Wednesday, December 15, 2021

The Matriarch: A story told by a whale

A Story by Ugo Bardi

- Matriarch, Matriarch, where have you been? 
- We were searching for you! 
- Matriarch, are you there?

- Oh, children, where do you think I would go, as old as I am? I was just here, as I do all the time.

- Matriarch, we are glad that we found you
- Matriarch, we are coming from the edge of the great ocean.
- Matriarch, listen to us! Strange things are happening
- Matriarch, things never seen before!

- Children, children, I see that you are swimming so fast around me that you look like little fish. You make me feel confused. Calm down, children, what is that you want to tell me?

- Matriarch, the two-tails!...
- The two tails, matriarch! Something is happening to them....

- Children, calm down. What's happening to the two-tails? Tell me.

- They are dying matriarch!
- Many of them, they are all dying!

- Children, everything alive must die, sooner or later. But tell me more. What's happening?

- Matriarch, we were close to the edge of the water.
- Yes to the place where the great ocean fades.
- To the place where it becomes the-bottom-that's-out-of-the-water.

- You know you should not go there, children. It is dangerous!

- Matriarch, we know that.
- Matriarch, we are sorry, but.....
- You see, Matriarch, the black and white people told us about what was happening.

- The black and white people? What did they tell you?

- You know the black and white people, Matriarch. You know that they are strong.
- They can swim all the way to the edge of the water.
- And even climb out of the water, a little.

- I know, children. The black and white people are not so big as we are. But they are strong and powerful, and they can climb out of the water, a little. But that doesn't mean you should try to do that.

- Matriarch, we didn't try to do that.
- We didn't climb out of the water.
- There was no need to do that.
- We saw them in the water!

-  Whom did you see, children?

- The Two-Tails, matriarch. So many of them!

- Were they swimming in the water?

- No, Matriarch, they were not swimming.
- They were still, they were not swimming.
- They were dead, matriarch. So many of them. 
- So much blood, Matriarch, so much blood in the water.
- Matriarch, we had never seen anything like that.

- Is that true, children?

- Matriarch, it is true. So many of them!
- Yes. We had seen the two-tails swimming, sometimes.
- But never so many of them in the water!
- And, Matriarch, you can't believe, the big mouths. 
- Yes, the big mouths, Matriarch, they were all there!
- What a feast for them, Matriarch! 

- Oh, Children, what a sad story is this? The big mouths were eating the two-tails?

- Yes, Matriarch, you know that the big mouths eat everything.
- They eat fish and whales, and they even eat the two tails, when they can.
- The black and white people never do this. 

- I know that, children. The black and white people say that they have a pact with the two-tails. That they don't eat them, and so the two tails don't chase them.

- Matriarch, this we know. We know that the two-tails are strange.
- And that they kill us, they have those strange teeth that they can throw at us.
- Yes, they throw teeth at us from their floats. 
- Their floats are big. And they kill us. 
- We were not sorry to see so many two-tails dead in the water. Eaten by the big mouths.

- Children, children, you should not be happy to see any creature die. That's not the way of the Goddess of the sea.

- We know, Matriarch, we know. 
- Still, we couldn't feel sorry for the two-tails.
- But we felt worried. What we saw troubled us.
- The black and white people have big eyes. Good eyes. They told us that they could see even more two tails dead on the bottom-that's-out-of-the water.  
- Matriarch, we are troubled, because we had never seen so much death in the water,
- Matriarch, you know many things. What could have happened to the two tails? Can you tell us?

- Children, it is a strange story that you are telling me. And I am sorry to hear that so many two-tails have died because I cannot rejoice at the death of living creatures. But perhaps I know more than others of the people of the sea about them, because I am an old whale and you call me the matriarch, and there has to be a reason for that. And maybe I can tell you a story about the two-tails and maybe we can learn something from this story, both you and me.

- And so, children, you know that long ago there were many more whales in the sea than now. And many more fish, and many more sea creatures of all kinds. And some old whales are so old that they remember that time, even though many of the old ones of those times are not anymore with us, they are with the old ghosts at the bottom of the sea, where all of us must go. There are old stories that say that, in the old, old times, nobody ever had seen a two-tails in the sea, or maybe yes, just a few of them, because they can't swim so well even though they have two tails. They move their two tails in a strange way, making a lot of noise and yet they don't move fast. But that was how things were long, long ago.

- And then things changed, and those things we call floats started to appear. And it took some time for us to understand that those floats carried the two tails on top of them. Then, the two-tails started throwing their teeth at us. They had those teeth that were long and sharp. And many of us died, oh, so many! But you know this story, children, you heard it many times.

- We know this story, Matriarch, but who are the two-tails?  
- Why do they throw their teeth at us?
- Why do they kill us?

- This I cannot say for sure children, but maybe the two-tails eat us, and that would be according to the way things are in the world because it is the law of the sea that the big creatures eat the small creatures. But I can't understand how the two-tails killed so many of us and of other creatures of the sea that they nearly emptied the sea of living creatures. There are so few of us left and that's not a good thing, not even for the two-tails themselves. And maybe that the two-tails would never learn the ways of the Goddess of the sea.

- Children, what you told me made me think of something. And I have story about the two-tails to tell you, a story that I didn't tell many other whales and I think those whom I told it are now staying with the other ghosts at the bottom, and so I think you didn't hear it and you would like to hear it.

- Matriarch, you never told us this story. 
- Yes, Matriarch, we would love to hear it.
- Matriarch tell us this story!

-  Oh, it was some time ago, indeed. And, you see, I was young at that time, way younger than I am now and nobody called me Matriarch. And I was young enough that I liked to explore. And sometimes I went close to the end of the water. Maybe a little too close to be safe, but I was young and I loved to eat because I had to grow. So, I found a place where fish were truly abundant and it was at the end of a narrow body of water, a sort of a channel. Not so narrow that I couldn't swim in it, but I would wait at the end of it and wait for the fish to arrive. Plenty of fish for a young whale as I was.

- I went there often, and I learned when it was a good moment to find plenty of good fish. It had something to do with the Big White Circle in the sky, and the little fish would swim in an out of that channel when the Big White waxed. And so I knew when to go and I think the two-tails knew about me because some of them they would collect on the edge of the water and look at me. And I saluted them with my fin, and I splashed my tail. I thought it was a good thing to do, but maybe I shouldn't have done that. 

