Update: New short story “Woman’s Body”

Woman absorbed in her traumatic thoughts

I just added a new short story titled “Woman’s Body.” It is a rough story with solid psychological overtones and centers on the trauma a girl experiences while waiting in an emergency room. Painful and introspective but also dramatically realistic.

Woman’s body

Discover the touching story of a girl in crisis as she relives her nightmare in an emergency room. It is a verist tale that combines psychology and stark reality.


Brief contextual note

The tragedy of violence experienced by women reveals a disturbing reality of the prevalence of rape and violence against women globally. Beyond the physical scars, the psychological impact of such traumatic experiences is profound and lasting. Victims often struggle with feelings of fear, shame, guilt, and helplessness, leading to conditions such as post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety, and depression.

The psychological aspects of these crimes delve into the motivations of the perpetrators and the social factors that contribute to such acts. Perpetrators often use violence as a means to exert power and control over women, reflecting deeply rooted problems of misogyny and patriarchy. The normalization of violence in some cultures further perpetuates this cycle, making it difficult for survivors to seek help and break free from trauma.

Addressing the psychological impact of rape and violence against women requires a comprehensive approach that includes trauma-informed care, mental health support services, and efforts to challenge entrenched beliefs and behaviors that perpetuate gender-based violence. We can only fight for a society where women are safe, respected, and empowered through collective action and support.


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The non-freedom of being free

The quest for freedom can trap you within its thick walls.

Freedom is like a backpack given to the wanderer who sets out along an unknown path: it is filled with food and utensils, and this, together with the will to move forward, ensures that the subject can explore ever more distant lands.

It allows him to stay in the woods longer, to feed and forage for food as his reserves are depleted. In other words, this backpack allows the traveler to be free. Freedom has one tremendous and unjustifiable virtue: that of making it accessible.

However, what has just been enunciated is not a play on words: freedom is not objectified or possessed, nor can it be surrendered. Freedom is a particular form of being-in-the-world and is therefore manifested through entities (humans) who, because of it, have the possibility or duty to behave in a particular way.

In truth, the former case is only illusory; in agreement with Sartre’s thought (beautifully expressed in his masterpiece “Being and Nothingness“), man has no possibility of either choosing or denying freedom. The man is forced, once aware of his status, to be free until his death. The mere fact of being able to think the opposite hypothesis results from that same freedom that allows it to be grasped.

Suppose Sartre said that man is condemned to be free insofar as he is locked in the cage of freedom itself. In that case, we can conclude that one is not “free to be free,” for if this were false, and if, therefore, man could use his freedom against himself, he would, first of all, be basing his attack on the same army designated to win a war against the same soldiers.

To, theoretically, renounce freedom, one must first enliven it with awareness and then, through the power it confers, try to define a condition where that power no longer has any value. This results in a vicious cycle with no way out.

But why, after all, worry so much about the impossibility of denying freedom? Man has always struggled for its affirmation, paying tribute to it in every form of celebration: artistic, poetic, musical, philosophical, etc. Even so, at a certain point in his thinking, the “free” man (loaded, that is, with a spacious backpack full of valuable tools, and therefore also heavy) was confronted with the trauma of the effort required to continue to be free.

The identification of man-freedom, being existential, has ipso facto transformed man-being into man-freedom and, thus, non-man-being into not-being-at-all. To take note of this is disarming; the “non-power” is destroyed in its essence by a “power-and-then-duty,” nullifying even the psycho-dramatic illusion of a subjective state in which the subject could first barricade himself.

A depressed person who is confronted with the condition of can-not-be-depressed, just as a slave who, having been freed, is made irreversibly accessible as a no-longer-slave, is like the Thomas of the Gospels who, seeing and touching, is now compelled to believe unless he destroys his whole self in order not to accept what is revealed before him.

That is why freedom, fascinating and attractive, se-ducts (i.e., leads to itself) to bind, as did the sirens who, in their song, concealed the certainty of the condition of being able and, therefore, having to hear. Odysseus resists, but in doing so, he is still a victim of that beguiling singsong, for by remaining tied to the ship’s mast, he acknowledges and admits his inability to escape that danger freely.

I conclude by observing (and hopefully making the observation) that freedom is unjudgeable. That is, it escapes any value judgment. It is neither positive nor negative; it is neither on the side of good nor even on the side of evil. Given its nature, it is beyond all dualism in that only through it can dualism take place.

“To be condemned to be free” thus has no meaning assimilated to a judgment: it is the voiceless observation that man “lives” in the face of a non-place where even his innate “linguistic condition” fails to reign with fullness.


