Thursday, 28 April 2011

Detournement, Drifting & Resistance

A British comedian recently offered the throwaway gag that when she used her GPS she found herself ‘gaming the road’.

Here is Veronesi on fighting back:

To amuse ourselves, Claudia and I played ‘What a pity!’ with the GPS. We had put in the school address as the destination then we’d systematically disobeyed the orders given by the female voice (cold, peremptory and pretty unsympathetic) that told us the shortest route. ‘Turn to the right NOW!’ said the voice. But I replied, ‘What a pity! That doesn’t suit,’ and I kept straight on. The GPS got confused. It started recalculating the route and Claudia laughed. Then once it had got things sorted out the female voice began again: ‘After 100 yards turn left.’ And I replied, ‘What a pity! That could be tricky.’ The voice was insistent: ‘Turn left NOW!’ And it was Claudia, whilst I turned instead to the right, who told the GPS, ‘What a pity! We’ve gone right.’
(Sandro Veronesi: Caos calmo)

Sunday, 27 March 2011

Dario Fo at 85

'It will be a ghastly birthday. For years I’ve waited for an ending not exactly happy but hopeful at least, informing me that I can go away in peace. Instead once again there’ll be no party, given current conditions that can only make us weep. [We’re] surrounded by people ready to throw their crooked cards on the table and each time they find some idiot who comes along and gets himself robbed senseless. It’s like the three card trick [...]

'So what’s happened to people? I would say that their sense of themselves as moral entities has fallen asleep and that television bears a great responsibility. [It’s] a Nirvana: the more Life disappoints it becomes like those prize competitions where if it goes well for you you don’t need effort or intelligence, just some stroke of luck, and off you go with a nice big pot of money.’
(Dario Fo 85 anni, compleanno orribile)

Thursday, 24 February 2011


‘Is it preferable to be free and harmless or to be dangerous and in prison?
‘I prefer to be in prison because I’ve set free one of my dreams than to be free because I have put it in prison.’
(Isabella Santacroce: Lulù Delacroix)

‘… it’s a prison. But to get out of it you first have to find yourself in prison. It’s necessary that prison should contain and icarcerate virtual beings, since only because that’s what they are can they really find the capacity and really decide to escape.’
(Giorgio Cesarano: Manuale di sopravvivenza)

Saturday, 26 June 2010

(Re)production: Two Fragments from De Carlo

‘He indicated a little television on a shelf. He said, “I just need 30 seconds of advertising (any kind will do) to make me lose the will to write. The cynical and cowardly game that’s played upon the instincts of anyone who’s watching, the false and studied sentiments coming from murderers sitting at their agency drawing boards. The little smiling families out in their gardens used to peddle detergents to those who are prisoners of cities poisoned by the detergent industries. And they go to Ireland or into the Sahara to film cars, after cars have destroyed this country to the point where there isn’t even a corner where you can find a car that can drive along unimpeded.”’

‘Even I had to make an effort to keep on track. I tried to go very slowly. I checked up on him using the rear view mirror: he wasn’t sleeping. At one point he said to me, “One needn’t ever imagine anything in much detail, because the imagination ends up gobbling up the entire terrain upon which something might yet happen.”’

(Andrea De Carlo: Due di due)

Thursday, 10 June 2010

An Artificial Christmas Tree Mourns the Loss of its Roots

Here is New Labour’s Ed Milliband, one of the four little pigs currently competing with Diane Abbott for the leadership of New Labour. He is looking from above with some dismay at the result of the UK election:
‘The people have spoken and we don’t quite know what they’ve said.’
(The Guardian: ‘From Hung Parliament to Age of Uncertainty’)

And here is Romano Alquati (who died a bare few weeks ago) on the FIAT workers’ revolt of Piazza Statuta in Turin in 1962, looking at things from below:
‘Even though we had organized it we didn’t expect it.’
(Franco Berardi: ‘Romano Alquati è morto’)

The difference between these two quotations is important. Alquati’s irony is about the excess of achievement over anticipation and, indirectly, about openness: we advance into unanticipated, uncontrolled possibility. Milliband’s ruefulness is about insufficiency and about keeping control: I can’t quite hear what you’re saying is what he probably means; if we knew what you wanted we would do it, but as things stand we can’t.

