Fifth day of the Advent calendar with Elena and Laura: two sisters and a room of books

I find the sharing of this strong passion for reading between two sisters fantastic.

Elena and Laura make me think back to the times when my brother and I exchanged books,  in our case the preferences were a bit different, but this was an added value for me: in some way this helped to complete.

My brother writes very well, even though he doesn’t want me to say it.

So I will say that Elena and Laura are really good and talented, I followed their The house of souls  published serial on the blog and, in case you haven’t read it yet, I absolutely recommend that you retrieve it!

I also report their novel The secret of the trees  of which I anticipate only one name: Endelaman Crosel who struck me not only for the particularity, but because it was invented by Elena-child-version

The Christmas story by Elena and Laura instead is called Christmas, snow and chocolate:

A snowball hit the mailbox just as Ella was closing the shop. She turned abruptly and met the eyes of two children intent on a battle: they seemed mortified. She smiled and waved at them. The two smiled in turn and ran towards the park go on here



1947: a meaningful year for me, my mother’s birth year. She, who was used to buy 10 lire of old newspapers just to have something to read. She, who made me grow up in a house with a large library full of books of all kinds.

She, who simply loved to read.

Never any imposition, never any particular advice. It was all natural, I still remember the titles that struck me most as a child, then I still could not know the story, yet they were already in my mind, ready to be rediscovered at the right time.

And one day, just like her, I simply started reading too.

1947 is also the year of the first literary prize Strega which took its name from the liqueur produced in the Guido Alberti family company who was a patron of it and who subsequently, after his marriage to the astrologer Lucia Alberti, began his acting career and was directed by directors such as Federico Fellini Francesco Rosi, Pier Paolo Pasolini, Eduardo De Filippo and Roman Polanski. A biography that in itself would seem like a novel.

In the long list of winners of the editions that have followed each other from year to year, respectable names appear and a few days ago I read a statistic published by Gabriella which showed an overwhelming male majority .

I sincerely have to recover several things from the past, but Monica opened a window on the present, also giving me a key to the book that won the 2020 edition: The hummingbird by Sandro veronesi published by La nave di Teseo.

I gladly approached it, without knowing the author, without knowing the previous success Chaos Calmo and without knowing the various dynamics that led to this second victory.

“You are a hummingbird because like the hummingbird you put all your energy into staying still.”

The quote on the back cover immediately offers the first food for thought: suddenly static is considered as an effort, and not as the absence of movement.

The movement of the book is constituted by the temporal jumps with which the author leads the narration according to a very symbolic thread, alternating exchanges of letters and digressions with stories of daily life poised between the apparent normality and a crescendo of paradoxical situations.

I found particularly curious how the rather unlikely events of the main character made me think of Forrest Gump, a sort of coincidence, since I had just written a post about it.

But following the idea of the hummingbird, and trying to fly backwards to review everything from a different perspective, I developed the idea of metaphors to reconfirm the only true certainty we have: life has surprises in store and often revolutionizes plans and certainties.

But for the truth we are not still, we resist, something very different.

I think I’m not the only one to have found a sort of cross with painful personal experiences, of course then everyone continues on their tracks, but the scars remain in common.

This book also gave me a reference to childhood in reading the descriptions of summer places: Toscana’s sea near Bolgheri, Marina di Bibbona, Punta Ala, having also spent my holidays exactly on that same coast, and I found myself facing the thought of how we used to take things for granted until this particular summer, and how we never thought they could vanish.

So “bewitched”? Strega means witch laughing

No, but happy as every time a reading inspires reflections.



“It is sometimes said that the flapping of a butterfly’s wings in one part of the world can cause a hurricane on the other side of the globe.”
This quote comes from the 2004 film The Butterfly Effect and is inspired by a theory taken up and debated in numerous areas.
Once again, as happened for the War of the Worlds: the inspiration comes from a science fiction novel, it is in fact Ray Bradbury who in his Sound of thunder attributes to the proper death of a butterfly during a journey through time, a variation of future events:

Eckels felt himself fall into a chair. He fumbled crazily at the thick slime on his boots. He held up a clod of dirt, trembling,
“No, it can’t be. Not a little thing like that. No!”
Embedded in the mud, glistening green and gold and black, was a butterfly, very beautiful and very dead.

