Hegel for beginners
These floors are covered by letters, notes, scribbles and maps,
Handwritten shapes in black on white,
Blank slates sacrificed for the sake of synthesization.
My footprints in the corners, smudging the meaning of a noun, changing the tense of a verb.
Scattered coffee stains testifying my nocturnal attempts at amateur philosophy.
Covering the ground with unanswered questions, asking one after the other, asking for dear life
Proving and disproving myself, rebutting the thought before it reaches my tongue and sending it back
Back before language happens.
I wrote an essay on Hegel once.
There was nothing much that I really understood, but I memorized an exquisite phrase.
For anything to happen, everything must be in place.
Maniacally, I rip out hundreds of pieces of paper and I write in clear, red swirls
Let the puzzle begin.
Gasoline and freshly made espresso
There's that raspy, desperate voice singing.
It all happened before I was me, and yet, my inside flips itself over.
If I had a flair for drama I would tell you that my heart skips a beat, but the truth is
I stop to draw my breath, and when I open my eyes the air smells of gasoline and freshly made espresso.
e tu chissa dove sei, anima fragile, che mi ascoltavi immobile, ma senza ridere...
On top of the world, I knew it was a glorious illusion.
Feeling invincible for the first time, pushing the limits of who I was,
I wanted to redraw my own contours, to become someone else; anyone else.
Surrounded by a foreign language, it is easy to leave yourself behind.
Pretending does not seem so bad when nobody really can understand you.
There's a point when make-believe crosses over into belief.
But sometimes, when you are 18 and have left the pieces of you between the stools of an Irish pub,
or scattered them in the frontseat of a Volkswagen smelling of Pall Mall and Brachetto,
when you've stared yourself down until you no longer recognize the face in the mirror,
your heart will be exposed and you won't see it coming.
the raspy, desperate voice goes
E ora tu, chissà dove sei, avrai trovato amore, o come me cerchi soltanto d'avventure
And I wonder if I really was pretending or if I was just growing up.
What is the difference, anyway?
And life goes on even without us.
We, who are far apart by now.
Smile, what else can you do?
I put them there.
Letters in bright white on a soft, dark blackboard.
The curve of the question mark mocking me, disguising the final blow behind its causual rhetorics.
- Where's the eraser?
And I am thinking,
that if I hadn't opened this abyss between us,
I'd be telling you about the movie I saw last night, the one which shifted my world a little.
Maybe we'd fight about the meaning, you'd challenge my opinion, but I wouldn't care.
Then I'd show you the shop just around the corner from here,
the one that sells the most exquisite Moroccan porcelain, the one I know you'd love.
And I imagine,
that if I hadn't drawn this line and watched it fall between us,
We wouldn't go about our days like two strangers who sometimes meet, accidentally.
With nothing to say, we politely ask about each others' lives as though we cared.
The air heavy with things we will not say.
But then I remember.
that some walls were built to crumble.
And all we can do is run for cover when the bricks come falling down.
An intergalactic somersault for absolution
when black bodies are butchered because- why?
when daftly diverging deities demand beheadings, and
when only those with the more gluttonous genitals are granted the word 'genius',
Life shows no sign of the apocalypse we know must be coming.
A world so weighed down by gargantuan pain and gaudy pleasures,
so tarnished by its own ineptitude, by the wounds of battles avoided, by its useless charades.
Surely, this world will break the snare?
shoot far, far away, catapulted by a slingshot across the universe to make amends?
An intergalactic somersault for absolution.
But here we are.
The ground beneath us stained by the blood of butchered bodies, severed heads, humans cast aside.
No catapults or black holes to save us.
Not a shadow of the gloriously dangerous cloud of a nuclear bomb, nor its promised oblivion.
No, in the midst of its deepest, maddening moments,
the world does not stir.
If my body had to do all the talking,
the twist of my wrist, the curves of my lips and those of my hips,
would I be able to say all the things that resist being formed into words?
Would a pirouette convey the state of my heart better,
than all those shy sentences which -invariably- I never end.
Could a sharp tap with my toes finally render words obsolete?
Of mice and men
A cleverly crafted calculation,
offered to me as a generous gift.
Your hands stretched out, your face relieved as though after long laborious hours,
working on an impossible equation.
