Il cuore come misura del tempo

L’invenzione del pendolo determina una svolta nel plurimillenario tentativo di migliorare la misura del tempo.
Per secoli, millenni, anzi a memoria d’uomo, da sempre, la misura di grandi quantità di tempo era stata affidata a quantità sempre crescenti di qualcosa: ad esempio la sabbia nelle clessidre.
Eppure bastava legare una pietra a uno spago, fissarne un estremo a un asse di legno e spingere la pietra.Santa Maria degli Angeli, Roma - Pendolo di Galieo GalileiDa ragazzo, a Pisa, Galilei aveva notato che le oscillazioni dei lampadari nella Cattedrale obbedivano a una incredibile regolarità. E fu infatti uno dei suoi primi lavori quello di costruire un pendolo.
Variando la lunghezza dello spago, Galilei poté costruire un pendolo che batteva come il suo cuore. Se leghiamo un sasso a uno spago lungo un metro e gli diamo un movimento a pendolo, troviamo che il sasso impiega un secondo per andare da un capo all’altro. Ecco perché si dice “batte il secondo”.

Santa Maria degli Angeli, Roma - Ingresso sagrestia, statua di Galieo GalileiGalilei scoprì che, a parità di peso e lunghezza, l’oscillazione dura la stessa quantità di tempo, anche se si usano ampiezze diverse. Ed è così che partendo dal battito del suo cuore – cuore come misura del tempo – Galilei apre all’umanità gli orizzonti nuovi che dovevano portarla ai miliardesimi di secondo.

Santa Maria degli Angeli, Roma - Ingresso sagrestia

Basilica di Santa Maria degli Angeli, Roma

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Lettera superficiale alla sedicenne me

A volte vorrei tornare indietro nel tempo, o affacciarmi dallo specchio dietro alla porta nella mia cameretta romana, e dire alla me stessa sedicenne di non preoccuparsi.
La rassicurerei dandole una carezza, e le sussurrerei che sarà tutto un gran casino, avoja se lo sarà, ma le cose andranno – e anche più o meno bene.

Untitled 1975-80 Francesca Woodman 1958-1981 ARTIST ROOMS Acquired jointly with the National Galleries of Scotland through The d'Offay Donation with assistance from the National Heritage Memorial Fund and the Art Fund 2008 http://www.tate.org.uk/art/work/AR00347Che sarà carina, molto, e che anzi lo è già. Anche se non lo sa e si vede come un obbrobrio infagottato di goffaggine ma che invece non è così. E in un futuro prossimo lo sarà ancora meno.

Che diventerà femminile e femmina, a volte anche troppo.

Che ci saranno uomini che si innamoreranno di lei, che la corteggeranno, che la vorranno sposare o averla per sé. O che la vorranno solo scopare – non farci sesso o portarla a letto, proprio scopare, che è importante come differenza.
Che indosserà vestiti a volte succinti e abiti con scollature, e che a volte lo farà persino con disinvoltura. Che arriverà addirittura a piacersi di tanto in tanto, e per periodi più o meno lunghi di tempo.

Che sarà vegetariana e sarà contenta di esserlo senza rompere le palle a nessuno a riguardo.

Che sarà opinionated ed intelligente senza paura e ne farà un punto a suo favore. Avrà amici stupendi, letteralmente da tutti i continenti, vivrà e lavorerà a Londra e tingerà i capelli a piacimento. Si farà la sopracciglia, avrà la pelle liscia e sempre tanti néi, anzi ancora di più, ma che sorprendentemente smetteranno quasi sempre di essere un problema (perché saprà di essere carina ugualmente).

Non le direi che le mancheranno sempre tanto, troppo i suoi genitori, mamma&papà lontani, e che dovrà combattere tante, troppe battaglie e delusioni, quello no. Non le parlerei attraverso lo specchio per spaventarla ma per rassicurarla e dirle che andrà tutto okay.

Untitled 1975-80 by Francesca Woodman 1958-1981
E anche se ora che ha sedici anni e quel cojone di Martinuzzi non riconosce quanto sia già bella e speciale, e quel professore di filosofia le fa vedere i sorci verdi, e tutto sembra un grosso buco nero, e lei si vergogna di girare per i corridoi a scuola e porta sempre una felpona legata intorno alla vita per nascondere fianchi e culo perché “io non ho un bel sedere”, ecco le direi che tutto questo un giorno non conterà più. E lei porterà tacchi e rossetto rosso e smalto, e parlerà in inglese tutt’altro che stentato davanti a chiunque, e andrà a feste strane, vedrà facce nuove, sentirà cose inaudite e impensate e manterrà sempre quel super sorriso.
Anche se a volte sarà triste e ombrato, o nasconderà onde alte sotto la superficie piatta, quel sorriso ci sarà sempre e spesse volte le spianerà la via.

