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)

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