Saturday, August 21, 2010

Eat Pray Love~On The Italian Culture

Elizabeth Gilbert summarizes Luigi Barzini, in his 1964 masterpiece, The Italians, that was written when he'd finally grown tired of foreigners writing about Italy and either loving it or hating it too much. He tried to set the record straight on his own culture. He tried to answer the question of why the Italians have produced the greatest artistic, political, and scientific minds of the ages, but have still never become a world power? Why are they the planet's masters of verbal diplomacy, but still so inept at home government? Why are they so individually valiant, and yet so unsuccessful as an army? How can they be such shrewd merchants on the personal level, yet such insufficient capitalists as a nation?

He said it had much to do with a sad Italian history of corruption by local leaders and exploitation by foreign dominators, all of which has generally led Italians to draw the seemingly accurate conclusion that nobody and nothing in the world can be trusted. Because the world is so corrupted, misspoken, unstable, exaggerated and unfair, one should trust only what one can experience with one's own senses and this makes the senses very strong, in fact they are stronger in Italy, than in all of Europe. This is why, Brazini says, Italians will tolerate hideously incompetent generals, presidents, tyrants, professors, bureaucrats, journalist and captains of industry, but will never tolerate incompetent 'opera singers, conductors, ballerinas, courtesans, actors, film directors, cooks, tailors...' In a world of disorder and disaster and fraud, sometimes only beauty can be trusted. Only artistic excellence is incorruptible. Pleasures cannot be bargained down. And sometimes the meal is the only currency that is real. (This is a thought worth some reflection.)

The Pieta~Michelangelo

To devote yourself to the creation and enjoyment of beauty, then, can be a serious business---not always necessarily a means of escaping reality, but sometimes a means of holding on to the real when everything else is flaking away."

I really found this so interesting and it struck a cord with me that I don't fully understand but I want to ponder. I find some truth in it in relationship to my profession as a decorator, how my senses can be trusted to find the beauty in the chaos. It is all rather worth some serious thought and reflection for me.

Luciano Pavarotti


Caroline Craven said...

I am loving the book. I stayed up until 1:00 last night reading it. And today I look like I stayed up until 1:00 last night reading it!!! I am with her in India right now, but I totally related to her being in Italy and loving the food (even though I have never been there). It was kind of a cruel punishment to be reading it as I am in the throes of dieting to lose what will only amount to a few pounds for Nicki's wedding. I'm sure by Thanksgiving it will all be back and I will be back to my old habits of eating my way through the day! However, I may just feel a bit less guilty about it. ;)

Julie Harward said...

I know i love all things Italian...especially the voice of Luciano!!! :D

Marie said...

I am going to have to look for this book. You make it sound very readible!! xxoo