Diogene by Raffaello. School of Athens. Fair use

‘Country Philosopher’ has been mentioned often in this blog so it is time I introduce him to readers.

His name is Dario Bernazza and what amazed me the day I read one of his books is the fact that he makes use of reason in the way the Ancients did, as if later thought almost didn’t exist.

Free from doubt, he has total faith in the absolute power of rationality and his philosophical manner is natural and naïve. He applies his ancient-like method to both big issues – the existence of God or how we can reach happiness – (see Vivere alla massima espressione) – and everyday problems, in an effort to provide answers to our contemporary void by making use of techniques similar to those utilized by Epicurean and Stoic thinkers 2000 years ago (see his image below, the best I could find to date.)

Dario Bernazza

Therefore, with all due respect to professional philosophers like Fernando Savater (who will probably be invited to our Symposium,) Bernazza will be here as well though with caution, having a few flaws in my opinion, last but not least the tendency to manipulate or influence readers a bit.

Still fighting in the Jungle

The Jap Soldier in the Jungle

Bizarre example of philosophical genuineness – and cultural isolation as well, which kind of preserved him – Country Philosopher is the Japanese soldier who keeps on fighting in the jungle since ages, having no other weapon than his argumentation and being almost unaware of the fact that the times of Socrates, Plato or Zeno of Citium are no more.

CP is a survivor of the classical world.

That all this could happen is both romantic & tragic. And perhaps in no place other than this – the countryside around Rome, (Priverno, Latina), or in the Mezzogiorno – a person like him could spring.

Living Fossils of Antiquity

How many are the Italian country intellectuals? Sparse over the territory they publish their works with their own money by using small local publishing houses and having no great number of readers (the Web didn’t exist at the time of CP.)

This phenomenon is not exclusively Italian.

Here though 1) historical layers are extremely rich and 2) an important part of the classical world originated in this country, which allows us to legitimately speak of living fossils of Antiquity.

In some way, in the Central and especially South regions of Italia, many of us are like fossils, with all the inadequacies towards modernity that this may imply (corrupt patronage systems, amoral familism, clientelism etc.). We retain good qualities as well, which are not dried up yet, I do hope.

The better part of our tradition should be revalued. In the present crisis of the West, due to a great uncertainty regarding our fundamental values, these cultural fragments of the classical world – such as philosophy replacing religion to provide full meanings in life etc. – should be re-examined and updated.

We need to achieve – at a high culture level – what has already been done with peasants’ cultures at a folklore level – for example in Latium and Campania, where, recently rediscovered and re-performed ancient folk dances and tunes, reveal fascinating residues of the rites of Dionysus, among the rest.

See this Tammurriata dance from the South of Italy, of possible Greek descent.

A type of research which is actually on the way. The Festival of philosophy in Modena for example (see picture below) has been a great success with 120 thousand presences during only 3 days last year and a seventh successful 3-days edition which ended this last September 16 2007. This formula, thanks to contributions of the European Community, has been exported to both France and the Czech Republic.

Il Festival della Filosofia di Modena

As a conclusion, the great philosophers of all times can certainly guide us towards a more meaningful life, beyond any doubt. Nonetheless, these living fossils surviving in niches of a forgotten sea – of lesser value and possibly deteriorated, like prehistoric sequences of DNA – represent survivals of a past that keeps on talking to us.

They keep the fascination of our knotty olive wood, of our scented myrtle, or of the bright yellow of our ginestras.

And they mean something to us which, in spite of all, we cannot but be proud of.


More on Dario Bernazza:

Ethical Confusion & Ancient Teachings
Assets and Liabilities in Life
Living to Our Fullest Potential
Health and Serenity of Soul.

Italian version

20 thoughts on “Country Philosopher

  1. Ehi man, very interesting blog. But really it lets you feel the difference between Milan, the city in the North of Italy where I live, and Rome, so deeply into the South… Your way of thinking is really Roman… No negative attitude, just a fact. 🙂


  2. @Ashish

    San Nicolo? uh uh….sorry dear Ashish, I am not too much into saints, altho I should, they replacing Roman gods and goddesses most of the time…..Your time in Goa seems well spent…you know more than me about Western religion. By the way, that logo u made is great. Is there anything you do badly? More comments are arriving on your great blog.

