Lorenzo & his humble friends

The fool doth think he is wise, but the wise man knows himself to be a fool

Tag: mariana

Scattered notes with a Lusitano flavour

Lisbon. 
With Arianna, Flavia, Jonas, Dani, Anna, Joao.
July 25 – July 28

Fact: this is the only European capital on the Ocean.

Bright, bright light.

Alafama reminds me of Bari Vecchia.

Do not wear Birkenstock if you want to go out dancing.
Going on the seaside on a trotinette with Arianna and Flavia is fun.

I do not think I would like to live here: too big of a tourist industry, too narrow and steeps the roads in the city centre, too far the mountains. There are a few really beautiful things about this city, though: many of the inhabitants have roots in Brazil or in Africa; the buildings are colourful, the graffiti are intelligent; the food is good; the prices are low.

The heroes of the tourist industry are poets: Pessoa, Camões, Garret…

Never before in my life have I been offered such an extraordinary variety of drugs at all corners of the Bairro Alto.


Rabo de Peixe, Island of San Miguel, Azores

With Arianna, Jonas, Dani, Anna, Mariana, Matte, Ludi
July 28 – August 5

This is my second visit to a volcanic island this year, third in three years.

A lot of green: reminds me of the West coast of Ireland.
Cyan, azure, white: hortensias.
Some black volcanic stone.
Brown cows and their smell early in the morning.


Notice the big, fast, well-paved roads. Alas, there are virtually no public buses traveling on them.

The Tosanists are photographers working on the island. Their style is unique: through their masterly use of black and white they turn everyday moments into Kafkaesque representations of life.

Simple, square, and colourful houses.
Elderly men idling in the shadow with their cigarettes.
Village bars – crowded already early in the morning – are inhabited by men only.

Books I have read:

  • Antonio Tabucchi, Donna di Porto Pim. Did not quite like it first, then I read it again and I started to understand. I bought a fancy edition in Portuguese in the Livraria da Travessa. I will never read it but it looks cool on my shelfs.
  • José Saramago, Journey to Portugal. Bright idea: feel the journey, forget the names of the places. Alas, way too many churches.
  • Internazionale, Lisbona. I should have read it before, and not after having visited Lisbon
  • The Passenger, PortogalloTakes some time but it is worth the read: go look for the articles on surfing in Nazaré, on African-Portuguese music, on the exodus from Angola and Mozambique to Portugal, on the illegal search for clams in the Tago
  • Autori vari, Poeti di Lisbona. Short selection of poems with the text in Italian and Portuguese.

Migrare

Ogni tanto servono anche riflessioni personali e sentimentali e ti avviso subito, cara lettrice, che questa è una di quelle bombe sfacciatamente melodrammatiche che scrivo il venerdì sera dopo una lunga discussione a tavola.

Prima di tutti è stato Jonas e già il suo addio fu piuttosto melodrammatico. Tra pochi mesi Dani tornerà all’estero e questa volta sarà per qualche anno, se non per una vita. Ada partirà a gennaio e Nele anche. La maggior parte delle persone che hanno arricchito la mia vita a Firenze, da Martin a Fabio, Niels, Mariana, Anna, prenderanno il volo tra agosto e dicembre. Perfino i fiorentini, penso a Giallu, potrebbero andarsene. E io, che come sempre non ho ancora un programma definito [She said, “Where d’you think your going with that look upon your face / He said, “I’m going nowhere, would you like to come too”] non so ancora dove sarò. Forse dopo tutto anche io dovrò dire arrivederci a Firenze, questa città bellissima che mi ha accolto come una amica forte e virtuosa fin dai primi giorni. Da quando ho compiuto ventun anni ho sempre cercato di muovermi velocemente: non ho mai avuto difficoltà a stringere nuove amicizie e staccarmi sapendo che la vita è breve e va vissuta per tappe, senza fermarsi troppo a lungo nella stessa medesima situazione. E anzi, mi sono divertito a ricominciare daccapo anno dopo anno. Eppure questo posto, queste persone: non sono sicuro di essere pronto al distacco. L’unico modo di tirarmi su è una canzone che passa in questo momento alla radio e mi fa venire in mente una clip particolare: la emulerò, ballando ai tempi passati e quelli a venire.

Solitary endeavors

When I first decided to start a PhD many graduate students warned me of the sadness of a life of lonely research. Doctoral students are often thought to be left alone in a somehow depressing menage a trois with their thesis and their supervisor. This is certainly the image you get if you ever read PhD comics. The doctorate, many people think, is a very lonely activity.

This was never my case. In fact the kind of environment I found in Fiesole is nothing like that. As our Head of Department told us upon our arrival last year, research is a very social endeavor. True that: academic ideas are rarely the result of one’s own thinking; what really inspires them, what helps your thinking to evolve and to become more coherent is the result of interaction and engagement with other people’s thought. So you can understand why Mariana sent me this quote from Hannah Arendt’s The Human Condition:

“(…) under the sky of ideas the philosopher not only finds the true essence of everything that is, but also himself, in the dialogue between “me and myself” (…). To be in solitude means to be with one’s self, and thinking, though it may be the most solitary of all activities, is never altogether without a partner and without company.”​

This is what I like about being here. Working in the same rooms with my fellows, going out for lunch with them, spending hours talking about our ideas and projects in front of a coffee: being here is generally about being in good company. And yes, I suppose it is this kind of interaction that makes my research a joyful activity. This, and the mutual agreement never to talk about our research and our own work when we go out in the evening. Because every now and then we really don’t mind too much beclouding our sky of ideas with the earthly pleasures of the flesh.

Weekender: meet my Florentine family

florentine family

Apparecchia a tavola

Something to talk about: our vegetarian dinners. You can also call waiting for Mariana.

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