Naples:life,death &
                Miracle contact: Jeff Matthews

Miscellany page #89
started Oct. 1, 2022.
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1. Another cable-car ...disaster? yes. FUBAR? Very yes. If you don't understand those terms, I will euphemize them for you with an asterisk*: Situation Normal All Fouled*Up; Fouled°Up Beyond All Recognition. The cable-cars I speak of are explained in
painful detail here. The city mothuhs and fathers said yesterday that the Chiaia line (blue line, image center, where it says "Parco Margherita" --named for the queen and pizza of the same name,  will be closed... "not for an hour, but forever and a day" (great song --look it up)... for a "minimum of six months".  That period started today. It's closed. This is a disaster.
It's similar to what happened 20 years ago (see the "painful detail"
link directly above). They closed it then, and it reopened after a few
months. Now, 20 years later, the circumstances are different --worse.
Don't worry, say the municipal parenting persons; we'll put on regular
vans for you to ride up. One woman said to a reporter, "Are you nuts? Look at the road! It's full of pot-holes and puddles because this road has not been repaired for years. Great. We'll be swallowed
down into the vast Neapolitan system of caverns. Right near hell."

2.                                                      Fee - Fie - Fo - Fum*

In the entry on "Etruscan Cave Trails" from Sept. 22, here, I note these trails can "spook" you -- they join the land of the living with that of the dead. It works both ways -- those from the land of the dead can come back to find you. You know, ogres and such. Film directors have noticed that, too. Director Matteo Garrone shot a few scenes for his "Tale of Tales" (based on G.B. Basile's
collection of fairy tales), a 2015 European fantasy horror film in these trails. Spoiler: there's a little girl running from an ogre. It scared me. Garrone showed it at the 2015 Cannes Film Festival. It got fine reviews. The film stars Salma Hayek, Vincent Cassel, Toby Jones, and John C. Reilly. The message? If you're a young girl wandering these trails at night by yourself, there is something wrong with your parents. The good news is that this ogre is not one of these phony ones that turns out be a good guy at the end. This one is as nasty and evil as they come.

More about Giambattista Basile and The Tale of Tales
Thanks to Selene Salvi for making me aware of this film.
*from a rhyme by Jack and/or his Beanstalk. It appears in a 1596 pamphlet by Thomas Nashe, who says it is obscure.

These two images were in my earlier item about this disastrous "ecomonster" in July. They are
still appropriate. This is the Velia archaeological site in Cilento. The tower at the top is only about 700 meters inland. The water at the bottom is the Tyrrhenian Sea, which separates the western coast of southern Italy from Sardinia. At the time I thought this one was pretty bad. It's on a
UNESCO Site, Velia. A friend said, someone should call the Pope. That has happened. The Catholic church owns that building! Yesterday, the papers reported that the eye-sore in question belongs to the local Catholic diocese. The president of the Dario Vassallo Foundation wrote the Pope a letter expressing his concer
n. (First, he noted that a building that was to be used for church functions had suddenly become an exclusive beach resort. My own view is that nothing should be there.)

His letter to the Pope said further, "We shall protect our Cilento against any form of speculation”. Vassallo sent copies to the offices charged with protecting cultural heritage, reminding them of a law passed in 2005 that forbids developing Velia with buildings or anything that interferes with the decorum of the Archeological Park. "It's the same old problem," said Vassallo. "While no one was paying attention, they destroyed one of the most meaningful sites of our Western culture. These are the places that gave birth to our culture. Yet again we see that economic interests are more important than the very thoughts that brought our communities to life." Vassallo did get an answer, but it sounds like the old run-around: "Your letter and questions have been forward to His Holiness."


"Book us for the eruption, dear. Can't miss that!"

In checking to find the precise location of The Excelsior Hotel, I see it has been right in front of me (and you) all along, computer-ly speaking, of course. Scroll to the top of this page and the large image of Vesuvius. Glance down to
the Egg Castle in the water. The bright hotel across from the castle is the Excelsior,
in the exact center of the image, above. On the left side, via Partenope is the seaside road coming in from the west It changes name at the hotel, turns the corner and becomes via Nazario Sauro. (Postal delivery here? Different area. Not sure. I don't stay in such classy digs.) The hotel at one point used the poster you see on the right to lure you to book there. Of course, there has not been an eruption like that since the Earth was much younger, but you can always hope.

