the condition of women

July 25, 2019

In Europe, the women’s movement has done a lot to change their (women’s) position. Starting with civil rights and laws. Today, on paper, men and women are equal. Of course, in the shift from paper to everyday life, things aren’t so simple. It’s easier to change a law than an age-old mentality. Deep down, many prejudices, many hostilities, many fears persist. But if we take a look at all the peoples in the world, we have to realize that the condition of women is very backward and sometimes very sad, from both the social and psychological points of view. There are still countries where women don’t enjoy basic rights like the vote or the freedom to study or the freedom of choice in marriage. Every year there are twenty million little girls in Africa who are deprived of their sexuality through brutal genital operations. Basically, there’s still much to be done.

Dacia Maraini
The Silence of the Outcasts: an interview with Dacia Maraini
Words without borders March 2008

Big Change…

July 25, 2019

We have a new Prime Minister!

Ce mec c’est un mytho –

Rome, Roma, is in my head and my heart, the only city I would willingly, permanently inhabit, a place of ghosts and first love, home once to the emperor-philosopher Marcus Aurelius, who, when you enter the Piazza del Compidoglio, seems to welcome you today with such profound benevolence.

It is a city of hope, of doubt, of perplexity, of skepticism and belief.

It is melancholic at times, and swims in a grey haze of automobile exhaust fumes on hot afternoons. Here, though, there be art, significance, history – an eternal city, yes. A city throbbing with life.

And at night – well, you can stroll through Piazza Navona, passing its three fountains to join the huge throng of people there: including the street entertainers and the array of street artists ready to do your portrait or sell you their work [but please be warned, many of the artworks on show are ‘fake’; watercolours are often simple photocopies on thick absorbent paper to give that ‘watercolour’ effect, and many of the oil paintings on offer have actually been executed in China by Chinese artists for export to Italy]. The entire square is lined with restaurants and cafés that have most of their seating outdoors, and you can sit with a drink and people watch.

Or cross the Tiber via the stone footbridge, Ponte Sisto and walk the narrow winding streets of Trastevere, passing multitudinous restaurants and bars; the architecture here is a mix of medieval, Renaissance and baroque. You feel the weight of the past pressing down on you. So many pasts, too. Crumbling buildings surround you: fading, flaking paintwork; hanging plants, religious shrines, and washing on lines strung overhead. Once, for a time, I lived near here. Not too far from the old Jewish Ghetto, in the southern part of Campo de’Fiori.

For me, it is and will always be a haunted place…

nature with Nature.

July 25, 2019

The goal of life is to make your heartbeat match the beat of the universe, to match your nature with Nature.

Joseph Campbell
A Joseph Campbell Companion: Reflections on the Art of Living

That’s a journalistic trick which you can also apply to literature. For example, if you say that there are elephants flying in the sky, people are not going to believe you. But if you say that there are four hundred and twenty-five elephants flying in the sky,  people will probably believe you. One Hundred Years of Solitude is full of that sort of thing.  That’s exactly the technique my grandmother used. I remember particularly the story about the character who is surrounded by yellow butterflies. When I was very small there was an electrician who came to the house. I became very curious because he carried a belt with which he used to suspend himself from the electrical posts. My grandmother used to say that every time this man came around, he would leave the house full of butterflies. But when I was writing this, I discovered that if I didn’t say the butterflies were yellow, people would not believe it. When I was writing the episode of Remedios the Beauty going to heaven,  it took me a long time to make it credible. One day I went out to the garden and saw a woman who used to come to the house to do the wash and she was putting out the sheets to dry and there was a lot of wind. She was arguing with the wind not to blow the sheets away. I discovered that if I used the sheets for Remedios the Beauty, she would ascend. That’s how I did it, to make it credible. The problem for every writer is credibility. Anybody can write anything so long as it’s believed.

Gabriel García Márquez
Interviewed by Peter H. Stone
Paris Review Winter 1981