E lei si definirà colorata nei colloqui di lavoro, spiegando che tutto è tranne che una persona piatta o che passa inosservata.
Perché non lo è. E non lo è mai stata e non cercherebbe di esserlo mai più.

Le direi tutto questo e molto di più. Anzi invece no, mi fermerei qui. Per lasciarle la sorpresa e perché prepararla non servirebbe, se non forse a cambiarla. E Piccola-S.-da-grande non vuole più poi tanto cambiare. Tutto il successo e il successivo hanno fatto questo di Piccola-S-sedicenne: colorata e lo sa, “un miracolo col rossetto rosso” (dice l’amica con la A.) e che quasi sempre cammina a testa alta, sorride e, nonostante i difetti, ogni tanto si ama persino un po’.

Vai tranquilla piccolina. Non sei (già) niente male. E in un futuro quasi prossimo andrà tutto, in qualche modo, bene.

(Ti voglio bene – S.)

Untitled 1975-80 by Francesca Woodman 1958-1981

All the joy there is in life

He talked and talked – I said something, but he did not know that I had. He talked – I found myself absent-minded, then with my attention half on what he said, realized I was listening for the world I in what he said. I, I, I, I, I – I began to feel as if the word I was being shot at me like bullets from a machine gun. For a moment I fancied that his mouth, moving fast and mobile was a gun of some kind. I broke in, he didn’t hear, I broke in again, saying: “You’re very well-educated about children, have you been married?” He started, his mouth was slightly open, he stared. Then the loud, abrupt laugh: “Married, who are you kidding?” It offended me, it was so clearly a warning to me. This man, warning me, a woman, about marriage, was quite a different person from the man compulsively talking, compulsively spinning out intelligent words (but punctuated every second by the word I) about how to bring up a small girl to be a “real woman”, and quite different again from the man who had undressed me with his eyes on the first day. I felt my stomach clench, and for the time I understood that my anxiety state was due to Saul Green. I pushed aside my empty coffee cup, and said it was time for my bath. I’d forgotten how he reacts, as if he’s been hit or kicked, when one says one has something else to do. For he again scrambled off his chair as if he had been ordered. This time I said: “Saul, for the Lord’s sake, relax.” An instinctive movement towards flight, which he controlled. The moment of his self-control was a visible physical struggle with himself in which all his muscles were involved. Then he gave me a charming shrewd smile and said: “You’re right, I guess I’m not the most relaxed person in the world.” (…) Lay in the bath, clenched up with every sort of apprehension, but watching the symptoms of an “anxiety state” with detachment. It was as if a stranger, afflicted with symptoms I had never experienced had taken possession of my body. Then I tidied the place up and sat on the floor in my room, and tried “the game”. I failed. It then occurred to me I was going to fall in love with Saul Green. I remember now I first ridiculed the idea, then examined it, then accepted it: more than accepted it – I fought for it, as for something that was my due.

 

(…) This evening, sitting opposite to me, he said: “I have a friend back home. Just before I left to come to Europe he said to me that he was tired of affairs, of getting laid. It gets very dry and meaningless.” I laughed and said: “Since your friend is so well-read, he must know this is a common condition, after too many affairs.” He said, quickly: “How do you know he is well-read?” The familiar jarring moment: first because it was so obvious he was talking about himself, and at first I thought he was being ironical. Then, because he jerked into himself, all suspicion and caution, as over the incident with the telephone. But worst of all because he didn’t say: “How did you know I was well-read?” but “he was well-read”, and yet it was clearly himself. He even, after the quick warning stare at me, looked away as if staring at someone else, at him.

