Pasolini the Polymath

Of all the critiques on PPP resurfacing in the 40th anniversary of his murder, some are just hipsterish snubbery, some very well reasoned. What struck me the most is the accusation of him being “not specialized” enough, of hitting too many and diverse creative fields, thus giving the idea that intellectuals can engage in too many and generic battles, no matter which art they flourish from.

He was, indeed, an independent filmmaker, an activist, a documentarist, a writer and a poet. And he excelled in all of it (with some moralizing excesses).

Alas, the problem with today’s intellectual in Italy is not, in my opinion, their multifarious creativity, but their ineptitude and shallowness.

They sometimes try to sail for new territories, always keeping a careful proximity to the coastline – only to retreat at the slightest sign of unpopularity, and go back to where they belonged.

The case of Saviano is a probably the best-known attempt of recreating Pasolini in laboratory (with the blessing of the mainstream Left) an experiment that failed miserably (except for the 99cents-legalist market).

I know my position is a doomed one, but I’d say: be welcome the return of the Polymath; long live the polýtropon Odysseus. We’re given way too many distractions and obsessions to let focus our self on a specific one, to be restrained into one niche, like workers in the assembly line.

I am not talking, of course, of the Google corporate version of the polymath – the schizoid factotum able to leader as well as to microwave doughnuts, which is a legacy of the Victorian culture. I am talking about the Old Skool Renaissance Man, blessed with Curiosity and Grace, mastering humanities and possessing bravery for their application in contemporary economy and labour.

Federico Maria Sardelli is one contemporary example that comes to mind. Do you have others?


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