Stories without method: Beniamino Placido, The name of the Rose, Harry Potter and pop culture

Stories without method: Beniamino Placido, The name of the Rose, Harry Potter and pop culture
What do Beniamino Placido, Umberto Eco, Giuseppe Tornatore, J. K. Rowling, Dracula and Dallas have to do with it? Yes, Dallas, the American soap opera produced between 1978 and 1991 and which depopulated in Italy first on Rai 1 and then, above all, on Canale 5. Apparently nothing. Or rather, a clue about the link that exists - or could exist - between all these things is contained in the title of this piece: pop culture. Even better, the original link is in the name and surname of the true protagonist of the whole speech, namely Beniamino Placido.

Beniamino Placido: the pleasure of storytelling

Beniamino Placido has been many things: a literary critic, and television, an author and television host, a scholar of american literature and, more generally, of narrative, an intellectual and a storyteller in his time. A tireless storyteller with the habit of thought and of doubt . If you exclude the countless articles published about the Republic , first as a television critic – was one of the first to strap on the goggles of serious critical, but not serious, to try to understand with intelligence and refined instruments that are a popular phenomenon as the tv, in a period in which tv and tv programs, as would have said the Foo Patience, it was said that ‘rincretineno the children’ – and then inside the book the Nautilus – which I'll talk about – Placido wrote very little, and his books can be counted on the fingers of one hand: The two-day Slavery. For an analysis of the imagination american television, with the little dog (which incorporates, distorcendolo, the title of a tale of Checov), Three fun variations on the theme of the Betrothed, Pinocchio, and of Horace , The rediscovery of America (with Umberto Eco and Gian Paolo Ceserani), and Yet it moves (which incorporates the texts and the reasoning of the tv program conducted by him and Indro Montanelli on the vices and virtues of the italians) and a wonderful presentation of the Legend of the Grand Inquisitor of Dostoevsky, an exceptional chapter content in The brothers Karamazov, and, sometimes, part. A chapter of which it would be wonderful to talk to, maybe one day I will, but not now.

In reality, however, Beniamino Placido has written a lot , just because he wrote about it in newspapers and, in particular, on the Republic . A selection of his articles – that I waited with impatience, every Sunday, as well as those of Gianni Clerici on the court, because of that tone and of that enviable and crafty and education, which he knew to be enlightening, gentle, or cruel, but never boring – it was published a few years ago by Laterza in a volume titled Nautilus – culture as an adventure .

And it was just what the spirit with which Placido has always entangled me and his readers: the ability to make adventurous knowledge , through curiosity who used two weapons in the implacable (and now I put back the two points, as he was often Manzoni in "the Betrothed"): the use of a modern language and simple (but not easy) and the desire to lead the reader along a journey, never humiliate him or ignore him. In other words, with the inexhaustible passion of the philosopher and the thinker, the critic who asks questions for the pleasure of it.

And so, back to the initial question: what have they got to Beniamino Placido, Umberto Eco, Giuseppe Tornatore, J. K. Rowling, Dracula and Dallas? There enter in by the guilt – or merit – a piece written by Placido in 1990 for the book the Nautilus, entitled, " Confessions of a poor critic . A piece that has just turned thirty years old, therefore, but that raises a number of questions still existing and, in certain respects, and incandescent. In fact, a particular question, which usually other, in cascade.

The role of the critic

Placido, taking inspiration from the victory of the Oscar in 1990 as best foreign film in Nuovo Cinema Paradiso Tornatore – accepted by the many, many criticisms in Italy, the critics and the intellectuals – the poses in this way:

“ it Is true that the critic is driven by an uncontrollable impulse to reward the refined product (or presumed such) and to penalize the product which comes for any reason, the successful and popular? ”.

Beniamino Placido immediately provides an answer:

“ that Is true. Happens all the time ”.

Then, went on to argue.

“ most of The cases that you can cite quickly some are too many now, because we can only speak about a case. Well let from the yellow, cartoon, sci-fi. But the novels of Jules Verne today reveal a critical strictest of the vertigo of philosophical depth. Even when you do not sink into the bowels of the Earth. And yet, at their time, those who took them seriously? The films of Totò, as another example, the now classic, today they speak of the surrealism. But are able to remember and retrieve if necessary, the critical radio of the ‘ 50 Years of Elsa Morante, which just about Totò sceicco revised Wednesday night on Raitre, spoke of film junk, or thereabouts. Film trash. The movie black american of the Years ‘ 40 and ‘ 50 is the closest thing to Shakespeare that the culture of the Twentieth century has produced. But he said that certainly, the film critics of the ‘ 40s and ‘ 50s ”.

