NATIVITY

The nativity scene in my family was a ritual. My grandparents had handmade wax figurines, which are nowhere to be found. They were very ancient, delicate, fragile. It was beautiful to make the crib. My father went around looking for real moss and brought it home still damp. Then everything else, stones, branches, leaves, everything was gathered around in the countryside. There was a different magic when my father was alive. He took care of the lights, he had a lot of patience to illuminate the right spots. Now, on the other hand, everything is done quickly, in a hurry, with tiredness and stress. The best time of Christmas for me was when I was a child and my grandparents were all alive. Now I don't feel that magic anymore and I would love to feel it but I know it's impossible.
Etymologically, the word itself means "manger" which is actually the place where the baby Jesus is placed at his birth, with Joseph and Mary who look after him with the help of the ox's breath and the donkey that allowed him to give some warmth in the cold cave they were in.
And this is precisely what the nativity scene that many of us have at home at Christmas depicts: the reproduction of the sacred grotto with the baby Jesus and his family.

There are few and confused elements that foreshadow a precise origin and before 1200 it was depicted by unknown artists (The Virgin with Jesus at the Catacombs of Priscilla in Rome) or even by Giotto.

The first real exhibition of a nativity scene in Italy is obtained in 1220 in Greccio, thanks to Saint Francis of Assisi who, on a trip to Bethlehem, where he saw the nativity scene recalled, wanted to reproduce it in Italy.

So he celebrated a mass in a wood, in the presence of an ox and a donkey and the saint sang some verses of the Gospel over the manger.

Thus there was the first representation of a living nativity scene in Italy. From here on, the crib had a slow and inexorable diffusion and from a purely artistic element, it began to be popular.
From the fifteenth century it spread to central Italy, arrived in the Kingdom of Naples, began to spread in homes and be part of the popular sentiment.

In Naples, in the houses of the nobles, they even began to make sumptuous, large, refined versions, with precious materials and each house pursued its own spectacular version of it, as in a competition.

The Neapolitan nativity scene is still a great classic today, one of its characteristics is that of uniting the cave of Jesus with various other shepherds, intent on their daily life, each in its own occupation.

Via San Gregorio Armeno is very famous, where even today master craftsmen compose cribs, build shepherds also depicting current figures that can be politicians, cinema characters and various others.

An art that every year, during the Christmas holidays, attracts many people to visit and attend the birth of the shepherds in the Neapolitan city.

Obviously there are also other types of cribs in other areas of Italy, among these we remember the Genoese, the Bolognese (among the oldest), the Sicilian and others, each with its own differences in materials used, characters, among the many.

A type of craftsmanship that besides our country has also conquered other nations in Europe and in the world where everyone creates a version with their own characteristics.

SOME ARTISTS WERE MAD?