All those buildings you see are quite recent. They are all built on landfill from excavations at the seaside during the Risanamento, the urban renewal (critics called it "gutting") of Naples The orange blocks in the image (left) are on landfill. There are about 20 of them The area of Santa Lucia (you have heard the song) is under those new blocks.
At least they aren't really orange.

(In back of the new buildings is via
  S.  Lucia. That was the seafront.)
                   The white line is the bridge to the Egg Castle.

                        Sorry to be a Kill-Fear, but...

If you're worried that Neapolitans have no spooks and goblins to trick-or-treat about, they do. They do, indeed. But by now it's one big syncretized global mishmash, but that is where we're headed. No more nation states or local traditions. We shall all — Neapolitans and Australian Bakanambians alike— sit around the campfire on St. Patrick’s Day, nibble on our traditional Finnish karjalanpiirakka and sing "Dixie" together.
If you ask, isn't this the Day of the Dead? Yes, but it's too mixed up to thresh out one tradition
from another. It's on Oct. 31, November 1 or 2 and is tied to Western Christian rites of All Hallow's Eve, All Saints' Day and All Souls' Day. Interestingly, it was not a solemn holiday but a rather joyful one, with family and friends gathered to pay respects and to remember friends and family who have died. These celebrations could even take a humorous tone, as celebrants remember funny events and anecdotes about the dead. You could even write mock epitaphs for your dearly departed. That was ok, as long as you set empty places for them at the table and put out some food. In 2008, the tradition was put on the UNESCO List of Intangible Cultural Heritage.* The tradition exists in Mexico very strongly, but also in European tradition, where All Saints' Day and All Souls' Day are on the same days in places such as Spain and Italy, where the festivities are allegories of life and death personified in the human skeleton to remind us of the ephemeral nature of life. Rituals on the night before All-Saints Day (Nov. 1) have existed for centuries in many parts of Italy, including Naples (see "Strega" link, below); however, authentic rituals are harder and harder to find and in many places have died out except in small towns and villages. Where they still hang on, they are Celtic. The Celtic New Year began on Nov. 1 (the modern Gaelic/Celtic word for November is Samhain (pronounced “saw-in”); that is also the name of the ritual festival for the dead on the last night of October, that is, Samhain Eve.) It was the start of the “dark” half of the year. Samhain Eve was a time when the boundary between the worlds of the living and the dead blurred and loosened, letting spirits of the depart revisit the living. They can cause trouble, too, so be nice. Leave some food out.
Also see:  Halloween      and        Strega

*Intangible Cultural Heritage (ICH)— that is, "...practices, representations, expressions, knowledge and know-how that communities recognize as part of their cultural heritage. Passed down from generation to generation, it is constantly recreated by communities in response to their environment, their interaction with nature and their history, providing them with a sense of identity and continuity."

Other ICH examples in Italy include Falconry; Transhumance (the seasonal driving of livestock along migratory routes); Musical art of horn players (a technique linked to singing, breath control, vibrato); Mediterranean Diet; Neapolitan pizza making; Alpinism;  Sicilian Puppet Theater;  Sardinian Pastoral Songs. Some traditions cross national boundaries. I understand that both France and Italy enjoy digging for truffles. YUK!

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6.                                            New Tool at Pompeii

Those who study ancient Pompeii now have a new tool to use with trowels, shovels, brushes, and sieves: the iPad Pro. The recent Tulane University Pompeii I.14 Project used the iPad to record what they’d found. The chief archaeologist said "It's the "perfect archaeology machine... excavation is a destructive process. Once you dig up a location, you can't repeat that work, so our main concern is to record data thoroughly, so that future researchers can ‘reconstruct the site'... the iPad lets us collect data faster, more accurately and securely... and has the processing power we need." The iPad even has a LIDAR scanner (Light Detection and Ranging) to determine distance. It is commonly used to make high-resolution maps in archaeology and geology. Now everything is stored as you go, and is available to other researchers online. It’s a paperless workflow created on and accessed through a single device immediately. That used to take forever, even months. "We used to do all this with paper, pencil, graph paper and various cameras. It took forever." The Tulane researchers have already challenged some assumptions about Pompeii: many thought the city was already in trouble ahead of the eruption that destroyed it and had never recovered from an earthquake 17 years earlier. That doesn’t match with what has turned up at the dig. Evidence shows “improvements to the dining areas of the restaurant that make us think that Pompeii was not a city in decline at the time of the eruption —it was thriving.”                                                                                        illustration: M. Violante

