I know, I know

Giorgio is a horse, of course, of course

I know, I know, I have been away for long but in truth I’ve never written so much, much more than I have ever written on this blog. I have been busy with my novel, a trilogy called Three sides of the coin, of which the first volume (The knight move, temporary title) is now at last finished 🥴.

Soon I will here publish some excerpts of this work, which I have been writing for 12 years (Giorgio: “Aren’t you exaggerating?”🙄), ie from the day I started the other (and dearest to me) Man of Roma blog, now closed (many MoR’s posts are tho here, there including comments).

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Not that The Notebook is not dear to me, though.

Man of Roma

Traduzione in italiano

I am a man of Rome, Italy. Some of my ancestors, many centuries ago, were already citizens of Rome. So I guess I am a real Roman, or sort of, since some barbaric blood must unquestionably flow in my veins, Germanic probably and Gallic from the Alpine region.

My mother tongue is Italian, not very different from the Latin spoken by the common people at the times of the late Roman Empire.

The reason I am attempting to communicate in this Northern language – which I do not master entirely and which, though a bit chilly to my heart, I find not entirely deprived of charm – is that variety excites me like a drug and I am tired of talking mostly to my countrymen, this lingua franca, English, allowing me hopefully a wider exchange of ideas.

Why this blog

 

One reason, I have said, is wider communication.

But what can a Roman of today say to the world? Such a big statement (if there weren’t the Web to make it not entirely such.)

I think it is a great privilege to be born and to be raised here, such a special place, to the extent that something must have penetrated, something distinctive and worthy of being transmitted – in order to be able, in our turn, to receive.

I hope for comments from Western and non-Western people, since Rome and the Romans have a mediation nature that comes from the Mediterranean.

Rome in some way is more Mediterranean than European.

However, as she was already universal during the ancient Roman days, she has continued to be universal as a religious centre, like Mecca or Jerusalem, which makes Rome something way beyond Europe (*).

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Religion will not be a central topic here (there excepting ancient religions, of course) since, greatly respecting all faiths I personally have none, being an agnostic.

I like to think that I am similar to those Romans of the past who counted mostly on knowledge and reason (the followers of Epicure, Ἐπίκουρος – one among many possible ancient examples.)

 

Three Reasons for Uniqueness

 

Ages have passed since this great city was the capital of the known world, this role now being played by New York, London or Shanghai, perhaps.

Rome is though unique in the first place because “among all the greatest cities of the ancient world – Nineveh, Babylon, Alexandria, Tyre, Athens, Carthage, Antiochia – she is the only one that has continued to exist without any interruption, never reduced to a semi-abandoned village but rather finding herself often in the middle of world events and, equally often, paying for that a price (**).”

Secondly, and more importantly, Rome is the city of the soul (as Byron, Goethe and Victor Hugo put it,) of our authentic Western soul, since Europe and the West were shaped here and these roots are sacred – to me surely, and I think and hope to most of us.

These roots we have to rediscover in order to better open up to others in a new spirit of humanitas and conciliation (two chief components of the everlasting Roman mind.)

We all here in the West must encourage a totally new attitude which may enable us to better face both our present crisis of values and the radical changes looming ahead which might cause our swift decline.

Lastly, Rome, the eternal city, is unique because she is also one of the most beautiful cities in the world, if not the most beautiful.

Beyond her imperial testimonies, her stupendous urban spaces and squares, even small piazzas and alleys radiate that “sacred aura” which comes from the millennia and to which ever increasing multitudes from every land come to pay their tribute.

The capital of our beloved and civilised French cousins, Lutetia Parisiorum (it’s how the Romans called Paris, after the Parisii, a tribe of the Gallic Senones,) was not but a village until the year 1000 AD. “1700 years younger than Rome! It shows, one can feel it (***).”

Fragments Sent in a Bottle

 

Scattered fragments of this special identity inserted in a bottle and sent across the Web: this shall be the activity of this blog.

The conveyor of the message is not so important in relation to the greatness of the source and to one ingredient this conveyor might, willingly or unwillingly, possess: he perhaps being like a fossil from a distant past which is dead though, astoundingly enough, alive yet in so many Italians.

Let us admit it. In some central and especially southern areas of this country, minds and habits survive that may puzzle foreigners, historical remnants whose disadvantages towards modernity appear evident. Are they only disadvantages?

All Things Considered

This and other topics will be discussed here by a 60-year-old Roman (2014: 66) whose knowledge can be located at a medium level, with interfaces towards the upper and the lower layers of knowledge.

He will try his best to transmit something useful to others (and to himself) having been an ancient-history & literature educator for 16 years, then converted to Systems Engineering & Training for the last 14 years.

He hopes this blog will allow him to brush up humanities back, which is daunting at his age (not to mention the crazy idea of blogging in English, Italian and bits of other languages.)

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If not profundity of knowledge, he might though have an advantage (still to be proved) over many foreign commentators even born in one of the  ex-provinces of the ancient Roman Empire.