Another coincidence, also in this case the story was broadcast by the BBC in 2011: here if you want to find the podcast (butterfly from about 35 minutes but I would advise you to listen to it all if you have time).
The butterfly symbol was taken up by Edward Lorenz, mathematician and meteorologist professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in his 1963 paper for the New York Academy of Science and later in a 1979 lecture that went down in history.
In general, the butterfly effect belongs to quantum physics and more precisely to the basis of chaos theory.
Chaos is the most congenial aspect to me, but actually I didn’t want to talk about this … not this time, at least.
Antonietta Gatti is perhaps known to most as “the wife of” despite her respectable curriculum. Her skills add up over time, and I would list, almost a bit to summarize, this recognition: she has been awarded the title of Fellow of the International Union of Societies for Biomaterials Science and Engineering for her contribution to the progress of science. The various national societies of biomaterials and bioengineering have tens of thousands of members worldwide and the union of the various companies has elected Dr. Gatti to be part of the elite of scientists that consists of 32 members, and she was part of a parliamentary commission of inquiry as a responsible consultant. I know, difficult to read, but I found her report very interesting, perhaps because I live in a highly polluted area: here the mortality rate from tumors is terrible:
She deals with nanopathology or pathologies induced by micro and nano-sized particulate exposures, i.e. powders with dimensions less than 100nm (0.1 microns) but her research has become difficult due to the reduced availability of a suitable microscope.
Her flapping wings has not changed the world yet, but she has been able to reach the hearts of people who have made it possible to buy a new electron microscope with their donations.
Let us not stop at the fact that individually we cannot make a difference, let us not stop flying lightly on the difficulties, each of us can be the butterfly of change, let’s believe it, and do not let ourselves be crushed in the mud.



What time is the end of the world?
No, let’s start from the beginning: The War of the Worlds is a novel written by H. G. Wells, one of the forerunners of the science fiction genre, originally published in installments in 1897 on the Pearson’s Magazine in London.
First curious anecdote: HG Wells took in part inspiration from Giovanni Schiaparelli’s theories about Mars (and if you always read me remember our save the date 🙂 )
The astronomer and director of the Brera Astronomical Observatory in Milan observed some lines on the surface of the red planet, and hypothesized that they could be natural channels for the transport of water as they changed from one observation to another.
At this point there is another beautiful smile because what is one of the painful keys for all of us Italians? Knowledge of English!
Why do I say this? Because its natural channels were translated with the wrong term that distorted the theory by transforming them into artificial canals. Hence the assumption that they had been excavated by … Martians, precisely.
These famous “Martians” who populated the fantasies of many, embodying the most varied forms and descriptions, before being replaced by the most universal aliens.
These famous “Martians” who inspired Wells first and then Welles, Orson Welles.
Curious also this coincidence, one e above all and a patented invention separates them, another curious fact, always in 1897, always in London, and always by an Italian: Guglielmo Marconi.
Why do I switch to radio? Because in the meantime we arrive in 1938, and the radio is still the fledgling mass media and, exactly as it works today for the internet, it is seen as a form of potentially dangerous communication. It is seen as a vehicle of social mutation, for the rapid diffusion to the easy reach of a large number of people, and above all harmful to the publishing giants, worried about losing their income.
And precisely at CBS Orson Welles conducts The Mercury Theater on the Air: a program consisting of the narration of the great classics of literature, for the truth poorly paid and not much followed.
But Orson, at that time a Shakespearean actor, expresses his genius by using the program also to deal a blow to the system, deciding to cut the news in real time, and in view of the imminent Halloween, structures the Martian invasion described in the book like a real-time radio commentary.
It is in fact on October 30, 1938 when the reading of the opening words of The War of the Worlds is on air, interspersed with musical broadcasts, as usual, until an announcement interrupts the music and transposes the text setting it in the United States. With the help of screenwriter Howard Koch, completed with mock interviews with experts, imitations of press releases from the authorities, and sound effects to which Orson Welles pays special attention.
At the beginning and during the transmission it is clearly stated that it is the transposition of the novel, but many tune in at different times and the illusion effect created artfully succeeds perfectly.
It is said that a man called the New York Times to ask “what time is the end of the world?” to which the famous song written by Michael stipe of R.E.M. is inspired.
There is a chorus that supports the exaggeration of the estimates that count people running in the street, panic scenes, or hysteria, and I honestly don’t intend to dwell on the numbers, since, especially in this period, we everyday hear tragic counts.
In fact, in Grover’s Mills, New Jersey, there is a commemorative plaque with the following inscription:
On the evening of October 30, 1938 Orson Welles and The Mercury Theatre presented a dramatization of H.G. Wells The war of the worlds as adapted by Howard Koch. This was to become a landmark in broadcast history, provoking continuing thought about media responsibility, social psychology and civil defense. For a brief time as many as one million people throughout the country believed that Martians had invaded the earth, beginning with Grover’s Mill, New Jersey.
The important thing that Orson Welles has more or less voluntarily shown us is that people are led to believe rather unconditionally what is communicated to them by the mainstream mass media.
How many times have we heard “TV said it?”
How many care to check the news?
This time I went beyond coffee time, but today we can also indulge in chocolate, what do you say?
Now I conclude with the last strange coincidence: in The War of the Worlds the Martians are defeated by a virus.

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