    All the best
    From the West


    Interesting…so you are from Milan…wow, a Milanese visiting my blog…..For our foreign readers: Milan and Rome are actually the biggest cities of Italy. Milan is in the North, industrial and ugly, Rome is in the centre south, industrial and historically beautiful ah ah ah ah plus the Capital of Italy, plus the centre of Western civilization.

    Ok, wait, at the moment Rome is an industrial success, though nothing to be compared with Milan, which is REALLY the industrial heart of Italy, or, better said, the enormous area around Milan, real Milan being small compared to Rome: only one million people, while Rome 4 millions. Milan’s hinterland is one of the reason why we are in the G8 club (we’ll stick to G8 only a few months longer, I am afraid, because of Cindia’s tremendous success).

    >so deeply into the South
    mmmm… this sounds, kind of … you know, fellow readers from the world. These guys from the North they feel so superior to us from the Centre-south because they have more industries. Dear milanese, do not take it badly …. I need time to reply to you. You give me lots of opportunities, oh yes, u have no idea how many … ah ah ah….big crass Roman laugh fading out … be careful young Milanese, the Roman she-wolf is preparing this ancient Roman trap for you … 😉


  3. @Poonam
    Sweet Poonam, I will try to reply. I saw those comments. One is yours, another is from another guy. They are tough to reply. I will try my best. You pls reply to my comment on your blog I wrote yesterday. Or maybe u did. I will check. Hugs


  4. @Poonam
    In 10 minutes I have no connection anymore. I will write my comments and publish them tonite. Here Internet connection is not like in central Rome 😦


  5. Haha. It was my friend Cat who blogged about it. She is German [currently living in the UK] so she is a neighbour of yours! 😛

    By the way, that logo u made is great. Is there anything you do badly?
    Thanks. Poonam said she wanted more colors, I gave her colors! lol. I do lots of things badly – cooking, paying attention to lectures [the older people to younger people kind], graphical detail etc. 😀

    More comments are arriving on your excellent blog.
    Thanks. 🙂 You might see a surprise one of these days…

    Oh and wasn’t Milan the fashion capital of the world? Or was it Venice? *scratches head* I’d love to see you do a post on places in Italy for e.g. Bologna. If you can though. 🙂


  6. @Ashish
    Yes, Milan is the fashion capital of the world (not Venice), or one of the biggest. These people are both hard-working and refined. Italians are generally refined, no matter where. Romans are more lazy, but they are special. All my blog is concentrated on this special thing lol.


  7. @Ashish
    My cooking is also horrible …a post on places in Italy….we will see…. let us not forget my blog is supposed to do some research ….we will see…
    What surprise? I like surprises…

    I wanted to give you a full lenghthy reply on competion between Rome and Milan but I am overwhelmed by cold and humid weather….. 😦
    One thing I have to tell you. This competition between Rome and Milan is felt only by Milan people … Roman people do not even know where Milan is lol..Well, actually, you have to admit, we never go to Milan unless we are obliged by job etc., while Milan people come to Roime both for job *and* for pleasure and tourism, this is already a BIG difference. Tis is all I can say so far…. brain being frozen …. 😦


  8. Hi manofroma,

    quite strangely, here the weather is mild and warm…
    We have bought the good weather too… 🙂

    It is commonly said that people from Milan are cold and with no heart. Their motto is “I work, I pay, I demand” and this is why they (quite rightly) are hated by many other italians. But, you know, we just don’t care. Too much involved in working and making money…

    Talking seriously, this was the past. Milan is now the shadow of the booming city of the fashion of the Eighties or the Nineties. A gloomy and depressed city, with lack of cultural life, if compared with even smaller and provincial cities.

    And, as you say, when I come to Rome for work… I love it.