Brief biographical-philosophical note on Jean-Paul Sartre and existentialism

Jean-Paul Sartre (1905 – 1980) was an eminent French philosopher who significantly developed existentialism. His philosophy centered on the concept of existence preceding essence, emphasizing the freedom and responsibility of the individual to create his or her meaning in life.

One of Sartre’s critical contributions to existentialism is the idea of existence preceding essence. According to Sartre, humans are not born with a predetermined nature or purpose. Instead, they first exist and define themselves through their actions and choices. This concept challenges the traditional view that individuals have a fixed essence or predetermined destiny. Sartre believed that human beings were constantly becoming and that life was a continuous project of self-definition.

Central to Sartre’s existential approach is the notion of radical freedom. He argued that individuals have complete freedom to choose their actions and are responsible for the consequences. This freedom, however, comes with a significant burden of responsibility. Sartre believed that individuals should take responsibility for their choices and fully accept the consequences, even if they are uncomfortable or difficult to bear.

Jean-Paul Sartre in a modern portrait, the blurred contours of which may highlight existentialism's tortuous path toward the search for being
Jean-Paul Sartre (1905 – 1980) in a modern portrait

Sartre also emphasized the concept of authenticity of living. He believed that individuals should strive to live authentically by being true to themselves and their values. This involves rejecting social expectations or external influences hindering personal growth and self-expression. Authenticity requires individuals to deal with the inherent uncertainty and anxiety of existence, making choices in line with their truth rather than conforming to social norms.

Existentialism, as propagated by Sartre, also touches on the idea of existential angst or existential terror. Sartre argued that individuals experience a sense of anguish when confronted with the burden of their freedom and the responsibility of making meaningful choices. This anxiety arises from the recognition that there is no external source of guidance or predetermined purpose. However, Sartre believed that embracing and facing this anguish was essential to the human experience, as it opens the possibility to true freedom and authentic existence.

In conclusion, Sartre’s philosophy of existentialism revolves around the concepts of existence preceding essence, radical freedom, authenticity, and existential angst. His ideas challenge traditional notions of predetermined destiny and emphasize the individual’s responsibility to create meaning in life. By embracing the existential approach to life, individuals are encouraged to live authentically and take responsibility for their choices despite the inherent uncertainty and anxiety that may arise.


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Poetic punctuation: music and Ungaretti’s hermeticism

“It is my heart
the most torn country.” (G. Ungaretti)

Why is it unimaginable to have music without time indications (time statement, note duration, pauses, etc.)? Even the most bizarre avant-gardes and experiments have always (and rightly, I would say) used all that information necessary to determine the rhythm, dynamics, and sometimes even the timbre of individual notes or entire chords.

A picture of a musical score. The information of tempo, rhythm, melody and harmony form an inseparable whole in music
An example of a musical score. The information on tempo, rhythm, melody harmony, etc. They form an inseparable whole.

In principle (incorrect – with good grace from Hanslick), the “semantic” content of music is expressed primarily by the pitch of the notes and their succession, so anyone equipped with a decoding system should be able to access the meaning of a musical production simply by evaluating the sequence of frequencies the composer intended to represent.

Before discussing the obvious reasons why this assumption is trivially unacceptable, I would like to make a kind of counter-example to support this thesis. If we take, for example, the Prelude from Bach’s Partita for Violin/Lute Suite BWV 1006(a), we immediately notice that, apart from a couple of opening bars and a couple of closing bars, the entire composition, in ¾ ternary rhythm, is based on bars composed of three groups of four semiquavers.

In practice, the “formal” rhythm (not the interpretive rhythm-which, even though it is a Baroque composition, always possesses a certain freedom) is “flat”: the interpreter, on first readings, can proceed without thinking all that much. The metronome beats a monotonous rhythm, and with each beat, a note corresponds. In this case, by necessity, the only factual information (strictly speaking) is provided solely by the pitches of the sounds (and a few rare dynamic indications). Something similar, but opposite, is the experiment of the symphonic poem for 100 metronomes by G. Ligeti (1923 – 2006).

Music is inconceivable outside of an ad hoc syntactic context.

Of course, this argument is entirely fallacious for several reasons. The first is obvious: complete information must, by necessity, consider all the elements given in the score. Tempo, rhythm, melody, harmony, dynamics, timbre, and, of course, all sorts of interpretive indications (e.g., cantabile, with emphasis, sforzando, etc.) form an inseparable whole, which alone deserves the appellation “musical composition.” Removing one or more of these elements can only result in an unacceptable alteration that often makes execution impossible.