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                            Man Does Not Live by "Filled Communion Wafers" Alone

You don't have to be a Biblical scholar to have heard the phrase "Man does not live by bread alone." It occurs twice in the Bible. Most of us are more familiar with the second  time: Matthew 4:4, where Jesus says, "It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone,  but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God." We take that as a rebuke of materialistic values. But where was it written first? Jesus was citing Moses. Look way back in the Old Testament to Deuteronomy 8:3. Moses patiently explains to the people of Israel that "man doth not live by bread alone but by..." etc.

Bread is a rich symbol in the Bible of spiritual and material gifts from God. When talking about real bread, make sure it's wheat and not barley. Don't be tempted by barley. And there are some very tempting things out there if you look at some of the alternatives to bread. For example, over on the Gargano peninsula (the "spur" of the Italian boot sticking out into the Adriatic) in the town of Monte Sant'Angelo, you can get ostie piene ("filled host"). Sorry, what? That's a mouth-watering mix of almonds and honey stuffed between two Christian wafers used in holy communion (image). How pious and holy would you be if you actually ate any of these crunchy, tender tidbits. Would you not be well on your way down the "primrose path that leads to the everlasting bonfire"?
- Macbeth, II, iii, 22. (Shakespeare's not in the Bible, but he was good, too.) No, you're safe. These things were invented by Roman Catholic nuns in a convent, for Pete's sake!(Really, for Pete's sake.) Yes, very religious, sweet-toothed little sweethearts in the village convent of Santissima Trinità  (pin-drop on map, above) at least 500 years ago. They were trying to pick up some very hot spilled almonds. Communion wafers were at  hand. They scooped them up.

Since I am a pious agnostic, I don't buy any of this. It's a trap. Don't fall for it. I checked and there is no spiritually safe alternative to bread. One slice. Wheat, not barley. Yummy.

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Marjan Fahimi, Iranian Artist, Lights Up Sorrentine Nights
The original Italian item in la Repubblica 22 Oct. 2022 was by Mariella Permendola.
        This translation is 2/3 of the original. Permission to publish is pending but assumed.

She shines like magic. At night the sculpture by Marjan Fahimi reflects the daylight and shines. Looking at this artist's work, you feel as if you're viewing the star-lit heavens over Monte San Costano, making Massa Lubrense into one grand theater. This 40-year-old architect has lived in Rome since 2004 where she studied with her husband and displayed her own works in various places from Greece to Iran. She won an international competition held by the Massa Lubrense association of art restorers, part of a project of the architecture department of the Frederick II University of Naples to stimulate tourist interest in local towns in the area.

Her sculpture is varnished with rich florescent pigments that capture daylight colors and remain luminous even as daylight fades to darkness. The sculpture was finished recently and will be on display next week-end. Fahima says, "I wanted this work to fit in as much as possible to the landscape where I'm installing it. But I also wanted to include a little bit of myself and where I come from. I'm anxious about and follow closely the events in Iran. I want these lights that I turn on here to be and stay turned on in my country." The artist moved to Massa Lubrense this month. She says, "The greatest women's revolution in my nation's history is going on right now. Italian women can and should stand up for us, as well. Otherwise, it's just useless to put on red shoes for one day to protest violence against women." She says that sweetly, but firmly.

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The Virtual Archeological Museum of Herculaneum (MAV) is one of the most advanced ones in Italy, a virtual and interactive path back to a moment before the Plinian eruption of 79 AD destroyed the Roman cities of Pompeii and Herculaneum. There are scenographic reconstructions, visual interfaces, holograms, and over 70 multimedia installations about the archaeological areas of Herculaneum,
Pompeii, Baia, Stabia and Capri. No doubt you would rather do all that in person. Go ahead. It'll take some time weeks, months, some physical stamina. The museum covers 5,000 square meters, on 3 levels. That's as much space as the size of an American football field (plus the end zones! If you're a fan of Canadian football or, worse, soccer, your mileage may vary.) The museum is in the heart of Herculaneum.
MUSEO ARCHEOLOGICO VIRTUALE - Via IV Novembre n.44 – 80056 Ercolano (NA) – Italy

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e Need All-Sane Day!

