Monday, July 28, 2014

POVERTY AND WEALTH: GENETICS AND GENDER


A section of our library with its hand-made rocking cradle is on exclusion from power due to race and gender, believing that in this study we can find the causes of war, genocide and slavery, undoing these trauma crimes against our common humanity. These shelves contain books on the Holocaust, on Aborigines, on Native Americans, on Afro-Americans, on Roma, on women. Its shelves are built by Roma women who participate in our Alphabet School on Sundays while speaking together in Romanì, their language descended from Sanscrit.

Genetics: Biologically we are generally either female or male in order to reproduce the species. Culture and law have tended to further differentiate and define our gender status. Our DNA carries our haplogroup coding from the past, the male through the incomplete Y chromosone, the mitochondria for both. Our DNA can be altered by trauma, perpetuating it to future generations. We can also maintain, or attempt to restore, our cultural and linguistic purity or lose its identity and its language to a dominant other - or we can share our heritage.

Tectonics/Migrations: To study this genetic coding as it makes up distinct racial groups with their concomitant cultures, art forms (such as embroidery, tattooing, scripts, etc.), and languages, requires us first to look at the template of plate tectonics, the shifting of land and sea masses and the patterns of migrations through time. Gondwana becomeing Pangaea, then separating. For instance, Brazil, Africa and Australia were once the same land mass which drifted apart. It is thought that man, Adam, our common ancestor, began in Africa, while the Americas were later populated from the Asian land mass in the Clovis migration by the bridge of the Bering Straits, yet in Brazil archeologists have found far earlier traces of human activity in cave paintings, tools, a skull, connected with Africa. While the Aborigine in Australia date back 50,000 years. The waves of Semitic migrations took place around 5000 years ago from Iraq's Fertile Crescent and its record keeping in cuneiform to Canaan, Phoenicia, Palestine, the Israelites adopting and adapting the Semites' Ugaritic alphabet for written Hebrew. Our own Indo-European makeup and our languages come from migrations similarly around 5,000 years ago, and which adopted and adapted the Phoenician runes, pirated as the Greek and Roman alphabets - while the migrations of the Roma from India reached Europe a thousand years ago. The Indo-European migrations to North America began with the Icelandic settlers a thousand years ago.

Interruption: A young Roma mother and her child have come. The baby carriage has broken. She asks for help for carrying her baby. So we put little Sonia in the wooden rocking cradle we had made and which we keep in the library while I sewed for her a marsupial, giving her mother material and needle and thread so she can sew two more.

Aurica was noticing the design I had painted on the cradle and around the chandelier that I had copied from the fresco in the villa of the Cardinal Bessarione in Rome when I was twenty-one and with my first baby, fifty-six years ago. I was telling her of how the Renaissance began because this Greek scholar brought manuscripts from Constantinople to Italy, and briefly re-joined the Orthodox and Catholic Churches. We as women know we cannot be rigid amongst such needs as Aurica's and Sonia's, that we must drop the intellectual essay-writing, the false paradigm for the real world, to care instead manually and physically for the nurturing of a baby's body, mind and soul, and once that task is finished, then we can return to the abstracting computer. And can share together that intellectual world of cosmopolitan enriching cultures, too.

The Roma, like the Palestinians, are subjected to much discrimination and poverty. They are for us the Jungian 'Other', who is really everything about ourselves we cannot accept. Genetically the Roma are like ourselves, as Indo-Europeans, from India, though in a later migration, coming to Europe a thousand years ago. Because of that discrimination they are generally denied access to land, to water, to decent housing, to education, to medicine. Genetically the Palestinians are not like ourselves. Instead they are from the Fertile Crescent, the Semites, their genetic makeup that of the Jews, most so with the Sephardim, less so with the Ashkenazim, who are mixed with the Khazar converts to Judaism. The Palestinians are denied access to their land, to water, their homes destroyed, in punishment for desiring freedom. How can we learn to see the 'Other' as ourselves? To stop projecting our 'Shadow' onto scapegaot others. To stop the bloodshed. To stop the trauma.

I was in the United States before Civil Rights. I came from Europe where we idealize Native Americans. I saw park benches and drinking fountains labeled 'Whites Only'. I heard people say of Black Americans, who had been their slaves, that they were congenitally criminal and subnormal. I hear people say the Roma are thieves in their DNA. I saw - and see - how enslavement requires this Platonic mythology, Plato's 'Myth of the Metals'. That illiterate slaves are only iron, that educated people are silver, that the king is golden. It is a lie but if both oppressor and oppressed can be made to believe it, how very convenient it is for the rich, for the privileged, for those in power. The settlers fail to subdue the indigenous peoples, so massacre them, and/or corrall them on reservations, next they import foreign workers to build their land, again along racial lines, using the greatest contrasting skin colour. First from Africa, next from Latin America. Or outsource manufacturing to China and Bangladesh. Women no longer sew their own clothes. They do not know who does. The clothes themselves become less beautiful.

The Biblical geneaology of Adam, Eve/ Shem, Ham and Japheth is largely validated by the studies of genetic sequences. We are one, but, with patterns of nomadic migration and/or indigenous isolation, we come to differ, to separate. Traumatically we tend to enslave what seems to be most the 'Other'. Traumatically we tend to wage war against what is most ourselves. Civil War. Which is an oxymoron. Recently the worst wars have been fought over 'nationalism'. Julian Benda, in Trahison des Clercs, the Betrayal of the Intellectuals, prophetically warned against political nationalism. Yet our different genes, our different histories, our different languages, are treasures, both old and new. Internally, the dominant group may silence the 'Other', the Romans obliterating the Etruscan culture and its language, the Spartans enslaving the Helots. This will create a military caste. In its classism lie the seeds of Empire. From which, in the nineteenth century, nations sought freedom, Poland from Russia, Hungary from Austria, Ireland from Britain, Europe from Napoleon, Italy from the Pope, the Austrians, the French, the Spanish, a fracturing, a cantonization. Just as also religion splinters into warring sects. In the twentieth Germany and Italy sought to be Empires. Now America is Empire. Eisenhower warned against the Military/Industrial complex. It is really the Military/Industrial/Academic complex and it seeks to brainwash whole populations into being the Myth of the Metals, into being the iron of slaves, the CEOs, the silver, all subservient to the 'gold' of a tyrant.

