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Giuseppe Tucci and the three histories of wikipedia

I’ve been stuck in a strange loop of Italian intellectuals since getting back into Calasso while home sick.  

I was reading about Fosco Maraini  (Moravia -> Dacia Maraini -> Fosco Maraini) and happened upon an account of his travels with Giuseppe Tucci, a man with whom I was unfamiliar.  

So I looked him up on wikipedia, and am again reminded of what an unreliable source it is. Here are the two versions: 

In English: 

Giuseppe Tucci (5 June 1894 – 5 April 1984) was an Italian scholar of oriental cultures, specialising in Tibetand history of Buddhism. During its zenith, Tucci was a supporter of Italian Fascism, and he used idealized portrayals of Asian traditions to support Italian ideological campaigns. Tucci was fluent in several European languages, SanskritBengaliPaliPrakritChinese and Tibetan and he taught at the University of Rome La Sapienza until his death. He is considered one of the founders of the field of Buddhist Studies.

In Italian: 

Giuseppe Vincenzo Tucci (Macerata5 giugno 1894San Polo dei Cavalieri5 aprile 1984) è stato unorientalistaesploratore e storico delle religioni italiano. Autore di circa 360 pubblicazioni, tra articoli scientifici, libri ed opere divulgative, condusse diverse spedizioni archeologiche in TibetIndiaAfghanistan ed Iran. Durante la sua vita, era unanimemente considerato il più grande tibetologo del mondo. Fondò, assieme aGiovanni Gentile, l’Istituto Italiano per il Medio ed Estremo Oriente di Roma. Tucci fece anche parte dellaMassoneria[1].

The Italian page is much longer, any skips any mention of political activity, which the English page delves in to.  

So then I looked up the French:

Giuseppe Tucci (né le 5 juin 1894 à Macerata – mort le 5 avril 1984 à San Polo dei Cavalieri, dans laprovince de Rome), est un universitaire italien, un orientaliste et un tibétologue qui était spécialiste du Tibet et de l’histoire du BouddhismePolyglotte, il parlait plusieurs langues européennes ainsi que le sanskrit, lebengali, le chinois et le tibétain. Comme professeur, il enseigna à l’université de Rome « La Sapienza »jusqu’à sa mort. 

The French article includes a mention of Mussolini and Fascism, but not to the degree the English one does, and it is further down, and actually implies ambivalence, whereas the English one goes for full blown Fascist, and Italy seems to have forgotten that little bit of Tucci’s history. 


How do you organize your library?


A proper answer would imply writing an autobiography. It reminds me of a delightful work by a seventeenth-century French scholar, Gabriel Naudé, Advis pour dresser une bibliothèque. For me there are several criteria—practical, aesthetic, capricious. The essential thing is to obey what Aby Warburg called the “law of the good neighbor.” When looking for a book, you may discover that you were in fact looking for the book next to it. It’s the principle on which the marvelous Warburg Library in London is based. And of course the positions of books change in the course of time. They become like a geologic system of layers. In my case, alas, the books are in different places—around twenty thousand in the basement of the publishing house, and more yet in another apartment.

Paris Review — The Art of Fiction No. 217, Roberto Calasso


The fear of the cold, the terror of boredom, the mother treated like a lover, surreptitiousness and decency conjoined in the place of art; only Baudelaire could combine these elements almost without noticing, as if it were fully natural. It is an irresistible invitation, extended to anyone who reads it. And anyone can response to it, by roaming through Baudelaire as in one of the Salons he wrote about —or even in a Universal Exposition: finding all kinds of the things, the memorable and the ephemeral, the sublime and trash; and moving constantly form one room to another. But then the unifying liquid was the impure air of the time. Now it is an opiate cloud, in which to conceal and fortify oneself before going back into the open, in the vast, lethal, and teeming expanses of the twenty-first century.

Roberto Calasso, La Folie Baudelaire. Translated by Alastair McEwen.

Part of the first paragraph of the book and I want to see the Italian this was translated from. Anyone have an Italian version and willing to send me this in the original? 

A new generation of artists, writing genomes as fluently as Blake and Byron wrote verses, might create an abundance of new flowers and fruit and trees and birds to enrich the ecology of our planet. Most of these artists would be amateurs, but they would be in close touch with science, like the poets of the earlier Age of Wonder. The new Age of Wonder might bring together wealthy entrepreneurs … and a worldwide community of gardeners and farmers and breeders, working together to make the planet beautiful as well as fertile, hospitable to hummingbirds as well as to humans

Freeman Dyson, from Edge.org

Not sure how I feel about this. Feels both magical and Frankensteinian. After a breakfast discussion today around the legal underpinnings of a country that has trouble separating sex and gender and sexual preference, how fixed the US system wants to be to classify and create rules. What happens when there are fewer fixed categories for everything?

We do see this already with the coming questions of rights and ethics of robots, and questions of responsibility. Somehow these seem to come back to law, not morality.

These should be moral questions, I think. Getting caught in legality is an avoidance of existence, of thinking, of truly understanding. 

Time shifts and the structures of an end

I started out writing stories in French and English at the same time, but they can never be the same story, the languages don’t allow for it. The interactions and the endings write themselves differently.

Then I started writing stories in our American model of time, and began to translate them to other cultural models of time. More interesting and more difficult than I expected but also incredibly beautiful in the parts that must change. 

I have an enormous collection of books on time, culture, history, et cetera, so I have many more to do. If only I had…more time. 

Books weekending 13 June 2013 (timewarp version)

Creation is always in the dark because you can only do the work of making by not quite knowing what you’re doing, by walking into darkness, not staying in the light.

Rebecca Solnit (via nicolefenton)


and right before that, Solnit writes this, which really helps me on this dark and wintry weekend. 

The sensuality of night had never been so clear to me, darkness descending like velvet to wrap around you and enclose you in its black cocoon, to take you to your other self and others. In darkness dreams awaken and dreamers merge, which might be how passion becomes love and how making love begets progeny of all natures and forms. Merging is dangerous, at least to the boundaries and definition of the self. Darkness is generative, and generation, biological and artistic both, requires this amorous engagement with the unknown, this entry into the realm where you do not quite know what you are doing and what will happen next.

(via kthread)

I find all of this particularly interesting, having spent a summer in perpetual light. The endless light, the lack of time for required sleeping, the lack of rules for how to structure a day, created a blissful state of continued creativity and desire. 

We mythologize darkness, from our creation stories, to the ways in which we work, love, create, and dream. Dreaming in the light is at least as good as dreaming in the dark. And I often wonder, why not have the origins of the world begin with pure light, and explode to include the darkness. This makes more sense to me. 

The paths dictated are not the ones you must take.

[The above three paragraphs are me, but it seems to want to credit it to kthread as well, and tumblr won’t let me fix that.] 

(via kthread)

Books Weekending 28 December 2013

More in line with my supposed ‘no reading til 2014’ rule.

  • 1491, Mann. Best book I can remember reading in 2013. Non-fiction. There were enormous numbers of things I did not know, did not realize had changed, and now I have a great deal of other things I want to read to follow up on different questions I had. 
  • The English Girl, Silva. Another Gabriel Allon mystery. The library forced me to take it out and read it. I’ve read all his others. I don’t know why they amuse me so, but I tend to read them in one sitting. 
  • Dark Matter and Trojan Horses, Hill. This really needed better editing to be readable. That bums me out. I wanted to like this, but I could barely read this. 

I do intend to start writing again, and about what I read, so these are short. Let’s hope intent becomes reality, shall we?