  9. @Ashish
    My cooking is also horrible …A post on places in Italy? We will see…. why Bologna? Particular interest in that town? Bologna and ALL that region (Emilia and Romagna) is one of my favourite areas. Food is among the best we have here, if not the best. In any case I will see, let us not forget my blog is supposed to do some research on Rome… but that whole area was called Gallia Cisalpina by the Romans (so not only France is Gallia but also most of norhern Italy), I can mention it in the ‘Sex and the City (of Rome)’ new post. I have reasons ….you can read my (long) comment on Milanese’s comment in the meanwhile.

    What surprise? I like surprises…

    Listen Milanese, I wanted to give you a lengthy reply as for this silly competition between Rome and Milan. And I wrote this about such competition. But your comment now is so nice and sweet. As u Milanese usually do with Romans, you have been quicker. Too late to change my comment, being full night and me overwhelmed by cold and humidity from this damn wonderful sea coast … 😦

    So this is my comment BEFORE you posted yours … 😦

    “Do not worry, tho, Milanese, Rome’s wrath will arrive one day or another … It always arrived in the good old days, so I don’t see why it shouldn’t keep erupting ah ah ah ….
    In any case, truth being this strife between Rome and Milan is actually felt by the Milanese *only* (you say u out there think only about money …well, I have doubts…read on), since the Romans, the real ones I mean, couldn’t care less (I am monotonous, repeating things over and over).

    Romans always say that groups of Germans or Celts (or a weird mixture comprising Liguri too) got stuck in the mud a few centuries B.C. and this is how Milan was founded, just a poor village of barbarians (Insubri?). Then the Romans arrived, conquered this muddy village and called it Mediolanum, thence the modern name Milano, or Milan, in English. It can be inaccurate, my reconstruction, but it is what one hears in Rome often … I think it is high time Romans spoke out about this totally moronic Italian North-South antagonism.

    Actually there are many interesting things to say, and I do not want to be just silly (altho silliness is easy escapism when brain waves are flat). I know very well many Milanese continue to think Milan *had* to be the capital of Italy, and they go on and on talking of their being the *moral capital* of this country, which is true, in the sense that Milan *is* Italian modernity & fashion and much more, but, c’mon, isn’t it a bit pathetic, this envy for not being the capital of Italy, this “moral capital” song being sung over and over? What do you think about it, amico from Milan?

    Of course one has to be honest, there are also foreigners reading btw, so I’ll say aloud that Milan is “one of the major financial and business centres of the world” -it may be going through a period of decadence, but I am a professional optimist- “and its hinterland is an avant-garde industrial area (Wikipedia)”.

    I also admit Milan has great charm in many respects. I can feel this charm, and I do like your city. I will never forget this old woman walking in Milan’s Galleria. It was late evening. She had one rigid leg but she nonetheless kept walking with such an energy that I was amazed. Milan is in fact energetic, no matter what, and a great school of modernity and job behaviour.

    I have a colleague from the deep South who worked in Milan for 4 years: it shows, he being effective, well organized and hard working plus he having the ancient good qualities of a Southern man. Not many people from the Centre-south would admit Milan has charm, the reason being Bossi’s moronic political party (the Northern League) from Lombardia (Milan’s region), much racist towards the rest of Italy; the fact that the Milanese show off so much as for their capabilities & richness; plus other reasons not to be discussed here.

    This great fascination of Milan does exist, no doubt, and was also felt by one of the great French writers, Stendhal, who lived a long time in Italy during the 19th century and proclaimed himself “Milanese” in his epitaph.

    In any case, as I said, Roman people couldn’t care less about this whole Milano-Roma competition, while the Milanese do care, which is revealing, not to mention that the vast majority of Milanese intellectuals, artists etc. abandoned Milan and went to live in Rome (so I do not agree with u, altho u were kidding, I know).

    Ok, enough with this Milan/Rome act-of-war num 1. Hey, I am quoting Indian Ashish … well, India (and Cindia) are behind Milan’s economic depression due to their growing success: don’t worry, Milanese, Milan will rise up soon.”

    All the best
    From Roman West


  10. @Dionege Malamati
    Serendipity, in the sense that Country Philosopher was something unexpected to me? Yes, I would say so.


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