Things don’t exist if we have no words to name them

“Le cose non esistono se non abbiamo le parole per chiamarle.”

From his novel Le perfezioni provvisorie (in English: Temporary Perfections; in Spanish: Las perfecciones provisionales), a detective story, Gianrico Carofiglio quotes a few gems, that I want to share further.

First,  from the Song of Solomon 6, 10:

«Chi è costei che sorge come l’aurora,

bella come la luna, fulgida come il sole,

terribile come schiere a vessilli spiegati?».

Cantico dei Cantici 6, 10
Who is she that looketh forth as the morning, fair as the moon, clear as the sun, and terrible as an army with banners?

¿Quién es ésta que se muestra como el alba,
Hermosa como la luna,
Esclarecida como el sol,
Imponente como ejércitos en orden?

Cantar de los Cantares de Salomón 6, 10

Splendid poetry! A woman opens herself up to be loved. But in the novel, there is also a note of possible danger for the man whom the woman offers herself to. All the danger that comes from exposing oneself to something which is manifestly stronger and more powerful than ourselves, seems to say the author in adapting the quote.

After Googling it, however, I discovered that also Umberto Eco, in his In the name of the Rose, quoted the same verses, adapting them in a slightly different way.

Ma chi era costei, che sorgeva davanto a me come l’aurora, bella come la luna, fulgida come il sole, terribile come un esercito schierato in battaglia. Temevo di essere preda del demonio, il quale sa bene come afferrarti l’anima e illudere il corpo. E poi, capii l’abisso e l’abisso invocato dall’abisso. Mi resi conto che avevo peccato.

In this segment, Eco adds a new thing: The beauty, the power of femininity which not only frightens the man, but ultimately drives him to commit sin. “And then I understood the abyss and the abyss invoked by the abyss”. A meta-sin. The mother of all sins.

Carofiglio adds another little gem in his book, when he quotes a song by De Gregori, perhaps the songwriter who has always been closer to me. The song is Atlantide (Atlantis,

As it happened before, the quote opened up a door to other (uni)verses.

Tell her I lost her when I understood her

Tell her I forgive her for my betraying her.

About Antonio Vantaggiato

Professor, web2.0 enthusiast, and didactic chef.
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