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Not Exactly a Lie

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Sylvia reports that a young mother and father and their infant were killed last week on Spiaggia di Chiaia di Luna on the island of Ponza, when rocks fell upon them from the face of the cliff. Because of the danger authorities closed the tunnel the Romans dug to give landlubbers access to the beach. But anyone can come by boat, and Sylvia says she’s sure that many are sitting there right now, as we speak.

In the middle of the bay at that location, as I’ve said here a couple times before, is a dark rock where some 30 years ago Vittoria’s mother and father kissed for the first time. Back then this simple act marked the establishment of a life-long connection.

“So when will WE become partners for real?” I asked her in New York. “Domani? Dopo domani?” Tomorrow? Day after tomorrow?

“Oggi,” she said quietly, wistfully. Today.

I know she longs for us to be permanently together, but right now it’s just too difficult. Her “oggi” comes from an ancient Italian belief that saying what someone wants to hear is not exactly a lie. So it’s touching, poignant, and sweet. Not devious, calculating, and false.

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Her “oggi” comes from an ancient Italian belief that saying what someone wants to hear is not exactly a lie.

John, that is amazing!
This is a real discovery for me - absolutely no irony!
This explanation reveals a beautifully wholesome picture...
Just don't say you made it up :)
(But if you did - you're genius:))

As always, many thanks for your comments.

Now, James' question "Domani? Dopo domani?" is actually mild saracasm because, as you know, very often tomorrow just never comes in this country, and everyone knows it. The bit about the lie is an extension of that concept.

I've experienced it many times in the three years I've spent here so far, and of course the issue is directly addressed in a nearly 40-year-old but still relevant book by Luigi Barzini, entitled "The Italians." He writes:

"When the shoemaker convincingly says, one hand on his heart, 'Of course, sir, you will have your new shoes on Thursday, without fail. Do not worry!' he is aware that he cannot fulfil his promise. The shoes will not be ready on time. But he is lying not for himself. He is lying for you. He wants you to feel at peace until Thursday, at least, warmed by the hope that your shoes will arrive.

"Norman Douglas long ago derided this kindly habit. He wrote (in Siren Land): 'Can you supply me with something to eat, fair Costanza?' 'How not? Whatever you command.'

"'Whatever you command: fairly-like bubbles of southern politeness which, when pricked, evaporate into indifferent macroni.'

"It cannot be denied that in the few minutes preceding the appearance of the macaroni, as in the few days before Thursday, the expectation has added something to a man's life."

Re: Warmed By Hope

Indeed! Because it is so obvious that "domani never comes", also to very self-coscient Italians, there had to be a good explanation to it... This one :)

P.S. I always forget the picture!
Again, very beautiful (you must be bored by hearing same word, aren't you? but that's what it is). These days, when working, I'm listening to guitar tunes over gentle rote; that makes your picture even more live.

There isn't an artist alive who isn't bouyed and sustained by expressions of appreciation for his/her work...and so once again I say thanks.

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