A problem can't be solved by putting it in an envelope,
the shakily licked stamp curls up, demanding action; satisfaction.
do not be surprised to see the orange colored ink running, leaving words halved, amputated in mid-thought.
Thousands of thoughts cut off at the waist. A sea of feelings desperately, feebly swimming to shore.
What's in half a word?
Statistical analysis and aggregation are your weapons of choice,
Taking to my orange mess as a scientist, eager to discover the root cause of an enigmatic disease.
Correlation, Causality? Choose capriciously.
I used to say that I write emotional algebra.
So why am I surprised to be treated like a mathematical problem?
objects in the mirror are closer than they appear
There's your name.
Attentively I observe each letter forming you out of strange shapes.
By now, the signifier has become confused with the signified.
Saussure would not approve. Signs are not supposed to cross over.
There are rules, you know, in semiology. Taxonomy, hierarchy, structure.
It is an analogy, not a metaphor.
Metaphors are not to be trifled with. A single metaphor can give birth to love.
I always knew that it was dangerous. The way we spoke of nothing and of everything.
Disguising heavy significance as unbearable lightness, and trivia as philosophical problems.
Was language really given us to enable us to conceal our thoughts?
There is something I want to say, but I've forgotten how to talk other than in cryptography.
No longer capable of speaking unmetaphorically, unequivocally, unintentionally.
If I force us down to earth, will we fall into mediocrity?
Or will we thrawl the streets like two strangers together in exile,
looking for hidden meaning in the excruciatingly mundane?
Don't run away, it's only life.
You had this idea,
that you are more broken than me,
that your breaking point is more precious than mine, somehow.
Recounting your thoughts, convincing yourself they are larger than life.
these emotions that cannot find peace within the boundaries of you,
you are just barely containing your words,
encircling me, disregarding proportionality and propriety.
I am the mirror at the end of a corridor,
a ghost playing along with your capricious guessing game.
What destroyed you? What cures your pain?
Why are you here in the middle of the night without explanation?
Don't break the spell, you said.
Don't break, I thought, holding my breath for you. For you?
It was a rehearsal, of course.
It was a mutual dress-up, with lines in a foreign language.
Your dark words made everything beautiful.
Even the imbalances between us.
I would have sensed your silent desperation.
Hesitation, exclamation, deprivation. In English.
The persuasive verses
My mind- a prison; a straightjacket,
a tightrope stretched between us,
slackening- tightening, slackening- tightening; ripping...-
More than 18 floors down we go,
like the beginning of a Salman Rushdie novel
falling through imaginary centuries of historical bantering.
Would we be like Gibreel and Saladin,
hopelessly trying to shout louder one than the other,
not realizing we're saying the same thing?
Would it turn us into fallen angels or opportunist devils?
Can we land on our feet without destroying everything?
Can we break the rules and be redeemed?
Will I ever reveal what I value, and risk it.
Risk it all.
To walk this tightrope?
A Dreamcatcher's Manifesto
Some of us are dreamers.
Living in many spaces; the past, the future, in parallel worlds, on imaginary planets, all at once.
Some of you tell us that we need to put our feet on the ground.
That life is about being present (you sometimes use this as a pun ).
About seizing the moment, living in the now.
But what if nostalgia is not about living in the past.
What if it's simply marvel at our memory.
At our capability to perfectly reconstruct a single moment in time.
And if we weren't present, how could we possibly remember nows, even years after the present became past?
We carry them all with us because we scooped them up, saved them
bottled them up for a rainy day that keeps on coming.
And what if imagining another world is not escapism, but creation.
What if it's an exercise in what-if? instead of merely reacting to the one scenario offered by your Reality.
How does anything, anybody, evolve without rejecting what is?
Without choosing what we dream over what we see, nothing ever changes.
We think new worlds because that is how the limits of life expand and become elastic.
You should try it.
So, indulge in your nostalgia.
Immerse yourself in the bliss of recalling the tiniest, unimportant details of a mundane memory.
Make other worlds, create images that others cannot see, build a treehouse out of nothing but imagination.
Maybe once in a while you'll catch yourself not being fully present in the now.
And maybe you will smile to yourself, not remembering what all the fuss was about.
On the verge of something amazing
It was half a lifetime ago.
We were young, so young.
And we did not know that good things come to those who wait and those who don't alike.