I don't know if today is All-Saints' Day or Day of the Dead or This-Day, That-Day, or All-Relative Pronoun Day, but I see I've already had my say about Halloween and witches and things that go BUMP (or BURP) in the night just up this same page. Number 5. Here. Click.  If you think any of that frightens me, it does. Excuse me, I have to go turn on the electric fence and take the leash off of Fang, my Doberman guard dog. But semi-seriously, it would be nice if there were one day when all the weirdos in the world (oh, you've noticed?) stopped doing what they do the rest of the year shoot children and plant bombs. How about All-Sane Day?! (Again, like the nice lady in the image.)

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                The Empire
City-State Strikes Back

“God created war so that Americans would learn geography.”
Mark Twain
Yes, Sam, but they keep changing the names on us. Take Troy. Everyone knows Troy (as in "Helen of"). The whole area was called Troas or Troad? It's in NW Anatolia (modern Turkey). It's on what modern Turks called the Biga Peninsula (Biga Yarımadası, and if you think your Yarımadası is big, you should see this thing. The Dardanelles are the long water passage (top, center), the Aegean Sea is to the W and it's all split from the rest of Anatolia by the Mount Ida massif. Troad contains the ruins of Troy (a bit left of center).
The Dardelles? Like the song Dardanella: 1919. Music: F.Berbard; lyrics: Bernard & Black.
Oh, sweet Dardanella/I love your harem eyes/I'm a lucky fellow to capture such a prize/
Oh, Allah knows my love for you/There'll be one girl in my harem, when you're mine/
We'll build a tent/ Just like the children of the orient.

Dardanella comes from the Dardanians). Finally something I can remember a totally forgotten people.

Yes, I digress! It's the names! Another case: Tenea. I liked the tale but had no idea where Tenea was. There is a modern city with that name, built over the old city. They are only 15 km (9.3 mi) SE of Corinth and 20 km (12 mi) NE of Mycenae. According to Pausanias, Tenea's founders were Trojan prisoners of war whom Agamemnon let build their own town. According to Virgil's Aeneid, after the Trojan War, in 734 BC Teneans and Corinthians then founded the joint colony of Syracuse in Sicily, the homeland of Archimedes.

image: the arrow points NE, 350 km (225 mi) to the ruins of ancient Troy.

Ah, finally some names I recognize! Syracuse! Maybe the name is from a nearby marsh called Syrako. The city became a very powerful city-state, allied with Sparta and Corinth and was the most important city in all Magna Graecia. Cicero wrote that it was "the greatest Greek city and the most beautiful of them all". It was as big as Athens during the fifth century BC.

Syracuse is listed by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site.
This entry reproduces some of what is at my long entry on "The Greeks".

p.s. There's a town in Italy called Troia. It is east of Naples in the Region of Apulia. According to legend, the Greek hero Diomedes founded and named Troia. He had destroyed the ancient city of Troy in the Trojan War. It is a mere coincidence that a modern Italian slang word for "slut, whore" is "troia" (the zoological name for a "sow" in Italian is "scrofa"). They say sows are dirty. They roll in mud, yes, but they do that to cool off. If you call a woman a "pig" in any language, you're asking for trouble. The correct Italian demonym (name of the inhabitants) for a woman from Troia is "troiana", and not what you might be thinking. Don't try to be funny with this.

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            Statistical Model for Probability of
Volcanic Eruptions near Naples
pub. by the International Institute of Geophysics and Volcanology (Ingv), the
               "Aldo Moro" University of Bari, and the British Geological Survey (Bgs) of Edinburgh

                                                The original title was
               “A simple two-state model interprets temporal modulations in eruptive
                activity and enhances multivolcano hazard quantification”

