This is not a cliché.

The stories of August

Every day a new story
01 August 2020

Humans dream, therefore they are.

As a child, my aunt Marianne used to tell me a grim story: a murderer made his way up to a girl’s room, narrating each step with grisly sentences and how he would butcher her. My aunt did not spare any of the gruesome details. I sat with my cousins, peeled to her every word for hours, and the story never changed one bit… while also being different each time. My imagination ran wild: I saw the blood flow, flapping flash, and Katiuscia’s horribly torn body – poor, poor Katiuscia. As time passed, I reinvented the story, somehow always finding an ending I liked. I entertained the idea of cracking the murderer’s head open, but often ‘my’ story had a happy ending.

Not that much has changed: you will find me daydreaming as I scamper around the woods, a green flash in the corner of my eye as what I imagine to be a wood sprite rushes to hide behind a copse of Swiss pines; and the dainty little fairy, who hovered before me a couple of days ago in the forest of Bagno Vignoni – I was sure she was going to speak to me. I like listening to Rino Gaetano’s fantastical stories. He has an uncanny skill of intertwining reality with fantasy in his songs, and he had even foreseen his death in the ‘La ballata di Renzo’. I like meandering in the poetry of dada artist Kurt Schwitters and in Italo Calvino’s surrealism – he told the tale of how Cosimo Piovasco di Rondò decided to climb a tree to escape from this wretched world, never to descend ever again. There, he fell madly in love with Viola and was swept away by a world made of bushes, leaves, branches, and infinite trunks. He aged, and the tired, old man decided that rising into the never-ending sky in a hot-air balloon will make him truly happy forever. Buzzati tells us about the Dolomites, while Alda Merini and her transcendental verses unveil new worlds for me.

I miss not having gone to exhibitions, concerts, or the theatre. I dive into books – but that is not enough. I feel there is a barrier, a dam, a shutter in my head which simply will not open. Fantastical stories keep me company as I wander in the mountains or hug that ancient larch, and yet I know that humanity needs relations.

Being a hermit, at least right now, is not who I am.

A long preface to tell you how sad I am about the closure of an artistic excellence: the Cirque du Soleil. I am convinced that listening to mathematicians, epidemiologists, and doctors is all fine and well, but listening to philosophers and poets would also do me well. Something always happens during difficult times: we focus on the practicalities of our life without thinking enough about our social life. Our government focuses – and rightly so – on justice, but it should also focus on our society and its ability to dream. Unfortunately, it looks like dreaming has become a luxury in today’s world. Artists, musicians, poets, acrobats have to have an impact on our society –

mankind is not all about its economic nous or entrepreneurial spirit, we are who we are because we can also create music and art.

Long ago, poets were inspired by deities, and old sages pretended to be mad so people listened to them. With the circus’ closure, a world of truths and non-truths, we lose a piece of imagination in its multiform varieties, while also losing the unshakable, genuine strength it embodied.

Falsehood and truth, deceit and honesty are complex and contradictory oppositions. It becomes difficult to clearly outline their borders – and our story today?

Our story today is about losing a piece of humanity’s complexity, no, a piece of humanity.

That is what the closure of the Cirque du Soleil represents. A slither of humanity which makes us living, human, and social beings.

A better alternative? Close the Dolomite Passes, caged like wild animals, tamed by a wave of never-ending cars and uncouth motorbikes! I dream of the Dolomite Passes without acoustic pollution, but I cannot imagine a future without creativity, an antidote against fear and uncertainty. Someone may re-join and say that closing schools and churches was a social disaster; compared to closing a circus, well, there is worse. And this is exactly what makes me even sadder. Are we so out of touch with the world to not recognise the importance of art, an antidote or a precursor of what is to come?

We are giving it our all. We are trying to reinvent ourselves in a world of hospitality where art, our landing page, music, talks with writers, will have a decisive place. Our future cannot be the annoying and violent motorcyclist who negates the artist – maybe Cosimo il Piovasco was right, and happiness can truly be found in an enchanted world atop a tree.

Michil Costa