There is no shortage of inspiration for philosophers in Milan, especially those interested in elements of praxis. What I was not expecting is the spiritual focus of their fashion philosophy. It makes me wonder if it is mostly pacific angels like Gabriel, or warriors like Michael one would be more likely to encounter there, and what kind of messages they might bring. Corso Buenos Aires is a surprising place for such encounters between two worlds, but then again, God’s ways are different from ours.
Wild joy this Christmas, to rediscover Mircea Eliade’s Autobiography, in the original (Romanian) edition. Not only a book, but a feast – the best (and most humbling) example of a genuine, complex Bildung process that I know. Self-cultivation as an intellectual journey that is as vivid and concrete as the process of physical growth and development in childhood. This is so much more than education, as it encompasses personal and professional development; and it seems, the wilder the better. Rereading the book (so breathtakingly genuine and absorbing, it feels like seeing the sea or snow for the first time), one cannot help wondering – what is it that we are we all doing here, trying to teach within the confines of the university?
Eliade uses a phrase from Balzac for the title of the chapter about his university years – À nous deux, maintenant! (It’s between you and me now!) Though younger than Rastignac and with a father still alive (and a major influence on him), Eliade resembles the 19th century character in his defiance of society and institutional constrains – albeit with very different ambitions. Indeed, he will become a university professor himself – and a notoriously popular one too.
Getting lost in a book, on top of one of the seven hills of Iasi, the new Rome – now THAT is Christmas!
Crisp winter day. The cold blue sky – as clean, majestic, and utterly indifferent as a blue-blooded aristocratic behaviour.
On the sixth floor of a palazzo in Viale Monza, one feels closer to the sky than to the busy road underneath.
At 9am, most persiane are still down. An hour and a half earlier it was still dark. Italians rise with the light.
This is the Mediterranean world – get up late, stay up late. Enjoy the light and the open space. Take your time, don’t rush through the hours of the day as we do in London. Live through time, instead.
A man, hat-in-hand, on Corso Venezia – one of the richest areas in Milan. He waits, he takes a step towards each passer-by and then, out of the blue, asks – Non mi vedi? “I’m here. Don’t you see me?”
Indeed, what is wrong with us all, passing through life in such a rush, neither seeing nor hearing the others as flesh and blood individuals right here, next to us? Most of the time we only see them as a collective, and in a predetermined, often institutionalized setting. Other than that, we treat people passing by as just shadows. Non mi vedi may be the most natural question in the world – be that the Mediterranean one, or elsewhere. It may well be that God spoke to us right there and then, between the misery and the lush life on Corso Venezia, through the words of a beggar.