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Why a trip around the world’s circumference?


The contributions Inkroci will publish as “Literature from around the world” are meant as a tribute to the literature of exploration and popular narratives of ancient explorers who, with their stories , helped to broaden the view of the world at the time, influencing the discoveries and voyages to come.
A many of these books were being written, some of the continents were not yet discovered, while others had been explored only partially, and their characteristics had not yet become common knowledge. This is, of course, from a Eurocentric point of view, the perspective from which the old continent watches the world.
For this reason, in addition to European explorers, we have also chosen writers from other worlds (as in the case of Ibn Battuta, born in Morocco, or Leo Africanus), who explored the planet from North Africa, crossing Europe and Asia, . Next to them, we have also included Ma Huan, a Chinese storyteller who was sent by the Emperor to accompany a naval expedition to explore about the Western Ocean.
It seems important to highlight the hard work and slow rate of travel that, in ancient times, was only accomplished in several years, if not lifetimes: on the road, hiking, crossing step by step along what was the circumference of the world – sometimes costing the explorer’s own life.
A gap was being opened, allowing for more cultural exchange, unlike nowadays, where the speed of displacements is not heading to a transit and a gradual progress within an unknown universe.
The voyage involved a fatiguing move, grasping a variety of sides, the wonder and the partaking of a nomadic culture that now our culture has banned and ostracized.
Yet the ancient world was much more diverse and complex than we tend to think : traveling was extremely difficult and dangerous, but the cultures’ co-mingling, the mixtures and hybridizations were more frequent and widespread, and life was fulfilled and conquered on the road.
Imagine the fact that Marco Polo was a merchant who eventually became an ambassador. He did not speak Italian very well, while he probably knew Persian and Chinese. His memoirs were written by a compiler who wrote “The Million” in Old French, not Italian.
Leo Africanus was not an African, but an Arab born in Granada in southern Spain, at the time of the Christian Reconquest of the Iberian Peninsula.
These trips, and even more the very lives of the explorers, are a testament to how identity can be composed of variable data and culture can be a permeable building, soaked with a hard-won elsewhere. Each being within is enriched with the quietness of an observer, not touching it with the haste of a distracted judge.



Translation by Silvia Accorrà (edited by Philip Askew)

Cataldo Russo – Does the abuse of words destroy thought?


For ages, words have always had the power of creating worlds, universes, fashions, feelings and, at the same time, of destroying them. Words raise hope, open hearts wide, generate trust and optimism, but also bring about grudges and hate. As they get more inflated, uselessly refined, remote from contexts and uncomprehensible to most people, their misleading power becomes more evident and disastrous.

