Milo De Angelis in the preface of “Olimpia” (Interlinea 2013), states: “Writing Olimpia , Luigia Sorrentino writes the book of her life.
Olimpia aims at the essence, deeply touches the great questions of origin and death, of the human and the sacred, of our encounter with the millennia.
It has a long-sighted look: broad, perspective, eagle-like gaze. But it also has sudden thrusts in the flame of the verse. “[…] And adds: […]” The times intertwine, they enter into an epic where everything is so ours as to become remote, everything is so lost as to become present. Olimpia manages to express this absolute time, and does so in a wonderful way, with powerful architectures but also with the flashes of lightning true poetry. Absolute time that contains all time. ” A work of maturity, implies the poet writing:” Olimpia points to the essence, deeply touches the great origins of life and death. “
Who is Olimpia for you?
” Olimpia” is the meeting with a place, with a feminine essence, with a city, with a condition, the human condition . In the book there is nothing left of the city, perhaps there is no longer even the human, but only the reverberation of a voice that comes from afar. Everything is irretrievably gone, razed to the ground, perhaps for this reason De Angelis writes that ” Olimpia ” expresses an absolute time, that is a time that contains every time . Everything has already happened, it is behind us, but also before us, enclosed in a circular space. Poetry is there, in a living essence, clear, pulsating, it is a voice that calls its children to itself and increases them, “in all that we have been” and making this journey back in time, touches the great origins of life and death.
“Olimpia” – I told Maurizio Cucchi and you, in 2011, while I was writing the book – it is not a book on the sacred. However, it is as if a sacred element were slightly touched throughout the book’s path. “Olimpia” is not a book on myth, as I have told you several times, it is a book that casually meets the myth, it is like crossed. Evidently our culture, our formation, is intertwined with the myth, touches the sacred element and enters the place of poetry, in the psychic space in an emotional substance that preserves and cares. ” Olimpia ” tells us that we are the place of life and death.
Mario Benedetti in the post defines Olimpia above all “a journey in dying”, a journey made by crossing a city moved, in a vision at the limit of consciousness. And actually it really seems like it is. The language of “Olimpia” leads the reader, on a border territory, between being and not being anymore.
The border territory in Olympia is language. On the one hand the language that speaks Olimpia has just burst into my life, on the other there is in me the awareness that I could not emotionally hold another language, a different language from the one that came out in writing this book. Olimpia could not speak the everyday language, that of the market, of the shopping center, of Ikea or the language we use at work. Mario Benedetti explains it well in the afterword when he writes that the space in which this poem moves is “a last stage of consciousness”. It is just a last time to speak, and therefore language also seems to be at some distance from the present. At this last stage the intensity of life is gathered together, and there the existential condition reaches the extreme condition, like at the point of death. Olimpia expresses one last time , in a language that preserves the echo of the tragedy. Nothing happens on the scene, everything is put back to the emotionality of the person who narrates, to the behavior and the measure of narrating. In this sense Olimpia speaks the language of the fathers, and does so starting from a limit and to put a limit . It takes distance from the present, but remarks in this distance, even the need to detach itself from a greedy and unscrupulous time, our time. The whole of the twentieth century speaks of a betrayal , and Olimpia tries to repair the wrong immediately. Olimpia recalls in the notion of betrayal certainly one of the most dramatic events of the twentieth century: the Shoah, the Catastrophe, the greatest tragedy perpetrated in the West, but also the birth of the tragedy told by Aeschylus, for example, in “I sette contro Tebe”. There is a moment in the book, in which it is said that Olimpia puts the mouth of the god and asks: “Why did you do this”? In this sense, Olimpia speaks the only language that could speak, reflects on the human condition, on guilt, betrayal, and asks for silence, reflection. Olimpia asks for a reconstitution of the being, around the sacred self. Olimpia accepts death – the end of time – and recognizes that the human condition is closed in brevity. The reflection on this theme comes from a woman, old and young, at the same time. A woman aged next to the rock, but who sees the girl turned to her, and is grateful to this girl who hugs her on the edge of life. Olimpia renounces everything, power, wealth, well-being … is aware that the human being is only an apparition in the dimension of time … Olimpia poses a continuous opposition … and there is always something that contrasts the truth that wants to be established.