Anyways, we weren't going to wait.
Promises had not yet been broken, life was still new.
Writing our hearts out, pouring our hopes onto paper, telling our lives in love songs.
We sent letters across countries and we felt less alone, less confused. More alive.
Your life in another world- a different language- was the source of all my daydreams.
I grew up learning to love your foreign words; pazza, scema, strana...
I wore them like charms on a bracelet, letting them embrace me and define me.
Our letters read like the interactive diaries of two hopeless romantics on the verge of something amazing.
"Diaries are our lives, aren't they?", you wrote me in august 2001.
For a 16 year-old, you were pretty clever.
On the compartmentalization of dating
In the light of the fashionable mensplaining,
- anecdotes of condescending men explaining "complex" things to supposedly less capable women- ,
I am trying to come up with a word for its not-so-distant cousin.
Men who patronizingly try to explain, analyze or criticize the behavior of the women they are dating.
- for the women's own good, of course.
Obviously, in any relationship there must be space for constructive criticism.
My fascination lies in the kind of things that men feel they should and must, point out as flaws with women.
Have you ever been called too independent, too clever, too ambitious?
Too deep, too complicated, over-thinking?
Did he call you a coward because you did not give up everything for him?
It means stop challenging my authority. It means stay in your place.
It means don't forget what you are, what you are supposed to be.
And we- women- are all accomplices in this.
One friend told me to just pretend a little. To be a little more like a woman.
What does that mean?
Writer Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie talks about the Nigerian expression "bottom power",
the treacherous and false sense of power women wield when we use our sexuality to persuade men.
False because we are just making a small dent in his authority, buying into the idea that the power is indeed his.
"it is easy", my friend said. Works every time.
I am torn between a profound sadness at the cynicism
of a world in which a woman knowingly cuts off her edges,
as to not hurt the fragile ego of a man who supposedly loves her,
And the anger at knowing that women cope with these ridiculous demands by inventing an insane logic
that diminishes men and women alike.
We expect nothing more than what we get,
in this world where everything is pardoned in advance
and therefore everything cynically permitted.
Unscorched by the blaze
I want to write meaningfully, with purpose.
About the destruction and desolation too expansive to be comprehended.
Deconstruct the clichéd imagery of occupation and terrorism,
decode the language of division; of invasion,
I want to carve away the ideology, dig behind history,
Write the story.
A taste of blood in my mouth.
Is it fear?
Fear for them or fear for me?
Fear of never being able to do anything I promised myself?
People are dying and I am shaking under newly washed sheets.
My sheets smell of Marseille soap and the people are hiding, screaming, exploding, giving up.
People are fasting, for faith, for hope, for love.
I am hungry, I think.
I am angry.
Emotional analytics is bad for business.
too much knowledge can wreck any imaginary happiness.
Proving yourself right is not the only way forward
And not all dark places need light.
There is no binary truth.
No grand narrative.
No alchemic formula.
There is only embracing uncertainty,
the courage to let go of all premonitions, predictions, calculations.
Trusting that copper coil of desire, buried so deep inside you're not sure it's still there.
Kicking off your shoes, walking the tightrope barefoot to something that may or may not become.
- is there nowhere out of the mind?
All I wanted to do was to rest my head on you,
On the idea of you, just for a minute.
The fear of you slipping away is tangible; I don't even know who you are.
The sense of things falling into place is laced with zemblanity.
Serendipity is zemblanity until proven otherwise.
A new frontier; the forensics of love.
A fingerprint of betrayal?
The DNA of neglect?
Everybody's guilty until proven otherwise.
How many fantasies in an infinitesimal space?
Lean on me, stranger.
What are we?
Trying to be islands, scattered across a much too interconnected world.
no (wo)man is an island.
entire of itself.
How to be anything, anyone when everyone is already taken?
So I fight my instincts,
re-interpret the signs whose meaning I never learnt,
recall moves from movies I've seen and ridiculed.
People say fake it til you make it.
Make what, exactly?
You are leaning on my shoulder,
Weaving me a story to snare me.
You're the victim, you're the hero, you're the intricate mystery.
For a layman, your improv-writing is very convincing.
So real, I think to myself, forgetting I'm all about the fiction.
When it's all over we pretend we did not fake it.
We were both there, we could call each others' bluff.
But we won't.