Nowdays, we talk, but most of the time, we feel as if we spoke in a desert full of salt. It is as if our voice had no echo.
In our times, as never before, there is a lack of proportion between the amount of words that are used and those which are really being listened to or simply heard. Too often we pour out streams of words and sentences under the illusion that we might succeed in conveying our thoughts or expressing our ego and we do not realize that the more we talk, the more we risk restraining communication and cutting ourselves off from other people, building an imaginary world of false answers and artificial relationships. Most of all, this happens with the internet*. Nowdays words are not like stones anymore.
On the contrary, most of the time, they have no weight and they seem to easily slip away like useless things.
Two centuries ago, Shopenhauer had already stated that “thoughts die as soon as words take shape”. The great Prussian philosopher had understood very well how the abuse of words could dry up thoughts to the point that it could kill it.
From my point of view, the current crisis is connected to two principal factors: firstly the loss of the habit of listening to other people, but also and mostly to ourselves; secondly the absence of a strong thought able to show one the way, the lack of routes to be followed up to the end, which has been replaced with showing small and dangerous shortcuts.
We can open windows and build bridges with words, but we can also erect walls and dig a bottomless pit to enlarge incomprehension, incommunicability and fear, especially of people that are different from us. I think that Pope Francis has expressed this idea very well: “Build bridges, not walls.” Nowdays, things that are happening are exactly the opposite. Instead of building bridges, people build walls that not only are they made of reinforced concrete and barbed wire, but also maily of prejudices and incomprehension.
We do not listen to people different from us, we demonize and annihilate them.
Nowdays, a dangerous war is going on, a war that is being fought with slogans , false myths and certainties. Political changes happen excessively quickly. People demand changes. But which ones? In which way? With what means and for what purpose? Nobody seems to be able to answer to these questions.
The modern man has no certainties, but he pursues those that he often finds in the unfolding of politicl and religious hatred. According to these conditions, it seems obvious that the evil seed of terrorism and of religious fanatism is bound to grow up because it relies on cetainties which are set forth in the Holy Scriptures that are used and newly interpreted according to one’s own will.
In the Greek and Roman world words were considered very important. Sophists set up real schools aiming at producing political speakers (orators), because they understood that a good speaker was worth as much as and even more than a brave soldier.
I happen very often to notice how words are used to hide the lack of thoughts or to silence others. Nowdays, medias are literally held by speech spreaders whose aim is not to make people understand a phenomenon, an event, a process, but to confuse minds and leave them as long as possible in ignorance and fear.
There are broadcasts in which false experts and all-round experts only keep on shouting, using epithets or slogans or suggesting recipes that have the taste of the same old soup. These broadcasts that, for weeks and months, present the same images, the same subjects where words are worn out to the point they become a pale shadow without neither shape nor strength.
Nowdays, it looks as if there is no time to process a rich and complete thought, one that triggers doubts and questions. Nowdays, the winner is the demagogue and not the cultivated person. Sunsequently, all this obviously has an influence on literature and art.
More and more often we are witnesses of works of art built following the same method used in preparing a cake.Works that are aimed at selling and not to overstep the current times. We should not be surprised to see that cooking recipes or biographies of sports personalitites, people in showbusiness, politicians and well-known personalities are the best sellers.
Charles Peguy said that “a word is not the same thing for a writer or another one. One extracts it from his bowels, the other takes it from the pocket of his overcoat”. I hope that Peguy was referring to the writer that struggles trying to give a shape to his characters and their environment and not to those that are used to build their novels theoretically with an expert use of dictionaries, books and interviews pinched here and there.

Cataldo Russo

*A place of distortion or exhibition of the manipulated word and/or the illiterate one (that is, full of prejudices), in which the net beats the drum; being persuaded that the internet, nowdays, is a powerful means that cannot be renounced and is necessary for conveying beauty . Exactly for these reasons we think that it’s worth to establish certain distinctions.

Translation by Paola Roveda (edited by Sabrina Macchi)


Dear readers,

as you know, Inkroci has never dealt directly with the “fact of the day”, but it aims to embrace the human present with narration.
However, the marketization and the escalation of death that cross our days enforce us with the responsibility to immediately and clearly express our NO, not in our name, to the logic of war and to the financial hegemony that governs it.
And we want to do it in our own way: through art. The tormented and heart-breaking art of this song by the (band) Area, this cry, torn between the desire for peace and the need of war to the conspiracy of silence.
For Humanity to find its own way and its being before and above all things in this world.
This is what we want, in our name.

Enjoy the reading,
the editorial staff


بالسلام حطيت ورود الحب ادّامك
بالسلام مسحت بحور الدم علشانك
سيب الغضب
سيب الالم
سيب السلاح
سيب السلاح وتعال
تعال نعيش
تعال نعيش يا حبيبي
ويكون غطانا سلام
عايزاك تغني يا عيني
ويكون غناك بالسلام
سمع العالم يا قلبي وقول
سيبوا الغضب
سيبوا الالم
سيبوا السلاح
وتعالوا نعيش
تعالوا نعيش بسلام

(Egyptian transcription by Ibrahim)




My love
With peace I have placed loving flowers
at your feet
With peace
With peace I stopped the seas of blood
for you
Forget anger
Forget pain
Forget your weapons
Forget your weapons and come
Come and live with me my love
Under a blanket of peace
I want you to sing, beloved light of my eyes
And your song will be for peace
let the world hear,
my beloved and say:
Forget anger
Forget pain
Forget your weapons
Forget your weapons and come
And live in peace.

