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Friday, February 28, 2014

Leopardian Interlude (6)

[Giacomo Leopardi's Dialogue between Torquato Tasso and His Home Genius, 1824; follows]


TASSO   And yet, the object and the aim of our lives, not only the essential but the only one, is pleasure, by which I mean happiness; and it must actually be pleasure, from whatever source it may come.

GENIUS   Yes, absolutely.

TASSO   So that our lives, by always missing their goal, are perpetually unfulfilled; and living is, by nature, a "violent state." (*)

GENIUS   It may be.

TASSO   I see no "maybe" in this. But, why do we live then? I mean, why do we accept to keep living?

GENIUS   What should I know about it? Surely you humans are better informed than me.

TASSO   Dunno it, I swear.

GENIUS   Ask some wiser guy, maybe you'll find someone who will prove able to solve this doubt.

TASSO   I will do so. But, undoubtedly, this life of mine is one whole violent state. In fact, even ignoring pains, boredom alone can kill me.

GENIUS   What is boredom?

. . .  to be continued . . .

(*) In Aristotelian parlance, a non-natural motion, e.g. a stone being thrown upward. Tasso reference to boredom, especially while in prison, is another genuine biographical detail.