… in the Kingdom of Heaven
Jean-Thomas; Giallu, Gianni, and Paola; Pietro; Martina; Marco and Leila; Pedro; Dani and Anna; mum and dad; Alberto and Marcantonio; Marco, Francesca, Isabella, and Camilla; Fabio and parents. These are the people who hosted me at their place over the last twelve months.
E’ il secondo martedì di novembre e come succede ogni quattro anni i cittadini americani si stanno recando a votare in quelle che sono le elezioni più seguite al mondo. Io non ho scritto nulla al riguardo, se non qualche riflessione tangenziale. Non che non abbia seguito questa campagna elettorale, intendiamoci: negli ultimi mesi ho letto molti articoli di persone che spiegavano ad altri come usare il proprio voto e ho ascoltato lunghi ragionamenti sul carattere dei candidati, il loro curriculum, i loro stipendi, il loro look. E’ che mi è un po’ passata la voglia, ecco tutto. Questa nevrotica iper-personalizzazione del dibattito fa sparire la parte nobile e divertente della politica, quella in cui discutiamo sul tipo di società in cui vorremmo vivere.
Io, ad esempio, trovo molto più politico degli articoli che molti di noi condividono sui social network quello che fanno Marco e Leila, due amici ritrovati qui a Torino. Loro non si lanciano in iperbolici appelli al voto e non scrivono strampalati articoli su un blog iper-narcisista e auto-referenziale. Semplicemente, comprano cibo di cui conoscono l’origine, vanno alle manifestazioni per i diritti dei lavoratori precari, studiano e quando possono cercano di organizzare attività per persone in difficoltà economica. Insomma, sono una coppia di hippie che cercano di vivere in maniera consapevole e credo sia anche per questo che è bello passare del tempo con loro.
Post scriptum: Forse il nesso tra Marco, Leila e le elezioni di oggi è un pochino labile, ma spero coglierete il concetto. Per tutto il resto ci sono la newsletter di Francesco Costa e gli articoli di Lorenzo Ferrari.
One important discovery I made this year is that moments come back, sometimes in a more mature and tangible way than how you remembered them. Your read about my bromance with Thomas already; now in Montreal I had the luck to share the apartment with Marco and Leila, who made my life a little bit funnier between 2009 and 2012. We have been in touch ever since, on and off, and we also met each other quite a few times; but of course it was never as good as spending one whole week together in the same house. Much time has passed since we first met and of course now we have changed, our lives have changed. And yet, living together just for a little while was so good, and so important to me.
I might not be very good at it, but one thing I know now is that the capacity to cultivate friendships over time is one of the best qualities a man should have.
D’après un article (4 fév.), il y a confusion concernant la devise du Québec. Comme vous l’avez écrit, elle est de E. E. Taché. « Je me souviens » n’est que la première phrase [de la devise], ce qui explique peut-être la confusion. La devise va comme suit :
Je me souviens / Que né sous le lys / Je croîs sous la rose.
I remember / That born under the lily / I grow under the rose.
Je suis la petite-fille de Eugène-Étienne Taché. Ma tante, Mme Clara Taché-Fragasso de Québec, est la seule des filles de E.-E. Taché toujours en vie. J’espère que [cette information] éclairera quelques-uns de vos lecteurs.
The text quoted above is a letter sent by Hélène Pâquet in response to an article appeared on The Montreal Star in 1978. Hélène, as she herself explains in the last paragraph, is the nephew of Eugène-Étienne Taché, the Assistant Commissioner for Crown lands in Quebec and architect of the provincial Parliament building. Upon his death in 1912, Taché wanted the motto written above to be carved in stone below the coat of arms of Quebec that appears above the Parliament Building’s main entrance door. So it was done; and since then Je me souviens came into official use. In contemporary Quebec it still occupies so many spaces, including the licence plates of the cars. For many French Quebeckers Je me souviens poetically symbolizes the days of New France (the lily) and the subsequent conquest by the English crown and the Confederation (the rose). Some say that when the French Canadian says “Je me souviens”, she not only remembers the days of New France but also the fact that she belongs to a conquered people.
This story is meant to show you that Quebec is a place of powerful suggestions. I spent three weeks in its biggest and most vibrant city, Montreal, and now that I am back to Florence I can upload some pictures and add some explanations – you will see the explanation if you clic on the picture. I am also going to upload a music video; and I would have chosen a video without any advertisement at the start but then this is by far the best live version of it and it deserves to be seen.
The video is somehow related to one particular thought I wanted to share with you. When I was in Montreal it was Freshers week, which is the time when all new students arrive to university and go pretty crazy celebrating. It is the first moment in their life they are free, and independent, and you can read it in their face. There is excitement, but there is also fear: it is a sense of utter freedom, and utter loss at the same time. It is a passing ritual I love, because in that moment your brain and your heart are clean, so clean and free that you can start from scratch and discover so much and you won’t feel alone because there are so many people around you who are in the exact same situation and you can perceive they feel exactly the way you do. I was lucky enough to be in that kind of situation many times in my life, having changed place and started something new – quite often, already. So every time I would find myself in a situation like this – well, you know, I would share the excitement, and the thrill, and everything that comes with it. Not this time, though. This time I just saw very, very young students, and for the first time in my life I felt I was a bit more mature than they were. I was happy for them, though. But I was not part of it, as I was a passenger riding in the backside. And so I thought of the song, and finally, many year after I first listened to it on the radio, it made perfect sense.
I am about to begin something new in my life and I am pleased to think that many of my friends will be in a similar kind of transition.
Tommaso, Matia, Marco and Leila all won a scholarship and from October will pursue a Phd in London, Pavia, and Trento. On the other shore of the Ocean, Thomas has taken up a radio career at UVic: you can listen to his weekly podcasts here. Andrew just moved to Egypt. You can read his new blog here. Iris graduated and started working, but from what I gathered she’s still in Utrecht.
What about Anna? She is about to come back from Munich. In September she will graduate in Lugano and then she’ll take some time off to think about her best choice for a master’s program. She’ll soon be my guest here in Florence: can you possibly think of any better place to get inspired?