                (mine is better) published in early November 2022

There are three volcanoes near or in Naples: Vesuvius, the Phlegrean Fields, and Ischia. This analysis is based on how often these volcanoes erupt, based on their past performance of (1) high activity and (2) low activity. As different as they seem, volcanoes usually have two states of activity: high and low. The three near Naples differ in many ways. The study used 3 parameters: how often they erupt annually when they are in a period of low activity; how often in a period of high activity; and how long the so-called "threshhold" is; that is, the     period when there are no eruptions as the volcano passes from high to low activity.
                                                                                                        The graphic, above, was published with the study.
The differences in the three: Vesuvius is an open or closed conduit statovolcano; the Phlegrean Fields (Campi Flegrei) are a vast volcanic cauldron created by at least three enormous eruptions; Ischia is a single volcano that rose to a height of 1000 meters by a process known as "volcanic resurgence". They are all in densely populated areas now, so this study is more than academic. It is important as a safety precaution, a type of early warning system. (p.s. If the study has flaws, you'll be the first to know.)

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                Elena Ferrante - The Neapolitan Novels

A friend asked about the novelist Elena Ferrante, about her four-volume work titled The Neapolitan Novels, and if they are "dark". Since Elena Ferrante is a pen-name, we don't know too much about the author. Perhaps "those who know aren't talking, and those who talk don't know." I take her English translator Ann Goldstein's word for it that the author is a woman and has spent time in Naples. Exactly when and how time I don't know. The Neapolitan Novels are about two girls, born in Naples in 1944, who try to make their lives in a violent and deadening culture. The series consists of "My Brilliant Friend" (2012), "The Story of a New Name" (2013), "Those Who Leave And Those Who Stay" (2014), and "The Story of the Lost Child" (2015), which was nominated for the Strega Prize, the most prestigious Italian literary award.

The series is a bildungsroman, a coming-of-age story, and the author says the four books are "one novel" published serially for reasons of length. The series have sold over 10 million copies in 40 countries and have had good reviews. In 2016, a 32-part television series was planned; in September 2018, the first two episodes of "My Brilliant Friend", an Italian-language miniseries were aired at the Venice Film Festival; and in November 2018 HBO started airing the complete eight-episode miniseries, focusing on the first book. To answer my friend's question whether they are "dark"
coming of age in Naples after 1944? Yes, dark and rough and sad. If you don't like "dark", Mary Poppins is available.

As for the anonymity, Ferrante says that "books, once they are written, have no need of their authors." She has said that anonymity is a precondition for her work and that keeping her true name out of the spotlight  is a key to her writing process. "Once I knew that the completed book would make its way in the world without me, once I knew that nothing of the concrete, physical me would ever appear beside the volume —as if the book were a little dog and I were its master— it made me see something new about writing. I felt as though I had released the words from myself."

There has such speculation about who she is. I don't know. I don't care. I wonder if she knows that this speculation boosts her book sales. That would be a coy cool ploy. (Say that five times fast!)

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It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Bag-Pipes
    -or, Behold! I bring you non-fungible tidings of great joy
My apologies to the great Meredith Willson [sic] for repackaging his title, "It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas"(1951).
My version is because we have only one holiday from now (mid-November) to Christmas, and that is the feast of the Immaculate Conception, on December 8. It is a public holiday, a day off for the general population, and schools and businesses are closed. It commemorates, according to Catholic belief, when Mary, the mother of Jesus, was graced by God to lead a life “free of sin”. For you secular, agnostic freeloaders, it has nothing to do with the conception of Jesus. (Do the numbers. Human gestation lasts 9 months.) Also, we have a shortage of good holiday music. There are no "secular" holiday songs such "Have yourself a merry little Christmas", "Silver Bell", and especially, "White Christmas". That last one was written by a Jew (Irving Berlin) and I bet the others were, too.

There is certainly well-known Christmas music in Christianity at large. Adeste Fidelis comes to mind. In Italian it is sung as Venite fideli and in English as O Come All Ye Faithful. If your language chops are up, you can sing it in Latin (and watch the crowd around you warily inch away from you). The best-known Italian Christmas song is:
Tu scendi dalle stelle/O Re del Cielo/E vieni in una grotta/:Al freddo e al gelo:
(Colons mean repeat the phrase.)
You come down from the stars/O King of Heaven/You come into a cave/:Into the cold and frost:

Now the bagpipes. There is no one-word translation for zamponari. They are the two musicians who come at Christmas time; one plays the ciaramella (a double-reed folk oboe, and the other plays the Neapolitan bag-pipes, called the zampogna. They are still quite common at Christmas in Naples. They wear rustic garb to symbolize the shepherds in the Gospel of Luke. Bagpipes are traditional in many places in the world outside of Scotland, including southern Italy. The zampognari are fond of a Neapolitan carol entitled Quanno Nascette Ninno (When the Child was born). It is the same melody as Tu scendi dalle Stelle except in a minor-key. These musicians are "buskers" (street musicians) and expect some "good tidings" in return.

