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Every day a new story
01 February 2019

The art of few words

How many are the words we expel without them giving any additional sense? How many words are used just to fill one space or another?

It is still the dark of the night and we must be at Bolzano early so as to take the 7 o’clock train for Rome. I could do with listening to some decent music. It is important for me that I start the day well, as then the positive sentiment serves me well for the rest of the day. Once it was that someone told me to always do the first thing of the day well, for example, making up your bed. It is an easy thing to do and by completing well you carry with you an action you have successfully achieved, and then if the day itself does not work out well, then at least when you get back home you will find your bed ready for you. With this in mind, and certainly not wanting to hear a melancholy Tom Waits or the sweet sounds of Mina, I was hoping for a note or two of pleasing music. However, the radio of my companion and driver was tuned into a station, and this before 6 o’clock in the morning, on which two or three were talking, night shouting, at the same time. This unbearable radio scenario went on and on, and my companion seemed totally oblivious to it all. I witness similar scenes in restaurants, bars, shops, and I always want to cry out for dear mercy to stop the racket for my ears are about to burst. I would need to shout my disapproval out loud, for it would seem that it is only by raising the voice and using an excess of words that one can be listened to, or at least have the impression that someone is taking notice of you.

“Parole parole parole” sang Mina.

How many are the words we expel without them giving any additional sense? How many words are used just to fill one space or another? How many words travel faster than light on Twitter and are excessively used just to show how the writer him or herself should be viewed in a good light. What comes to my mind is the occasion when Bob Dylan accepted to be immortalised by Jerry Schatzberg, but only on condition that he would not pose. His main concern was to communicate his words in music. Times passed and times have certainly changed. Nowadays it is more in fashion to use a sort of verbal violence to rant and rave, harm, denigrate: a torrent of words coloured with explitifs and used in the most exaggerated of ways and which wriggle their way into common parlance like a worm penetrates a fruit. Words at times are literally spewed out as a mindless action, too much cunning in verbal exploitation and too many “buzzwords”; all words abused and used only because they are condensed and of easy meaning, and because one and all use them, but without any real consideration of etymology and the true sense of the word or expression. And then again there are the racists, masters of showing off their verbal filfth and winning over supporters, all resulting in frustrations leading to violence at football matches, on the streets, and even contaminating Parliament itself. Ministers and Members of Parliament in general should have the ability to weigh their words carefully and in measured terms. “What else is politics if not the strength to bring and keep the unity in institutions which may tend towards a disfunction or even to oppression and conflict?” said Platone.

Words have their weight, they can be like boulders at times, but they should not be used inappropriately. However, those who embark on complex and articulate speeches are considered boring.

Whoever speaks slowly and with a low voice becomes characterised as lacklustre, and indeed characterless. To be soft in manner and sparing with words is ammunition for those who rant and rave, concerned only to put down those who think differently, and then they themselves disappear from any and every responsibility by using a pseudonym online. I appreciate that in an era when instagrammability is the metre, it is complicated to reflect on the words of Kant and Hegel. Words only seem to count if said by social stars and influencers, and only those who have more likes on Facebook are considered as being in the right. With the multiplication of followers, engagements and English usages galore we are assisting at a mindless dynamic in the use of words which contributes to rendering any hint of a personal relationship into a commercial venture. No longer is one appraised depending on the quality of thought, but rather any who dare to deliver a rational speech based on love and justice are considered to cling to an empty idealism or non-existent utopia.
It is indeed true that locations and churches where poetry, beauty, and depth of thought are evident are almost empty; but at the same time it is important to use the right words, correct and wise ones, because locations and churches – and without that the word ‘almost’ fools us – are not totally empty. It is worth it to read and to listen to persons who have important things to communicate, things which touch the minds and even the hearts of persons with sensitive thoughts of a deep and worthy nature. Does not don Luca, the illuminated priest of San Quirico, say to be a ‘useless priest’: to speak is important, to listen is fundamental, and now and again to keep quiet is illuminating. And maybe, as J. Brel says in his poem “Ils se tiennent par les yeux”, they are tied by their eyes. All of us have a need of a gesture of affection from time to time, of a hug, of soft and tender look and words.
By the way: they said on the radio that Mina is “number one”. If they had said that she was ‘’numero uno’’ I would have been more likely to have agreed.
Perhaps we are not as good in selling rooms as Ronaldo CR7 is in selling his socks as soon as they are posted online, but what we do know is that the messages of peace, of love poems, thoughts of the good and the beautiful as the Greeks understood them, may not appeal to the vast public, but they will arrive to those who are part of that good world that has not disappeared, and is one which continues to live and to evolve, maybe not always emerging, but residing under the surface nourishing itself with beauty and spreading its message. It is the world made up of those persons who have a mission: to raise the quality of thought with words.

michil costa