Flying Creatures of Fra Angelico
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Hypochondria, insomnia, restlessness, and yearning are the lame muses of these brief pages. I would have liked to call them Extravaganzas . . . because many of them wander about in a strange outside that has no inside, like drifting splinters. . . . Alien to any orbit, I have the impression they navigate in familiar spaces whose geometry nevertheless remains a mystery; let’s say domestic thickets: the interstitial zones of our daily having to be, or bumps on the surface of existence . . . In them, in the form of quasi-stories, are the murmurings and mutterings that have accompanied and still accompany me: outbursts, moods, little ecstasies, real or presumed emotions, grudges, and regrets. —Antonio Tabucchi on The Flying Creatures of Fra Angelico
Giovanni of Fiesole still thought of himself as Guidolino, the name he had left behind in the world when he came to the cloister. He was in the vegetable garden gathering onions, which was his job, since in abandoning the world he hadn’t wanted to abandon the vocation of his father, Pietro, who was a vegetable gardener, and in the garden at San Marco he grew tomatoes, courgettes and onions. The onions were the red kind, with big heads, very sweet after you’d soaked them for an hour, though they
ourselves. To speak of the person who wrote that book, I am obliged, in spite of myself, to descend to the anecdotal (I wouldn’t dare to say biographical), which in my case is banal and low caste. The evening we made each other’s acquaintance in the Theosophical Society, I had just survived a curious adventure. Many things had happened to me in Madras: I had had the good fortune to meet a number of people and to meditate on various strange stories. But what happened to me had to do with me alone.
cathode tubes of our houses must be on and that we must thus supply them with energy, are daily distributing their doses of poison which, being indiscriminate, are, if we wish to cavil, democratic; in short, while insinuating the idea of the inevitable Total Suicide, these things are all the time carrying out a systematic, constant and, I would even say, progressive form of homicide. Thus the potential suicide who does not kill himself because he might just as well wait for the Total Suicide,
form, it takes training, constancy, determination. It is death by Saudade, originally a category of the spirit, but also an attitude that you can learn if you really want to. The Lisbon city council has always made public benches available in appointed sites in the city: the quays by the harbour, the belvederes, the gardens which look out over the sea. Lots of people sit on them. They sit silently, looking into the distance. What are they doing? They are practising Saudade. Try imitating them. Of
poor ignorant woman, doesn’t know how to stitch together a doll, doesn’t realise that children need games, only that what they most need is food. You will grow up with the righteous anger of the poor when they refuse to become resigned. You will speak to those the powerful think of as dirt and you will teach them not to become like your mother. You will kindle hope in them, and they will follow you. For how could the poor live without hope? You will suffer the threats of judges, the beatings of