- And that went on for some time, and I had a good time with those fish and I put up some fat. And then, I think I grew a little too bold. I kept following the fish and I found myself swimming inside the channel, following them. It was a little narrow, and didn't feel so comfortable, but I thought there was nothing wrong in doing that. But, you know, children, that sometimes it is easy to get confused with our sounds. And that happens when you are close to the bottom-that-has-no-water. I think I had gotten too close to there.

- So, I was hearing my sounds coming back to me, but I couldn't find any direction where I could go. I got confused, I started swimming in circles. And in whatever direction I went, I got my sounds back, telling me that I couldn't go in that direction.

- That must have been terrible Matriarch
- You couldn't find the way to the open sea anymore?
- You could have died on the bottom-that-has-no-water, Matriarch

- Yes, children, this is why you should never get too close to the bottom-that-has-no-water. You know that sometimes one of us gets too close and then they can't get back to where they can swim. And I think it must be terrible, because you die away from the bottom of the ocean and your ghost can't join the ghosts of the ancestors, there. But that didn't happen to me. Of course not, because I am here!

- Yes, Matriarch, but did you find your way out of that narrow channel? 
- How did you do that?
- Tell us, Matriarch!

- Children, I told you that this story has to do with the two-tails, so let me keep going. And I told you that I was swimming in circles. And, I prayed the Goddess that she could help me and, at that moment I heard the sound of a float coming. Yes, one of the floats that carries the two-tails.

- I had always been careful to stay away from those floats as much as I could but it was coming straight toward me and I had no place to escape. And the float was coming. Then, children, the float got so close to me that I could see the head of a two-tails looking down at me. You know, they have those small heads that they can move in different directions. And they have those big eyes, looking forward all the time. I wonder how they can understand what happens around them if they can look only forward, but that's not for me to say.

- I had never seen a two-tails so close. They have a strange mouth, and this two-tails opened it up a little to show me her teeth. And I say her because I had this distinct sensation that this two-tails was female. Yes, a female two-tails - I am not sure of how I could say that, but I was sure of that. I didn't know what they mean when they show their teeth just a little, but it didn't seem to me that she wanted to bite me. Surely they are not like the big-mouths that eat anything. I wonder how the two-tails can eat enough to survive: one of us won't last a day with such a small mouth. But it seemed to me that the teeth she was showing to me was a friendly gesture. In some way, she wanted to tell me that she was not going to bite me, you see? It is like what we do something among friends when we pretend to hit them full force with the tail.

- So, this female two-tails spoke to me. Yes, I say that she spoke to me and we were so close that I could hear her, not so well, but I could hear her. Of course, none of us understands the language of the two-tails, but I was sure that whatever she was telling me, it was something said in kindness. And she leaned over the edge of her float and with one of her front fins, she touched me.

- Really, Matriarch?
- Did a two-tails speak to you?
- And a female two-tails?
- And she touched you?
- This is amazing, Matriarch!

- Yes, children, it was amazing. But what happened afterward was even more amazing. She went back inside her float and the float restarted making that throbbing noise, but slowly, and the float started moving. And she was moving her front fins in some ways as if she wanted to tell me something and I thought I understood what she was telling me. So, I started swimming close to the float, very close to it, and the female two-tails was looking at me and showing me her teeth. I think that the Goddess had really sent her. 

- Oh, that I was afraid, but I kept going, and I never moved too far away from that small float. And, truly, at a certain moment we were so close to the bottom that I felt it scraping my belly and I was afraid that I would be stuck there, and die there, and never see the land of the ancestors, at the bottom of the ocean. But that didn't happen. The bottom receded from me and I kept following the float and I saw we were in another channel, different than the one I had entered before. And on we went, until we were in the open ocean and I could swim free! And I swam away, but before doing that, I saluted the two-tails with my front fin, and she did the same with her front fin. And also the float turned around and went back toward the bottom-that-has-no-water.

- So, this two-tails saved you, Matriarch!
- That's amazing, truly. 
- The two-tails can be friends of the people of the sea?
- We can't believe that, Matriarch!

- Oh, children, there is more. There is more that you may not believe. I met again that female two-tails! Yes, I met her many more times. She would come out with her small float and I would find her and she would find me. We did it at night, usually, I think we both understood that if other two-tails were to see me, maybe they would try to kill me. It was strange, I never met a whale who would tell me having done something like that, becoming friend of a two-tails. But I would get close to the float, she would touch me with one of her front fins, and I would do the same with one of my front fins. I had to be careful, of course, she was so small! I didn't want to hurt her. Sometimes I was so happy to see her, that I splashed too close to her boat and I almost had it sinking. You know, when they sink the floats of the two-tails can't re-emerge. They go to the bottom and die.

- So, I got used to this two-tails, to that strange head of hers: those eyes always fixed forward, I have been always wondering how they see the world. They must miss so many things happening around them. With those small heads, how can they hear the sounds of the ocean? But that was how she was, and maybe she thought that I was strange, too. You see, we always tried to talk to each other, but we never could understand each other. All what we could do was to sing song for each other. Yes, singing. I don't think the two-tails can hear our songs when they are over the surface, but she would jump into the water close to me, and then she could hear my songs. I am sure about that because, she listened so intently. Funny, she could change her skin before jumping into the water! Before, her skin was soft and pink. But in water her skin was darker and harder, a little like our skin.  And also her face, she changed her eyes from two into one, but it was still pointed forward. But, can you believe that I learned some songs from this two-tails?

- Matriarch, that's why other whales say that your song are a little strange.
- That you sing a little differently.
- Is it because you learned these songs from a two-tails?
- We almost can't believe that, but we believe you. 
- Matriarch, tell us more, what happened of that female two-tails?

- Ah, children, what can I say? It was a sad story. One day, I was waiting for the female two-tails in the place where we sang songs together. And she wasn't arriving. I waited a little, I thought there was nothing wrong with that. Then, suddenly, I heard a big noise. It was one of those large floats, those that kill us, you know, children, those that throw their teeth at us. 

- Matriarch, really?
- But that big float came in place of the small one of your friend?
- And they were trying to kill you?

- Yes. They tried to kill me. And I was foolish enough that I waited: I thought that the female two-tails who was my friend was riding that float. Only after that it was close, I understood. Fortunately, I was young and strong. And I swam faster than I had ever swam in my life. They shot one of their big teeth at me, and it barely missed me. I felt the tooth bouncing away from my back. I saved myself by getting close to the bottom-that-has-no-water, I knew that those big floats don't like to go there. But I had learned from the two-tails of the little float how swim in that region. So, I made it. Children, I had never been so scared in my life. Blessed the Goddess who saved me. 