The plus of being a witness from right here.

The advantage of being a Man of Roma.

 

Marina (e la risata romana)

Marina_optimized
Marina, a pranzo durante la pausa, fotografata con il mio piccolo Nokia qualche anno fa. Qui siamo io e lei ma a volte c’era anche Darryl, di Los Angeles

Giovanni (*quando l’andavo a trovare*: “Marina, andiamo a pranzo?”
Marina (*scherzosa*): “Vabbe’ professo’. Villa Borghese?” Del resto l’ambasciata americana dove lavorava era proprio a due passi.

Marina, in tutti gli anni che ho insegnato IT (Information Technology), ha sempre avuto un’influenza benefica: una medicina, in pratica.

Somiglia moltissimo a Sabrina Ferilli ma con la parlata più romana. La Ferilli, cresciuta a Fiano Romano, vicino a Roma, ha una parlata più ‘burina’ (giornada e non ‘giornata’, passado e non ‘passato’ ecc.), il che rende l’attrice indubbiamente interessante.

Era ed è, Marina, talmente bella, così pura nell’aspetto e nel comportamento, che irradia qualcosa di speciale e quando arrivava all’Elea Spa, una delle società di formazione di cui ero consulente (ormai defunta, purtroppo, dopo la crisi), si scatenava il panico:

“È arrivata Marina! È arrivata Marina!”

Capelli e occhi castani, fare schietto, Marina è una bellezza italiana raggiante e il tipo di “romana” alla Sabrina Ferilli (come già detto sopra). Ma quello che più conta per me è che è stata una delle migliori, più devote e calorose allieve che abbia mai avuto nel corso dei lunghi (e duri) anni di lavoro nell’IT. C’è molto affetto e rispetto tra noi.

Ferilli_opt
L’attrice Sabrina Ferilli

Flavia [personaggio dei vecchi dialoghi del “Man di Roma”, ndr] è al 60% mia moglie ma è al 40% Marina.

Le due sono simili e, se mia moglie è forse più vicina a Minerva e a Giunone 😲, Marina invece possiede tra le altre cose una qualità speciale che mia moglie non ha:

Marina ride con la risata romana, uno dei migliori esemplari che abbia mai sentito, non scherzo.

Dal vecchio blog Man of Roma:

“Flavia’s ancient Roman laughter pops in the room. It is loud, slightly crass but shining, as it should be and as I hope it will ever and ever be in the future, somewhat like a sympathetic, warm BIG HUG to the world.”

“La risata antica di Flavia schiocca nella stanza. È rumorosa, lievemente volgare ma scintillante, come dovrebbe essere e come spero sempre sarà nel futuro, una specie di espansivo e caldo grande abbraccio al mondo“.

[Mia madre rideva quasi allo stesso modo … ma Anna Magnani, il massimo! 💩, ndr]

Pranzo al sole a Villa Borghese

VillaBorgheseLarger
Villa Borghese, Roma (credits)

In primavera, durante un pranzo sotto un bel sole a Villa Borghese, con i pini a ombrello tutt’attorno, ci siamo visti di fronte due ricchi vassoi di antipasti misti (fusilli, olive, pomodori, mozzarella, schegge di parmigiano ecc.), il tutto accompagnato da un mezzo bicchiere di vino bianco.

L’appetito ha invogliato alle chiacchiere mentre sia il vino che la primavera, il ver degli antichi. intossicavano a poco a poco l’aria.

Quando è arrivato il momento giusto ho preso il cellulare dalla giacca e ho cominciato a fare un po’ il deficiente (cosa che mi riesce, è noto 😕)

E allora è successo.
Abbiamo riso.
Soprattutto, LEI ha riso.

Beh, non era una delle sue risate migliori – ha visto che ero lì apposta con il cellulare – eppure è una risata romana sana, simpatica, che un minimo rivela la “cultura” della nostra città, con i suoi pro e i suoi contro (come qualsiasi risata è un po’ rivelatrice di qualsiasi cultura, mi sembra sensato affermarlo).

Cliccate su play nella barra audio qui sotto (e giudicate voi).

100 Posts. I’ll Celebrate My Own Way. 2

Fountain 'del Macherone' in via Giulia, Rome, XVII century. Click for credits and larger picture

(Continued from the previous post)

I’m leaving behind my schoolmates and getting to the point, the real blog celebration.

When I was 59 I started blogging the day I realised that my brain functions were a bit declining, or so it seemed to me.

Having scarce stimuli is dangerous when you are in the ‘early autumn of your life’ – to use Delwyn’s romantic expression. My activity in the field of systems engineering was not motivating me any more – even though my job had allowed me to ride the wave of the computer revolution.

Looking for new stimuli in my old passions I then started Man of Roma.

Piazza della Rotonda Fountain. Rome. Click for creditsMy desire for rewiring my synapses together with my personal inclination have slanted my writings toward the thoughtful side. Man of Roma saw its birth as a research on big themes which might seem a bit ambitious at first, if the approach weren’t that of the man of the street, or, as Mario put it, that of a coffee talk with friends – though going somewhere I do hope, and not nowhere!