Neuroscience: Years ago I worked with Julian Jaynes on his book, The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind, in which he discussed the cultural evolution, through religion and education, of the brain, shifting it from a balance of the right and left hemispheres to becoming left hemisphere dominant through literacy, a culture we adopted with the alphabet from the race which invented it, the Semites. Shem's descendants. Bible, Gospel, Koran shaped the Middle East, Europe and the East, become the genetic coding of our neighbouring cultures. While Chinese culture in the Far East adopted a different literacy. The problem with left hemisphere dominance is that it is less flexible, prefering linearity, and it rigidly differentiates itself from the Other. It becomes Pharisaical (a word which means 'separation'). For centuries education was carried out with flogging, with sexual trauma, with paedophilia, religion even resorting to genital mutilation, of both genders, as these short-circuit the brain's electrical chemistry. It produced a result that seems rational but is not, that seems to be conservative of values but can be insanely destructive of them, leading to Holocausts. Jayne's theoretical work was later validated by the neuroscientist Jill Bolt Taylor's own experiencing of a cerebal shutdown in My Stroke of Insight. Naomi Klein brilliantly describes this social engineering carried out through 'Shock Doctrine'. And warns us against it.

In Florence the Romanian Roma are forced to sleep in the hard streets in the rain. In Rome they must live in the mud of camps. In Romania in social housing with concrete. They were the slaves of the monasteries and the nobles from the Middle Ages until Uncle Tom's Cabin was translated into Romanian. They were taken away to gulags with no shelter, no food, just the bare earth into which they had to dig for shelter. The grandmothers as small orphan girls remember walking back to Romania from the killing fields. Roma were massacred in the Holocaust. No reparations were paid to them. They cope by not remembering the past, not thinking of the future. But they have told me that what would work for them would be garden cities, where Roma and Gadge (non-Roma) families could live together, with workshops and vegetable gardens, a market, a library, an orchestre, with bicycles and buses, not cars, to downsize from petroleum dependency. For me they garden magnificently in a cosmopolitan anti-slavery cemetery in the heart of Florence, where slave and noble, Austrian and Hungarian, Russian and Pole, Swiss and English, women and men, even the Romanian nobles who once owned the Roma as their slaves, lie peaceably side by side. Elsewhere the Roma are not allowed to work or to sell, they can only beg or steal for survival, here they restore tombs, harvest lavender, make cradles and library shelves, and learn, for the first time for many of them, how to write their name, the alphabet.

Homer says that when a man becomes a slave he loses half his soul, his life energy. But he also tells of Achilles in Hades wishing he could be his father's poorest slave and alive instead of King of all the Dead. 'Death is a slave's freedom'. Best of all is life and freedom, the love of God and neighbour, not worldly power or wealth or fame.

What if Palestianian and Israeli could live together, as families, in garden cities? What if we downsized our economies from its militarized globalization, those airport checks, the control of all our electronic communication? What if we studied each others' languages, our shared alphabet in its genetic forms, Hebrew characters, Arabic script, so we would be less threatened by our different likenesses? What if we shared our manual skills, our books, our music, our land? What if we became Citizens of a Gardened Earth? And raised our babies, skin on skin, cradled, loved? Repairing the cracks of the world (tikkun olam/תיקון עולם). Healing our human DNA from its Cain and Abel trauma?

Saturday, May 10, 2014

XANADU OR GARDEN CITIES: A PROPOSAL FOR THE EU


So twice five miles of fertile ground
With walls and towers were girdled round;
And there were gardens bright with sinuous rills,
Where blossomed many an incense-bearing tree;
And here were forests ancient as the hills,
Enfolding sunny spots of greenery.
Samuel Taylor Coleridge, 'Kubla Khan'/1

We recognize that the European Union is at a crisis, a crisis occurring simultaneously with climate change, increasing unrest in Africa, Syria, Ukraine (following wars in Iraq and Afghanistan that were waged without taxing for them), along with the melt-down of global indebtedness./2 Loyalty to the EU is being shattered by its desire to be inclusive while many EU citizens in the face of austerity seek a return to the nationalism that had caused the genocide of WWII./3

There is a partial solution that is ecological and inclusive while at the same time serving EU citizens and others with their greatest needs for sustainability: for work and for housing, without which they cannot raise a family. I see young Florentines graffitoing their schools, even the Ospedale degli Innocenti, in their anger that there is no hope for their employment when they leave school. I hear Italian artigiani, craftspeople, complaining that their rent and taxes are too high and they must abandon their skills. Florence is a microcosm of Europe. In the past it flourished because of its skilled craftspeople and its careful banking. It invented the florin, Europe's first Euro. But the florin was based on work, the work of its citizens. Now work is outsourced to the Third World as being cheaper, slave labour. It is even insourced with Chinese workers in Prato creating cheap good with labels, 'Made in Italy'. This is a failed economy. Henry Ford made it possible for his workers to buy a Model T. Now Detroit moulders. http://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/gallery/2011/jan/02/photography-detroit#/?picture=370173060&index=15

Instead of falsely relying on high technology to fix economic problems, we need to balance it with the human dimension: the family; the house. To enable an economy in which one member can work to support his or her family. Eliminating car ownership through the intelligent use of land in this model would decrease the cost of raising a family. Reducing carbon energy.

This essay proposes building garden cities,/4 microcosms of the European Community within the European Union. Around our cities are abandoned industrial sites. Where these are not polluted such areas could be subjected to high taxation unless released for the building of garden cities, a mixture of balconied and arcaded buildings and cottages with verandas, with tree-lined landscaping where children can play and learn. The garden cities should contain workspace for craftspeople and their apprentices, and at the periphery allotments for vegetable gardens supplying produce to a central market place. Bicycles and bus service could provide transport, reducing the carbon footprint. There should be a library, an orchestra, a park, a school.

The architects should plan and discuss the landscaping and buildings with those who will build and maintain them, immigrants and nationals, working and living side by side, learning each others’ cultures and skills. In this way there can be hope for families to have living and working space with access to land and fresh air and to create self-sufficient economies, with a family-run bakery, grocery, laundry, ironmonger. We need to return to that sense of economy, which in its Greek meant 'home'. To centre it on the home of the family, sheltering it, sustaining it, serving it. Without damaging the environment.

Some positive models are these:

Saltaire in Yorkshire was built as the antithesis to the crowding, squallor and disease of Bradford as a model mill town by Sir Titus Salt, then doubled in size by Sir James Roberts. It is built on the river Aire, an adjacent canal and a railroad with a station in the countryside. Its 800 row houses for the workers are built of stone next to the great wool mills. Salt designed the village with wide streets, a large dining hall and kitchens, baths and washhouses, an almshouse for retired workers, hospital and dispensary, educational institute and church, ample recreational land and allotments, in order to improve the diet of the workers. Four lions flank its main street, named 'War', 'Peace, 'Diligence', 'Vigilance'. The architecture is borrowed from the Italian Renaissance. Now mainly used for a computer centre since the mills shut down, it is filled with crafts people selling their wares. The local people flock to it for its beauty and friendliness. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. http://it.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saltaire http://www.saltairevillage.info/ http://www.umilta.net/SirJamesRoberts.html

Isolotto in Florence, designed partly by Giovanni Michelucci for the mayor, Giorgio La Pira, following WWII, was built on the periphery of the city to give 1000 poor families, who had lived in San Frediano in crowded, often windowless, slum dwellings, apartments within buildings and cottages set amongst trees by the river Arno./5 It is still beautiful though it has lost its original library. http://it.wikipedia.org/wiki/Isolotto

The University of California after the war bought up shipyard builders' housing in the township of Albany on the San Francisco Bay. The original family barracks are now replaced by more tasteful buildings but which are still set amongst a landscape where children can play and which has always included a childcare centre. The students are from all parts of the globe, reach the university by bus or car, and live here as in a Global Village. http://www.housing.berkeley.edu/livingatcal/video_uni_village_apts.html

Negative models are the following: crowded inner cities with stone and cement paving; suburban subdivisions based on car ownership as in the US and in Melbourne, Australia, where matching homes are built each with their own lawns that use too much water, and which are serviced by vast shopping malls with concrete parking lots at a considerable distance from the homes; Roma camps set in polluted mud on the peripheries of cities.