- What a story, Matriarch!
- The goddess truly protected you, Matriarch
- But the two-tails on the small float? The female one?
- The one who sang songs with you?

- For many years I never swam again in that place. You know, I thought that she had betrayed me. That she had told to other two-tails where we were meeting, and that they had been looking for me just there. But of that I can't be sure. Maybe not. Maybe it was something different. Maybe they just had seen where she was going. Who can say? Maybe she had died on the bottom-that-has-no-water. The last time I saw her, she seemed sad, and she didn't want to swim with me. But how could I know? I can only say that later, much later, sometimes I returned to that place, and waited for my two-tails friend to return. But I never saw her again. Maybe she is still there, on the bottom-that-has-no-water. But I don't think so, because it was many years ago those two-tails are short lived. And so is life. It is a long life of us, the whales, and we keep learning many things. 

- Matriarch, we are sorry to hear this. 
- We would have loved to hear the songs that your two-tail friend sang

- That I am afraid won't happen, children. But, about those songs, there is something that I wanted to tell you. You see, I never could really speak to this two-tails friend of mine. But I learned some of her songs. And I understood something about her and about what she was thinking. You see, there was a certain sadness about her song. A sadness that at the beginning I couldn't understand, but that now I think I do. She seemed to be worried about the future, about something terrible that was going to happen to her. And not just to her. To all the two-tails. 

- Matriarch, she was right. 
- So many two-tails have died
- We saw so many of them dead

- Yes, children. I am afraid she was right. Something very bad happened to the two-tails. And I am saddened by that.  

- Matriarch, maybe we are not so sad
- Matriarch, it is what they deserved
- Matriarch, that may mean that they will stop killing us with their long teeth

- But, children, I cannot be happy of the death of any creature. Yet, perhaps it was something that had to happen. Because they never learned the way of the Goddess and that they should have been more careful with killing so many creatures in the great Oceans. And they killed so many creatures that maybe they started killing each other. How can I say? Maybe some of them are still alive and they now understand what they were doing that was so wrong. But life keeps going in the great ocean and in the great bottom-that-has-no-water. And it will keep going on for a long, long, time for us, the people of the sea, and for the two-tails as well, perhaps. 

- Blessed be the Goddess, Matriarch
- She gives life to everything, Matriarch
- This we know, Matriarch.

- And so be it, children. Now keep swimming and remember the story I told you. One day you'll tell it to your children and that's the way of the Goddess who gives life to everything!

Thursday, September 30, 2021

The Mystery of Michelina, the Italian Brigantessa


The story of the Italian Brigands who fought the Piedmontese army in the 1860s is little known outside Italy and even in Italy it is being rediscovered only now. One of the protagonists of the Brigands' war was Michelina De Cesare ( (1841-1868) known as La Brigantessa (the brigand woman). Over the years, she became an icon of martyrdom for the independence of Southern Italy. But her story is somewhat of a mystery: many things said about her just do not fit together. Who was she, exactly?

If you are not familiar with Italian history, what you need to know about the Southern Brigands is that Italy was turned into a single state in 1860s, after a successful campaign of the Northern Kingdom of Piedmont against the Kingdom of Naples. It was quick and brutal and the King of Naples fled after a token resistance. Then, the remnants of the Neapolitan army were left without leaders. Some of them took to the woods, trying to continue the fight against the Piedmontese invaders. Their attempt was doomed from the beginning: they had no money, no support, no allies. But their resistance lasted for about ten years until it was quelled by a brutal repression, aided by a propaganda campaign that painted them as bandits and murderers. All normal things in history.

But the insurrection of the 1860s had a characteristic that made it special: it was one of the first wars in history for which we have a photographic record. It was not the first: this record goes to the Crimean war, about 10 years before. But, in Crimea, photographers still didn't know very well how to deal with chronicling a war. All we have are stiff and uninteresting photos of battlefields and people in uniform. Instead, in the 1860s, photographers had learned a lot and they were injecting drama and interest in their photos. 

So, we have hundreds of photos of the protagonists of that desperate war. All were taken from the Piedmontese side: as far as we know, the brigands had no photographers. But the Piedmontese photographers delighted in showing the brigands. There was a brisk market for these photos. After that the brigands were captured, they were given back their weapons (obviously not loaded) and then posed with their guns as if they were still fighting. You can see an example in this picture -- these men are clearly posing for the photographer. Sometimes, they were shot immediately after that the picture was taken. 

There was also a streak of necrophilia in these photos: photos of dead brigands were popular and, apparently, appreciated. You see here the photo of a Piedmontese "Bersagliere," who pulls up the head of a dead brigand for a better portrait. These pictures were printed as postcards and sent by the Piedmontese soldiers to their families. 

And then, there were the brigantesse. The women of the brigands sometimes just followed their men in the woods, and sometimes they fought themselves. Also in this case, the Northern photographers loved to pose these exotic ladies with their (unloaded) weapons. They were rarely executed after capture, but sometimes killed in battle. On the left, we have the photo of two of them, identified as Arcangela Cotugno and Elisabetta Blasucci. They are clearly posing after having been captured. A more realistic photo is this one of Maria Capitanio, said to have been taken just after she was captured. She is wearing male clothes and she is clearly shocked and in distress. 

Finally, there was Michelina de Cesare. She may have been a real brigantessa, but she looks like a fashion model. 

She wears a beautiful dress while carrying a shotgun (a "scupetta"), a revolver, and a dagger. She is clearly posing, showing an appropriately truculent expression. Somehow, she doesn't look like a real brigantessa. She is too perfect, she has too many weapons. But there is more: a picture of her in death. 

This image is sad enough in itself, but if you search on the Web, you can find the full picture of Michelina stripped naked after having been killed. But something is wrong, here. 

The army report that we have about the death of Michelina says that in 1868 she was found by a Piedmontese patrol while she was trying to hide in the woods with her husband, Francesco Guerra. He was immediately killed in the ensuing fight. She was wounded but she ran away, and was shot dead shortly afterwards by another Piedmontese patrol. The report does not say what happened of her body.

You see what is the problem, here. If she was killed in the woods, who took the pictures of her posing as a brigantessa? Were they taken before she was captured? But would Michelina leave her refuge in the wood to risk posing for a Piedmontese photographer? Could it be that she was killed much later after being captured, and that there was time to pose and photograph her? At least unlikely, because she was reported to have been wounded, and she doesn't look sick or wounded in the photos. And, finally, is the dead woman really the same woman who poses with her weapons in the pictures of Michelina? Could be, but it is impossible to say that with certainty. 