After 20 months and 100 posts I can say this ‘discipline’ has worked fine. My brain is working better, my memory has improved (although my absent-mindedness has increased.)

I can thus testify that two teachings of my mentor were very effective, among the rest.

Writing, he used to say, is a stern discipline tightly linked to thinking:

Writing, thinking, clarifying,
striving to sort out thoughts
in ways so “clear and ordinate”
and comprehensible.

This, many years ago, Magister counselled
for the good education of the mind.
Beloved Magister,
writer, philosopher, educator…

A second element I derived from Magister is the importance of discussion and feedback to reach a better knowledge (dialectics.) I’m happy that, despite the heaviness of some themes, conversations in my blog are often longer, more interesting and have more text than the post that had started them.

I had the great pleasure to write, joke, talk or seriously discuss with people so various – and here I thank my wonderful commenters, ALL of them! – whose incitement and contribution have really kept me going.

Capitoline She-Wolf. Rome, Musei Capitolini. Public domain

We will see in the next post a first selection of themes from Man of Roma, with links to special pages I’ll have just created to sort out things a bit.

See you soon then.

Merry Saturnalia! Man Of Roma: A Blog Based On Dialogue

Happy Saturnalia. Courtesy of eternallyCool.net

Merry Saturnalia to all of you! Well, was Saturnalia the ancient Roman Christmas? Mary Beard, professor in classics at Cambridge, sheds here some light (I have to thank EternallyCool for the above picture – from the British Times, probably – and for the link).

[Know more on Saturnalia by reading our two posts : 1 & 2]

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Now, this research blog being based on dialogue my friend Mario asked me a few questions. I solicited him to be slightly rude. I think he loved it. Here is an excerpt of our conversation that may provide some information on the nature of this blog, Man of Roma.

Mario. Yours is a thoughtful blog. Why the hell are you talking of dialectic thought? Sounds like one of those school nightmares. It is not at all clear.

MoR. I simply mean that in the Man of Roma’s blog thought unfolds like in a dialogue at three levels. First we have a dialogue in the mind of the writer, who is searching and striving for greater clarity. Since it is though necessary to get out of one’s mind’s boundaries, we also have a dialogue with external authors, dead or alive.

Mario. You mean books?

MoR. Yes, books, mostly. Good books in general, and classics in particular. We need to rise above the superficiality of every-day life. We need some depth in our daily routine. A good read allows to do this in a way accessible to all.

Books can fly. Fair use

Mario. Sounds so bookish. Is this what you’re proposing to the young? The ideal of the stuffy bookworm instead of the active person who delves into the real world?

MoR. Books imply some danger, like everything. If they are an excuse for escapism, they are no good medicine. We have to find inspiration in the Italian intellectuals of Humanism and Renaissance. Petrarch was writing letters to Livy and Cicero, who had lived more than one thousand years before him.

Mario. Checcavolo, are you sure?

MoR. Of course, and he was all but nuts. He started humanism. And when, after a few generations, Machiavelli returned home he used to take off his dusty clothes and after cleaning himself and wearing a decorous attire he entered his library in order to have dialogue with the minds of ancient men. He asked questions. They replied. Nothing bookish about it. These Renaissance men were looking for inspiration. They seemed to look at the past but they were preparing the future. Something not easy to understand today. It was this New Learning which empowered Europe. My method post explains in detail my view of dialectics. The importance of classics is also explained here and here.

Mario. I see. But aren’t you interested in a dialogue in real time with living people? (I think we can continue eating our Carbonara, what d’ya think?)

Pasta alla Carbonara. Courtesy of EternallyCool.net

MoR. (Savouring Carbonara with his good friend and sipping nice red wine from Cerveteri) Of course I am interested in living people, and here comes the third level, the dialogue with the readers of this blog, or with friends (like you), with colleagues, acquaintances. Real life conversation is delightful (Fontana Morella red – or white – wine is cheap but very good) though the experience of a blog written in English has been amazing. It has allowed me to engage dialogue with people from so many parts of the world: America, UK, India, Sri Lanka, Canada, China, Sweden etc. So stimulating and thrilling! (even though sometimes I talk too much)

[A long pause. Food needs its indulgent rite]

Mario. In short, your blog is based on the technique of dialectics which involves a dialogue carried out 1) within your mind, 2) among minds (mostly through books) and 3) with blog readers and people you meet in real life.

MoR. Yes, that’s the idea. Don’t know exactly where all this will take me, but it’s the core of it all. Being a dilettante philosopher (of the streets of Rome) I’m not content with just blogging, I need a method in my blogging. It remains to be seen if this will bring any fruit.

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We leave the small terrace overlooking the tiled Roman roofs. The air is fresh. It has been raining a lot recently.

Italian version

Related posts:

Method and Encounter with Magister
The Weird Story of a Beautiful Girl Whose Body Was Found Incorrupt in a Coffin