Sunday, August 29, 2004

Dying lightly

Boingboing already posted a partial translation into English of this, but the Italian daily La Repubblica has a larger extract, and I thought I owed it to Enzo Baldoni to translate it, since that was what we both did. Translators are people who build bridges, so what better homage than translating this cheerful and lucid acceptance of death without bitterness.

“Of course, I’m certainly immortal, but if through any mistake of the Creator should it happen one day that I might die - and event I maintain the most serene and cheerful of dispositions for - these are the instructions for my funeral. For a start, when (and if) I should die, I hope it happens quickly, a nice plane crash, say, or a shipwreck. A car accident would be OK too, or better still in my bed, of a stroke. Immediately after my death I want to be cremated. Then my ashes should be dispersed. At sea, I’d say. But it’s up to you, after all what the fuck will I care at that point. Careful of the wind direction or we’ll up like the Great Lebowski.

Present should be all the friends reachable through email, blog and whatever other devilry technology will be able to come up with in the next hundred years. For no longer than thirty minutes, my wife, children, siblings and closest friends should draw a brief picture of me. Some word must not be uttered: pain, loss, unfillable void, loving father, model husband, valley of tears, we’ll never forget him, inconsolable, the world is a little colder, it’s always the best that go, and all euphemisms like he’s passed on, he’s disappeared, he left us.

I want champagne corks popping off, Guido [his son] with his accordion and his band playing De Andrè, especially La Città Vecchia and Il Testamento [the will] (when they’ll be opening mine people won’t laugh nearly so much, alas). Stefano on his monocycle juggling flaming torches, Gabriella[his daughter] with her clown’s nose. The Zapatistas’ band, the trumpeter playing through his balaclava. A woman playing the Birmanian harp. Twelve Timorese dancers covering my urn with colored drapes. Women dressed in strong colors, people laughing and telling dirty jokes. All the women I’ve been with in my life, yes, all three of them please. Rivers of wine, prosecco and spumante. Let each pour a few drops of wine on my urn, hey folks, I’m the one paying for it after all, don’t keep it all for yourself. A huge porchetta, sausages, devilled chickens and lasagne. I wouldn’t mind at all if new romances were born there. A quick one on some out-of-sight nook, I wouldn’t consider it an insult to death, but an offering to life.”

And for contrast - after the best Italians can get, the worst: Vittorio Feltri, the director of far-right daily Libero:

The pacifict with the kalashnikov by Vittorio Feltri

Examined cynically, that is with lucidity, Enzo Baldoni's misadventure strays into the territory of Italian Comedy. We wrote this yesterady already: a man his age, with wife and two children, would have done better to take advice from Alpitour [a famous and cheap Italian package travel company] than from Diario [the weekly Enzo Baldoni was working for], about the locality of his holidays, extreme or not (is that how they call them?). Obviously, as any good amateur in journalism, he preferred giving in to the impulse of his unhealthy passions for Iraq rather than listening to common sense. Everybody does as he pleases. And if it pleased him to risk snuffing it with the ambition of reaching the status of a caricature of the special correpondant, perhaps dreaming to be a Oriano Fallaci or an Ettore Mo, there's not much to object to. A lot to object to would there be to the fact that it's now up to the Italian State to pluck him from his troubles [using a Milanese expression meaning "plague"]. All right. Let's not look too closely at how much money will have to be spent to bring him back home, this asshole who's a lot like those guys who, during the weekend, don a mimetic and play the little soldier in the bushes of Varesotto.

This was before Enzo Baldoni's death. Afterwards, Feltri had to say that "the terrorists had no scruples killing him despite the fact that he was a friend of theirs" [since he was a pacifist]. He also whined about the fact that people now are "lynching" his paper.

For context, Enzo Baldoni had worked as freelance for many years, publishing on La Repubblica, Linus, Diario and many other papers. He interviewed Marcos before he was famouse and Xanana Gusmao when he was still in exile. Vittorio Feltri has been expelled years ago from the Order of Journalists.