit of a pain, to tell you the plain truth. Groovy is easy, but is still another language, and things are not entirely trivial when it comes to going beyond a simple CRUD app. However, all in all, big thumbs up.

The best part is, there are many plugins available.
You need security? ACEGI plugin.
You need search? Worry not, there is a searchable plugin based on Compass and Lucene.
Do you want to do some fancy Ajax stuff? Plenty of choice. For instance, the GWT plugin.
Bottom line: you have (most of) the tools you need.

Is Grails scalable enough for a true enterprise app? Some say yes (I tend to believe them), some say no, but fact is, I do not know yet for sure (I''ll tell you in a while). What I do know is, if you want to develop some web prototype at the speed of light (almost), and you do not want to go out of your familiar java turf (why should you?), stick to Grails.

PS I have already written on Graeme Rocher's blog this one, but I am going to repeat it here and now: as a social web researcher/developer, I would love to see some plugins dealing with the OpenSocial API, or perhaps a FaceBook API plugin, i.e. some way to get a template of a social web app right off the shelf, as it were. As I am a big believer of the programmable social web, I think this step would skyrocket Grails to another dimension of adoption and success. Hopefully something along those lines will be available soon.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Stephen Jay Gould on Deep Time

Stephen Jay Gould's book Time's Arrow, Time's Cycle is dominated by a grand theme:
Deep Time

In our age of computers, we talk of billions of years with nonchalance. The fact that we can compute these huge expanses of time fools us into believing that we can grasp them. But, is it so? Can we genuinely understand even, say, a period of mere 100 years? I would answer in the negative. Our entire life experience is confined to a few decades at best, and the age of our grandads is already mythology.

No, we cannot understand Deep Time, beyond a sense of awe. It is thus sobering to realize that this notion is quite new in the history of ideas. Only a few hundred years ago the world was young. Then, Deep Time appeared to hunt us forever.

We are not just microbes in space, our life is ephemeral in time as well. Let us never forget how ephemeral....

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Musical Rambling VIII: Sonny Rollins' Healthy Madness

Someone once said: Energy is the Eternal Delight.

He most certainly knew what he was talking about. There are moments where you just need this one: sheer, unmitigated, unbridled energy.

When I do need it, I have a single stop to make: Sonny Rollins. Here the old powerful man is playing Tenor Madness. And madness it is, just a bit, but of the most healthy type.

Feel the vibes and be happy

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

On Risotto And The Old Virtue Of Patience

Italian cuisine is chiefly popular for pasta and pizza. Nothing wrong with either one, of course, but I have a dream: that at some point in time risotto will be added to the short list of remarkable italian dishes. Risotto was, with Polenta, the staple food for northern italians, when life was slow and deep. It still reigns amidst the splendors of Northern Italian Cuisine, as a polymorphic and finely dressed little prince...
I have another, more self-centered dream: that, once I have defeated my despicable indolence, I will become a Master in the Noble Art of Risotto Making.
Well, Master I am certainly not, at least not yet. I have started my apprenticeship, though, and I want to share with you the basic secret: the single most important ingredient in Risotto (aside good Arborio rice) is the old Virtue of Patience.
You must stir, continuously, slowly, at a moderate fire regime. Risotto is unforgiving: too much fire, too much hurry, and you''ll end up with a heinous magma.
There is, to be sure, a true alchemy at work here: the action of fire has to take its dutiful place, a fire nurturing the gastronomical miracle.
Epicureans et savants, to the stove!
PS Do not save on the wine. A risotto deserves the very best there is.
PPS. There are plenty of good resources on risottos (try here, for a starter). Keep in mind that the basic recipe is deceptively simple, but the variations endless.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

On The Ivy League

I have been in the USA long enough to understand the implications of the term Ivy League. Here, a country where the social hierarchy, or system of castes if you prefer, is still rather mobile, it is important to establish an elite of some kind.

As a matter of fact elite schools have been around since times immemorial, and they still go strong: suffice to think of the French Grandes Ecoles to know it all.

A few months ago, I had the sudden desire to know what is really old, in the world university system. I thought of Oxford and Paris, of course, but also of Bologna (1088), and (I am a native of Italy) of the Schola Salernitana, a medical school of the late middle age.

Old? Yes, but one can do better. As it turns out, the oldest extant university in the world is
the University of Al-Karaouine or Al-Qarawiyyin ( جامعة القرويين‎), founded in 859 CE. Not bad, right? Amongst its renowned alumni, the greatest jewish medieval philosopher Maimonides.

To be sure, there were centers of learning back in the far past, for instance the buddhist university created under the indian king Ashoka, and other schools tied up with some form of priesthood. Whether we would cast them into the modern label of universities is, of course, matter of taste (I would).

So, here is my question:

If you are a graduate of, say, Bologna, Coimbra, Toulouse, Oxford, you belong to which league?