(…) Later he came back to the “friend”. Just as if he had not mentioned him before. I had the feeling he had forgotten talking about him, only half an hour before. I said: “This friend of yours” – (and again he looked into the centre of the room, away from us both, at the friend) – “does he intend to give up getting laid, or is it just another little impulse towards self-experiment?”
I had heard the emphasis I had put on the words getting laid, and I realized why I was sounding irritable. I said: “Whenever you talk about sex or love you say: he got laid or they got laid (male).” He gave his abrupt laugh, but not comprehending, so I said: “Always the passive.” He said, quickly: “What do you mean?”
“It gives me the most extraordinary uneasy feeling, listening to you – surely I get laid, she gets laid, they (female) get laid, but surely you as a man don’t get laid, you lay.”
He said slowly: “Lady, you surely know how to make me feel a hick.” But it was the parody of a crude American saying: You surely know how to make me feel a hick.
His eyes gleamed with hostility. And I was full of hostility. Something I’ve been feeling for days boiled up. I said: “The other day (…) you described yourself as the original puritan, Saul Galahad to the defense, but you talk about getting laid, you never said a woman, you say a broad, a lay, a baby, a doll, a bird, you talk about butts and boobs, every time you mention a woman I see her either as a sort of a window-dresser’s dummy or as a heap of dismembered parts, breasts, or legs or buttocks.”
(…) “I supposed this is what you call being a square, but I’m damned if I see how a man can have a healthy attitude to sex if he can’t talk about anything but butts and babies being stacked or packed and so on and so on. No wonder the bloody Americans are all in trouble with their bloody sex lives”.
After a while he said, very dry: “It’s the first time in my life I’ve been accused of being anti-feminist. It’d interest you to know that I’m the only American male I know who doesn’t accuse American women of all the sexual sins in the calendar, do you imagine I don’t know that men blame women for their inadequacies?”

Well, and of course that softened me, stopped my anger. We talked about politics. For on this subject we don’t disagree.
(…) I was able for the first time to joke with him, so that his laugh wasn’t defensive. He wears his new blue jeans, new blue sweater, sneakers. I told him he should be ashamed to wear the uniform of American non-conformist; he said he wasn’t adult enough yet to join the tiny minority of human beings who didn’t need a uniform.

I am hopelessly in love with this man. Continue reading

Mimosa (International Women’s Day)

24 February 2016, Punjab – Pakistan

A flame flickered briefly at the end of February, giving hope to the thousands of women subjected to domestic violence who currently have nowhere to turn.
The Protection of Women Against Violence Bill passed the Punjab provincial legislature unanimously on February 24, after about nine months of opposition.
The legislation criminalizes domestic, emotional, psychological, verbal and economic abuse, as well as stalking and cybercrime.
It would establish a 24-hour domestic abuse hotline, a network of shelters or safe houses where women could take refuge and receive basic medical aid and counseling for physical and mental abuse. The law effectively mandates intervention by local authorities on behalf of abuse victims — and penalties for offenders.

CBS News, March 7th 2016

Some have claimed the Bill could be a game changer…

Pakistan’s Council of Islamic Ideology, a committee comprised of Islamic scholars that regularly advises the government on the compliance of laws with Islamic values, has declared the Women’s Protection Act un-Islamic.
In a press conference last Thursday, council chairman Muhammad Khan Sherani demanded the bill be handed over for a formal review.
“It is unacceptable,” he said. “The law seems to have the objective of pushing women out of the home and to increase their problems.”
(…)
Others who have joined the fight to block the bill complain that it violates men’s rights and dignity. Some have labelled it a secular move driven by a western conspiracy.”

CBS News, March 7th 2016

Today’s the International Women’s Day. Which is not about nice pictures, hot male-strippers’ dances, women going out with their girl-friends to get drunk (and laid).
Or it shouldn’t be.
At least, just because in most countries of the world, women can’t do that. As many other, fundamental things. Including leaving their home if their husband abuses them, or denounce a rape.

Happy International Women’s day, then.
To us, who can celebrate it. And to those who can’t (and may never can).

Mimosa_4

David che se ne è andato da poche ore

“Heroes” è semplicemente una di quelle canzoni. Quei pezzi che fanno semplicemente parte di me. Come pure “Just dance” e ovviamente “Space Oddity” e tutto “Ziggy Stardust” e “Hunky Dory” e perle, gioielli più o meno noti che ho sparsi dentro di me – e nella storia di me. Per non parlare di “Labyrinth” poi, e di Sarah che prima condanna ma poi salva il fratellino, cammina in un mondo di fiabe e si innamora ma anche no del Re degli Gnomi. Anche io, da Picciola S., mi ero innamorata ma anche no del Re degli Gnomi (e chi non, e come non?).
“Heroes” dicevo è semplicemente una di quelle canzoni. La prima in effetti, in cui per la prima volta ho ricevuto quelle prime parole. Due per la precisione.
Che rimbombano ancora dentro seppur lontane, insieme alla gioia infinita che avevo provato nel sentirle dire. In quel Pandino blu scuro, sussurrate di sera con un po’ di imbarazzo dopo una giornata trascorsa vicino al mare. Dopo che altra musica c’era stata, gli Anathema (haha) e i Morphine con “Candy” pure.
Ma “Heroes” ecco quella resta particolarmente speciale.
Heroes cover