"Wait. So all these people they're busking for are all out shopping? They must have a lot of money."
Not yet. They're going to win the lottery, another Neapolitan obsession.

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                                The Aragonese Castle on Ischia

The Aragonese Castle was built on a rock near the island in 474 BC by Hiero I of Syracuse. Two towers were built to control movements of enemy fleets. The rock was then occupied by Parthenopeans (the ancient inhabitants of Naples). In 326 BC the fortress was taken by Romans, and then again by the Parthenopeans. In 1441 Alfonso V of Aragon connected the rock to the island with a stone bridge instead of the earlier wooden bridge, and fortified the walls to defend against pirate raids. In 1700, about 2000 families lived on the islet, including a Poor Clares convent, an abbey of Basilian monks (of the Greek Orthodox Church), the bishop and the prince, with a military garrison. There were also thirteen churches. In 1912, the castle was sold to a private owner. Today the castle is the most visited monument on Ischia. Entrance is through a tunnel with large openings which let in light. In the tunnel there is a small chapel consecrated to Saint John Joseph of the Cross, the patron saint of the island. There is also a more comfortable access - a modern elevator (lift). Once outside, you can visit the Church of the Immacolata, the Cathedral of Assunta, and the Poor Clares convent.  The first was built in 1737 on the location of a smaller chapel dedicated to Saint Francis; it was closed after the suppression of convents in 1806.

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                    Word Games - Palindromes and Anagrams

A palindrome is a word or phrase that reads the same backwards as forwards, such as the words madam or racecar, or the sentence, A man, a plan, a canal – Panama. The 19-letter Finnish word, saippuakivikauppias (one who sells soapstone), is the longest single-word palindrome in everyday use. People with lots of time (maybe prisoners in jail because they have nothing to do) have been inventing these things for centuries; a 4th-century Greek example is  ΝΙΨΟΝ ΑΝΟΜΗΜΑΤΑ ΜΗ ΜΟΝΑΝ ΟΨΙΝ (Wash your sins, not just your face), at the Hagia Sophia in Istanbul. Oh, it's "Istanbul, not Constantinople now" (which phrase inspired Irving Berlin's "Puttin' on the Ritz"). A short one in Italian is Ai lati d'Italia (Bordering Italy on both sides). No, not much, but an Italian word-geek has coined a palindrome,
aibofobia, to mean "the fear of palindromes". Martin Gardner said A man, a plan, a canal—Panama! is the best palidrome in our language. He attributes it to Leigh Mercer of London in his 1961 Dover book, an annotated commentary (image) to Oddities and Curiosities of Words and Literature by C.C. Bombaugh (1890). Gardner's book is my source for these examples.

An anagram is a word or phrase formed by rearranging the letters of a different word or phrase, typically using all the original letters exactly once. The original word or phrase is known as the subject of the anagram. For example, the word anagram itself can be rearranged into nag a ram, also the word binary into brainy and the word adobe into abode. It's nicer if the anagram has something to do with the original phrase - the cuter, the better:The leaning tower of Pisa becomes What a foreign stone pile. Or better if it's timely, as in Spring, summer, autumn, winter becomes Time's running past, we murmur. Those who create anagrams are called "anagrammatists". The goal of a skilled one is to produce anagrams that comment on their subject. Short is OK: For example: New York Times rearranges as monkeys write or McDonald's restaurants as Uncle Sam's standard rot. You also have antigrams: funeral is real fun. My name is too short, so I tried the name of my website, Life, Death, and Miracles. One result was adamant chiseled flier, which I approve of completely, but I also got emailed headscarf lint. At my age, I'll take what I can get.