Such garden cities in Romania could reduce the migration of Roma to Italy, France and elsewhere, as these families seek space in which to raise their children and work alongside Romanians. Such garden cities in the British Isles could provide homes for British and Travellers also to live alongside each other. Vandana Shiva is speaking of the need for access to land, a diminishing of the control of multinationals creating debt cycles in agriculture, and of common good of seeds. http://www.navdanya.org/ When I spoke with her about this concept of garden cities for Europe she immediately saw that it provided, through the government, beneficial infrastructure for its citizens, the interlacing of the earth and the people. Which is the true task of government.

Notes

1. Samuel Taylor Coleridge's poem describes the yurt of gold and wicker as summer palace built by the nomadic Emperor Kubla Khan. This essay seeks to explore ways in which the EU could enable the housing of its own largest minority, the nomadic Roma, who themselves say they cannot accept social housing with cement or camps with polluted mud, but could acclimatize themselves to garden cities. In poor housing they become ill with TB. Before, in their caravans with their outdoor living, they were free of the disease.

2. I am writing these lines following the May 7-9 State of the Union of the European Union in Fiesole and Florence where all these topics were under discussion except that of climate change.

3. Julian Benda, La Trahison des Clercs (The Betrayal of the Intellectuals), 1927, presciently saw the growing danger of nationalism. Germany, between the wars, on top of the costs of World War I, was made by the Allies to pay reparations, often funded by loans at interest. In turn Jews, because they were bankers, were scapegoated. The Holocaust by Germany thus had its partial cause in these reparations paid to France, Belgium; Italy and England. None of our nations is innocent. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/World_War_I_reparations.

4. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Garden_Cities_of_To-morrow

5. From the Fondazione Michelucci: Firenze: Tracce di un'altra storia/traces of another history, 2002; 1954-2004, Città nella citta: Il quartiere dell'Isolotto a Firenze, 2006; Firenze verso la città moderna: Itinerari urbanistici nella città estesa tra Ottocento e Novecento, eds. Andrea Aleardi, Corrado Marcetti, Giulio Manetti, n.d.; Firenze crocevia di culture, 2010.

Saturday, June 08, 2013

CHE COSA E’ IL MALE?


Saturday, June 08, 2013 Sto catalogando dei libri per la nostra biblioteca. Biblioteca in cui i Rom apprendono l’alfabeto e scrivono il ‘Padre Nostro’. Una sezione è dedicata alla discriminazione, che altro non è che la 'demonizzazione’ dell’Altro e la proiezione del male che abita in noi. Due i libri in particolare che sto catalogando per questa sezione: On Evil di Terry Eagleton e Il Male di Paul Ricoeur, traduzione italiana del suo Le mal: Un défi à la philosophie et à la théologie. Ho già in questo stesso sito pubblicato ‘Perché il male?’ di Don Divo Barsotti, che mi richiama alla memoria la discussione dialogica sul male nel De consolatione philosophiae (La Consolazione della filosofia) di Boezio, riflessa in The Showing of Love (Le Rivelazioni dell’Amore) di Giuliana di Norwich e nella Summa Theologiae (La Summa Teologica) di Tommaso d’Aquino. Il male è nulla. Il male è il tendere al non essere. Dio è al centro. L' Essere perfettissimo, il Sommo Bene, l'Essere Eterno. Allontanarsene – o altri allontanare da questo – è tendere al non essere, alla dispersione nel limite del tempo, nel sempre meno tempo, conduce alla non esistenza, alla pochezza. Una bomba è il male perché annienta e distrugge l’Altro. Così come male è un fucile. Male tutte le armi della violenza. È la sezione questa sugli esclusi, su chi riduciamo al rango di inferiori. Donne, Ebrei, Rom, Neri, Nativi americani, Aborigeni. La sezione sul trauma, sui danni subiti da cui originano quelle alterazioni chimiche del cervello che ci rendono più timorosi dell’Altro, più punitivi, più rigidi. Sviliamo l’‘Altro’quando all’altro neghiamo terra, lavoro, un tetto, cibo, acqua, ciò di cui vestirsi, una coperta. Noi siamo la causa prima di questo male. La loro povertà. Questo è ciò che Firenze fa ai Rom.
Studiando il cervello scopriamo che la parte destra è inclusiva, include l’altro. È la parte che mostra misericordia. È l’anima. È la parte in contatto con il divino. La parte sinistra, di contro, esclude l’Altro, categorizza, separa, giudica, condanna. È la mente intellettuale. Le due parti devono essere in armonia. In passato conoscevo intimamente una persona molto ammalata, che quasi del tutto dominata dall’emisfero sinistro del cervello si è separata da moglie e figli, da noi derubando tutto. Non sono riuscita a convincerlo di quanto fosse amato. Per lui io ero l’‘Altro’da distruggere. Il male sarebbe stato rimanere, annientata e partecipe di quello stesso male subito. Eppure ancora ho cercato di raggiungere quell’abisso. Sperando nel condividere le mie ricerche egli potesse acquisire il tenure. La persona più malvagia nell’intero universo, queste le sue parole, nella sua ultima conversazione telefonica con me. Ero la sua anima da rigettare. La madre dei nostri figli. La Desdemona di Otello.
Gesù nel suo ministero, con le donne, gli indemoniati, i lebbrosi, i samaritani, i palestinesi, la siro-fenicia agisce mosso dall’emisfero destro. È questa la cristianità di Cristo. La religione si vincola, di contro, alle divisioni dell’emisfero sinistro. La parola ‘Fariseo’ significa ‘separato’. Gesù è il principe della pace. Le separazioni, le divisioni, gli scismi, le demonizzazioni, sono i semi di guerra con cui sul nemico proiettiamo il male che alberga in noi. Guerra che estendiamo e moltiplichiamo con bombe a grappolo, missili a testata nucleare, campi di sterminio, olocausti, nuove Guantànamo. Firenze quale atto di riparazione per l’affamata Pisa - causa dell’orrido cannibalismo di Ugolino che divorò la sua progenie, figli e nipoti - edifica Orsanmichele, loggia del mercato del grano, per nutrire anche i nemici in tempo di carestia. L’amore, la comunione, la condivisione cancellano il male. Il ritorno all’innocenza cancella il trauma. Il procedere a ritroso - o l’andare verso il centro annulla il tempo. Dio è l’assenza di male. Il male è l’assenza di Dio.
Se procediamo con il Padre Nostro a ritroso, verso il centro, con il rovesciamento dell'immagine riflessa, non è la parola male a chiudere la nostra preghiera, ma il nostro condiviso essere con Dio, nostro 'Padre': ‘ma liberaci dal male, e non ci indurre in tentazione; come noi li rimettiamo ai nostri debitori, rimetti a noi i nostri debiti; dacci oggi il nostro pane quotidiano; come in cielo e così in terra, sia fatta la tua volontà; venga il Tuo Regno; sia santificato il Tuo nome; Padre Nostro, che sei nei Cieli’. Qui con queste parole viviamo il regno dei cieli.