The second reason, which is more philosophical and speculative, is that music (as well as poetry and fiction) does not exist in “pure space” (unless one considers the vibrational effect static-a condition feasible in mathematics, certainly not in nature) but instead in a dimension that is perceptually referred to as “time” (or, instead, in the conjunction of space and time). In the Italian essay “Il dispiegarsi del tempo psicologico” (ed. “The Unfolding of Psychological Time”) written a few years ago, I tried to evaluate a hypothesis of why humans “feel” the flow of time. Still, here I prefer to refer to the philosophical hypothesis theorized by P.D. Ouspensky (1878 – 1947) in his famous book “Tertium Organum.”

In this sense, time is the effect of a limitation of man’s phenomenal perceptual apparatus, which, restricted by three-dimensional space, is forced to “dilute” the fourth dimension into a sequence of three-dimensional blocks. Any phenomenon, whose noumenon thus transcends the stasis of a materialistic perception, must necessarily also develop in time and, in that process, expand its boundaries to a place where efforts make us glimpse something but never quite grasp it.

Time, expressed in a graphical, structured form, is therefore “sine qua non” not only of musical interpretation (the semantics of which rests its proper foundations on the articulation of frequency sequences- time for all intents and purposes) but also of all forms of communication where the goal extends beyond the mere transmission of information functional to the phenomenal sphere alone.

Theoretical construction of a hypercube
Theoretical construction of a hypercube (or Tesseract if in 4D). Human beings have a perceptual apparatus that cannot “see” beyond the third dimension. However, mathematics can deal with multidimensional spaces (even with infinite dimensions) without any problem.

Poetry, like music, pushes its targets toward the conscious perception of noumena hidden in seemingly illogical, unstructured, and sometimes even difficult-to-understand forms of expression. Listing in succession the words that make up the lines of a lyric (as, at the limit, one might do with prose) without any line breaks or punctuation marks amounts to all intents and purposes to the dimensional flattening of the composition, with the obvious consequence of “lowering” the “target” level, from the human that transcends to the infinite, to that of creatures limited to a two-dimensional knowledge that, at most, can let one imagine solid forms just as humans think of hyperspaces (of four or more dimensions).

Poetic punctuation as a semantic vehicle

This dutiful premise, however long, is indispensable to clarify the metaphysical role that punctuation plays in the poetic sphere, with a particular emphasis on the figure of Ungaretti (1888 – 1970): grammar and syntax can be assimilated into pure space that, through chromatic and structural elaboration, allows the fruition of the first three dimensions to be saturated, while the role of punctuation marks becomes the only tool capable of encoding time as an actual fourth dimension.

Suppose in prose, for example, the separation between subject and predicate made with a comma is considered an error in poetry. In that case, it can only leave an enormous space for interpreting the relationship between the subject and the action–physical or immaterial–being performed. The forced pause becomes an instrument of emphasis. In this imaginary place, the reader can place the expansion of his or her own emotions, concreating the meaning that the poet himself or herself has “dispersed” between the meshes of his or her verses.

Portrait of Giuseppe Ungaretti
Portrait of Giuseppe Ungaretti (1888 – 1970), the leading Italian exponent of poetic hermeticism.

Then again, even the use of different lines is aimed at often creating a disconnect between two components whose “liaison” can only be found in pure transcendence to a dimension phenomenally precluded to us. To fully understand this aspect of poetic creation, one only needs to read one of Ungaretti’s most famous and hermetic poems, “Mattina” (ed. “Morning”). For an anthology based on the poet’s most important poetry works, I recommend the book “Selected Poems“):

I illuminate me
of immensity.

The first verse is itself self-sufficient: the subject (which is and is not Ungaretti himself) implicitly declares himself and affirms his tendency to expand his perception through a process of “illumination”; moreover, the latter reality implies an object “standard,” light, the acquisition of which is precisely called “illumination.” But the poet does not wish to communicate only one of his perceptions: he wants the reader to begin to experience the effect of light on himself and thus prepare himself to understand the symbolism hidden in this concept: the immensity, the infinity, the unboundedness noumeni That only light, with its ephemeral elusiveness, can represent.

The separation in verse, therefore, “expands” the scope of action, transforming a delightful but unnecessarily devoid of concreteness phrase (“I shine brightly“) into a springboard that opens the doors of perception and lets the ego fully empathize with the light, pervasive and indestructible, before “exploding” into immensity, just like the”Ain” Kabbalistic ” (a concept assimilated to nothingness) became “Ain Sof” (i.e., the end of nothingness), transforming potentiality into the beginning of the whole creation.

