The Falling Stars

That  ozone layer that wraps  the Earth, our atmosphere, protects our world from the foreign bodies which are compelled to only graze it while, coming from the space, they are falling in the cosmic void.
In the midsummer evenings we use to examine the sky trying to glimpse the miracle of a falling  star and we feel full of grace when we manage to discern, in the immense night,  that fast trail of light. “You must soon think to a desire when you happen to see one”… these are all romantic folk fantasies, never so wide of the mark for the phenomenon which we attend!
If those same “falling stars” could  go beyond our  atmosphere would be death bearers and not whishing bearers in their falling. They will change their name to become ‘meteorites’ able to destroy,  in the impact with the Earth, every form of life. The falling of  “stars’ stones” have caused the extinction of the dinosaurs, and the climate changing which have produced it.
We are searching, noses in the air,  in the summer night, their challenges to our world’s shield, convinced  that this Earth  will resist to the bitter end…

                                Falling Whishes

The ‘falling stars’ have a different interpretation in our literature: they also mean the short run of artists’ life, of show men’, of public personalities’ or personalities of the literary field’s life, which are at the top  of people’s favour  for a short time and then they suddenly disappear in the cosmic darkness, in the mists of time over the stars where, maybe, there is nothing more.
Who managed to have the grace to be able to admire them in the few seconds of their brightly run, lasted in fact light years,  to forget them next  when they reached the darkness. No more noteworthy now that they have fallen into disgrace,  devoid of charm.
Light-word-life were, for the ancients, intimately connected among them and opposed to  darkness-silence-death.
Lux is life over which  Juno presides with the epithet of Lùcinà when she attends a new delivery, the arrival of a new life full of light to share.

                                           Juno Lùcina gives life during winter solstice

And lux  comes from the Indo-European word leuk-luk that indicates the pure action of  light up but of  shine too, like the stars and like our eyes, capable both to transmit a light,  and for that called lumen. In  German language the translation is blicken with the meaning of shine upon from which it derives blitz, the lightning. Blitz means also a fast action, decisive, blinding.
We are looking for  centuries in the night the vault of heaven  searching in the light of the  stars a lighting, a transmission of thought, a solution to our doubts in the stars’ light,  and when in the earth we meet beings more  gifted  we call them stars, comparing them to those stars.

                            Andy Wharol at  Rome in Mario’s flat

Similar to stars they have all our admiration, at least till when the adverse luck doesn’t hit them, changing their fate in a fall into the nothing. Then we observe them for the last time while they fall vortically in a place from which their light will be obscured, will not reach us any more and we express the only sensible wish: that of never forget them!

It happened to me  to assist at the run of a lot of falling stars and I followed them up to the oblivion, I saw them burn out without ever forgetting how they were when, shining of light, they were admired by all the world. I have followed the human vicissitudes of two great masters, my mate of  life for some years and maybe, thanks to the difference of age, I’ve been able to follow them even when they had fallen in the darkness, in the oblivion of he world…when  ‘falling stars’ by then extinguished were lost  in a universe of which they couldn’t recognize the outlines anymore, as if they had woke up in a canto of the Dante’s Inferno, rather then on this Earth.

                                        The Taste painted by M.Schifano on Bolaffi’s magazine 1974

Thanks to Redapple :

Mario Schifano had suffered his sudden fall more then the others.
Painter, acclaimed by the critics and by the nice women to which  rarely he gave himself, lived in the end of the years 1973-74 in a very beautiful flat on the roman  Lungotevere opposite the old  Law Courts. Everybody competed to be present at his dinners, real happening of taste, or to be invited to the private projections of the movies in his cinema hall, at the entrance of the house,  appropriately prepared for this aim. The walls, all covered with a striped cloth white and green up to the ceiling, in  style Fellini’s circus, gave the impression to be in a really special place, where time hadn’t access, where hours, full of life, mingled between night and day without any distinction.
The wide screen, leant  to the  longer wall, didn’t allow any doubt: that was the place where dreams come true: huge, red armchairs and sofas in velvet and brocade received people ideally hugging them, turning them in children with easily feasible wishes. Mario wanted them gigantic: he who sat on those sofas sank into them, his legs didn’t reach the ground anymore  nor the head and the arms could touch the top. So turned in “children with happy thoughts”  we had the point of view of a pleasure more easily shareable, we watch at the projection satisfied to be able to divagate, every now and then, from the movie’s to the life’s plot.

                                             Different views

In Mario’s bed room ten television sets showed simultaneously the images from the different nets at that time tunable, to represent the simultaneity in the ideas  of matters even opposite for ideals and beliefs. A sophist par excellence, Mario… everyone who thought to value something passed by his home.

               The fantastic dining room painted by Schifano pubblished on Bolaffi’s Magazine

Gianni Agnelli had asked him to paint in fresco his dining room in his house in Rome, on Quirino Hill and Mario, wittily, had painted it with some red flags, at all provocative in that place where were sitting mostly people of power, certainly not near to lower and medium class’s expectations!  In the rooms over the Napoleonic Museum people spoke with respect of  his works without really understanding them and maybe for this   letting themselves being  fascinated even more: a coming and going of people of every class, all in love with Mario, the artist of the moment; all full of happy selfishness when they could spend, in that  “house of wonder”,  some hours of their life and feel them “contaminated” by the Master’s thought to feel the persuasion to be changed, as they really were even if unperceivable.
When Mario’s star fell, no one of them remained.

