Today I celebrate the Sunday before the Christmas holidays. I have to say that historically it’s the one that has always given me the best feeling about Christmas. It usually comes at the end of corporate dinners and those with friends of various levels of intimacy. It precedes the rectory, Christmas Eve and Christmas Eve, those who willy-nilly bring relatives to the table, even reluctantly. For me it is that sincere family atmosphere. Particular this year: a balloon Christmas, the Argentines cheering and the French who, as Paolo Conte said, get angry.
Like when they got hit by Bartali. But you know, French are always angry about something. I gave myself a gift: I gave myself a nice Giampiero Mughini. Coloured glasses, owl eyes, but a lively and intelligent look. Every time television brings him out to me it’s a pleasure to hear him. The story of a definitely oriented thought, but honest, never prejudiced or son of prejudice. Never a personal attack, but always eccentric, intelligent points of view critical judgements. I called him a pain in the ass.
Today a nice Mughini comes to me in the bookstore. “The pain in the ass of the ‘900. Little heterodox guide to dangerous thinking”. Bought and devoured. The curiosity of getting to know these characters, and of still having the pleasure of discovering some champions at my age, inspires me. The back cover alone is worth the curiosity ticket. “Being a pain in the ass is a superfine art, the result of a complex judgment, which clearly takes into account the situation”.
Reading the names I realize that I’m probably talking about perfect strangers to many. But this book has the advantage of proposing them again, and of proposing to those of the 2000s a terrain on which to train the vis polemic. Entertainers of the twentieth century heretics, controversial, uncomfortable and rebellious figures. So off we go: Marco Pannella, who doesn’t remember him! Giuseppe Prezzolini: who remembers this monument of pure intelligence, exile and maestro even in America! Francoise Giroud, the journalist who in the 80s didn’t play women’s odds, but played as a woman who was on a par with men for her professionalism. Emil Cioran, Romanian school, disconnected as an unstoppable anarchist thinker, to the point of being disliked by the orthodox left for his free purity. Mircea Eliade, Romanian school, in the face of those who think that Romanians only export malfeasance. Giovanni Ansaldo, journalist, man of supreme intellectual rank, defined by Montanelli as one of the greatest journalism figures of all time, who survived fascism in Italy as a non-fascist, and without even so much hiding.
Oh, I forgot, if I arouse your curiosity, please note that the book contains a well-kept bibliography that allows us to know the “breaking balls” of the characters mentioned. Gianni Celati, from Sondrio to Brighton, where he died. An intellectual out of the conventions, defined by Mughini as having no center of gravity: what a compliment. The Rolling Stones, almost an automatism to call them pain in the ass, but in their frenetic lifestyle absurdity, never tamed, even today. Then, finally, the last pages, where we discover that the author is the guiding star. Mughini dedicates two pages to himself, to the world’s greatest pain in the ass. Thanks Giampiero, you gave me an inspiration for Christmas Eve dinner: I wouldn’t want to be in the place of my guests.