With Olimpia you take us, as you did with Birth, only birth (Manni 2003), on a border, in a border territory, between being and not being anymore. Is this the meaning of the recurring symbolism of the threshold, of the transit to an open door on the unknown?
Yes, there is continuity of discourse between the two works, but with La Nascita, only the birth the poetic discourse was still in the time of life . In Olympia there is precisely dying , as an ineluctable condition of the human being. The whole book is crossed by contrast, by opposites that are opposed on the threshold of a boundary between finite and infinite. In Olympia then, we are, in another space, in another time, or even, we have left the time, we are in an absolute space, in the continuous demarcation between being and not being anymore. Olimpia continually poses the problematic and the contrast between the mobile and immobile being, between the human-transitory being and the perpetuity of the divine. In the section The permanence, the distance from the limit the permanence is represented by an immobile femininity as it happens in the Greek statuary. That fixity is the very essence of the divine: eternal and immobile. But there is, however, a movement that takes place, and there is the god who goes towards the man or the man who goes towards the god. Perhaps they meet, but on an extreme border. Therefore, Olimpia touches the sphere of the sacred in the perennial contraposition between what the human being is – what has been – and what can never be – immortal – if not in a poetic, religious and spiritual dimension.
The symbology of the threshold then, has different connotations, as well as the question that occurs in the poem The contrast between the divine and the time : “Is that the door ?”. Is the door an exit from life and time, or is it an entry into time? In the poem the question is almost obsessively posed, and perhaps for this reason it assumes an enigmatic and mysterious character … so, in the end, it is not known where that door leads. It probably leads to a new dimension. Certainly it too represents a limit, a threshold, a passage. In any case, the door is an element of transit , the crossing or the overcoming of the limit, from life to death to the unknown of the “after”. In some other parts of the book the threshold indicates, instead, a condition of expectation, or of preparation for a movement, a passage. Standing on the threshold, or traveling through it, can mean going towards the unknown or the infinite. Going over the threshold and overcoming the limit means entering a new dimension, going to see what’s on the other side. But sometimes the human being stands on the wind-beaten threshold, and swings, unable to continue, to let himself go to another unnamed place , in fact. The threshold on which the mercurial divinity that “leaflessly flips through the trees” stops, marks the boundary between what is human and what is human is not, therefore always the dimension of the threshold opens up the unknown, life, death, the exit of the scene, but also the entrance on the scene. However, the threshold is the limit-place, it is a boundary and the threshold, the boundary, the limit, are all faces of the same reality.
The path that Olimpia begins begins in a place called antrum. Why does it start right from a cave, from a cracked mountain?
The cosmic antro – place par excellence – is in a sacred space. It delimits our origin, but it is also the origin of poetry. It is the womb of the earth, of the mother. From that womb we all came out. The result is Hyperion, who tries to free himself from a state of privation, not light, engaging in a struggle with the gods. But it does not make it, it loses, it succumbs, it falls, placing itself in an area of distance from the light. Olimpia is the poetry that stands in the dark background of an antrum. It is rock, root, cicada, voice, and then wind … Olimpia speaks through the wind. But its consistency is human, it is not divine, that’s why when it asks eternal life , it becomes a breath. Its essence will remain in the dimension of poetry that is eternal.
In Sleep, the journey taken within the city takes on a circular form. At the end of the book we return, as at the beginning, in a cave, in a cracked mountain. In the dimension that leads the reader towards the limit of earthly existence, the circle closes, one returns to the origin. What is the deeper meaning of this path?