My personal impression from what I could read is that there really was a historical Michelina de Cesare who married the brigand Francesco Guerra and was killed with him in the woods in 1868. And the dead woman in the picture is really her -- stripped naked and humiliated after death. But the yielding woman of the pictures is not Michelina. She is just someone who vaguely looks like the dead woman of the picture and who was hired to pose as Michelina. Possibly, it was an attempt to hide something that would not have been good for the image of the Piedmontese government, despite the necrophiliac tastes of the Northern Italian public. Or, more simply, it was a scam to make a little money on the brisk market of brigand pictures. 

We will never know for sure. But, whatever it happened, Michelina de Cesare was a brave fighter who died for something she believed was true and just. And we can remember her in this way. There is even a modern song in honor of Michelina. Her memory deserves nothing less than that.

Tuesday, September 28, 2021

Kamehameha: the Good King of Hawai'i -- A Personal Recollection

King Kamehameha 1st of Hawai'i (1736 - 1819). Of him, these words are remembered: "E 'oni wale no 'oukou i ku'u pono 'a'ole e pau." "Endless is the good that I have given to you to enjoy."

It all happened in 1998, when my wife, Grazia, received a letter from Hilo, Hawai'i. It was a time when people still wrote letters on paper, put them into an envelope, and shipped them at the Post Office. But the Internet already existed and the reason for that letter was that somebody in Hilo had seen my wife's website -- at that time she was dealing with statuary for a Florentine art gallery. 

The story told in the letter was that in Hilo there was a statue of King Kamehameha that had been made in Italy and then shipped there some years before. But a tsunami had swept the place where the statue was kept, still inside its crate. Of course, the statue had suffered little damage and, some years later, in 1997, it had been erected in the seaside park of the town, thanks to the efforts of a local committee. The problem was that all the papers about it had been lost and nobody knew who had made it except, vaguely, that it came from Italy.

For Grazia, it was not a problem to reconstruct the story.  The statue was cast in Italy in 1993 on a model created by the Italian artist Romeo Sandrin. Here is his page, and here an image of him:

The correspondence between Grazia and the Hilo statuary committee led to a trip all the way to there for the two of us (In the meantime, I had also been invited to give a talk in a conference on electron spectroscopy in Maui). And so we went: possibly the longest trip we ever took since the Hawai'ian islands are more or less on the opposite side of Earth from Italy. Of that long plane trip I remember the sensation of being born on a plane, having lived most of my life on a plane, and having eaten plane food all of my life. But we arrived there, and we saw the statue: here it is!! King Kamehameha in Hilo as interpreted by Mr. Sandrin. 

We stayed in Hilo for a week, experiencing the traditional Hawai'ian hospitality, in many ways not unlike the Italian traditions. It was still a time when digital photos were not common, but perhaps it is best to avoid the deluge of imagery that's the rule nowadays. We took pictures, of course, but they must be buried somewhere in some box. It doesn't matter. In my mind, I remember a Hawai'ian friend placing a flower in my wife's hair and calling her "Hawai'ian maiden." Worth the whole trip.

The Statuary of King Kamehameha

(this text was written in 1998 and published in a blog that does not exist anymore. It is republished on "Chimeras" with some modifications.)

Kamehameha was born in secret and buried in secret. But the life he lived was one of courage, wisdom, and justice. It was he who brought together the separate island chiefdoms, uniting them into one Hawaiian kingdom. Under his leadership, the people lived a peaceful and productive life.

(from "Kamehameha the Great", by Julie Stewart Williams, 1992)

The only portrait we have of king Kamehameha of Hawai'i was painted by Louis Choris, the official artist of the Rurick, a Russian exploring ship that landed in Kailua, Kona in November 1816. Another, similar, portrait was made by the same artist that year. Both are presently at the Honolulu Academy of Art. But those portraits are not the way Kamehameha is normally represented. It is more like this: 

When Thomas Gould modeled the first Kamehameha statue, back in 1878, he made no attempt to portray the "real" Kamehameha. Rather, he produced an idealized figure of distinct Caucasian features. It may be that a truly Polynesian face could not fit the aesthetic ideals of Gould's times, or maybe Gould himself had mastered the Hawaiian concept of Aloha, and that therefore he considered that the actual race of the king was a matter of no importance. Be as it may, the subsequent replicas of the statue, although never exactly identical to the original, have maintained Caucasian features. Conversely, other artists felt that they could approach the subject in a freer manner, and attempted to show a more Hawai'ian Kamehameha.  

Gould was a "neo-classical" artist, and it is not surprising that he found inspiration in Greek/Roman stauary for his Kamehameha. The actual source is clearly the "Prima Porta" statue of Octavianus Augustus, the Roman Emperor who reigned from 27 BC to 14 AD. This statue is at present at the Vatican museum, in Rome, Italy and is an ancient marble copy of an earlier statue in bronze, cast perhaps in 25 AD. Gould must have selected this statue because the majestically cast figure of the Roman emperor seemed to him suitable for portraying the Hawaiian monarch, and also perhaps because of a certain similarity in the histories of Augustus and of Kamehameha. Both had a turbulent time at the beginning, but afterwards they reigned for a long time in peace. Gould reproduced the general features of the Roman statue, including the weapon held in the left hand to indicate that battles and wars are over. However, with a slight turning upwards of the right hand's palm, he changed Augustus gesture of command into a gentler one of gift giving, or receiving, in the true Hawaiian Aloha spirit.

The statue stands at present at Kamehameha's birthplace in Kohala, Hawai'i. It was cast in Italy in 1879 and erected in the early 1880s. The initial idea was to erect the statue in downtown Honolulu, but a strange turn of events caused it to be placed where it is now. Here is the story as described by A. Grove Day in his "Hawaii and its people" (1953)

When the statue was being modeled, the residents of Kohala argued that it should be erected in Kamehameha's homeland, rather than in Honolulu as the legislative act provided. "You will see," they predicted; "the statue will still come to Kohala". The statue was shipped on the German bark "G.F. Haendel" of Bremen in September, 1880. The ship caught fire and sank off the Falkland Islands at the tip of South America. The statue was salvaged by a junk dealer and set up for sale on the beach at Port Stanley, but it found no buyer until the "Earl of Dalhousie" touched there on its way to Honolulu with a shipload of Portuguese laborers. Captain Jarvis risked £ 100 of his money and bought the statue. When he arrived in Honolulu, he sold it to the government for £ 175. A replica had been bought with insurance money and set up in Honolulu, and so the original was erected in Kohala. Thus the king returned to his birthplace after all.
A replica of this statue was erected in erected in Ohau in 19th century is probably the best known of the statues of Kamehameha. It stands in front of Ali'iolani Hale in Honolulu. In 1969 another replica of was cast and placed in the National gallery in Washington. To date, Kamehameha is the only king to have been honored in this way. The statue was commissioned to the American artist Ortho Fairbanks and it was cast in Florence, Italy, by Aldo Marinelli, owner of Galleria Frilli (where my wife was working in 1998).