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                The Little Professor Who Couldn't
Giacomo Martorelli (1699-1777)
I am greatly indebted to Marius Kociejowski's The Serpent Coiled in Naples [disclosure: I edited the book] and to Selene Salvi [disclosure: we are BFFs] for their insights into this delightfully eccentric scholar. Also, both of these persons are delightfully eccentric on their own, which, after all, just means slightly off-center.
I am fond of enthusiastic teachers. Who isn't? I can't know if what they're saying is 100% true or 0% true, but they make me want to find out for myself. I also like alternate histories. You know, "What would have happened if". I don't mean the South winning the U.S. Civil War or the Germans WW II or if Napoleon had been 6'6" tall instead of a runt. There are lots of those. I mean history-shredding ifs, such as what if Homer was from Cuma, near Naples, and had founded the university of Naples centuries before the birth of Christ. Or if the Phoenicians had a colony in Naples (where they invented Phonetics? ok, that's my own idea. See? It's working already!) So if I have a prof who actually says some of those things with fervor, I like him. I like Giacomo Martorelli.

He started out as just another good student. He was born in Naples and went to a Catholic seminary where he was crazy about Latin, Greek and Hebrew. For a time he worked in the Vatican as the Secretary of Briefs, one who prepares Latin documents for the Pope. He then taught Greek at the university of Naples in 1738 and became a full professor in 1745. The old term was "philologist". Today he would be a professor of Linguistics of some sort - Comparative, Historical, etc. Hard to say. Bios more or less leave it at that
a great scholar of languages, but who wandered way off-center when he took on archaeology (he had no training) and put forth some bizarre ideas. In the mid-1700s that field was loaded with scholars on Herculaneum and Pompeii. They knew their stuff. Martorelli certainly knew his. He was Professor of Greek Antiquities at the University. Scholars knew that Cuma was Greek. They came from Euboia, the second-largest Greek island after Crete. That was in many sources, so he and his students were already bonded. My gut tells me that Martorelli's students liked him and had their own discussions about his ideas, which, of course, is the point of education (from Latin, educere - "draw out of", not "fill up with"). Homer himself? From here? Hmmmm. That medieval business all late arrivals on the scene? Look at these markings. Those are Phoenician. They were all over the Mediterranean, probably here, too. And so it goes. But what if that's wrong? Then it's wrong. That's what we're trying find out.

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          Say, Whatever Happened to the Old ex-English Cemetery?
              "It seems to me I've heard that song before / It's from an old familiar score."
                                      "I've heard that song before." 1942. Music, Jule Styne; lyrics, Sammy Cahn

I really want this to be the time when they get right it right. La Repubblica ran an article the other day
(on 22 Nov 2022) that said "After 21 years the historic Santa Maria della Fede garden, the ex-cemetery for Protestants and non-Catholics in Naples has been reopened to the public. It's a small "green lung"* between Corso Garibaldi and Via Arenaccia." The park was closed in the wake of flooding in Sept. 2001. There were failed attempts to restore the premises from 2012-2017. The current plan will spend 15 million euros for 2 years to clean up and restore 22 abandoned parks in 10 towns in the Campania region. That's very ambitious, but as the song says...
*"green lung"= The vegetation in the garden that gives you oxygen in exchange for all that carbon dioxide you're breathing all over that monument.                                                                                  (compete item on the ex-cemetery here)

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                        'Tis the season to put politicos... the manger. It takes weeks to make a Neapolitan presepe, Nativity scene, Christmas Crèche. These symbols of the birth of Jesus are by no means solemn. Quite the contrary, when you consider that many stick ceramic figures of their favorite politicians and athletes next to the manger (and their least favorites out by the chickens and donkeys). One of the shops on via Gregorio Armeno specializes in these figures. I've seen Obama,Trump, Mussolini, and mayors of Naples. One guess - Who is this year's winner? (Open the envelope, please.) What? Queen Elizabeth II? Good guess, but sorry. She was #3. Who? Maradona? A perennial, yes, but he was only #2. Sorry. YES! YES! Giorgia Meloni, the new Prime Minister of Italy. Well, it's your presepe and decorum keeps me from telling you where to stick her (as much as I'd like to). A craftsman who actually makes these things said they've had her ready to go for a long time, even before she was elected. They have her smiling, flashing a V for victory, and holding the flag. They take time to make, so you have to think ahead.
update: on next page. Meloni is already old hat. These things move very fast! Guess before you peek!

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