Levels of interpretation

We are so accustomed to seeing something in something else, to discern metaphor, allegory and other figures of substitution in artistic works around us, literature or visual arts, that we forget that things have not always been like this. The road towards metaphor has been long, beautiful but long. I was having a conversation withContinue reading “Levels of interpretation”

The month of the emperor

A great practice, now lost, in European culture has been that of renaming the months of the year. The month of August, since we’re approaching its height, was not always called August. In ancient Rome, it used to be called Sextilis, the sixth month; in Anglo-Saxon England, Weod-mōnaþ, literally ‘Weed month’. And many other culturesContinue reading “The month of the emperor”

I did it my way, a modo mio

Frank Sinatra’s hit My Way and Lucio Dalla’s canzone Piazza Grande were released only three years apart. Everyone knows Sinatra’s piece, but few outside Italy will have heard of Piazza Grande. Fewer still are perhaps aware that Sinatra’s enduring hit was set to the music of a French song. The lyrics, however, are original andContinue reading “I did it my way, a modo mio”

Deorbiting the oikoumene

Cartography is a cultural miracle. That we should have developed a ‘map consciousness’ was never in the books, never inscribed in the human way of seeing things. And maybe maps are not about seeing. Maps are not views from nowhere – the illusion of objectivity -, but views from everywhere. They are not birds-eye viewsContinue reading “Deorbiting the oikoumene”

Always on the move

We like to explain the development of human society and culture by way of revolutions. The agricultural revolution, the Axial Age of philosophical revolution, the monotheistic revolution, the industrial revolution, etc. In the sequence of revolutions whereby human society (most often understood as the Western society), there is one revolution that stands, in my view,Continue reading “Always on the move”

In a flake of dead skin

A whole person is contained in a flake of dead skin peeling off after too much sun exposure. The smallest cell contains the whole organism, and it all begins with the smallest possible unit, growing and multiplying, then dwindling and dying. Similarly, an idea contains a whole world of possibilities, crossroads, contingencies but also aContinue reading “In a flake of dead skin”