Gould's effort was a spectacular success. Even though, as we said, he made no attempt of an actual portrait, his statue has become the image of Kamehameha, one that even the casual tourist just landed in Honolulu can immediately recognize. This success is a tribute to Gould, and also to the unknown artist who modeled Augustus' statue two thousand years ago. However, whereas the Roman emperor looks a bit stiff and formal in his pose, the Hawaiian monarch is just perfectly at ease as he stands. The contrast of the shining clothes with the dark, muscular body creates a spectacular effect, and the king radiates a tremendous air of strength, power, and even a certain masculine sensuality. The figure with pointed hat, golden cloak, spear, and raised arm appears everywhere in Hawai'i as statues, portraits, stained glass windows, postal stamps, street signs, and T-shirts, almost as pervasively as Santa Claus in December in mainland US. Wherever they stand, the large bronze Kamehameha statues dominate the Hawaiian landscape and, in some respects, even the mind of the onlookers.

Sunday, September 26, 2021

Our Land Shall not be Touched: The Brigand Song


Italians at their best: proud, defiant, and skilled singers (and handsome ladies, as well!). This song is titled "Brigante se More" (We die as brigands). It celebrates the unsuccessful resistance of the Neapolitan guerrilla fighters who tried to contrast the Northern Armies in the 1860s. Sung in the Neapolitan dialect, it was written by Eugenio Bennato in modern times, but following the rhythm and the meaning of ancient songs. It is a sad song that tells of desperate people who died for their land. They were not heroes, many of them were true bandits, some may have been true patriots: wars are never one-sided stories. We remember them as part of the human struggle against immense forces that always crush the weak and reward the strong, no matter who is right and who is wrong.

Musically, this is perhaps a better version. Also this one. Less spectacular singers, though.

Brigante se More
Amme pusate chitarre e tammure
Pecchè sta musica s'ha da cagnà
Simme brigant' e facimme paura
E ca sch'uppetta vulimme cantà
E ca sch'uppetta vulimme cantà
E mo cantam' 'sta nova canzone
Tutta la gente se l'ha da 'mparà
Nun ce ne fott' do' re Burbone
A terra è a nosta e nun s'ha da tuccà
(A terra è a nosta e nun s'ha da tuccà oh ah)
Tutt' e païse da Bas' l' cat'
Se so' scetat' e mo stann' a luttà
Pure a Calabbria mo s' è arravutat'
E 'stu nemic' o facimm' tremmà
(E 'stu nemic' o facimm' tremmà ah ah ah)
Chi ha vist' o lupo e s' è mise paur'
Nun sape buon qual'è 'a verità
O ver' lup' ca magn' e creatur'
È o piemuntese c'avimm' 'a caccià
(È o piemuntese c'avimm' 'a caccià eh ah)
Femm' na bell' ca rat' lu cor'
Se nu brigant' vulit' salvà
Nun u' cercat' scurdat'v' o nome
Chi ce fa a guerra nun tien' a pietà
(Chi ce fa a guerra nun tien' a pietà)
'Omm' s' nasc' brigant' s' mor'
Ma fin' all'utm' avimm' a sparà
E se murim' menat' nu fior'
È 'na bestemmia pe' 'sta libertà
(È' na bestemmia pe' 'sta libertà)

We dropped our guitars and our drums
Because this music needs to change
We are brigands and we scare people
And we want to sing with our shotgun 
And we want to sing with our shotgun
And now we sing this new song
Everyone needs to learn it
We don't give fuck of the Bourbon King
It is our land and nobody can touch it
It is our land and nobody can touch it

All the villages of Basilicata
Woke up and now are figthing
Even Calabria now is revolting
And our enemies tremble
And our enemies tremble
If you saw a wolf and you were scared
You don't know what the truth is
The true wolf eats children
It is the Piedmontese we must chase away
It is the Piedmontese we must chase away
Beutiful women who give us your heart
If you want to save a brigand
Try to forget his name
Those who fight us have no mercy
Those who fight us have no mercy
We are born men, we die brigands
But we continue shooting up to the last moment
And if we die, bring a flower
And a curse for this freedom
And a curse for this freedom

The Most Beautiful Poem Ever Written


“Only in silence the word,
Only in dark the light,
Only in dying life:
Bright the hawk's flight
On the empty sky.

Ursula K. Le Guin (1929-2018)

Commenting on these five lines would only diminish their power. So, just read the poem and wonder for a moment how it could be that someone could write such a powerful thing. As a note, though, they are part of the creation of a whole world called "Earthsea." The power of creation mostly belongs to women, and Ursula Le Guin used it in full.  You can learn more about that here

Thursday, July 15, 2021

The Roots of the Shift from Christian to Pagan Art Subjects in Europe: The Controversy of Valladolid


Cellini's statuary group "Perseus and Medusa" -- beautiful, in a sense, but the kind of beauty that kills. As always, there are reasons for everything and untangling this story may lead us to surprising discoveries. So, a piece by Paul Jorion on the debate that took place in Valladolid about the destiny of the Native Americans in the Spanish empire made me aware of why Western Art made an abrupt transition from Christian-inspired Medieval subjects, to Pagan inspired Renaissance ones. Everything has an explanation, indeed.


A couple of weeks days ago, I was taking a friend to visit Piazza Signoria, in Florence, showing him the many statuary pieces lining the square. All wonderful pieces, in many ways, but also disquieting for their depiction of murder and death. Today, nobody could get away with a piece of art where a sword-armed man beheads a naked woman. And yet this is exactly what one of the main pieces in the square shows to us: Perseus and Medusa in an unbelievably cruel, and at the same time eerily beautiful, depiction. 