(Translation by Ale Fernandez)



Playing with the world, leaving it in pieces
Children that the sun has reduced to old age
It’s not my fault if your reality
forces me to fight your conspiracy of silence
Maybe one day we will know what it means
to drown in blood with humanity
Discoloured people, almost all the same
my anger reads above the news
reads into the past all my pain
sing my people that don’t want to die
When you see the world without problems
seek the essence of all things
It’s not my fault if your reality
Forces me to make war with humanity

(Translation by Ale Fernandez)



The Egyptian text is inspired by a popular Greek song of Macedonia.
Area’s lyrics was written by Gianni Sassi and is from the album “Arbeit Macht Frei”, 1973.
For transcription and translation from Egyptian we must thank Gianni Costa, Ammar and Ale Fernandez.
We also thank Lorenzo and the managers of the site http://www.antiwarsongs.org for allowing us to use their transcription and their translation.
We must also thank Ale Fernandez and the site http://www.guerrillatranslation.es for allowing us to use their translations.
You can listen to Area’s song here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kj1P7S47eZQ
You can listen to the cover song by Ale Fernandez here: http://soundcloud.com/alefernandez/

Soccer, Beauty, and Happiness

Dearest readers,

perhaps some of you will be surprised to find out that this Inkroci issue is dedicated to soccer. Convincing our editorial staff to accept a subject that most of them considered with complete disinterest, suspect, or simply with incompetence was not an easy task.
However, I was able to devise a judicious persuasion tactic. In soccer terms, I would define it a sudden counter-attack manoeuvre or, should I use a more up-to-date expression, a perfect break. To explain how things (or, better, how the match) went, I shall continue by deploying this very jargon, the one in which I had first experienced as a young reader.
During the editorial briefings, I had to face those who, just at the mention of soccer, reacted reminding me of the fans’ violence, the useless waste of money, the inclinations of some of its most prominent representatives towards racism, homophobia and corruption, and even the present failures of the Italian National team. Having to face all this, without denying but steadily undermining all my opponents’ points, I suddenly began to quote books and films.
I quickly remembered The Critical History of Italian Soccer by the skilful and brilliant author Gianni Brera, who regards soccer not as a game, but as the living and genuine image of the people who play it. And then British ethologist Desmond Morris’s The Soccer Tribe, which studies this sport (and its alleged load of violence) from a sociological standpoint, representing it as a new kind of ritualized chase, where the goal is the prey and the ball is the weapon to hit it. And eventually Nick Hornby’s autobiographical novel Fever Pitch (that later became a film), which reveals the real nature of the fans’ passion, and explains why, for those who love soccer through the support to their own teams, it will never ever be “only a game”, but, rather, an existential condition or, even better, a destiny.
When I perceived my opponents’ sudden lapse of concentration, and realized that my dribble was totally unexpected, I carried on with the match, defining soccer as a sport which creates Beauty, and finally closed it by quoting soccer as one of the major producer of Happiness. In order to do so, I called Umberto Saba, the great Trieste and Triestina football club’s poet, as my witness. Saba is one of the very few writers who could sense soccer’s secret, its dual gift of Beauty and Happiness, the precious, intense and ephemeral mixture that springs from it, and heals, for just some fleeting instants, the bitterness of life:

Few are moments as wonderful as this,
to whom, burnt by hatred and love,
is given, under the sky, to see.
(from Goal)

Dearest readers,
you know from experience that, whenever one starts talking about books and films to Inkroci’s editorial staff, one can easily take the lead. And you know as well that, whenever one’s words concern Beauty and Happiness, the lead simply turns into the clearest of wins. There’s nothing like Beauty and Happiness to win the match against Inkroci’s editorial staff. And indeed, the match was brilliantly won! That’s why soccer has gained its space in our magazine.
In this issue, as befits in summer, we will deal with soccer lightly. From time to time we will publish happy and nostalgic soccer stories, some funny and some moving. In turn you will see famous and ordinary matches, and meet tolerably good players and soccer geniuses. Above all, you’ll meet the football fans, not as thugs, just as men, and will be acquainted with their adventures and their toilsome pursuit of Happiness.