Monday, 1 February 2010

Three Views of Passing Time


‘I mean perhaps in the end you do manage to forget about the past; but then it’s the past that remembers you.’
(Francesca Marciano: Casa rossa)


‘And meanwhile you were the only one condemned to know that in reality the facts of themselves do not explain a thing, that under their shiny membrane everything remains perpetually in need of being discovered, given a justification, connected…
‘…the history of As If … our life passes, in carrying on As If…’
(Carlo Fruttero & Franco Lucentini: La donna della domenica)


‘I remember days and gestures that go like the tracing out of a crack, they launch out randomly to work out a way of lasting…
‘We are fish upon the surface of the water.’
(Erri de Luca: Tre cavalli)

Monday, 19 October 2009

The Roar of Battle

What is the future anterior? Here is Scurati on Foucault’s ‘distant roar of battle’ from which his novel takes its name:

‘One doesn’t rage against the darkness but within it. The struggle is obscure and the person struggling lacks self knowledge and knowledge, above all, of the enemy… In the moment in which he fights man is sleeping. He actually lives the whole of his waking existence apparently at peace whilst in the heavy sleep that roots itself in him there continues always, echoing in the distance, the roar of battle.’
(Antonio Scurati: Il rumore sordo della battaglia)

Here is Veronesi on much the same sort of thing:

‘Huge things happen in the world, terrible things, marvellous things, so close at hand that they mark our lives for ever. And yet, once they have passed, we become aware that they have merely brushed against us and we have to content ourselves with imagining them, as though, in fact, they hadn’t happened.'
(Sandro Veronesi: Gli sfiorati, my italics)

Now here is Scurati again, this time showing how technology intervenes between the past, the present and the future:

‘There remains the glimmer of an intelligence, ie mine, which isn’t entirely spent. An ironic intelligence which undergoes the fascination of reality only once this is frozen in some photographic image. A melancholy intelligence that’s seduced by the fascination of the present only once it appears in the form of a life anterior to this one. But in life as photographed this intelligence, having set off in search of the agony that only an unknown and unlived past can provide, ends up by flushing out the detail which renders vain any hope for a life to come and renders pointless any search.’
(Antonio Scurati: Il rumore sordo della battaglia)

As in this description of a photograph of an anti Czarist demonstration:

‘The photo shows a dense crowd all packed together. Clearly it’s been taken from a position that’s deliberately higher up but not too distant from its subject. Probably the camera had been positioned on the balcony from which those demonstrating were expecting to hear at any moment what Lenin had to say. The particularly flattened perspective means that what’s shown is almost just the faces, whilst the foreshortening of the distance means that these faces, conscious of being portrayed, are looking fixedly at the lens. A multitude of turn of the century faces striking a pose. Faces that place their trust in the immortality conferred by the photographic image, in its prophetic capacity to hypothecate the future [...] Countenances and ways of looking that are the opposite of our fin-de-siècle ways of looking.’
(Antonio Scurati: Il rumore sordo della battaglia)

And here finally is Antonelli Venditti on the ‘children of tomorrow’:

Don’t ask me too many questions
I wouldn’t know how to answer you
The veins run dry, and the memory’s stopped transmitting (x 6)

Father, what was this planet?
This was Earth
An open planet, always smiling (x 6)

This animal, Father, what is it?
This was a dog
And this, Father, what strange machine is this?
This was a man, a very strange machine, it never smiled (x 3)

And us, where are we going?
Towards the Universe
And the images they’ve sent me, tell me: are they dead now?
Yes, dead, a million years ago
And this is only a shadow
Man has gone, he’s given up making errors
He’s gone away, there’s only us (x 7)

We’re perfect, we’re perfect human beings
We never play with the sun, and never weep, we never weep. (x 2)

(Antonello Venditti: Figli del domani)