Among the many “testaments” of Carmelo Bene I choose one (not) by chance. And you will forgive me if I do this by remembering the day of his birth, 85 years ago, September 1, 1937. A paradox yes, but the extremes coexisted in him like darkness and light in Creation.
I will not leaf through the hundreds of pages dedicated to him by philosophers like Gilles Deleuze about his theater, sorry, his stage writing; about his acting (ripardon, actor machine).
I will not get the most appropriate and pandering quote; nor will I consult the pages of his “Works” published by Bompiani in 1995 or the “Life of Carmelo Bene” written with Giancarlo Dotto (1998), where the incomparable definition of his Salento shines: “South of the South of Saints”.
I refuse to pin words on the journalist’s blouse, to keep the memory alive with that little bit of consoling rhetoric. I prefer the subtraction (and extinction) of narrow and steep memories, of almost hidden shortcuts, almost forgotten, of voids such as those sought and found wisely by the stonemasons, working the tuff.
After all, Bene was like this: he miraculously took himself away from Shakespeare and Stevenson, Mayakovsky and Esenin, Collodi, Marlowe, Leopardi, Wilde, Laforgue. The evening in which he read Dante’s “Divine Comedy” from the Torre degli Asinelli in Bologna, in 1981, one year after the attack on the station, he did so “from wounded to death”, dedicating the exhibition “not to the dead, but to the wounded of the horrendous massacre ». So that his voice could mingle with theirs, conceiving and generating the memory of the drowned and saved, without any rhetoric. At 97 meters high, 97 meters of void.
Voice and memory. Because Bene should be remembered not by speaking, not writing, but singing. As did the tobacconists of Campi Salentina. Their ancient melodies bewitched the child who wandered around the room where the leaves worked. There he discovered the splendor of the hairdryer amidst dry rustles and stories of love betrayed and exploitation. Voice and memory. Voice, sound, noise: “The whole story is the history of the phoné,” he would later say. After all, in the beginning he was the Word. Certainly not written.
I digressed and go back to the (almost) “will”. Sulphurous, meridian – Bene disappeared in 2002, a few years after that apparition -; for future reference. It is the summer of 1994, the summer of the World Cup in the United States – «Football is wonderfully represented by our national team, you can see 11 accountants in their underwear in jeopardy without any hesitation, without any decorum. It is our government, our sub-government in underwear, ”Carmelo Bene declares to“ Unity ”. Maurizio Costanzo organizes an episode of his TV show in the form of a challenge, «One against all». He calls him on stage to compete with journalists, critics, actors, celebrities. The result: an unrepeatable transmission, in which Carmelo Bene “prophesies” of everything in a mediumistic way, even before a mediatically. From the horror of politics: «Italians still continue to always go to vote, vote, vote; it is not clear why they vote. To make sense of what? ” to that of the politically correct: «I don’t give a damn about Rwanda and I say so. You no. You don’t give a damn; but don’t say it ». Passing through the freedom of the press which should be «freedom from the press», that which «does not inform about the facts, but informs the facts». And sometimes it deforms them.
The void for which Bene fought in life, suffering the sharp daggers of critics, like his friend and theatrical mentor Albert Camus, that brilliant void of which the country was orphaned prematurely (and the effects have all been seen), always made him more similar to Franz Kafka told in the famous biography by Pietro Citati: willing to empty himself, to ignore himself and ignore himself, to see in evil “the starry sky of good” according to an obscure and famous aphorism by the Czech writer. The shining evil, the evil of conformity on the stage; the corruption wrought on the sound by the written word. The good, indeed the Good, was somewhere else: in the silent void (omen of Creation).
Under that Kafkaesque starry sky, only he, in the bitter hour of offenses, could recognize Blok’s heartfelt angel from an irrevocable distance. Only he, under that sky, could “delirate the infinity of the Ionian Sea in Otranto” like the dove on the waters of the flood. Only him. And without him, that deluge overwhelmed us.