Similar considerations are possible for another hermetic masterpiece by Ungaretti, the poem “Soldati” (ed. “Soldiers”)

We are as
leaves
in Autumn
on the trees

Again, the only non-linguistic information is the verse division. However, in what seems a trivial subdivision lies the more profound and poignant nature of Ungaretti’s poetry. The semantic content could remain unchanged if the lines were concatenated into a sentence, but the poet does not wish to write an aphorism. The incipit “It is like” strongly implies an existential condition of forced stasis. The impersonality, coupled with the use of the preposition “as,” creates determines a clear semantic context, a stark opening to a scenario where men, like puppets forced into unnatural positions, “stand” without even attempting to rebel (an act that would certainly be in vain).

The other verses show the same poignancy and even manage, with a very apt “rhythmic” choice, to place all the emphasis now on one aspect and, immediately after, on another, creating an interconnection where the individual elements yield nothing to the context, but contribute to its structuring without distorting themselves in any way. The second verse (“in autumn”) is similar to an isolated chord that hovers in the air and remains suspended, just like an autumn landscape portrayed by an impressionist painter.

Ungaretti weighs every word, every tiny fragment capable of carrying meaning. In this case, “in autumn” is not a simple temporal statement; on the contrary, the poet strongly wishes to emphasize that on par with the being of the first verse, there is also a mode that burdens the condition of passivity. Fall is a terminal season, but it can still make people reflect, turn their backs, and see summer with its joyous squeals. It isn’t kind because it condemns yes to stasis but simultaneously to full awareness.

The last two verses crown the descriptive effort of the first two. Musically speaking, they are like a cadence: after tension, they bring harmony back to a fundamental state. What is precariously static is precisely the leaf, “birthed” by the mother tree, which, after an entire existence spent clinging to the parent with an “umbilical cord” that was never severed, discovers the stark truth. Autumn will bring weaning, separation, and death. Forced into immobility, just like the puppets hiding in the trenches, moved only by the whims of the wind, the leaf slowly withers, yields its green to golden streaks, and increasingly feels the scourge of the air.

Without “punctuation,” Ungaretti marks boundaries to create syntactic and semantic textures. He crosses the boundary of pure formality to a place where academic rules decay to give way to pure perception that cannot be tamed. In that ethereal space, which, at the same time, is so grave and material, he draws with individual linguistic fragments whole landscapes of the soul. He overcomes the barriers of maximalist descriptivism with unparalleled elegance. He manages to create true poetic punctuation precisely through its absence, for, as the great musical performers teach us, it is not the value of a note that determines its genesis and death but the depth of its essence, its uniqueness, and its appearance in a specific space and time.

War in the poetry of Ungaretti

Ungaretti’s poetry constitutes a poignant testimony to the overwhelming impact of war on the human psyche. As a soldier, he experienced firsthand the horrors and brutality of the trenches during World War I. However, his poetic compositions go beyond the simple description of the battlefield; they delve into his emotions and existential condition as a soldier.

In his poetry, Ungaretti masterfully transposes the chaos and anguish of war into vivid images and profound metaphors. Through concise and fragmented verse, he captures life’s fleeting and fragmented nature on the front lines. His words evoke a sense of immediacy and urgency, providing insight into the raw emotions experienced by soldiers.

Italian army troops in a trench during World War I. Ungaretti's poetry was a companion even in those terrible moments.
Italian army troops in a trench during World War I.

Ungaretti’s ability to express the fragility of life in the ruthless context of war is truly remarkable. It explores themes of loss, grief, and despair, reflecting the collective suffering of those caught in the crossfire. His poems become a cathartic release, a way to process his own experiences by giving voice to the countless soldiers who have endured similar hardships.

Through Ungaretti’s unique poetic style, he effectively conveys the human condition in the context of war. His verses bridge the personal and the universal, transcending language barriers and finding resonance among readers from all walks of life. Ungaretti’s poem serves as a powerful reminder of the lasting impact that war has on individuals and society.


Considerations on the concepts of Ain and Ain Soft in the Kabbalah

The concept of “Ain” is Kabbalistic and has significant philosophical implications within Jewish Kabbalah. “Ain” refers to nothingness or nonbeing, representing absolute divine transcendence. It denotes the initial stage of creation in which God’s existence is hidden and incomprehensible to human understanding.