Happy readings!



The exile, he who voluntarily or under duress leaves his homeland, is one of the protagonists of our time, especially if by “home” we mean the world of belonging in the broadest sense: culture, ideas and morals. He is a creature of transformation, one who is different from what he might have been if he had not had the experience of departure.

Therefore, the migrant is perhaps one of the central defining figures of the XXI century. Millions of men and women live through this ordeal that is, in addition to the distress of emigrating to a country other than their own, an inevitably violent moment of change in themselves. An emigrant suffers a multiple upheaval: he loses his place of origin and of belonging, enters another language, and is surrounded by people whose social behaviour and codes differ greatly from his own. This is what makes emigrants such important figures: because roots, language and social norms are three major parts of what defines a human being. The emigrant, once he has been denied all three, must find new ways to describe himself and exist as a person.
When the unfamiliar enters the world it is not easy: not only is one’s life at risk, but there is also the risk of a total loss of the self, and people often just give up in the process.
The exile is a person who experiences the dramatic condition of absence, who is detached from his country and loses the cultural background that defines him because emigration is, at first, a violent act of deprivation, and only those who can transform themselves and re-create a place on which to rely are able to save themselves.
Repeatedly, the city is linked to the issue of immigration, because it is itself both a place of passage and a destination. It is the place where “things happen”, and may have a disquieting evocative value, because of its deep association with the sense of confusion and loss; or, conversely, it may be seen as exciting, because it becomes the real and metaphorical meeting place, where compresence gains significance and the concepts of multiplicity, coexistence of incompatible realities, and diversity of faiths and cultures are concentrated.
Cities then become the place of everything, because, like lives, they are crowded with people, facts, and things that contribute to assembling a grand mosaic. And the world city is an element of this new creation. The city becomes a meeting place and is, therefore, also the place of the emigrant who comes into contact with new realities and sees himself in relation to his new surroundings.
The human spirit is always the same but, in its migration, it assumes ever-changing forms. The new and most enigmatic product of our time is the migrant, who offers a different view of the world: that of those who start out from the experience of being uprooted, of separation and of metamorphosis.
I think the task that literature has to set itself today is to renew the language and explore the writings that express an attempt to re-claim the things and the world that also belong to “the other”; to show that morals and reality are an integral part of a culture and are variable, rather than external and absolute.

In these times, we are witnessing a modern epic; we see before us an era of tormented youth, of searching and desperation, not so much because of what those who flee are leaving behind, but because of their inevitable urge to move.
Just as the Iliad and the Odyssey were the founding myths of a culture and a civilization, and their protagonists were the champions, whether bright or obscure, of that battle, so will our era be remembered as the one of great migrations. What is yet to be written is the story of the birth of a new civilization, the definition of a new literature and perhaps a new literary canon.
We can only bear witness and fight on the front of what we believe to be our war, and only choose what to be among human beings. We will not stop anyone; it is impossible. Time and history do not stop.
One day, we will be the ones remembered by others.

Translation by Anna Anzani (edited by Roma O’Flaherty)

Death to War

Surfing the Web, it is not unusual to find reactionary posts urging the return of compulsory military service. They are usually reinforced by “sagacious” statements such as: “I want it back, it would do a lot of people good”, “True, for women too”, “It teaches you to obey… and to be humble”, “Respect, good manners, rules”, “There’s no more respect…, a lack of good manners… and rules are considered crazy, just look around you…” (I report these comments in the very form in which they were written).