Friday, June 07, 2013

WHAT IS EVIL?



I am cataloguing books for our libray, a library in which Roma learn the alphabet and write the Lord's Prayer. And a section of it is on discrimination, the 'demonizing ' of the Other, who is a mirroring of ourselves, onto whom we project our evil. Two books I catalogue in that section are Terry Eagleton's On Evil and Paul Ricoeur's Il male, a translation into Italian of his Le mal: Un défie à la philosophie e ò la théologie. Already on this website I have Don Divo Barsotti's 'Why Evil?' These remind me of Boethius' discussion of evil in the Consolation of Philosophy, reflected in Julian of Norwich's Showing of Love and in Aquinas' Summa Theologiae, the evil is nought, is the tending to non-being. That God is at the centre, all Being, all Good, all Time; while absenting oneself from that - or absenting another from that - is the tending toward non-being, the dispersal into time, into less and less time, less being, lessness. A bomb is evil because it causes the less-being, the non-being, of the Other. Likewise is a gun. Likewise all weapons of violence.
This is the section in the library which is for the Outsiders, those 'lessened' by us, Women, Jews, Roma, Blacks, Native Americans, Aborigine. This is the section of the library on Trauma, that which damages us, which alters our brains and its chemistry, which makes us more fearful of the Other, more punitive, more rigid. We lessen the 'Other' when we deny them land, work, shelter, food, water, clothing, a blanket. We cause the evil that is their poverty. All this is done by Florence to Roma.
When we study the brain we find the right side is inclusive of the other, merciful, the soul, in contact with Godness, while the left excludes the Other, categorizes, separates, judges, condemns, is the intellectual mind. The two need to be in harmony. I once knew intimately a very ill person whose brain functioning was almost entirely in the left hemisphere, who had to separate himself from wife and sons while stealing all we had. I could not convince him I loved him, because to him I was the 'Other', to be destroyed. It would be evil to stay and be so destroyed, which would be to permit and participate in evil. But I still reached across that abyss to share my research so he could get tenure. His last telephone conversation was to say to me I was the most evil person in the whole cosmos. I was his soul he rejected, our sons' mother. I am Othello's Desdemona.
Jesus, in ministering to women, lunatics, lepers, Samaritans, Syro-Phoenician Palestinians, was right hemisphere dominant. This is Christ's Christianity. But religion binds itself into left hemisphere separations, the word 'Pharisee' meaning 'separate'. Jesus is the Prince of Peace. The separations, the divorces, the schisms, the demonizings, are the seeds of war. During which we project onto our enemy our own evil. Multiplying it into cluster bombs, nuclear warheads, extermination camps, holocausts, Guantanamos.
Florence, in reparation for the starvation she inflicted on Pisa, which caused the evil of Ugolino's cannibalism of his sons and grandsons, built Orsanmichele as a granary to feed even the enemy in times of famine. Evil can be undone with love, with communion, with sharing. Trauma can be undone with returning to innocence. Time can be undone with going backwards - or to the centre. God is the absence of evil. Evil is the absence of God.
If we go backwards with the Lord's Prayer, into the centre, mirror-reversing it, we do not end it with the word 'evil', but in our shared being with God, our 'Father': 'But Deliver us from evil, Lead us not into Temptation, As we forgive those who trespass against us, Forgive us our trespasses, Give us this day our daily bread, On earth as it is in Heaven, Thy will be done, Thy Kingdom come, Hallowed by Thy Name, Who art in Heaven, Our Father'.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

FROM GRAVES TO CRADLES': AN APPEAL


Vandana and Daniel saved Florence's Swiss-owned, so-called 'English' Cemetery in Florence. It had been abandoned. They gardened, restored its ironwork, cleaned its tombs, and earned enough in five years to build their home in Romania, with three rooms and four windows, on land they bought. Vandana, Daniel, their daughters, Alexandra, Elena and Gabriela, and Vandana's mother, Amanda, are Romanian Roma, who were slaves of the nobles and monasteries from the Middle Ages until the nineteenth century when Uncle Tom's Cabin was translated into Romanian, and family members were killed in the Holocaust. We called our project 'From Graves to Cradles', as the two parents also made a cradle for their new born, Gabriela. Then disaster struck. The land and house, registered with the city, was taken from them by the rich owners who had had it before Communism. No compensation. They lost everything. They had to return to living in one room with three daughters and the grandmother, paying rent. Vandana is in hospital, unable to speak as I write. Can we make a home possible for them again in time to give Vandana the hope she has lost, she has earned?

For the full story see http://www.ringofgold.eu/house.html

You can make PayPal payments towards helping make their home possible again at http://www.florin.ms/pp.html

Thursday, May 24, 2012

LEFT/RIGHT BRAIN: AN ESSAY ON EDUCATIONAL LEARNING - AND A LESSON ON THE EURO

Europe's First Euro

The Florin of Florence

Lily of Florence - - John the Baptist, Patron of Florence and of austerity

He was a dear friend with writer's block. It took months of talking, dialoguing, about his book. We spent hours in my apartment, hours in the Annexe, at Princeton. A friend of my father's, a classicist, translating Homer, joined us. Our conversation ranged - and linked - right and left hemisphere brain functioning (like the obverse and reverse of coins), Babylonian gods with great staring eyes, Athena being hallucinated, externalized, by Odysseus in moments of crisis, Catholic schoolgirls seeing statues of the Virgin nod to them, and the monsters under the bed children know are terrifyingly real. He finally came to me with the cover of his book, great bold letters across the title page, a photograph of himself on the back. I objected to both, the title too long, the photograph so unlike his genial self. It will never sell, I said. It became immediately a best-seller! Julian Jaynes' The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind. His other friend - my father's friend, the classicist who studied under W.B. Stanford at Dublin's Trinity College - Thomas Day.