Going beyond “Ain,” the Kabbalah introduces the concept of “Ain Sof,” which means “endless” or “infinite.” This term indicates the infinite nature of God, which encompasses all existence and transcends all limitations. “Ain Sof” represents the divine essence and is the ultimate source of all creation.

The philosophical implications of these concepts are profound. “Ain” emphasizes the metaphysical nature of God, challenging the human intellect to grasp the incomprehensible essence of the divine. It encourages Kabbalah seekers to transcend the physical world’s limits and delve into the depths of spirituality.

Fragment of a Kabbalistic Text
Fragment of a 16th-century Kabbalistic text.

The concept of “Ain Sof” reveals the infinite nature of God, suggesting that every aspect of creation is an expression of the divine. It inspires individuals to recognize the interconnectedness of all things and the divine spark within each being. From this perspective, Kabbalah encourages pursuing spiritual growth and realizing one’s inner divinity.

By exploring the concepts of “Ain” and “Ain Sof” within Jewish Kabbalah, individuals gain insights into the nature of God, the universe, and their spiritual journey. It opens the door to mystical experiences, profound wisdom, and a deeper understanding of the interconnectedness of all existence. Through study and contemplation, one can discover these Kabbalistic concepts’ hidden truths and philosophical implications. For more information and philosophical-theological details on Jewish Kabbalah, I recommend the book “On The Kabbalah and its Symbolism” by G. Scholem.


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Update: New story “Contemporary Comedy”

A man covering his head with a box. A representation of the desire to escape from pain or unpleasant situations

I just added a new long story (almost a mini-novel) titled “Contemporary Comedy.” The themes covered are those of grief processing, a complicated love relationship, and the onset of irrationality at the climax of suffering and frustration. I hope you enjoy it, and I look forward to reading your comments!

Contemporary comedy

How does a person deal with the disorder and the processing of grief? Learn from Fausto Marinelli’s experience in this existential tale by Giuseppe Bonaccorso.


Philosophical-psychological considerations

Grief processing, in the context of discovering something awful like an illness or the death of a relative, refers to the emotional and psychological journey individuals go through to come to terms with their loss. It is a natural response to a significant life event that causes intense sadness, shock, disbelief, and even anger.

In the face of such devastating news, people often experience a range of emotions that can be overwhelming and confusing. Grief processing helps people process and navigate these emotions, enabling them to accept and adapt to their new reality gradually.

In the case of a disease diagnosis, grieving involves coming to terms with the impact the disease will have on one’s life, as well as the uncertainties and challenges that lie ahead. It may involve seeking information and support from health professionals, joining support groups, or engaging in self-care practices to cope with the physical and emotional burden.

Similarly, when faced with the death of a loved one, grieving involves acknowledging the loss, mourning the person’s absence, and finding ways to honor his or her memory. This may include participating in funeral rituals, sharing stories and memories with others, and seeking comfort in the support of family and friends.

Ultimately, grief processing is a personal journey that enables people to heal and rebuild their lives in adversity. It takes time, patience, and self-compassion to navigate the waves of pain and find peace and acceptance.


 

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I look at faith: I see the silence of a vicious circle

Sometimes, I envy the faith. Not that of common sense, nor even blind faith in an ideology, but rather that deep (and irrational) sense of certainty one feels when thirsty over a glass of water. I envy the “statistical” awareness of wish fulfillment through an intangible yet, at the same time, materialized object down to its darkest features.

But unfortunately, even faith has its flaws. First, that of being seen as a “gift” (intentionally in quotes). A gift from whom? Alas, of the same object that faith should then unveil. The vicious cycle is evident and, unfortunately, also lethal. Squaring the circle fails, and then, to avoid a bad look, we change the names of the elements and make the generated generator.

Faith: an echo that resonates in loneliness
Faith: an echo that resonates in loneliness

Day after day, I realize how much man has drowned his glimpse of infinity every day. Still, with the same poignancy, I discover that among all partial (and human) solutions, the one taken as a model of perfection is the least perfectible, the most inadequate to the existential reality of human life.

Can one hope then for the gift of faith? Maybe so. How one would think that a psychosis could cloud the sense of reality to give rise to a fragmented but also deregulated world. But for those who are only victims of neurosis, for those who observe trees without being, in turn, observed by them, for those who think that love, hate, friendship, and “values” are that salt that makes life palatable, can this illusion enlighten?

I believe that doubt is definitely more “human” than any certainty, and, to my great regret, I have long since abolished the ontology of the supreme being unless I praise man’s boundless imagination in designing him and making him his god. Alas, my satisfaction is low, and the stars continue, mute, to be merely observed.


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