When you express an opinion on a subject, you should start with your own experience, if you have any. And then possibly extend your line of thought to what you have learned. In this case I have no qualms about starting with what I experienced personally, and I can say that no other year of my life was such a waste as the one I gave over to my compulsory military service.
Joining the Army doesn’t teach you to be humble. You just learn to be humiliated.
You obey, yes, like a slave on a chain does: that is, unwillingly. And you have to obey any squirt whose rank is higher than yours (that is, everybody). You have to submit to the “elders”, those who started their military service before you and who, for this reason alone, feel entitled to bully and even assault you if you don’t do their bidding; they who are, in theory, your peers (in Italy this practice is referred to as “nonnismo”). Perhaps this is what some conformists regard as “respect”, “good manners” and “rules”: the abuse of the weakest by the strongest.
Can we really respect those who don’t respect us at all?
Hierarchy is not good manners: it is tyranny. I would wish nobody’s child to be taught this kind of good manners. That doesn’t mean that I am a supporter of permissiveness. It means that inside the barracks I met only the worst specimens of mankind. I had already been taught obedience by my own parents, thank you very much. I didn’t need to be oppressed by those idiots in uniform, with no other right than that of coercion.
If parents have abdicated responsibility for educating their children, the Army will never be able to succeed where they have failed. Neither will the Education System, as too many parents seem to expect, although schools do have a key role in this matter. It is not the children who fail; it is those who have raised them.
Respect, humility, good manners, and the rules of civil society are values you can learn only from your family, not from institutions, which are too often examples of the exact opposite. If your children grow up flawed it’s often because of the wrong example they received from you. And then parents expect to have from their children the very things that they were unable to teach them, or even to do themselves.
To those who talk about compulsory military service without having experienced it, I recommend the film “Soldati – 365 all’alba” (“Soldiers – 365 days to dawn”) by Marco Risi, which gives a rather faithful account of what the Italian compulsory military service used to be.

This year we celebrate the seventieth anniversary of the end of the Second World War and, in our country, of Liberation. We, the people from Inkroci, would like that dark historical period to be remembered: that’s why over the course of the year we will be dedicating plenty of space to it, hoping  that another war like the one which ravaged Europe will never ever return, and that the propensity for militarism be dismissed. Forever.

Translation by Michele Curatolo (edited by Roma O’Flaherty)