There are artists who paint what they see, others who paint what they remember or what they imagine. Our brain changes in the face of reality but, at the same time, it is capable of changing it: a "different" brain must therefore have a different relationship with reality.
In art this "process" can lead to the creation of new realities, which will only partly depend on "sensorial information"; our brain, in fact, does not necessarily need the continuous "information flow" coming from our senses. Dreams, memories that "revive" in mental images and also representations "simply" created by our mind testify to this event.
In this sense, art amplifies reality, creates a new "mental channel" capable of opening up to new experiences. The visual stimuli, real or evoked by memory, which excite the nervous system of the artist at the moment of the creation of the work of art, transformed by his hand into colors and shapes, will stimulate the nervous system of the observer. The work of art must be able to arouse in the observer's brain sensations and emotions that have been present in the artist's brain [Maffei L., Fiorentini A., 1995]. Approaching a work of art, looking at it, perceiving it, understanding it and appreciating it, implies the involvement of many brain structures and the activation of very specific mechanisms, starting from the functioning at the basis of visual perception, to those involved in the so-called "psychology of see ", in the aesthetic and emotional experience. This refers not only to the emotion felt by those who enjoy a painting but also to the creative moment that involves the artist to create his work.
Some researchers, especially psychologists and neurophysiologists, have been fascinated by the possibility of studying the properties and characteristics of the brain that are part of the evaluation of a work of art and the pleasure it can give; persuaded by the idea that the understanding of these cerebral mechanisms, together with the knowledge of the events of the life of an artist and of the culture of his time, can favor a greater "knowledge" and appreciation of the work and of those who created it.
A work of art is born from the combination of what the artist experiences "visually" and how he interprets what is communicated to him from the outside world. Both the acquisition of visual information and its internal processing can be altered by pathological causes.
The effects of serious mental illnesses, often altering the artist's perceptive and emotional abilities, can affect his pictorial expression and testify how the painter's life story becomes an integral part of his work.
All this emerges in the paintings of some great painters in particular moments of their life.
Francisco Goya (1746-1828) was suffering from an encephalopathy, due to lead poisoning (an element then present in the Francisco Goya, Detail "Cronus devours his children" Madrid, Prado Museum of pigments of various colors), which caused him deafness and personality alteration. At first his illness hindered him in all activities and was the cause of a deep depression; nightmare figures populated his paintings when he began to paint again.
The depression that afflicted Michelangelo (1475-1564) was of psychic origin. In painting the face of St. Bartholomew while showing the knife to the Judge, the artist brought a painful self-portrait into the folds of the skin of martyrdom Michelangelo Buonarroti, Particular "Last Judgment" Rome, Sistine Chapel. The perceptual, emotional and expressive systems of other great painters have been, more dramatically, altered by severe mental illnesses, such as schizophrenia and manic-depressive syndrome.
Gruesser et al., (1988) described the abnormal perception of faces as a particular disorder characteristic of schizophrenic patients. The faces observed by these patients could quickly change their expression, assuming more and more the appearance of a monster: the mouth opened highlighting the protruding canines, the nose and eyes became larger, the pupils dilated. Some drawings or paintings reported by patients with schizophrenia highlight this particular characteristic and show, while communicating the suffering and perceptual distortions of this terrible disease, how "madness" can, in some cases, suggest a "brilliant" artistic creativity.
Deformations of the faces, anxious and frightened faces, obsessive expressions seem to reach the limits of pathology in the painter James Ensor (1860-1949). The artist's canvases begin to be populated with bizarre figures until they reach the apotheosis of James Ensor, "Christ's Entry into Brussels" Malibu, Getty Museums overcrowding in what is considered his masterpiece: Christ's Entry into Brussels .
The strange figures in the painting may seem the result of hallucinatory visions but, at the same time, they draw on a supernatural reality; the mask with the rice takes on an ambivalent value because its use allows, through transvestism, to modify what is hidden behind it.

Once again the boundaries of pathology, such as those between "reality" and "hallucination", become blurred and painfully distinguishable.

And then other mad artist like:

The depression of Monet, and De Chirico.
Modigliani's alcoholism,
Rousseau's masochism,
Schiele's pedophile tendencies.
The paranoid critical method of Dalì, exhibitionist and histrionic, who proudly claimed: "The only difference between me and a madman is that I am not mad".

JARED LETO PROTESTS IN ROME

The leader of Thirty Seconds To Mars was in the capital when he found himself in the midst of the clashes of the No Green Pass demonstration. Realizing what was happening, the actor started making videos and posting them on Instagram: “I found myself in the middle of a protest in Italy. Why was Jared Leto in Rome in the demonstration against the Green Pass? He ended up there by chance. The actor and musician is not in fact a protester of the tool to monitor vaccinations and tampons, but he was in Rome for personal reasons and was accidentally involved in street protests. Taken by surprise by the crowd crossing the streets of the capital, Jared Leto told on his Instagram channel.
Why did so many people protest in Rome? Maybe you don't know any of this but our government requires a green pass, which they issue only after vaccination, to go to the food court, the theater, museums, restaurants, bars, the gym, the swimming pool, and many other places. . And who does not have it cannot enter.
You must also have the green pass to work, both in public and private companies.
So if you want to work and you want to do something you have to get vaccinated. Those who do not want to get vaccinated are left without work and without a chance of life.
The government has reduced many people to no longer being able to have a job, to poverty, to despair. And all this no TV shows because the TVs, newspapers and all mass media are corrupt.
Something terrible is happening in Italy that destroys human rights and destroys the freedom of all of us.
It has been years since unions have cared about how workers are treated. For many years, companies have been firing and closing and ttasgeriscobo abroad where people are exploited by paying them less. All this is granted by a corrupt and thieving government. A government made up of rich people who earn a lot of money while the people are now starving. Millions of families without an income and children without a future. Italians are tired of being treated as numbers only. Companies are destructive and do not respect any rules or laws. When there are sentences in court, the managers lie and this is to harm the workers. The workers for the managers are shits.
EVERY PERSON MUST FEEL FREE TO DECIDE FOR HIMSELF AND HIS HEALTH.
EVERY PERSON HAS THE RIGHT TO DECIDE, AS IT IS WRITTEN IN THE CONSTITUTION.
THE PRESENT GOVERNMENT HAS DENIED THE ITALIAN CONSTITUTION AND FOR THIS REASON THE PEOPLE WILL FIGHT TO RECOVER THEIR FREEDOM.