Ho realizzato, anche, che non ricordo dell’ultima volta in cui ho pronunciato, sentendole, quelle due parole. Curioso davvero (e un po’ triste pure).
Resta vivo tuttavia il ricordo delle prime. Non delle seconde, ma ricordo invece quando mi furono strappate un’altra sera, anni dopo, da un mazzo notturno di girasoli.
Non c’era musica quella sera. Ma se dovessi scegliere una canzone, sarebbe ovviamente “Sunflower” ed è ai Low che la farei suonare.

Quando la Madre con la S. era giovane, l’inglese si parlava ancora meno di oggi in Italia. E lei ascoltava Bowie, i suoi colori, capiva i testi, imparava le parole.
Una volta la Madre con la S. mi disse che è grazie a lui ed alle sue canzoni che ha iniziato ad imparare davvero l’inglese e che “per fortuna cantava in un’atra lingua così Nonna (quella Linda) non capiva le parole, sennò col cavolo che m’avrebbe permesso di ascoltare certe canzoni!”.

David B. se ne è andato da poche ore (ché ancora sono solo ore, meno di quarantotto credo, quasi da contarle sulle dita di una mano). E io sono triste come molti altri, e incredula ancora.
Sembra come se qualcuno di famiglia, un parente lontano, sia andato via. Lasciando un vuoto, una sagoma ritagliata di un cartone animato colorato uscito di scena alla maniera dei Looney Tunes, solo però per non tornare più.

(Ma in fondo ha ragione chi ha scritto ieri di non esser tristi tuttavia: col mondo vecchio di miliardi di anni, ci è capitato di fare un giro quando anche Bowie era di passaggio. Tanto male, allora, non si deve stare).

D.B.

Boom! e contraddizioni

Le contraddizioni sono una cosa interessante. Perché inaspettate. Come il caso. Lo stesso di cui parla Kundera trattando dell’essere e della sua insostenibile leggerezza.
Le contraddizioni, dicevo, sono interessanti in quanto inaspettate. Credi che l’evento A arrivi e invece, Boom!, ecco non-A, il suo contrario ed opposto, nient’affatto concorde.
(Bello poi come proprio in tale contrasto qualcuno secoli fa riuscì a vedere un’armonia essenziale).
Non-A arriva (ché non è certo B l’opposto, quello semmai è il conseguente, o un’altra cosa semplicemente) come un cazzotto nell’occhio o un pugno nello stomaco.
Ti aspetti, ad esempio, che A. sia sicura e straightforward come appare, e poi ti spara in faccia paure che ricordano le tue tardo-adolescenziali (e vorresti tanto dirle, ad A., che anche tu pensavi proprio lo stesso, cosi così come fa lei, e anche tu come lei avevi tanta paura che ti si togliesse di dosso, da sotto i piedi, la terra che tanto faticosamente hai racimolato e compattato, e quindi no, non si deve preoccupare, che a lei non lo faresti mai, anzi col terreno sotto i piedi la faresti solo volare come Aladino la sua principessa usando il tappeto fatato).
Ti aspetti, continuando con la lista, che l’avocado, in quanto frutto, sia dolce e succoso. Invece è d’una pasta molle ed allapposa che è fatto (si dice “allapposa” in italiano? Il correttore di word dice di no, ma chissà, ecco, magari ha senso uguale). Sta bene con pomodori ciliegia e feta sbriciolata, magari anche con una punta di pepe e un tocco di scorza di limone grattata.
Anche il limone non è dolce, eppure sempre frutto è. Le arance sono della stessa famiglia dei limoni, ma quando son tarocche o fortemente sanguinelle, allora ad ogni spicchio il dolce si sprigiona in bocca e arriva, sparato, fino al cuore.
Lista di contraddizioni, ancora.
C. è alta ed intelligente ed assertiva, porta i capelli rosso pel-di-carota ora – in passato erano aragosta addirittura. Prima ancora, dice, ha provato mille altri colori, dal nero corvino al fucsia al, forse, pure arancione. O corti cortissimi, ossigenati al punto da diventare bianchi, pare.