As I was showing the statue to my friend, I said, "you see, there is a sort of invisible wall that cuts the square in two. On one side there are older, Medieval pieces, inspired by Christian myths; David and Judith. On the other side, newer, Renaissance pieces inspired by classical myths from the Pagan age: Hercules and Perseus."

Then, I was asking myself, but why exactly that happened? What led people to switch their focus of interest from Christian myths to Pagan ones? I felt in need for an explanation, but I just I didn't have one at that moment. 

I think it was two days later that a name flashed in my mind: Sepulveda! Juan Gines de Sepulveda, one of the two discussants who debated in 1550-51 in Valladolid on the status of the Native Americans in the newly conquered Spanish Empire in Southern America and Mexico. I had just read,  maybe a few days before, the article by Paul Jorion about that ancient dispute. Note that Cellini's "Perseus" had been made unveiled in Florence in 1554, just a few years later.

Here is what Jorion writes about Sepulveda's position that favored the forced conversion of the Native Americans: "an Aristotelian philosopher who found in the texts of his mentor, not a justification for slavery, absent in fact from the texts of the Stagirite, but the description and the explanation of the slave society of ancient Greece, represented as a functional set of institutions: a legitimate model of human society". And here is the key of the whole story.

It all had started in 1492, with Columbus' voyage. Almost immediately afterward, it was clear that the Americas where an incredible business opportunity for Europeans. And also that the Native Americans couldn't oppose the European armies. There was only one thing that stood as a barrier against their complete enslavement or extermination: the stubborn opposition by the Catholic Church that insisted in considering the Natives as human beings with their own rights. 

So, the Catholic Church was an obstacle to economic expansion and, then as now, there is little that can stop economic expansion. Sepulveda's position was simply recognizing this fact. The ancient world, that of the Romans and the Greeks, was not less civilized than the Europe of the 16th century, and they didn't shun slavery, especially for those whom they regarded as "barbarians." So, why should Europe not enforce it on people who were manifestly inferior in terms of civilization? Sepulveda was officially defeated at Valladolid by the arguments of Bartolomé de Las Casas, who favored a more humane approach toward Native Americans. But, in later years it was clear that Sepulveda had been the true winner. His views appeared not just in the way the Native Americans were treated, but also in the European art of that period. 

Below, you'll find the post by Paul Jorion that tells the true story. From our viewpoint, neither of the two discussants in Valladolid had a position that we would accept, but at least the debate had the interests of the Native Americans, considered as human beings, as the focus. And the end result was an attempt to help the natives to maintain their rights of human beings. But, as you may have expected, the law was often ignored. The result was a series of disasters that Bartolomé the Las Casas described in his "A Short Account of the Destruction of the Indies" (1522). The book was not intended to be an accusation on religion, but it was turned into it by anti-Spanish propaganda created by those who were actually exterminating the Natives, the British and North European colonists. The Catholic Church received such a blow from this campaign that it never completely recovered from it.  And we still believe this ancient propaganda, nearly half a millennium later!

And now you understand why Cellini sculpted Perseus the way he did.

The "quarrel" or "controversy" of Valladolid (1550-1551)


This text will find its place in the panorama of anthropology that I am writing at the moment. As this is a subject that I am new to and where I cannot avail myself of any expertise, please be so kind as to point out to me any factual errors I make. Thank you in advance !


In 1550 and 1551 a debate took place in the city of Valladolid in Spain, which would go down in history as the “quarrel” or “controversy,” bearing the name of this city in the province of Castile and Leon.  

What was it about? It dealt with the Christian European civilization behaving like an unscrupulous invader on a continent of which it knew nothing, within populations of which it was until then unaware of the very existence, which it then discovered in real time as it grew. advance in the territory of the New World, and the devastation that accompanied this advance.  

What all this meant as to how the victors would now treat the vanquished would be the question posed in a great debate that would cover a period of two years and where two champions of Spanish thought at the time would face off. Great intellectual and ethical problems had to be resolved in the scholastic tradition of a disputatio, before the enlightened public of what we would today call a commission, which would decide at the end of the debate which of the two speakers was right. There were basically only church people there.  

Two thinkers were be on stage, both solemnly defending opposing points of view. They clashed at the level of ideas by mobilizing all the art of dialectics: that intended to convince, an art developed specifically for the speeches held in ancient Greece on an agora. To defend one of the points of view, Juan Gines de Sepulveda (1490-1573) considered, in a word, that the inhabitants of the New World were cruel savages and that the question was essentially of saving them from themselves. And, to defend the opposing point of view, there was the Dominican Bartolomé de Las Casas (1474-1566) who affirmed that the Amerindians were, like the Europeans, human beings, whose differences should not be exaggerated, and that the question was about integrating them peacefully into a Christian society by conviction rather than by force.

The brutal conquest of Mexico took place from 1519 to 1521, it was no less bloody of Peru from 1528 to 1532. We are now in 1550, almost twenty years after this last date. The situation, from the point of view of the Spaniards, is that they have won: the huge empire of New Spain has been conquered by secular Spain. It is a victory, even if internal quarrels continue, on the one hand between the colonized, as at the time of the conquest, which their incessant dissensions had fostered, and on the other hand between the colonizers themselves, manifested by a litany of palace revolutions and assassinations of conquistadors between them, in Peru as in Mexico.  

But the time has come for Charles V (1500-1558), “Emperor of the Romans”, to take a break. We must think about how to treat these conquered populations, decimated in equal parts by battles and massacres, and by the ravages of smallpox and measles, against which the local populations were helpless, having no immunity to these diseases hitherto absent from the continent. It is considered today that Mexico had some 25 million inhabitants on the eve of the first landing of the Spaniards in 1498. In 1568, the population was estimated at 3 million and it is believed that in 1620 there were only a million and a half Mexicans left.  

The phase still to come would no longer be that of Mexico or Peru, whose conquest was completed and where colonization was then carried out well, but that of Paraguay, which would begin in 1585, thirty-five years later.

Charles V, was an enlightened sovereign, like his rival François 1 st. They were contemporaries: two thinking kings, not only just, but men who had questions about the history, knowing that they were major players. They shared a conception of the world enlightened by the same religion: Catholicism. The reign of Charles V will end a few years later: in 1555. It will then be his son Philip who will become sovereign of Spain and the Netherlands. Later, in 1580, he will also be King of Portugal. Charles V demands that any new conquest be interrupted as long as Las Casas and Sepulveda exchange their arguments on the question of the status to be recognized for the indigenous populations of the New World.  