Dear Readers,
Here is our first issue of the New Year: we hope the year will be prosperous for you all and for the magazine.
2015 sees an anniversary of worldwide importance: it is seventy years since the end of World War II and, for Italy, it is the seventieth anniversary of liberation from the fascist regime. Inkroci is going to recall and celebrate these occasions with specific articles in its upcoming publications, as it did during 2014 for the centenary of the Great War.
But in this Editorial we would like to mention the most important events of the year just ended and to thank those who have followed, supported, and appreciated us, and those who have contributed with passion and skill to our magazine.
Inkroci’s first public event, documented in a fine video by Enola Brain https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VCwKb0RwnzI, was followed during the year by other initiatives, thereby expanding our network of contacts.
In March, in collaboration with the cultural association Don Chisciotte and the publisher abrigliasciolta, at the Council Hall of Roncadelle (Bs), Inkroci organized a meeting with Robert Viscusi, author of the poem of change Ellis Island and the transposer Sandro Sardella.
Through Magnolia Italia, our cultural and social association, (http://www.magnoliaitalia.com/arte_cultura/), Inkroci became a member of the Casa delle Associazioni e del Volontariato (Centre of Associations and Volunteering) of the City of Milan, in Via Marsala: this will be a valuable resource for creating opportunities for cultural interaction, collaboration and practice.
Inkroci also became a member of the Milan City Council Forum della Città Mondo (World City Forum), through which we participated in Bookcity Milano as part of the Scritti dalla Città Mondo (Writings from the World City). November 14th 2014 saw World Crossinks – Inkroci col mondo, in the prestigious venue of the Palazzina Liberty in Milan: a reflection on the figure of the migrant, the traveller of the soul; passages were read that express an “attempt to regain possession of things, of a language, of a reality which belong to ‘the other’, proving that morality and existence as experiences are internal to a culture and variable, rather than external and absolute”(Anna Ettore). Our thanks to the reader Camilla Zurru and maestro Claudio Ballabio who accompanied her on guitar.
Claudio also performed at the party organized by Inkroci on December 5th in collaboration with ARCI Caffè Letterario Primo Piano in Brescia, where artworks by Fausto Capitanio, Sam Franza and Pierfrancesco Sarzi Braga were on display. There, along with Giacomo Campiglio (electric guitar) and Carmelo Buccafusca (piano), he accompanied readings by Luca Bassi Andreasi, Manuela Mantoan, Stefania Mariotto and Biagio Vinella. The writers Silvia Accorrà and Giuseppe Ciarallo were among the many people who attended the evening which, once again, allowed us to experience how the interaction between words, images and music can create moments of great intensity and beauty. Videos of these and other events will soon be available on the Inkroci youtube channel  https://www.youtube.com/user/InkrociMagazine, where we have already posted some videos presenting the magazine.
Last but not least, we are very honoured to mention that, since issue 7, Inkroci has been collaborating with the Irish Writers’ Centre of Dublin, UNESCO City of Literature in 2010, which has enabled us to improve the quality and scope of our project. In fact, the IWC supervises a column dedicated exclusively to Irish Literature, entitled Words from Ireland. To celebrate this collaboration and to thank the IWC and its director Valerie Bistany for her support and friendship, we have decided to devote this issue entirely to Irish literature. We would also like to thank Martin Doyle for giving us permission to publish his interview with Lia Mills, which appeared in the Irish Times, as well as Lia Mills herself, Niamh MacAlister and William Wall, whose pieces have allowed us to create this issue.
In conclusion, we would like to take this opportunity to remind our readers that Inkroci is an independent magazine, based on the voluntary activity of the members of its editorial staff and its collaborators. We would therefore invite our readers to help Inkroci’s continued existence by reading and clicking us, as well as by making a donation, however large or small, on which we depend to cover the costs of managing the site and publishing the magazine.
Thank you for following us. Happy 2015 and happy reading.

Speed, despair, consumption and epistolary novels

Photo by Michal Jarmoluk

Dearest readers,
Suddenly, it’s as if I had woken up from a dream. It’s as if I had been reborn again to this world after a long stay in the past. I have come to this conclusion only in the last few days. At last my mind, once locked in the ivory tower of literature, has come to its senses. My common sense, once corrupted by paper books, has regained its balance. Now that I own a smartphone, a tablet computer, and that I read e-books, I can clearly see after such a long time. I can actually see as if it was the first time.
I can see speed. The world is spinning round and round in my smartphone, and everything that hopelessly lives between heaven and earth is consumed in just a millisecond. All happens instantly in my smartphone. Inextricably entangled, I can see speed, despair, and consumption.
I’m not concerned with the Two Chief World Systems. I will not tell you, dearest readers, that I don’t like what I see. I only can give you a single, small example of how speed, despair, and consumption influenced the general ban on one of the literary genres I love the most. I will actually try to defend and to point out the qualities of that genre despite knowing that the big e-book tide will flood it in a few years.
Dearest readers, I am surprised that most of the people with whom I talk about books (therefore some of you, I guess) consider the epistolary genre quite inaccessible. Still, masterpieces like Clarissa, Dangerous Liaisons, The Sorrows of Young Werther, The Last Letters of Jacopo Ortis, Frankenstein, and Dracula were written in epistolary form. And if these books seem too remote from you, please note that Guido Piovene’s Confession of a Novice, Natalia Ginzburg’s Dear Michael, David Grossman’s Be my Knife appeared in the 20th century. These all are epistolary novels, like Federico Roncoroni’s Un giorno, altrove (One Day, in Another Place), published in 2013, where the paper letter exchange is substituted by an e-mail correspondence.
Anyway, are epistolary novels really to be rejected? As much as I force myself to do so, I hardly can understand the reasons of such definitive verdict.
Do you perhaps get bored when you read a sequence of letters without a single description or a dialogue in them? Are you hungry for actions and not for reflections? For high speed and not for pauses of meditation? However, actions and reflections alternate in Dracula and in Dangerous Liaisons.
Do you perhaps feel like voyeurs, obliged to follow events told almost exclusively in the first person? Do you think that the psychological study belonging naturally to letters is no more up-to-date? Or that it cannot take you anywhere? I guess this depends on when those books were written, when the accurate analysis of the characters was far more important than it is today. The psychological study can be very interesting, though.
Is perhaps the verbosity of letters that annoys you? Today it’s well known that every communication longer than five lines (hence also this editorial) is classified as ponderous, dusty, unreadable. A well-written letter, even if long, can actually be engaging and piercing like a short scene.
Do epistolary novels perhaps appear like a completely outdated genre to you? This is probably the right answer. However, to say that epistolary novels are unreadable because they contain letters is just like to say that black and white films are unwatchable because they have no colours.
Before dismissing epistolary novels, I do hope that you can approach them – the best of them – with no prejudice at all and that when reading them, you may forget despair, speed, and consumption only for just a while.
In the Celluloid Words section of this Inkroci issue you will find a review of the epistolary novel Dangerous Liaisons, followed by a short commentary on the films taken from the story narrated in the book.

