Rants and reactions to contemporary politics, art and culture.
Tuesday, January 20, 2015
Rome Journal XII: Pasolini, Ancora!
she-wolf nursing Romulus and Remus
Pasolini’s great masterpiece Mamma Romawas an inadvertent form of mythmaking, that ended up
rivaling the she-wolf nursing Romulus and Remus. The movie begins with Anna
Magnani leading three pigs into the wedding feast of her pimp Carmine (Franco
Citti). The pigs are laughingly called the "Fratelli d’italia,” the brothers of Italy. But
the reception is modeled on da Vinci’s Last
Supper and the pigs are a proto-Holy
Trinity, comprised of Marxism, Christianity and Antiquity, three elements that the film points to as the driving forces of Roman life. Today Pasolini’s vision
holds more true than ever. Up until recently the country was run by a
billionaire tycoon whose fortune came from media. He stayed in power longer than any post-war prime minister. The Brigate Rosse are no longer an everyday threat, as they were back in the 70’s when they kidnapped and murdered, Aldo Moro, the Christian
Democratic prime minister. But the class divisions in the country are still
readily apparent and the disparity between poor and rich underlined in Thomas
Piketty’s Capital in the Twenty-First Centuryare as evident in
Italy’s capital as any place in the world. As for Christianity it’s still a
huge force with Pope Francis proving to be a charismatic figure who has
extended the political influence of the papacy in a way that may be greater
than any time since the Risorgimento. As far as antiquity is concerned, the
past is to Italy, what oil is to the Saudis. It constitutes the wealth of the
country, both economically, in terms of tourism, but also spiritually to the
extent that history is written on literally every street corner and to quote
Santayana, “those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”
Francis Levy's debut novel, Erotomania: A Romance, was released in August 2008 by Two Dollar Radio.
His short stories, criticism, humor, and poetry have appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post, The New Republic, The Village Voice, The East Hampton Star, The Quarterly, Penthouse, Architectural Digest, TV Guide, The Journal of Irreproducible Results, and other publications. One of his Voice humor pieces was anthologized in The Big Book of New American Humor (HarperCollins). He is presently the Co-Director of The Philoctetes Center for the Multidisciplinary Study of Imagination (philoctetes.org), where he supervises roundtable discussions on topics as varied as “The Psychology of the Modern Nation State” and “Modern Traffic Theory, Behavior, and Imagination”.