I used to love the great libraries of Britain and France, the Pannizzi dome of the British Library, the great hemispheres of the Bibliothèque Nationale, libraries replicating the human brain with synapses and the domed sky above. John Ruskin complaining about the cheapness of material for the upper stairs out of sight, William Morris beginning News from Nowhere there. Then, in my lifetime, these libraries were placed instead in square glass boxes. A loss. And damaging to the books. We need a strong opaque rounded bone structure to protect our soft brain cells and their synapses, our book bindings and their pages. Our modern architects are insufficiently holistic, are out of touch with practicality or with Pythagorean ratios and harmonies, or with the Fibonaccian curves that conform to Nature. Too, our clothes, once of organic materials, curved to our bodies, dyed and printed and embroidered with colours and designs from Nature, have become made of chemicals and mechanized with zippers, have become monotones, have become angular, have become like cars. Ancestral hand-made wooden curving rocking cradles that kept babies from crying by their soothing movement have become throw-away unyielding ugly things of plastic and metal. School desks that once sloped to accommodate the curving eye are now flatly square. Quality and practicality that had formerly aided children's well-being and development from centuries of wisdom now replaced with damaging shoddiness and boxiness for maximum profit.

A school friend's husband and his friend were working on Crete, studying the development of the human brain with the human hand in tandem, Jonathan Musgrove and Colin Groves. I mentioned their work to Julian Jaynes, noting that the movement from the use of the hemispheres in balance with each other to the domination of the left hemisphere governing the right hand and side of the body appears to come about with literacy, it being pre-literate children who hallucinate monsters under the bed. Homer is an oral, not a scribal, poet. Plato's Phaedrus and Havelock Ellis came in useful here. Buckminster Fuller taught that the cup is an extension of the human hand, the vehicle of our legs, the camera of our eyes, the hearing aid of the failed ear, the computer of our brain. Frustrated by his deafness when speaking with us, I took his hand and placed it on my hearing aid and smiled. And he smiled too.

Byzantinist colleagues taught me that mosaics in rounded domes and apses in Orthodox churches of Christ/God as Pantocrator have one side of the face be stern and judgmental, the other kind and merciful. Look at your self in a mirror and hold your hand over your left side (governed by your right hemisphere), then your right (governed by your left hemisphere). You will see the same. One side sad, the other merry. Dante, when he sees God in the Commedia, says he seems 'as if painted in our image'. This bicameral aspect of our brain in our body gives one side as discriminating, remembering the past, planning the future, the other accepting, in the present moment. A woman anthropologist friend doing field work in Spain after cattle from America were introduced which yielded more milk so babies could be bottle fed, found the Madonnas with Babies at their breast came to be covered up as they were now regarded as obscene, expendable, instead of as sacred and nurturing. Have you noticed how in paintings of Mary her Baby is held on her left side? That is because mothers who hold their babies find a child is calmer, more tranquil, when she/he can hear/feel the mother's heart beat, restoring that connecting music of the womb, that secure love, governed by the right hemisphere. I wrote a different essay long ago on 'Cruelty and Mercy' (http://www.umilta.net/mercy.html). The right hemisphere is the God/Human side of our brain, of mercy, of kindness; the left, that of the machine, the Golden Calf, Pharoah's chariots, the world of money, cut off from reality, schizophrenic, of cruelty. Both are needed for survival in modern society, but not with the left hemisphere as dominant; instead the two in balance, the one tempered by the other, justice tempered by mercy.

A friend, retiring from teaching, decided to take intensive Italian in Florence. He struggled with memorizing grammatical paradigms, hours upon hours, to the point of exhaustion. But the language did not come. I mentioned that I found with learning languages that first one dreamed in them, then one thought in them, and last of all one spoke in them. Right-brain learning. That each language became easier than the last one. But that I used to have to drink a glass of wine when memorizing left-brain paradigms, verbs and declensions. Just as I found that the night before an exam one should go to a film, rather than cram-memorize dates and facts, and then these would come up to the surface from unknown layers of the brain. I observed my oral illiterate Roma friends, already having their Sanskrit/Persian/Turkish Romanì, as well as their Romanian, immediately learn Italian, even English, much more quickly than I can. Just as children learn, orally, without books. Through the music, the context. I, being deafened in WWII, was taught lip-reading formally, to no avail, only to find that where I relaxed, the meaning, from the contexts, came naturally from a bundle of clues, that I could not force myself to understand but which instead were intuitive. With the right hemisphere which links rather than divides, which constructs rather than analyzes. And I remembered Thomas Day and W.B. Stanford and Sir Uvedale Price and Elizabeth Barrett Browning discussing the scansion of Greek, its pitch marks, its music, as intrinsic to its language and its poetry. This is what we do not teach. But should. Languages are holistic song, not linear prose, poetry, not memorized paradigms. Augustine said, 'He who sings, prays twice'. The acoustics of Gregorian chant in vaulted stone monastic churches excels over the prose of sermons, both architecturally and in its brain hemisphere reception. I mentioned all this to a couple from San Francisco, he, black, she, white, both psychiatrists, and they said 'Yes', that the primitive limbic connection between the two hemispheres is crucial, that in medical school there had been too much to memorize and they had found it best instead of cramming these at the last moment to go to museums, to concerts. Then the right answers would well up from the unconscious - where it had been effectively processed in sleep, in dreams. The right concepts do not dredge up from the memorizing, compartmentalizing left hemisphere, but from the processing, connecting, right one.

Struggling with the problem of Roma illiteracy and with my own discontent with the increasing left-brain managerial bureaucratization of universities - which I describe in 'Arabesquing the University', a presentation I gave in Antwerp and which I discussed in Rome at two conferences on the future of the University (http://www.ringofgold.eu/ArabesqueUniversity.html) - I came to see how important it is in education not to overstress the left hemisphere aspects only but to maintain the balance, the linking, to allow the play between the two. Likewise that it is important to maintain the medieval monastic balance between body, mind and soul, work, study and prayer, manuality with the intellect and the spirit. Christ was a carpenter, a scholar needs to know how to build bookcases for her books, a father a cradle for his child. That desperate cry from Heloise, that one cannot combine ink wells with distaffs, cradles with libraries, causing women's exclusion from the pagan Greco-Arabic categorizing university lecture halls in which Christian theology came to be taught for centuries and which cripples human families, is something I defy. We proudly have a curved wooden Roma rocking cradle in our library.