Charles V had not, however, remained indifferent to these questions even before: already in 1526, 24 years before the Valladolid controversy, he had issued a decree prohibiting the slavery of Amerindians throughout the territory, and in 1542, he had promulgated new laws which proclaimed the natural freedom of the Amerindians and obliged to release those who had been reduced to slavery: freedom of work, freedom of residence and free ownership of property, punishing, in principle, those who were violent and aggressive towards Native Americans.  

Paul III was pope from 1534 to 1549. In 1537, thirteen years before the beginning of the Valladolid controversy, in the papal bull Sublimis Deus and in the letter Veritas Ipsa, he had officially condemned, on behalf of the Catholic Church, the slavery of the Native Americans. The statement was "universal," that is, it was applicable wherever the Christian world could still discover populations unknown to it on the surface of the globe: it was said in Sublimis Deus: " and of all peoples that may be later discovered by Christians ”. And in both documents, so in Veritas Ipsa too: "Indians and other peoples are true human beings."

When the quarrel began, Julius III had just succeeded Paul III: he was enthroned on February 22, 1550.

The general principle, for Charles V, was that of aligning with the Church policy. In the "quarrel" or "controversy" of Valladolid, one of the moments of solemn reflection of humanity on itself, it is not the Church, but the Kingdom of Spain, which summons religious authorities , experts, to try to answer the question "What can be done so that the conquests still to come in the New World are done with justice and in security of conscience?"

It is heartbreaking that the television film “La controverse de Valladolid” (1992), by Jean-Daniel Verhaeghe, with Jean-Pierre Marielle in the role of Las Casas and Jean-Louis Trintignant in that of Sepulveda, as well as the novel by Jean- Claude Carrière, from whom it was inspired, took such liberties with historical truth that it was affirmed that the central question in the quarrel was to determine whether the Amerindians had a soul. No: this question had been settled by the Church without public debate thirteen years earlier. Sublimis Deus affirms that their property and their freedom must be respected, and further specifies "even if they remain outside the faith of Jesus Christ", that is to say that the same attitude must be maintained even if they are rebellious to conversion. It is written in the Papal Bull Veritas Ipsa that Native Americans are to be “invited to the said faith of Christ by the preaching of the word of God and by the example of a virtuous life. »In 1537: thirteen years before the commission met.

The question of the soul of the Amerindians was of course raised in Valladolid, but in no way to try to resolve it: on this level, the issue was closed. In reality, it had been resolved in the real world by the Spanish invaders: it would have been possible to summon young men and women of mixed race in their twenties to Valladolid, including Martin, son of Ernan Cortés and Doña Marina, “La Malinche”: living proof that the human species had recognized itself as “one and indivisible” in the field and that the question of whether these people, whom their mother could accompany if necessary, dressed in Spanish fashion, and most often militants of Christianity in their actions and in their words. Whether or not they had a soul, would have been an entirely abstract and ridiculous question, the problem having been solved in the facts: in the interbreeding which took place, in this reality that men and women have recognized themselves sufficiently similar not only to mate and immediately procreate, but to sanctify their marriage, in a sumptuous way for the richest, according to the rites of the Church. Circumstances, it must be emphasized, the opposite of the rules that were followed in North America, while in the case of Protestant settlers in their almost all - except Quebec - from the end of the 16th century.

The meetings in Valladolid were eld twice over a month, in 1550 and then in 1551, but most of the texts available to us are not transcripts of the debates: they are correspondence between the parties involved: Juan Gines de Sepulveda, Bartolomé de Las Casas, and the members of the commission.

Las Casas had first been himself an encomendero, a slave settler: he led plantations where Native American slaves were originally found, plantations in which, reacting to the Church's commands to give back their freedom to the natives enslaved, he had replaced on his own authority the labor of Amerindian slaves that he ceased to exploit with other laborers: blacks imported from Africa. This will be a great regret in his life, he will talk about it later. Most of the encomenderos were not as attentive as Las Casas to instructions from the mother country or the Vatican. Already in 1511, in Santo Domingo, the Dominican Antonio de Montesinos, who exercised a decisive influence on Las Casas, refused the sacraments and threatened with excommunication those among them whom he considered unworthy. Here is his famous sermon:

"I am the voice of the One who cries in the desert of this island and that is why you must listen to me with attention. This voice is the freshest you have ever heard, the harshest and the most tough. This voice tells you that you are all in a state of mortal sin; in sin you live and die because of the cruelty and tyranny with which you overwhelm this innocent race.

Tell me, what right and what justice authorize you to keep the Indians in such dreadful servitude? In the name of what authority have you waged such hateful wars against those peoples who lived in their lands in a gentle and peaceful way, where a considerable number of them were destroyed by you and died in yet another way? never seen as it is so atrocious? How do you keep them oppressed and overwhelmed, without giving them food, without treating them in their illnesses which come from excessive work with which you overwhelm them and from which they die? To put it more accurately, you kill them to get a little more gold every day.

And what care do you take to instruct them in our religion so that they know God our creator, so that they are baptized, that they hear Mass, that they observe Sundays and other obligations?

Are they not men? Are they not human beings? Must you not love them as yourselves?

Be certain that by doing so, you cannot save yourself any more than the Moors and Turks who refuse faith in Jesus Christ. "

Las Casas' reflection led him to give up this role of planter and he took a step back for several years. Charles V then offered him access to vast lands in Venezuela on which he could implement the policy he now advocated towards the Amerindians: no longer the use of force, but the power of conviction and conversion by example. Las Casas was a Thomist. Following the line drawn by Thomas Aquinas, he read in human society a given of nature. It is not a question of a cultural heritage, that is to say of the fruit of the deliberations of men, but of a gift from God, so that all societies are of equal dignity, and a society of Pagans is no less legitimate than a society of Christians and it is wrong to attempt to convert its members by force. The propagation of the faith must be done there in an evangelical way, namely by virtue of example.

Facing Las Casas, Sepulveda stood: an Aristotelian philosopher who found in the texts of his mentor, not a justification for slavery, absent in fact from the texts of the Stagirite, but the description and the explanation of the slave society of ancient Greece, represented as a functional set of institutions: a legitimate model of human society. Sepulveda considered slavery, obedience to orders given, to be the status that suits a people who, left to themselves, commit, as we can observe, nameless abominations. Sepulveda finds argument in the atrocities committed, in particular the uninterrupted practice of human sacrifice, for which the populations brutally enslaved by the dominant society of the moment, constitute an inexhaustible source of victims, but also their anthropophagy, as well as their practice of incest. in the European sense of the term: fraternal and sororal incest within the framework of princely families in Mexico, "incestuous promiscuity" if you will, in the pooling of women among brothers, a difficulty that the Jesuits later encountered in the case of the Guaranis of Paraguay, which they will resolve by banning the “longhouse”, the collective dwelling of siblings.

