Ruota il dispositivo
Ruota il dispositivo
His second to last book, published a year earlier, won the most prestigious award of all. His latest book, hot off the press, is flying off the shelves. After spending many long years in the shadows, he is now the golden child of his publishing house. Everyone wants a piece of him. Once considered meek and a bit sad, he is now widely regarded as authoritative and austere. Women devour him with their eyes. They want to know him because he is a great writer, a celebrity, but also because he is now very, very charming.
For the last twenty years, he didn’t desire anything, professionally, other than fine-tuning his art and being recognized for it by others. But now that his art has been seriously fine-tuned and his recognition has evolved into general admiration, now that he is the center of attention, on stage with the spotlight of celebrity focused on him, he can’t help but swing between faint glimmers of shameful vanity and heavy existential torments, between self pity and the vain attempt to escape isolation. As never before.
I am sure that he understands that looking at this from outside the situations seems like an inexplicable contradiction. He realizes that the success he always desired, once achieved doesn’t compensate for anything. He feels inhibited, unsuited for life, as before; but even more so because he no longer has hope. The success could have acted as a goal, as a mirage, even as a chimera. But once materialized, the success, isn’t able to provide anything good; it only succeeds at accentuate his vanitas vanitatum to the point of clouding even what he loves most, poetry and the written word. And that means the end. All that remains is a last reflection on the dissatisfaction produced by the lure of vanity, by the lure of the ephemeral. In a letter to a friend: “Now, as Cortez, I burned the ships left behind. I don’t know if I will find the treasure of Montezuma, but I know that on the Tenochtitlan plateau they make human sacrifices. For many years, I no longer thought about these things, I wrote. Now, I will no longer write and will journey into the realm of the dead...”
These words come from one of the most disturbing books ever written (and read) that gives voice to a powerful and successful man disenchanted by the illusions of grandeur, tired of pleasures and disgusted of the human race, of himself, of science, of everything. A man, however, that at the end of this work of capillary self-destruction, finds the strength to live again, despite everything, abandoning himself with confidence to the Father.
In this season it seems strange to think back on the painful moral lessons of Cesare Pavese and King Solomon (traditionally the inspirer of Ecclesiastes): they have little or nothing to do with Christmas, as it is more generally perceived. But precisely because Christmas isn’t what is generally perceived, that in the end I think both have a lot to do with the holiday.
23/12/2014 Filippo Maglione