CHILDREN’S FICTION

Someone asks me: “Why don’t you write children’s fiction?” Children’s fiction sells a lot. How come? It is not the children’s fiction writers who are better, but schools simply force parents to buy children’s fiction texts for their pupils. This happens in elementary and middle school, in high school we pass to the classics, because teaching usually involves reading texts of Italian literature up to 900. And therefore everything else is ignored and remains unsold. After the closure of a historic bookshop in Turin, the closure of a historic Venetian publishing house has now been announced. The only surviving bookstores are the ones that sell school books and various stationery for students. Two Feltrinelli stores have closed in Rome. And this is a very bad thing. It means that the giant Amazon is winning the game and that people who say they love books no longer go to bookstores but buy everything online. What can be done?
Writing short stories for children is an ambition of many writers. If you have children or grandchildren, you yourself will surely have read many stories for them and you will have invented others. Indeed, by dint of inventing stories at the request of your children, perhaps it occurred to you that you could write them and turn them into a book. Why not? The sector of children’s literature is constantly growing, because children love to read and because parents are keen to give their children continuous creative stimuli. On the one hand, this means that the market is very competitive, but on the other it means that there is a lot of demand. So, don’t be shy: if you have some compelling stories spinning in your head, if you have invented many stories to make your children fall asleep, or if you simply have a strong creative streak and want to give voice to the child in you. , grab a pen and paper and write your children’s book. Writing a children’s book isn’t easy at all. Who has never read or leafed through a children’s book? Well, turning those pages full of images and often written in very large fonts, many think that writing a children’s book is easy. What does it take to invent a short story that, lined up, takes up a few pages? Then just lay out the text with very large characters, enrich everything with large drawings … et voilà! The children’s book is done. To say it is actually easy, but to do it not so easy, I assure you. Writing a book for children is not easy first of all because children’s imaginations are much richer and more active than ours as adults (fortunately for them and unfortunately for us). Have you ever been assaulted by a barrage of questions from a child? Children are curious, they want to know, they ask spontaneously, but if they don’t receive the answers they expect they are unhappy. So when they read or listen to a story, children need to find all the information in the text to bring their fantasy world to life. Writing books for children and teenagers means being able to think (again) like them.
Writing books for children is therefore not easy because you have to be able to get inside a child’s head and understand what he or she expects to find in a story. But above all, writing children’s stories is not easy because children are not all the same. It’s easy to say childhood! If you want to write a romance novel or a detective novel or any other narrative genre for an adult audience, you will have to ask yourself which characters you want to create, where you want to set the scene and other preparatory questions of this type, but if then your reader will have 20 or 30 years will make little difference. In the world of children’s literature, however, there are many differences depending on the age of the reader. The total length of the story, the linguistic style, the complexity of the sentences, the presence of implications, the linearity or otherwise of the plot, the psychological characteristics of the characters are all elements that must be calibrated according to the target audience. Writing a story for a 3-year-old child, who has his own imagination and who still does not read by himself and who will therefore listen to the story read by an adult, is completely different from writing a story for an 8-year-old boy, than that history if he will read it himself and that he has already developed his own identity and his own role in the peer group.
As you have seen, therefore, writing books for children and teenagers is not as simple as reading them. You need to start with a clear definition of your target audience first. This is actually a piece of advice that applies to anyone who wants to write a book, but if it comes to children’s books, the rule is even more valid, because writing for 5-year-olds is quite another thing compared to writing for kids of 11. If you want to write a children’s book that your (little) readers like and is successful, you have to put yourself not only on their side, but in their shoes. In fact, to write a story for children, it is not enough that the characters are children: the story must be told from the point of view of children and with the language of children. So many times to be creative you have been suggested to “think outside the box”: well, here instead you have to carefully choose a scheme, depending on the age of the readers you want to address, and enter it completely without leaving it. If you want to write a book for 5-year-olds, you have to enter the world of 5-year-olds, understand how they see objects, how they experience emotions, how they deal with new things, what scares them and what reassures them. You have to rekindle the fantasy and wonder that lie dormant somewhere inside you. If you want to write a book for 11-year-olds, you have to enter the world of preteens, speak their language, see the world with their eyes, starting with the world of adults, you have to feel the urge to adventure and independence. You have to ask yourself what you want to do when you grow up, as you did then, and, as then, viscerally believe that you can make your dream come true. This is the hardest part for those who write children’s stories, not so much inventing plots and characters. But precisely this total identification with the world of your readers, the necessary rediscovery of the child in you, is the most compelling and rewarding part of writing books for children and teenagers.

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