When I step into a place I still don’t know very well, the first things I look at are the objects that populate it. I vividly remember all the times I adventured myself in the many unknown rooms of my grandparents’ villa in Lecce; I would always go in search for treasures hidden under a thick veil of dust. That is probably the reason why I always wonder about the history of an object, when I get to touch that.
There has been a whole period of my life when I actually didn’t buy any clothes. What I used to do was to sneak into my grandfather’s secret room and dress up with his old coats and shirts and scarfs. It wasn’t just a game; it became more than that.
First, I started fantasizing about what those clothes really meant and what they had seen, and I actually felt so attracted to their history that I often preferred that to my every day life.
I used to spend hours dressing up as if I was in a James Bond movie and acting as if I was him.
However, this is not it: as soon as I grew older, I started using those dresses for real: I wore them to go out in the street.
Vintage had finally become the word to justify all of my past-loving fantasies. I also found it quite empowering to go around with those same clothes that had accompanied my ancestors, in a strange kind of ritual that perpetrated their memory and made me responsible to embody even their deep being.
The past is persistent, that is the lesson that I have learnt by passing so many hours in my grandfather’s closet.
Still, there is something else that is worth saying. Among the dead objects that I used to walk around in those dusty rooms, one day I found a book from a German philosopher called Ernst Bloch, about whom I really didn’t know anything. When I randomly opened it, I found an interesting couple of lines with some scribbled writ just besides them that made me think of my grandfather’s handwriting. What the philosopher was writing was something that really broke up into my imagination, putting my fancy dusty world under a new light.
“Then let the daydreams grow really fuller, that is, clearer, less random, more familiar, more clearly understood and more mediated with the course of things. So that the wheat which is trying to ripen can be encouraged to grow and be harvested”.
A central task in this part is the discovery and unmistakable notation of the ‘Not-Yet-Conscious’.
Such words seemed to me difficult and complex to understand, but at the same time they were incredibly attractive: the Not-Yet had just entered into my view, and those same clothes which I was wearing became different and new ones. The light of the past wasn’t anymore shiny enough for me. What I started to contemplate, since that moment, was the persistence of the future.
What Ernst Bloch wanted to say was that every object, even the most insignificant, is determined not only by its past history, but also by its future.
Human decisions realize the influence of the Not-Yet in the most explicit way: what we decide today doesn’t depend only on the background of our experience, but it is also influenced by our aspirations, our desires, our way to imagine the future in a way different from what the present tells us it should be.
The reason why I loved the past so much was probably because I saw it as an alternative to a present that I didn’t really fit in. It was by coincidence that, reading my grandfather notes to Ernst Bloch’s book, I finally found a new solution to such problem.
The best alternatives are those yet to come, my grandfather had written down in big characters. It seemed like he had foreseen what those words would have brought to me many years later; it seemed like he was looking far more forward than me. Maybe, in this case, it is the future that persisted in the past.