I would suggest the Stalactite League, but perhaps someone here will come back with a better name :)

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Chesterton on Fairy Tales

Prompted by a friend's praise, I have recently read Chesterton's Orthodoxy. It has not been an easy reading, perhaps simply because in this quite special period of my life I my brain is so overloaded with my own life, that those written words have (rare event indeed!) little part in it.

I shall refrain from commenting on the book itself, and its scope: some readers will find it sublime, some boring, I suppose. Instead, I focus on what really fascinated me, because it resonated in my soul with a deep echo. Here are Chesterton's words:

The things I believed most then, the things I believe most now, are fairy tales. They seem to me to be the entirely reasonable things. They are not fantasies; compared with them other things are fantastic. Compared with them religion and rationalism are both abnormal, though religion is abnormally right and rationalism abnormally wrong. Fairyland is the sunny country of common sense.

Outlandish? Perhaps a bit provocative, but, I believe, basically true. We have learned so many rules growing up, so many assumptions, so many prejudices, that the simple candor of children's fairy tales strikes us down with his morning's brightness...

Saturday, May 3, 2008

On Fairies

I have been missing in action for a tad too much, time to come back...
In this post I want to make a public announcement:

I do believe in fairies.

To be sure, I believe in much, much more: elves, ogres, sorcerers, witches, angels, demons, and whatnot. My universe (and I say it with pride) is vast and inclusive.

Am I insane? Gullible? Ignorant? I would think not. Quite simply, I believe that there are many pairs of glasses through which you can stare at reality. One of these glasses makes you see the same world you and I used to live in when we were children.

Why not putting them on once again, from time to time? Try, you will not regret it.

PS There is an excellent blog on fairies, definitely worth visiting: Fairish.

PS2 Once you dig up that fabulous pair of glasses from your dusty chest of children toys, you will start spotting fairies amidst humans (they are rare, to be sure, so please do not get irritated if it will take you some time). So far I have positively identified two fairies. When you spot them, they are unmistakable. Trust me.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

The Vagabonds of Stanislav Szukalski

I have just received from Amazon Behold !!! The Protong, by Stanislav Szukalski. I am deeply indebted to Greg Pass for introducing this uncanny character to me, and I exhort everyone to read the two Szukalski posts on Unurthed.
Skimming through the pages of this extraordinary document, a preternatural and even mixture of pure folly and colossally lucid insights, I feel strangely at home.
Here is a man who has intensity.
My attention is now to the back cover, where I learn that this fellow had founded a Club, the Vagabond Club, of kindred spirits.
The motto of the club was:
-All those who eagerly perceive the as-yet-unnamed are Vagabonds. -
Do I need to comment?

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Musical Rambling VII: Patty Pravo's fabulous thought

In Musical Rambling V, I have paid my tribute to a marvellous female voice in contemporary italian pop music, Alice.

But my star is a double one: Alice and Patty Pravo. There is a celestial undertone in Alice, a scent of oriental enlightenments, but I am a man who aspires to be total, to reach out to the completeness of knowledge & experience available to mankind.

Therefore, could I forget the siren chant of Patty Pravo's velvety voice?

Listen to her in the now classic Pensiero Stupendo.

PS If you read italian, you''ll find the lyrics here.

Poetry Readings III: A Wise Quatrain by Valduga

Thanks to a poetess friend I have discovered Patrizia Valduga, a true gem in contemporary italian poetry. Here is a short quatrain by Valduga, which I memorized as a remainder:

Tu mandali a dormire i tuoi pensieri,
devi ascoltare i sensi solamente;
sarà un combattimento di guerrieri:
combatterà il tuo corpo e non la mente

You send your thoughts to sleep
you must listen only to your senses;
it will be a fight of warriors:
the body will fight, not the mind.

(my translation. I refrained from the futile exercise of rendering the meter)
Yes Patrizia, the mind has fought already, way too long. It is the body now that must continue the fight. The body, and a brave heart.

Saturday, March 8, 2008

The Inner Female of Raymond Abellio

J'ai mis longtemps à comprendre que l'homme deux fois, la première fois de la mère, la seconde de la femme, s'affronte entre ces deux naissances à ce semblant d'énigme qu'est la féminité hors de lui alors que le seul mystère est la féminité en lui

It has taken me long time to understand that the man born twice, the first time from his mother, the second one from the woman, faces between these two births a seeming enigma, which is the femininity outside of him, whereas the only mystery is the femininity inside of him.

(translation is mine)

Raymond Abellio

Today is March 8th, International Day of Women. May the internal woman of the twice-born men finally join hands with the external woman they are bound to face. Then, and only then, the world will be a better place to live.

Friday, February 29, 2008

Musical Rambling VI: Franck's Sonata

Franck' s Violin Sonata is an unforgettable piece of music: so sweet, languid, evanescent..

(somehow it captures perfectly my current mood)

Here is performed by the skillful hand of Christian Ferras, whose untimely death adds a sad touch to this phenomenal interpretation.