Sleep is the acceptance of dying, of being transient, in a certain sense, it is the ideal place to die, when one’s time is finished … The circular and unitary character of Olimpia reaches its maximum expansion in this section. Here in fact archaic returns, to the place of departure: the cave is the place of birth, but it is also the place in death. The moment of death – the exit of the scene – is a moment of absolute truth because it frees the mystery of all our human essence. One of the works that has most contaminated me is the Oedipus to Colonus of Sophocles. In that tragedy, Oedipus, before dying, takes full responsibility for his guilt: he married his mother, killed his father and brought into the world a sick stock, the Labdacids. When Oedipus discovers this, he begins to die and sets off in search of a place – the benevolent city – where he dies “in peace” to free himself from his terrible guilt. This section was also inspired by a news story, which took place in February 2011. Daniel Bisutti, the boy of twenty, who fled and disappeared immediately after causing a terrible car accident in Martinengo in the province of Bergamo. Daniel thought he had caused a massacre, but it was not. His sense of guilt had blinded him to such a point that he could not see anything else … to lose totally in touch with reality … Someone may remember that his lifeless body was found after ten days of incessant research, hidden in a ravine (cave) near a stream, curled up in a fetal position, as if it wanted to protect itself from cold or guilt. I always thought that Daniel had not overcome the enormous sense of guilt that had begun to afflict him from the moment of the accident. Daniel is one of us, a contemporary, but he is also like Oedipus: absorbed by guilt and blinded by it, he sought a place to escape from the cold , a natural, circular and maternal cavity, near a stream, to no longer feel that pain . Here, in a certain sense, the poem ” Sleep” closes the circle of life with a return to the mother, in the uterus and warm hollow of the earth, which carries with it an unconfessable secret: the abandonment of life, but also of guilt.
In a young mountain in the midst of the unknown there is a strong vital impulse towards the future. Here, for the first time, time is conjugated to the future. This momentum, however, is dampened by the sentence that is read in the prose of the new city: Olimpia joy of beings not experts in joy. How can there be a future in a community that completely ignores joy in its fullness?
In Young Mount in the midst of the unknown there is the approach to a new reality, “the unknown” of the young mountain is in fact a numinous reality, full of light, young, just born, and that still has no name, for this is unknown.
This new reality is the image of a new condition: new, human and divine. The young mountain is sacred in itself, is in a sacred place, and everything around him has subsided. This new place is filled by the religious space of poetry. The wait has been filled in the return, the return to a new time. In the finite time the infinite return condenses, it is a time in which, as in a circle, one closes earthly existence – we were all together – in a place where there are living and dead -. This new place is precisely the spirit of the future, where one is silent with joy. “He is silent about everything who possesses that spirit of the future over the ruins” I say in one verse. This verse also tells us that looking for this numinous nature is precisely a condition of the human being. Being together with this divinity that is within us, close to us, is being dumb, but soaked with joy, because here joy is just an expression of the interiority and awareness of the human being, who finally manages to stay inside himself, within one’s own nature, in the spirit of the future , in a new world that can be born of a new capacity to be, in a new measure: “weaves its divine human.”
Sprouts from the human, from the sleep of death, a new world, a new man, a new woman. There is therefore hope in the future: “You will be a new man, a new woman, you will be brother and sister”. Here is the meeting between human beings who recognize themselves in their individuality, who recognize themselves in a solitary space on the mountain, but powerful, like love. The true being together must spring from recollection “so spend the time that speaks to you” says another verse, speaking of this young man who is listening to the earth. In this rejuvenation of peoples there is the future, the time that will come, that will change us. The young mountain is just like a Titan, he too, like Hyperion, like the woman of the Permanence, is anchored to the earth, in absolute immobility, in an immovable and therefore sacred form. It is an original reality, what moves around him is time. It is tall, enduring and is part of the dimension on which earthly existence is determined. The young mountain is temporality (movement) is solid and lasting, it is the inspiration of the celestial. The image merges with the mother earth. The young mountain is also a new homeland. It emerges from the earth, from the depths of the earth, just like the poetry that sometimes emerges from the dream, from the wake.
The poem then closes with a praise, the praise of the rose. The praise of poetry, which supports the distant … It takes a great strength to support the distant, to be able to look without being moved more, in a vision of solidarity, of great awareness, and therefore of joy.