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Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Leopardian Interlude (9)

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


GENIUS   You'll see this habit being confirmed and growing day by day to the extent that, when you can live among your fellow humans once again, it will seem to you to be more unoccupied with them than on your own. And don't think that hardening in this type of lifestyle only occurs to people like you, the ones used to meditating; in fact it happens, sooner or later, to anybody. Moreover, being divided from humankind and, so to speak, from life itself entails a certain usefulness. That is, that a man, even sated, disillusioned, and disaffected towards human beings out of experience, now by getting used, little by little, to watching them from afar -- where they look much more beautiful and praiseworthy than closely -- forgets their vanity and meanness, and he begins to shape and almost create the world according to his whims.(*)  He once again begins to like, love, and long for life, feeding on the hopes it offers, and enjoying in them, as he used to when he was younger -- unless he is left without any opportunity or hope of joining society. So, loneliness almost works as youth, or anyway it rejuvenates the soul, it strengthens and stirs imagination, and it renews, even in an experienced man, the benefits of his former inexperience, as you do long for.

Now I must leave, for I see Sleep coming. I go prepare the dream I promised you. So, you will keep consuming your existence between dreaming and daydreaming, with no other usefulness than consuming it, since this is the only fruit one can get of it on earth, and the only purpose you all should set for yourself each morning after waking up. Very often, you must drag it with your teeth: may that blessed day come, when you can pull it with your hands, or carry it on your backs. Anyway, your time in this prison doesn't pass more slowly than in the halls and gardens of those who oppress you. Farewell!

TASSO   Farewell. But, wait: talking to you comforts me greatly. Not that it can delete my sadness, which, most of the time, is like an absolutely dark night with no moon or stars; but when you are with me, it looks like the half-darkness of twilight, more pleasant than annoying. In order to allow me to call or find you when I need you, please tell me where you usually dwell.

GENIUS   Haven't you understood it yet? In some good wine.(**)

- The End -


(*) Possibly, a reference to Il Mondo Creato.
(**) Tasso used to drink a lot.