love Continue reading

Rosemary and mint

I did some gardening few days ago.
The mint is the main problem this year (in two-thousands-and-fourteen the snails were instead): that little, perfumed plant and its stubborn roots were taking over the whole garden. So I had to give it a cut.
It was all about trimming and pruning and cutting and uprooting for a couple of hours or so.
Until I got to the rosemary. This one plant is not little at all and, as most of all rosemary ones do, it looks way older than it possibly is (three years maybe, I’d estimate). And it’s placed right next to the mint. Both are growing green and strong, and my rosemary has also been blooming for the past five or six days. The mint though, had been playing the part of the annoying neighbour, as I said. Growing and surrounding and pushing strong, it had gradually left no space for the poor rosemary plant. So I had to be particularly harsh with it – and uproot a lot, on top of the standard cutting and trimming part.
“Rosemary! – I said to the old-looking plant – you have to be more careful, uh? You cannot let this one take over your space like this. You can’t make room for someone, if they don’t make enough room for you.”
I wonder if Rosemary has learnt the lesson now.
It’s a good one. Everybody, I think, should learn it too.


Life suspended over the abyss – Six invisible cities

Anastasia

Anastasia – Joe Kuth

“At the end of three days, moving southward, you come upon Anastasia, a city with concentric canals watering it and kites flying over it.
Such is the power, sometimes called malignant, sometimes benign, that Anastasia, the treacherous city, possesses; if for eight hours a day you work as a cutter of agate, onyx, chrysoprase, your labor which gives form to desire takes from desire its form; and you believe you are enjoying Anastasia wholly when you are only its slave.”

 

BaucisBaucis – Matt Kish

“After a seven days’ march through woodland, the traveler directed toward Baucis cannot see the city and yet he has arrived. The slender stilts that rise from the ground at a great distance from one another and are lost above the clouds support the city. You climb them with ladders. On the ground the inhabitants rarely show themselves: having already everything they need up there, they prefer not to come down. Nothing of the city touches the earth except those long flamingo legs on which it rests and, when the days are sunny, a pierced, angular shadow that falls on the foliage.”

 

LeandraLeandra – Joe Kuth

“Gods of two species protect the city of Leandra. Both are too tiny to be seen and too numerous to be counted. One species stands at the doors of the houses, inside, next to the coatrack and the umbrella stand… The others stay in the kitchen, hiding by preference under pots or in the chimney flue or broom closet, they belong to the house…
If you listen carefully, especially at night, you can hear them in the houses of Leandra, murmuring steadily, interrupting one another, huffing, bantering, amid ironic, stifled laughter.”

 

OctaviaOctavia – Joe Kuth

“Now I will tell you how Octavia, the spider-web city, is made. There is a precipice between two steep mountains: the city is over the void, bound to the two crests with ropes and chains and catwalks…Below there is nothing for hundreds and hundreds of feet: a few clouds glide past; farther down you can glimpse the chasm’s bed…
Suspended over the abyss, the life of Octavia’s inhabitants is less uncertain than in other cities. They know the net will last only so long.”

 

ValdradaValdrada – Joe Kuth

“The ancients built Valdrada on the shores of a lake, with houses all verandas one above the other, and high streets whose railed parapets
look out over the water. Thus the traveler, arriving, sees two cities: one erect above the lake, and the other reflected, upside down…
Every face and gesture is answered, from the mirror, by a face and gesture inverted, point by point…The two Valdradas live for each other, their eyes interlocked; but there is no love between them.”

 

ZobeideZobeide – Matt Kish

“From there, after six days and seven nights, you arrive at Zobeide, the white city, well exposed to the moon, with streets wound about themselves as in a skein. They tell this tale of its foundation: men of various nations had an identical dream. They saw a woman running at night through an unknown city; she was seen from behind, with long hair, and she was naked. They dreamed of pursuing her. As they twisted and turned, each of them lost her. After the dream they set out in search of that city; they never found it, but they found one another; they decided to build a city like the one in the dream. In laying out the streets, each followed the course of his pursuit; at the spot where they had lost the fugitive’s trail, they arranged spaces and walls differently from the dream, so she would be unable to escape again.”


Seeing Calvino is an attempt by the artists Leighton Connor, Matt Kish, and Joe Kuth, to “see,” through the creation of illustrations responding to and exploring the ideas in the texts, the work of writer Italo Calvino. The tumblr began in April 2014 with illustrations of Calvino’s Invisible Cities.