The ‘sound’ of the lands in the words of Paolo Rumiz: “Sicily is an A, Calabria is a C”

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By John

It starts from the deep and chthonic South, the South of the remote islands, along the line of the faults, the line of fire of the volcanoes, dormant or dormant, yet another journey by Paolo Rumiztraveler and writer (without these two activities being exactly distinguishable), in the beautiful «A voice from the Depths»just released for Feltrinelli. A journey of precision (of paths, trajectories, reconstructions) and vagueness (following the gap, the suggestion, the unexpected), of orientation and confusion. A journey, as is his custom and style, in space but in time, reweaving each time, of the lands crossed, the entire web of visible and invisible. Summoning witnesses of all kinds: sentinels of the territory, artists of many types of art, poetic scientists and visionary masters (Professor Vito Teti, anthropologist and theorist of “remainance” is very dear to us in Calabria), but also passers-by occasional and fortuitous traveling companions.
This time his “listening to the voices” – of anything, animate or inanimate, present or past, describing the territories exactly but to compose a geography of the soul – has made the profound reason for a journey that could only begin from the South. From the Aeolian Islands, and then Sicily, and a long stop in Calabria (where today, in Reggio, he will talk about the book at 5pm, at Palazzo Trapani Lombardo), an unknown, intimately Greek land, to then cross the magma of Naples and reach to the Alps. Following those voices of an underground that hides wonders and dangers, where the faults and roots of these lands that tremble, boil, collapse intersect.
Navigate the Strait, Rumiz, and navigate all the horizons with your gaze, travel along ridges and fault lines, climb to every peak and sink into the underworld, question History and keep an eye on the news, and with the word – a a fiery and powerful word, which never overlaps with what it tells and shows – it gives us everything back, but enriched by the resonances of every other journey and encounter and book.
What is the “voice from the depths” that you heard here, between Sicily and Calabria?
«I would say that if Sicily is a tragic place for which I would use a minor key, most likely an A, and if for Naples, as Riccardo Muti said, who feels Neapolitan to the core, the key is G Major, at Calabria I would give a very deep C. I have dedicated many pages to Calabria, because it is a land neglected by national unity. And above all I felt the need to fill this void, dealing with this interminable region, which is often dealt with only for crime news episodes. Returning to sound, I would say the dark echo of a very fragmented, tormented, disturbing mountain, which always seems to be waiting for a thunder from the depths, like Pollino, which has a frightening seismic charge but has been asleep for a very long time. . The sound of Calabria reminds me of that of a train, of a convoy that suddenly brakes with all the carriages crumpling almost into the shape of an accordion, just in time to avoid the Strait. Perhaps this comes to me from the trips I took about twenty years ago on the Calabrian-Lucan railways on which I saw trains literally twisting around themselves as they crossed the valleys.”
How would you tell the Calabria you heard and saw to a Greek?
«I would tell him about the Greek nature of Calabria and that is that Calabria is the entry point of primitive Greek-speaking Christianity which very often arrived from the Nile. I allude to the great escape of the monks and hermits who brought with them the icons banned by iconoclasm. Calabria is the point of arrival of a very strong spiritual current which I like to contrast with the Savoy vulgate which would have Calabria as a land exclusively fertilized by the civilizing wave of old Piedmont. I think the two currents are both important for national unity. Then to a Greek I would also say that Greece is an ancient land, extreme in both senses, for better or for worse. It’s a type of sensation that I felt several years ago, the first time I found myself writing articles about the Balkans: the strong sensation of positive energy, but one that can spiral tremendously into itself.”
What deity would he invoke if he were a sailor of the Straits?
«To cross the Strait I would invoke a hero rather than a deity. That place is full of epicness, especially what is written in the Odyssey. So I see Ulysses there, I see Ajax there, but I also see our great progenitor Europe, who in ancient myth concludes her crossing by sea, on the back of Jupiter transformed into a bull, on the island of Crete, but in my book “Canto per Europa” ends its story immediately after the Strait of Messina, near Gioia Tauro and I did not choose the place and the word “Tauro” by chance precisely to echo the myth, for which Europa in some way had to what to do with the bull. I would say that I like the idea that she is a mythical female figure, because from what I have read about the history of Calabria, for centuries the weight of this region has rested on the backs of women.”
What do you think of the Strait Bridge?
«It would take away the possibility of entering Sicily or Calabria full of sacredness. As I say in the book, the Greeks called the sea with the word “pòntos”, which in itself is a bridge, a place through which one passes. Coming to more concrete things, given the shocking state of the roads, both in Sicily and in Calabria, I don’t understand the point of this immense work in the absence of a decent road network upstream and downstream.”