In a sense Erasmus, More and Montaigne, in their rebellion against Greco-Arabic Scholasticism of the Aristotle-espousing universities, tried to balance the hemispheres with Humanism, Virginia Woolf echoing them in her brilliant essays on other writers. Jean Leclercq found contemplative theology by women and men, freed from the left-hemisphere dominant Scholasticism of the university, to be deeper, superior, and Cardinal Ratzinger/Pope Benedict agreed with him, speaking of the revealed theology of Birgitta of Sweden, Catherine of Siena, Julian of Norwich. I was precepting for a Dante scholar, Professor Robert Hollander, in a Humanities course at Princeton where the students were asked to write on Montaigne. Bob Hollander instructed them to write analytical essays in the Scholastic manner. I was disobedient and suggested that the students instead write essays in the Humanist manner of Montaigne. I explained they could use snatches of poetry, even in other languages, play off these, digress, allow the mind to wander as it does in dreams, and permit the self a presence. Wonderful essays came in, the students beaming, exclaiming this was the most splendid experience they had had in writing. It was right-brain work in which the microcosm tuned to the macrocosm, to the great Pannizzi domes and Fibonacci curves and Pythagorean harmonies of things. One can't do this when functioning in hierarchical, specializing, narrowing little self-contained boxes shaped by so-called detached observers in sterile white lab coats, deliberately cut off from life, from reality, learning 'more and more' (really, less and less) about less and less. The right hemisphere is universalizing, rather than particularizing, of 'we', rather than 'me'. It is the paradox of humility leading to inclusion, that curvingly stoops to conquer, instead of the ego which despises - and rigidly seeks to annihilate with pogroms, the Inquisition, lynching, the Holocaust, the Porrajmos, with Fascist salutes, with goose-stepping marches, - the 'Other'.

My great challenge in retirement is caring for a cemetery, Florence's English Cemetery, in which are buried poets, sculptors, Abolitionists, of the nineteenth century. When I came in 2000 the garden had been put to weed-killer for thirty years, its plants were uprooted, the tombs were vandalized, the white marble black with atmospheric pollution, their stories un-researched, untold, syringes were everywhere and Black Magic and suicide attempts carried out at its gates, an abandonment, an undoing. This photograph is from 1990.

I and the despised, hated, feared Roma, repaired its dry-walls that had collapsed in 1977, gardened, planted irises, lavender, roses, and cleaned and repaired tombs within its great oval from which we glimpse Florence's Duomo's dome. These photographs are taken in 2012.

With wild irises, Florence's purple lily.

A Romanian Roma family, members of our Aureo Anello Associazione, mothers and children, work together.

On Sundays we hold Alphabet School. Because we combine literacy and work. To become members our Roma must first learn to sign their names. And they do, along with scholars and descendants, in our membership book, learning which letters have curves, which have angles, and with them their sounds, creating necklaces that spell their names, the Lord's Prayer. This is an economy of sharing knowledge, where we all mutually benefit. This is an economy of sharing knowledge, where we all mutually benefit. Our restoration and cultivation of this oval in Florence is a microcosm of what is possible economically as macrocosm with the whole globe. With what the Roma earn they repair their homes in Romania. It is possible. And creates great beauty and healthier families. We call our project 'From Graves to Cradles'.

But we question ourselves seriously about Roma and education. Theirs is an oral culture, where skills are passed down, father to son, mother to daughter, mother to son, father to daughter, for generations, how to be blacksmiths, coppersmiths, stonemasons, carpenters, gardeners, how to sew, how to cook, from watching and learning - right brain and left brain in balance. And the music is so splendid, yet with great sadness, the Romanian Roma traumatically enslaved from the Middle Ages until the nineteenth century. I use methods from Maria Montessori (who devised hers for deprived slum children though now they are only used for the deprived children of the rich), Joseph Lancaster, Margaret Macmillan, Don Lorenzo Milani, Paolo Freire. I challenge the concept I heard in Brussels and in Romania, that Roma children must be put in Nursery Schools to integrate them into the dominant cultures. Repeating the error of the Aborigines in Australia's Lost Generation and that of the Native Peoples in Canada, repeating the error of America's Headstart project which considered that black children should not have books as 'they needed to work on their socializing skills first'. That is the age when the young would most learn their own and valuable culture of manual skills from their parents. And most adventure in the world of the book. We need to value home as well as school education. Instead I argue for preserving these skills at the same time all ages are taught the alphabet and surrounded with books. Indeed, access to library/schools for all ages in families would be preferable. Whole families together can become literate. In this way there is not an abyss between parent and child enforced by state schooling, but a sharing. Women were barred from the great but left-brained Scholastic universities. But where they had access to libraries, as did Christine de Pizan to the French King's library in Paris, and as did Elizabeth Barrett Browning to her father's and brother's fine library of books in Malvern, they became the great writers of educational and liberating poetry for women and men. In our pilot model the Roma teach each other in their own beloved oral Romanì, immediately spilling over into all our scribal languages. Next, we hope to bring five Tuscan school leavers without work to our project, the Roma teaching them their manual skills (though it is much harder learning skills, as with languages, in one's teens than as a pre-school child), in exchange for their teaching the Roma the alphabet.

I have now come to understand that there is a spectrum amongst persons that ranges from the universalizing circling right-brain individuals (the God/Human side) to the most taut squaring left-brain ones (the Atheist/Machine side). At that far end I place acquaintances of mine with schizophrenia who rigidly define themselves as the all-important narcissistic centre, the others as expendable, and who must have things performed in a pre-determined linear sequence, a Procrustean bed, not permitting deviation from its linearity, who discriminate against the 'Other', dehumanizing women, immigrants, and racial groups ear-marked for slavery, genocide, war, and who may become mass-murderers slaughtering the young (Dunblane, Columbine, Beslan, Utoeya), who split themselves off from reality into their rigid self-centering that they then seek to impose on all. Norwegian Anders Behring Breivik deliberately medicated himself into such a left-hemisphere dominant condition to carry out his acts. That word 'schizophrenia', 'split-brain', is actually a just description of the condition. Something of that far end of the spectrum can also be induced, through pain, deprivation, abuse, shock, war, in early childhood or later trauma, PTSD, not into schizophrenia but into depression, bipolarity, self-harming, multiple personality, etc., where the brain's chemistry itself is changed through the limbic region, the caring, nurturing, playful part in the mammalian brain, but which responds in crisis with heightened response, with excess sometimes being damaged, engineered, tailored, in that process. Initiation rituals so play with conforming personalities into group loyalties by these means, through 'shock and awe', through terror, through violation. Sparta did this to children to create a warrior class to suppress the Helots, their slaves, leading to Plato's Myth of the Metals, where he admired the enemy's hierarchy of King, Nobles, Slaves, of gold, silver and iron, Karl Popper, I.F. Stone and Michel Foucault correctly seeing that Socrates and Plato in so doing were betraying Athenian democracy, eleutheria (freedom) and parrhesia (the obligation to speak the truth at personal risk and to be protected for doing so). In my English convent school it was the girls who submitted to trauma who became scornful of those who had not, creating of themselves a master class who collectively bullied the threatening and free 'Other'. I saw the same pattern in American college fraternities and sororities where we, who again were the free 'Other', internalized our status, and sadly, proudly, called ourselves 'Pariahs'. Twelve years ago I wrote about St Augustine's education/trauma (http://www.umilta.net/trauma.html), which had caused him to believe that children were not innocent, as Christ taught, but instead depraved with Original Sin. That act of trauma changed a Christian saint into the left hemisphere dominance, from the maternal right-hemisphere one - to his mother's tears. At first, from my father's and my brother's scorn for women, bred into them at all-male schools, like Ardingly, Oxford, Spyway and Shrewsbury, where they were abused, I, too, internalized this great myth of women's inferiority, despising women's writings, completely believing we were inferior. Then I discovered Birgitta of Sweden, Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Julian of Norwich, among many other women, and edited them, publishing them for women and men to value and share. This perception of the 'split-brain' of schizophrenia now means I can look back at abusers and see them, too, as victims of their childhood traumatizing, which has changed their brain chemistry, their wiring. From this came the gifting of blessed olive leaves, small tangible healing objects sacramentally placed in the hands of trauma victims, be they Jew, Christina, Muslim or other, even to be gifted by the victims to the perpetrators for their mutual healing from the harm caused, as a freeing from the inability to forgive, the bondage/bonding with what is unforgivable (http://www.umilta.net/oliveleaf.html). Christ in his teaching opposed the Myth of Metals, broke down the barriers, exalted the down-trodden, women, lepers, Samaritans, the poverty-stricken, prisoners, thieves. Christianity is right-brain. Though not necessarily the Church.