Candles are recommended.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

The infamous sentence of Novalis

Georg Philipp Friedrich Freiherr von Hardenberg, better known as Novalis, had, in his brief life, many things to say. There is hardly a more abundant book than his Fragments, a bag of startling insights, mad conjectures, fascinating and far-fetched comparisons.

It is difficult to choose a single sentence there. Nevertheless, I shall try. Here it is:

Wir suchen immer das Unbedingte und finden nur Dinge

Which I translate as follows:

We always search for the undetermined and we find always things.

Un-bedingte is an interesting word: the verb bedingen means determine, condition, etc. Sometimes Unbedingte is translated as Absolute, which is also correct, as the absolute is free from conditions.

May we learn the art of looking through things, into the Unbedingte...

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Being like Water

Bruce Lee' s fame as a martial artist and as an actor needs no comment. Yet this man, larger than life, has left behind a few pearls of wisdom for the rest of us. None is more famous and more enjoyable than his legendary "Be Water" interview:

Empty your mind, be formless, shapeless--like water.

Now you put water into a cup, it becomes the cup,

You put water into a bottle, it becomes the bottle,

You put it in a teapot, it becomes the teapot.

Now water can *flow* or it can *crash*!

Be water, my friend.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Musical Rambling V: Alice's Nomads

She has been for so long my absolute standard of style. It was nice spotting her on YouTube, after many nomadic years along the tracks of the world.

Who? Carla Bissi, aka Alice Visconti, at the very height of her career.

I shall find the inscrutable dimension at the end of the road, wondrous Alice, and before passing over to the other side, a last fleeting thought will be for you.




Nomadi che cercano gli angoli della tranquillità
nelle nebbie del nord e nei tumulti delle civiltà,
tra i chiariscuri e la monotonia dei giorni che passano.

Camminatore che vai cercando la pace al crepuscolo,
la troverai la troverai alla fine della strada.

Lungo il transito dell´apparente dualità,
la pioggia di settembre risveglia i vuoti della mia stanza
ed i lamenti della solitudine si prolungano.

Come uno straniero non sento legami di sentimento
e me ne andrò dalle città nell´attesa del risveglio.

I viandanti vanno in cerca di ospitalità
nei villaggi assolati e nei bassifondi dell´immensità
e si addormentano sopra i guanciali della terra.

Forestiero che cerchi la dimensione insondabile,
la troverai, fuori città,alla fine della strada.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Poetry Readings II: A Pound of Gold

It was in my college years in Pisa. It was perhaps springtime. It was a gorgeous morning.

I grabbed a copy of the Pisan Cantos, and walked along the Lungarno Pacinotti, trying to fathom the arcane abundance of cross-references, of ostentatious unmitigated erudition, of sparkles of divine beauties disseminated throughout this maddest of poems.

Then, as if struck by lightning, I stopped.

Those magic lines from the Canto LXXXI, the lines that redeem forever the sick life of Ezra Loomis Pound, il Miglior Fabbro:

What thou lovest well remains,

the rest is dross

What thou lov'st well shall not be reft from thee

What thou lov'st well is thy true heritage

Whose world, or mine or theirs

or is it of none?

First came the seen, then thus the palpable

Elysium, though it were in the halls of hell,

What thou lovest well is thy true heritage

What thou lov'st well shall not be reft from thee

Hear them, fellow reader, ponder them, one by one, line by line, and never, ever forget them. This is the speck of gold that shined in the darkest of muds

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Nisargadatta, between Wisdom and Love

It was long ago. I had copiously indoctrinated R.C., a college friend of mine, with a lot of "hermetic" nonsense. She, on the other hand, just gave me one book: I AM THAT, a collection of talks by Nisargadatta Maharaj. One single book that burned like hell in my hands, a book that I sifted through with an insatiable craving.

The craving for TRUTH.

Let me tell you what I found inside.

One thing I immediately understood was the stature of the man and his teaching: instead of giving you a recipe for eternal life, for power, for becoming a superman, for attaining heaven, for some improbable freedom from suffering, he taught you how to die. I do not mean to commit suicide, of course, but how to die to the endless illusions about life, starting from the biggest one, the very root of illusions:

that we, as individuals, exist.

Well, many years have passed, and in the last few days I found myself having great conversations with a new friend & fellow seeker, mostly based on this incredible book.

I have just picked one quote, to which I am particularly attached. My wish to you all, friend and seekers, is that you too will be able to flow between the two great voices of Love and Wisdom.
Because Life is that flow.

My Very Best Wishes To You All.

I find that somehow, by shifting the focus of attention, I become the very thing I look at, and experience the kind of consciousness it has; I become the inner witness of the thing. I call this capacity of entering other focal points of consciousness, love; you may give it any name you like.

Love says "I am everything".

Wisdom says "I am nothing".

Between the two, my life flows.