                                                  ‘Play  Room’… in Mario’s house

Mario was arrested for possession of thirty grams of cocaine, at that time the possession was considered illegal and , to avoid to put him in prison, they sent him to Santa Maria della Pietà, the mental hospital in  Rome.
The Law 180, Basaglia, wasn’t still in force and the mental hospitals closed  then cruelly inside their walls who was suffering mental disease.
I went every day to visit him to Santa Maria della Pietà, I crossed the long courtyards in the open air  enclosed  by high wire nettings at which  clung the patients considered  ‘less dangerous  for the medical service’ who invited you to stop asking to offer them a cigarette. Someone smoke it immediately, others hid it  with gratitude to use it as a good of exchange lately, others again availed themselves of the gesture to take your hand and touch it, to search a human contact inexistent  in that laager.

            We must search to be  more  human

Shocked by all this silent suffering I arrived at the end of the XIX Pavilion,  climbed up the few steps to enter in that structure completely void of furniture: the walls light green and the ground of grey floor tiles were the only furniture together with the big white radiators, the large windows with the black grating and absurd paintings that  portrayed crying patients  with light blue strait-jackets…works that some depraved artist succeeded in having acquired by the structure with a total damage for the patients.

      A project by arch. Edoardo Negri and Silvio Chiera 1909

At the right side of the entrance in the passage were opening the doors of three tight single cells, inside a bed nailed on the ground and without sheets, only a dark blanket and no pillow nor other furnishings. All there!
In the nearby dormitory  ten bed and on them some patients tied fast with strap their wrists and  their   ankles, their mattresses soaked in their humours that the victims were compelled to do in that same place.
A day, while I was waiting to see Mario, occupied  in his cell with his lawyer, I was attired by the request of one of that patients: “Free me, … free me”… Moved by pity  by that look that saw in me his last hope, imprisoned as he was , naked on his bed of torture, I untied him…
So I could catch  in his eyes the happiness for his recovered freedom, moments of immense gratitude. It was a pity that, after few seconds,  he began to jump for joy far and wide along the pavilion setting free all the unhappy mates: a unspeakable uproar!
There arrived two bears, two immense giants that  grasped them bodily, one by one, poor people without brain, tiying them again to their  bed of constriction. My punishment  was the exclusion from the visits.
Since that moment I could go in only secretly, forbidden my passage at the entrance, I had to reach Mario’s pavilion passing by a hole in the external wire netting wall…

       The Pavillion of…Peaceful  People ( Tranquilli )

Mario paid to the energumens and to the  head ward every concession, he didn’t do anything more than paint for them until the paintings  were no more enough for their greed and money took their place in provisions for the  authorizations. I think that realize how his art  was no more enough  should have been even more humiliating for him.

One day they let me not enter in the cell anymore, then I left a rose, between the grating of Mario’s window, to let him know that I had been there, I hadn’t forget him. He leant out and cried to me “For God sake Eli don’t come anymore, they are massacring me…”
That revelation hit me deeply, I didn’t want to be a cause of other ills for him, but I had been! I was crying while I was going out from the head door, my heart with thousand heartbeats was drying up my salivation, in my eyes the images of all those hands hanged to the nets, imploring: “ have us out, have us out…there are beasts here, not doctors”.
During my first “official” visits  Mario had told me how some patients, to which were given sedatives,  slipped in his cell to steal him his drugs that were, on the contrary, tonics. For this way nobody there followed the cure fit to his own illness but his same contrary. Often it stirred up quarrels among the patients to take possession of others’ drugs that were also goods for exchange. Kept into the mouth they were then spit to be changed with others of opposite effects. A smell of urine impregnated everything.
Mario, born under the sign of the Virgo, took, as an artist as he was, that experience as a way of his own life with which his art, his person could have been enriched.
He hadn’t considered men’s greed  that kept him prisoner till when they could squeeze them to the core. And when they had sucked up every essence of his in the end they  throw him away, when they were sated with him, as a thing without any value, as all the others….

                                                After how many paintyngs they will be satisfied ?

The law  180 “Basaglia” had put a world “end” to that places of pain and overwhelming: the day the  mental hospital of Santa Maria della Pietà was closed me too had gone to celebrate before its closed gates, its emptied pavilions, happy to know how those poor being now were elsewhere, surely in more human conditions. I could imagine how only go out from that laager could have meant for them an unspeakable sensation of freedom, the joy of being able to regain possession  of their own  rights…even only in part.
Freedom is the basic value for every human being, therefore who commit a crime is sentenced to loose it. But  only those who have committed it had to suffer the loss of liberty not certainly the lunatics, who are without any  guilt.
In the moment when we are born and when we die we are free, not oppressed by laws and customs, over any abuse…maybe for this, freedom is considered  the highest value in our culture.


In educating our children, in setting up a relationship we must,  in  my opinion, consider the factor freedom as untouchable , getting used to see it  as indissoluble from the person who is in front of us.
Even in love there is a moment in which we shall know when let go the one we love…
If we manage to do it,  we’ll prove a great joy because  to give again freedom means  to be, ourselves, free from the chains of possession…

Copyright © Ely Galleani Blog. All rights reserved.

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