Naomi Klein in her Shock Doctrine showed how governments manipulate the electorate through trauma, rewire them to admire and vote for the rich and the criminal and the war monger, to vote for Barabbas, not Christ. Tolstoy said governments create the enemy to have an army, create the criminal to have police - against their own people - to stay in power over them. The fulcrum is here in Florence, between the Primo Popolo and Republic, the Res Publica, the Commonwealth, of Arnolfo di Cambio, Giotto, Dante, the great city walls, the Palazzo del Popolo (now Vecchio), the foundations of the Duomo, Orsanmichele, the Ospedale di Santa Maria Nuova, the Misericordia, all of these medieval, versus the Renaissance princepality of the Medici, who built fortresses against their own people, and palaces and villas just for themselves. Savonarola sought to return Florence to her Commonwealth, against such Princes. One visits the Uffizi to see paintings in the first rooms of the gold-leafed beauty of saints, the Madonna nurturing the Child, once in the churches for the people; in the later rooms, instead, paintings of pornography against bitumen backgrounds for the Medici's private palaces. Machiavelli, former Chancellor of Republican Florence, wrote his Prince with the greatest irony, advising the returned tyrants how to be such, a diabolic counselling to be overheard and overturned by the people, whom, Machiavelli says (within that text as its true key) 'having once been free will never consent to be ruled by tyrants'. The Prince is Swift's Modest Proposal, Orwell's Animal Farm, the deepest satire. It is taken seriously, as doctrine and dogma, by CEOs who hold seminars funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities with taxpayers' money in which they read its twistedness straight. Where the spectrum goes too far, through indoctrination, through trauma, to left-brain dominance, morality is cast aside, criminality ensues, profits trump persons, the centering upon the self to the cost of the other destroys the economy and its delicate balance of reciprocity, of democracy, of equality, of civil rights. As with churches so with political parties, what had been right-brain, Guelf, Labour, Democrat, will become infiltrated and subverted to the left brain, to be wolves in sheep's clothing, to be Ghibelline, Conservative and Republican, waging multi-murdering bankrupting wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. You do not wage wars without raising taxes and practising austerity. But we did. To an inevitable collpase. The great capitalists, the pre-Medici Florentine merchants of the Guilds, the Quakers, Cashes, Cadburys, Frys, and Warren Buffet, knew to live simply and that adopted poverty is, paradoxically, great wealth.

We seem to forget that the European crisis began, besides these cruel wars for petroleum, with banks in America, England and Iceland disconnected from reality, behaving deceitfully, with magical thinking, with smoke and mirrors, seeking a Darwinian and Machiavellian market 'killing' for themselves, and then going bankrupt. We are fostering a culture of competitiveness, 'he who dies with the most toys, wins'. It has crashed. Iceland has been intelligent, refusing to pay the bankers' indebtedness. If we ring-fenced the banks, instead of rewarding them, they might learn to reign in their recklessness with our money, our work, our energy, our property. We own them. We need to fire them. They don't own us, despite all their mortgage foreclosures. They should be a service to the people. We learned this lesson already in the 'Thirties and regulated them then. Keynes and Galbraith were right, not Milton Friedman or Ayn Rand. They must be brought to heel, not pampered with huge bonuses. Just so did Florence exile her land-owning, money-grubbing Ghibellines outside of the city where they became robber-barons in the countryside, while the Guelfs poured their profits back into education, hospitals, a granary, caring for the poor, the stranger, the sick, the dying, the orphan, creating a great Republic, until the Medici in turn became a Ghibelline princepality. Florence's Patron is the austere Saint John the Baptist. Italian laws required savings banks to spend a handsome proportion of their profits on culture and charity, not on themselves, were excellent - until Berlusconi hedonistically undid this wisdom. IBM began Silicone Valley and flourished when it poured its profits back into its development - as a service - not into its shareholders' pockets. Jimmy Wales' Wikipedia is such a service model, democratically sharing knowledge, not money.

But simultaneously with a curbing of the false economy of today's banking industry we must also ourselves return to the work ethic, an economy outside of money (which is a false symbol system by which we lived, and moved and had our being until it collapsed), curbing consumerism and encouraging thrift, curbing debt and encouraging sharing. This real, rather than false, economy, needs to be based on a circling excellence of work, of knowledge, of love, of ethics, of morals. Where we do not seek for ourselves in a left-brained way, but for all, with the right-brain, where we share and build and exchange what we have and what we create, composting for soil, farming organically for food for our tables, building roofs for the homeless, schools and libraries for children and adults, hospitals with doctors for the ill and the well, to prevent as well as cure diseases, and where we learn again how to sew our clothes, build our homes, farm our land, and where we bicycle to our schools, our libraries, our museums, our workplaces. Where we throw away our tvs, billboards, advertizing. Where we reduce our dependence on petroleum, plastics, chemicals, pharmaceuticals. Where we do not go into debt. Where we curb lobbyists and directly participate in our governing. Where we exile speculators, futures traders, hedge-fund corporations, and ring-fence their offshore islands against activities on the mainlands. Sending a clear message about our need for economic health, rather than disease. Then we will be free and have prosperity.