Happy readings.

Over to the word

Men create oppositions, which are not; and put them into new terms, so fixed, as whereas the meaning ought to govern the term, the term in effect governeth the meaning.

(Francis Bacon, Essays, chap. III)

The manipulation of language to the needs and use of power, is part of human nature since humans exist. As far back as the Bible, God is associated with the Verbum, that is, with the word: The Word was God, designated as wisdom in the Holy Scriptures and then defined by Latin grammarians as that which denotes action in all its occurrences. Moreover, it is interesting to highlight how etymologically we can find traces of this term in oriental languages (Old Persian and Avestan) with the additional meaning of to teach, to announce.
The corruption of language as a danger to individual conscience, and even more so to common conscience, is therefore not a problem just of our time, but it belongs to the very existence of society. Not surprisingly, in recent times (and, especially in contemporary times more than any other), Nazi Germany organized one of the largest Bücherverbrennungen1 in the Opernplatz of Berlin: it was May 10th 1933. And that was not, and is not , the only example of biblioclasm.
What is disconcerting, however, is today’s absence of discussion in the classrooms of life, the absence of intellectuals who do their job; the absence or the shortage of an organized counterculture that displays its indignation and, above all, alerts us to the dangers of an impoverishment of language: a new system of slavery of men in a society subjected to the dictatorship of a neoliberal culture, hidden behind the illusory banner of democracy as a bulwark of freedom.
We are totally free to obtain all the information that we want, to access, to buy and to consume all  knowledge, to believe ourselves experts and updated know-it-alls thanks to a five-line post on a social network. Five, because the sixth line would be too much of an in-depth analysis and incompatible with the speed and flexibility of the skills required by the market.
In the digital age we can cross all boundaries. And be found at every turn, so that  power – just in case we have to work hard to obtain information to show us new paths – might rescue us, in bit time, and let us choose – freely, of course – if we should return to the fold of media distraction or be shredded by the scissors of censorship, in whatever form we prefer.  And this is simply what happens:  by annihilating the word, consciousness is annihilated.
Paradoxically, the counterculture that fought power, that travelled from village to village on stencilled papers, was able to create awareness, to create revolution, to win social battles. The network of censorship is now so dense and technologically advanced (progress was not born to benefit  man, at least not primarily) that society vegetates into a permanent state of hallucination, wandering through the illusory vision of being free and master of its conscious and knowledgeable being.  Orwell predicted what we are now experiencing, because Orwell simply did his job:  he gave the word its meaning.
Some say that our digital age is coining new terms, new forms of communication which narrate reality, adhering to it and recognizing it also in its linguistic evolution. A new writing for new writers, of the now, who are able to talk about their time using its language.  And should we define as conservative those who are horrified in the face of the use of “ke”2, in the face of the disappearance of subjunctives, in the face of the improper use of “rather than”; in the face of a poorer and poorer vocabulary, under the always less rarefied threat of a linguistic and human involution that is losing the sense of the word as the creator of wisdom and consciousness, the word that announces and teaches.
A writer is not the preserver of the word.  A writer, as such, recognizes its power, its vitality, its dynamism and its possibility for continuous change. The word is itself part of the future because it contemplates it: it holds within it the memory of history, the structure of the present and, thanks to the union of these, it holds within it the possibility of becoming something else, of attempting to relate beyond the present whilst relating the present. The word itself teaches us this in those books which we consider modern and which we can all identify as examples of literature without being able to say exactly what literature is.
A writer, as such, does not confuse current time with the use of the language imposed on it, but instead bows to the language, pays homage to it, respects it, honours it, and proposes it to the reader with honesty and meaning.
The few authors who manage to do this not only fascinate us, but leave behind a pearl for us to cultivate.  They bring us life.