Las Casas responded to Sepulveda by stressing that Spanish civilization is no less brutal: "We do not find in the customs of the Indians of greater cruelty than that which we ourselves had in the civilizations of the old world." Very diplomatically, he draws his examples from the past and says "formerly:" "In the past, we manifested a similar cruelty", highlighting for example the gladiatorial fights of ancient Rome. He also drew an argument from the monumental architecture of the Aztecs as proof of their civilization.

If the two points of view differed, and even if their positions were considered diametrically opposed, the two parties agreed on the fact that the invaders not only have rights to exercise over the Amerindians but also duties towards them, and in particular, in the context of the time and the question to be answered. There is no dispute between them as to the duty to convert: this is the dimension strictly speaking "Catholic" from the very framework of the debate. Their difference lies in their respective recommendations of the methods to be used: peaceful colonization and exemplary life for Las Casas and, for Sepulveda, institutional colonization based on coercion, given the brutal features of the very culture of the pre-Colombian populations.  

Let us remember that the context was extremely brutal texts on both sides. Las Casas, at the end of his life, will write a small book devoted only to the atrocities committed by the conquistadors, a small book that propaganda consistently used against Spain to advantage its rivals: the Netherlands, France and England, although this does not mean that these nations will not also be guilty of the same crimes in the territories that they will annex in their business colonial. Mutual surveillance therefore of European nations vis-à-vis possible abuses committed by others, from a diplomatic perspective of foreign policy.

The controversy officially ended in 1551 when Charles V, on the recommendations of the commission, formalized the position defended by Las Casas. It will therefore be by invoking the Gospels and by example that conversion will have to continue and not at the point of the sword.  

A victory which, however, will not immediately have enormous consequences on the ground, any more than the papal bulls had had before it. The encomenderos will only weakly respect the injunctions coming from the mother country. Wars between Amerindian tribes will continue despite the presence of missionaries and a small military contingent. The Bandeirantes of Sao Paulo will organize raids, supplying the encomenderos with prisoners, who will be on the plantations, as many de facto slaves. Etc.

A year after the controversy was over, in 1552, Las Casas undertook to write his Brevísima relación de la destrucción de las Indias , the very brief account of the destruction of the Indies, which will therefore be his testimony on the destructions and the atrocitie, of the colonization of New Spain by the Spaniards.  

When, from the end of the same century, missions are founded in Paraguay, called "Reductions", it will be in the exact line of the proposals of Las Casas.

It will be essentially Las Casas who will obtain, thanks to his vibrant plea in favor of the local populations, that the question of slavery would be closed once and for all in Central and South America: there will be no indigenous slaves, Amerindians will be considered as full citizens and, as an unexpected consequence, since the Church has not pronounced on the question of knowing whether Africans could be enslaved or not, the Spanish and Portuguese authorities will consider that the decision in favor of the position of Las Casas opens suddenly the possibility of a systematic exploitation of the African populations to draw from them the stock of slaves required by the plantations of the New World. It is Las Casas who will be in a way responsible for an acceleration of the slavery of Africans insofar as the authorities, both civil and ecclesiastical, by discouraging the enslavement of the Amerindians, will indirectly encourage the planters to turn, as a replacement, towards the slave trade in African blacks, a situation in which Las Casas found himself at the time when he was encomendero. In his correspondence, at the end of his life, he bitterly regretted having been indirectly the cause of an aggravated enslavement of Africans.  

The sincere concern of Bartolomé de Las Casas to spare the Amerindians, will have preserved them from the even more tragic fate of their brothers and sisters of North America within the framework of an essentially English colonization at the start, made of spoliation and genocide, without any interbreeding. 



Friday, June 11, 2021

Let it Break -- a Stoic Poem


A poem by Claudia Crispolti that could have been written by Seneca or by any stoic philosopher of ancient times. It shows how stoicism is still part of our way of thinking and probably will ever be, no matter what devils our world is presenting to us everyday. (translated from Italian by UB)



Let things break, stop trying to keep them glued together. 

Let the people get angry, 

Let them criticize you, their reaction is not your problem. 

Let it all fall apart, and don't worry about afterwards. 

Where will I go? 

What am I going to do? 

No one has ever been lost along the way, no one has ever been without shelter. 

What is destined to go will go away anyway. 

What will have to remain, will remain anyway. 

Too much effort is never a good sign, too much effort is a sign of conflict with the universe. 




Friends and great loves 

Give everything to the earth and the sky, water when you can, pray and dance but then let what it needs to blossom and let the dry leaves come off on their own. 

What goes away always leaves room for something new: they are universal laws. 

And never think that there is nothing good for you anymore, just that you have to stop holding on to what must be let go. 

Only when your journey is over, then the possibilities will run out, but until then, let it all fall apart, let it go, let it be. 

_Claudia Crispolti _


Lascia che le cose si rompano, smetti di sforzarti di tenerle incollate. 
Lascia che le persone si arrabbino, 
Lascia che ti critichino, la loro reazione non e’ un problema tuo. 
Lascia che tutto crolli, e non ti preoccupare del dopo . 
Dove andrò? 
Che farò?
Nessuno si e’ mai perso per la via, nessuno e’ mai rimasto senza riparo. 
Ció che e’ destinato ad andarsene se ne andrà comunque . 
Ció che dovrà rimanere, rimarrà comunque. 
Troppo sforzo, non e’ mai buon segno, troppo sforzo e’ segno di conflitto con l’ universo.
Amici e grandi amori
Consegna tutto alla terra e al cielo, annaffia quando puoi, prega e danza ma poi lascia che sbocci ciò che deve e che le foglie secche si stacchino da sole. 
Quel che se ne va, lascia sempre spazio a qualcosa di nuovo: sono le leggi universali. 
E non pensare mai che non ci sia più nulla di bello per te, solo che devi smettere di trattenere quel che va lasciato andare. 
Solo quando il tuo viaggio sarà terminato, allora finiranno le possibilità, ma fino a quel momento, lascia che tutto crolli, lascia andare, let it be.  
_Claudia Crispolti _