The left-hemisphere aspect, by its very nature, has to exclude, women from men, emotion from reason, religion from science. It is rigid, it compartmentalizes, it hierarchizes, it enslaves. Balancing the hemispheres, obverse and reverse, of the florin, of the euro, includes women with men, compassion with justice, the reverence for the Creator and the Creation, the body, the mind, the soul. And it allows us to see how the brain in tandem with the hand and its manuality evolved - but that it may now be self-destructingly mutating. It allows us to see how the right and left hemispheres of the brain and our modes of learning can interact; it does not impoverish us. It opens rather than closes.

Then I saw a splendid TED presentation by Jill Bolte Taylor in which she, a neurologist, had the privilege of observing her own massive stroke and its effect upon the two hemispheres of her brain: http://www.ted.com/talks/lang/en/jill_bolte_taylor_s_powerful_stroke_of_insight.html. She lived to tell the tale.

Europe's First Euro

The Florin of Florence

Lily of Florence - - John the Baptist, Patron of Florence and of austerity

Friday, July 01, 2011

THE FLORENTINE GONFALONE

Florence's Gonfalonieri who carry her great lilied banner, the 'Gonfalone' of Justice, and trumpet fanfares at civic celebrations in Florence.

JBH, Signor Gerardo Kraft, Pastore Mario Marziale

Professoressa Gabriella Del Lungo Camiciotti, Professor Leopoldo Stefanutti

Gabriella, JBH, Scott Lewis, Katerine Gaja, Elena Capolino

It was a magnificent day, thanks to everyone, the Comune of Florence, our special visitors, Eugenio Giani, President of the Consigilio of Florence, Mary Ellen Countryman, the American Consul, Scott Lewis, President of the Browning Society and of the Friends of Casa Guidi, Michael Meredith of Eton, former President of the Browning Society, Gerardo Kraft, President of the Swiss Evangelical Reformed Church, Edgar Kraft, the Swiss Consul, Sara Milne, Director of the British Institute, Daniel-Claudiu Dumitrescu, President of the Asociatia 'Agrustic Somnacuni'. Elizabeth Barrett Browning was accorded the same honours as is Dante Alighieri by the City of Florence!

Scott Lewis, President of the Browning Society, Dr. and Mrs. Bill (Kay) Turney from Waco, Andrew Sinclair from London, and others, at the tomb of EBB

EBB's tomb by Lord Leighton, newly cleaned by Daniel-Claudiu Dumitrescu

Gonfalonieri

JBH, Eugenio Giani, Presidente of Florence's Consigilio, and Gonfalonieri

The great wreath of the City of Florence was laid at her tomb to the fanfare of trumpets by the Gonfalonieri, two smaller wreaths by the Browning Society with white roses, by the Friends of Casa Guidi with white lilies, all of which replicated the wreaths at her funeral 150 years ago. The many guests could browse the offerings of the Book Fair to raise funds for the restoration of Odoardo Fantacchiotti's statue of 'La Speranza', enjoy the refreshments offered by the Swiss Church, and view the exhibition of books associated with EBB and her circle of friends, particularly of those who attended her funeral, the Hiram Powers family, the William Wetmore Story family, Kate Field, Isa Blagden, Robert Lytton, the Cottrells, etc.

Gonfalonieri

Gonfalonieri

Katerine Gaja

Mark Roberts, Katerine Gaja

JBH and Eugenio Giani, Presidente del Consiglio di Firenze

I gave two guided tours, the first in English, the second in Italian, in which I spoke of our anti-slavery Abolitionists, how Frances Trollope wrote the first anti-slavery novel, Richard Hildreth, the second, both buried with us, Harriet Beecher Stowe copying them with Uncle Tom's Cabin, which was immediately translated into Romanian and that this freed the Roma from their slavery which lasted from the Middle Ages to the nineteenth century, longer than were Blacks enslaved in the Americas, and how it is the Romanian Roma who have restored this Swiss-owned, so-called 'English' Cemetery, where English, Swiss, Americans, Russians, Romanians, Poles, Hungarians, Scandinavians and many others, Protestant, Orthodox and now Catholic, lie peacefully side by side. A vision of the future.

Gonfalonieri at EBB's Tomb. In the background to the left top one can see how filthy the beautiful statue by Odoardo Fantacchiotti of 'Hope', 'Speranza', now is. Click on photo to enlarge. CNR came that very afternoon to start work on her restoration and cleaning.

JBH, Eugenio Giani

Eugenio Giani, JBH

Silence at the Tomb, Scott Lewis, JBH, Gerardo Kraft, Dott. Giulio Todescan, Mario Marziale, Leopoldo Stefanutti

Gonfalonieri

Gonfalonieri with Aurelia Bartholini, Katerine Gaja to the left.

Marziale, JBH, Giani, Kraft


I also spoke of the need to raise funds for the restoration of Odoardo Fantacchiotti's very beautiful but now very dirty 'La Speranza', as an allegory for Florence, for Europe, for the world. For this purpose I gave my publications and limited edition productions for the 'Book Fair', which raised €300 of the needed €10,000. Other donations we seek, roses, especially standard roses as there once had been an avenue of these on both sides of the main path, and other plants with non-invasive roots that do well in Florentine sunlight and soil.

Gonfalonieri, Tomb of Thomas Southwood Smith.

Book Fair, Grazia Gobbi Sica, Giovanna Innocenti

We shared Elizabeth Barrett Browning's Casa Guidi Windows in English and Italian, for I found on the Web in a Roman bookshop an 1851 translation into Italian which we have now republished it with facing page, English and Italian, in the same way we publish her Sonnets from the Portuguese, William Morris type, handbound with our marbled paper.

Gonfalonieri have gone off for a cooling drink, leaving their gear behind them

Mark Roberts, Scott Lewis

Marchesa Antonia Lanza D'Ajeta, right

Michael Meredith of Eton College, right

Michael Meredith, Dr. and Mrs. Bill (Kay) Turney, Elena Capolino between them, Andrew Sinclair, Scott Lewis

Photographs, courtesy of Daniel-Claudiu Dumitrescu, President, Asociatia 'Agrustic Somnacuni - Inel de Aur'

If you wish to donate to the Aureo Anello Association for the restoration of the 'English' Cemetery and its gardening you can do so by a cheque made out to 'Aureo Anello' and posted to 'English' Cemetery, Piazzale Donatello 38, 50132 Florence, Italy; or through the PayPal 'Donate' button below, which can also be used for the CDs, for the hand-bound limited edition books or for the sculptures of Elizabeth and Robert's 'Clasped Hands' or tondos with their portraits (Amalia Ciardi Duprè's sculpture can also be found at http://www.florin.ms/amaliadupre.html), or some or all of these.

Sincerely,
Julia Bolton Holloway
Custodian, 'English' Cemetery
President, Aureo Anello