And we could add Hitchcock, who has enjoyed and benefited from the benevolence of Truffaut and the famous interview has become a book indispensable for anyone who loves the cinema and stories in general: the poor Alfred while he was alive, and before Truffaut showed the world what a genius he was, was considered to be a director of the commercial, a poor entertainer that series was devoted equally between thriller, horror and experiments psicanalitici fanciful. Not like the true great directors. Not how the filmmakers experimental and more intellectual.

The same fate touches, and is touched to J. K. Rowling and her amazing creation: Harry Potter . How many great scholars are there out there willing to admit that this is a masterpiece, a work that is destined to remain in the history of literature such as the works of Shakespeare or Joyce's Ulysses (apart from Stephen King , the Uncle always comes back)? A few. Very few. And yet, despite the success, in the seven books of the saga, there are so many lights , so much material is mythological, that it is hard to ignore it. It would be enough to take the invention of the Dissennatori The Prisoner of Azkaban , one of the most amazing readings or rereadings of the depression and the fear of death, addressed to Harry with a spell so anti-intuitive as it is brilliant. But of this I will speak another times, since I'm going to dedicate at least a couple of pieces to Harry Potter.

How to be a good critic?

let's go Back to Placidus. I remove the piece and want to repost a question that he poses at the beginning. Do I enter in the game Echo:

“ The critic holds, of course, to stand out. And that distinction is his, if he likes the same things that everyone likes? Sometimes, for reasons ignoble. It is the case of the’ wave of virtuous indignation which is poured on the Name of the rose by Umberto Eco. Only because that novel had met with a resounding success. That was not, however, was neither organized with cold determination from the author, nor propitiated by advertising. At other times, for reasons that are a bit more noble. The critic holds us to reserve an eye to the product demurely, but, boldly, tries to say new things. That to be new, and disconcerting, can't meet a favour immediate ”.

Eco-touched – and often touching – the fate of being accused of too much popularity, too much success, of cleverness. As if only in difficulty, or in the darkness gives as a hiding place for the whole of the truth. Never in a popular products, those are easy. Too easy.

And so we come to the grand finale. The question that Placido has place thirty years ago and, since then, it resounds without tiring of it: but the critics, or us, when we judge pop culture or mass culture and the cultured or the elite – are sure to have seen us right?

here it is the nerve. Writes Placido:

“ once we thought that the literature of mass there to comfort. Also too much. Also too easily. While the culture of the elite, avant-garde and daring, he told us the truth, unpleasant that it's only us, strong spirits (the people of course not), we are able to deal with. Now we begin to suspect the contrary. That is the so-called literature of the elite to tell us little or nothing. While the truth of the deep and unpleasant is precisely the mass culture to sussurrarcele. In its own way it intends to, between vulgarity and coarseness unbearable, but there is whispering. For example, the myth largest and most pervasive of our culture: the myth of Dracula, and the vampire comes out from romanzoni popular from the nineteenth century Bram Stoker; he lives in the romanzoni popular twentieth-century Stephen King. For example, the only place where you can do that beautiful thing that is to play with words (and that was a time with the Bible or with the Metamorphoses of Ovid) is today's advertising. The product of the mass (and also suspect) as no other. For example, those who warned us in time that our world, even the financial one, is governed by tribal conflicts, fights the opulent and tricky of the clans against clans, families against families? Who has whispered in the ears, if not Dallas or Dynasty? ”.

To feel all of those things, to feel the whisper, however, we must give ear. Be willing to see where it shines with greatness . Maybe in the Harry Potter films, or a film of Htichcock, or in a series as Stranger Things . Or even in Dallas. Perhaps it is where one experiences for the sake of it, without the desire to make a good impression, but to tell for the pleasure of the story , which nestles in the whole of the truth. That comes in pieces, in fragments, and all of them should be able to have.

As taught Beniamino Placido, with his way of writing the patient, his immense knowledge of the mass available to those who could read, and his love for the world and the people that inhabit it. That are many, sometimes too many, but they are there.

you Can discover the amazing work of Beniamino Placido reading of the Nautilus, the: culture as an adventure

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