1 book burning

2 [instead of che, “that”; translator’s note]

Translation by Irene Lami (edited by Ester Tossi)

The contradiction

Today, you are nobody unless you appear on TV. This assumption is indeed a concept that can be applied to writers and artists, even if at first glance it seems to refer just to showgirls, Big Brother’s housemates and tv presenter Maria De Filippi’s pseudo-friends. It is not the television itself, but rather the showcase that it represents, the public approval that it seems to give.

Writers are interviewed, cuddled, pampered or ignored, despised, excluded, too many of them are by now the product of the last thirty years’ only belief: success no matter what. They long to rely precisely upon the medium that supports the most extreme and systematic destruction of language. They are ready to lose themselves to gain appearance, turning themselves into caricatures, characters at the audience’s mercy as the enemies fed to the lions in the ancient arenas.
In this way they become voluntary slaves of a means of communications that in the very moment in which it mythicizes them, debunks them, it also forces them to a degrading mediation with the dominant thing (‘res’). They are forced to come to terms with the propaganda of official positive values, with a communicative vehicle in which communication itself is the eternal absent as it can only offer models that excludes those who do not adhere to them. This is a compromise which forces the writer to an adjustment to the viewer’s expected needs; moreover, these needs are fictitiously created by the medium itself, in a commercial logic in which supply determines demand, and not the opposite. This is a compromise in which the writer fully gives himself to the consent of mass media, which are reactionary and anti-cultural by their very nature.
The ultimate need of the television medium is to make us forget that the person on the screen is an author of books, to turn them into a character, pleasant or unpleasant depending on one’s requirements: TV therefore to suppresses the writers’ nature in order to make them fit for the stage.
As far as they are concerned,  authors turn out to be mostly ridiculous and unsuitable to the medium; or rather haughty, so aloof to be almost unseemly; at worst, they are pleased to be on television and finally subdued to the show business. They are anyway deprived of their role as writers: they become actors instead of communicating with readers through their work, they become comedians who aim at communicating their self-representation to viewers, similarly to telesales auctioneers who give up their dignity and their role in order to gain a larger number of customers. While drifting away from their nature, they integrate perfectly in the neo-capitalist system, subduing their art and their intellect to a visual culture dominated by a downward adjustment, to meet an audience of disoriented viewers of which they become part. However, you will not find a trace of their own disorientation in their works, because now they have reached the certainty that the book is just merchandise, a product to sell to an audiece of non-readers. Renouncing forever to their originality, to the possible distinctiveness of their voice, to their individuality. Giving up, that is, to be a writer.

Translation by Irene Lami (supervised by Sabrina Macchi)