Suicide it is a lethal virus that infects its victims prematurely. Who raises his hand against himself walks a path that is immediately familiar: he knows it, cultivates it, pampers it, prepares it. He tries, sometimes. But with delaying tactics, he has to find the trigger, the fateful and undeferrable moment, a date marked on the calendar or a predestined commitment, to be carried out with obsessive attention to detail.
Sylvia Plath knew this, after several unsuccessful attempts, when she decided to put her head in the oven. The same method that a friend of mine chose in the prime of life, with the addition of a macabre detail: her mother had encouraged her to set up a house on her own and she had furnished it, taking an infinite amount of time. When everything was ready, only one element was missing, a red oven, identical to that of Sylvia Plath. Coincidence or chance?
Virginia Woolf she entered without delay in the waters of the Ouse river, filling her pockets with stones, and walking fearlessly, her gaze straight ahead. She had made up her mind and went all the way, not just metaphorically.
The writers knew this well Stig Dagerman (1923-1954) and Guido Morselli (1912-1973), whose existences – in different corners of the world – overlapped for about thirty years, that is the duration of Dagerman’s life, until Stig himself cut the thread of the Fates ahead of time: Morselli doubled his years, And he traced the fatal example at the age of 61. Some strange and singular coincidences between them, especially in the works that reflect them most, almost autobiographical: the premonition of Dagerman contained in that wonderful testamentary book which is Our need for consolation (1952) does the same with the Morsellian Dissipatio HG (written in 1972, released posthumously in 1977), the last narrative bet, before the suicide.
The two had lost their mother early: Dagerman abandoned a few months after birth, raised by fortunately intellectually gifted grandparents. But the grandfather was killed by a fool, and the grandmother did not survive him for long. Left alone, he went back to live with his father, totally inadequate to his very sensitive nature. Morselli had lost his mother (and shortly afterwards the older sister who was his mother) later than Dagerman: at the age of twelve, decisive years for the formation of an awareness of things and of life, on which the father figure he would have had, more than an influence, at least tolerance, indeed, respect. This shared absence of the mother figure made them of neglected children, left alone to build their own inner world, and did not fail to influence their tormented adult loves. Dagerman, who spent a painful childhood, was deeply affected: he developed in fact a spasmodic attention towards children, innocent victims of unhappiness and violenceprotagonists of some of his most poignant books: “Deep are the furrows in the steps of pain, and full of sand and salt” (Burnt child, from which the sentence is taken; Why do children have to obey ?; Kill a child).
It is not surprising that both Swedish and Italian were attracted to writing early on: in their twenties, they cut their teeth by writing newspaper articles, sending correspondence and reports from Germany. Observing and recounting the post-war world, Stig Dagerman embraced a strongly anti-Nazi political position, on the social level he adhered to anarcho-syndicalist movements. Guido Morselli, an agnostic with nagging doubts, vaguely anarchoid himself, an isolationist intellectual, took on the role of a bourgeois conservatism, liberal in the Anglo-Saxon way, with a marked human concern for humble people.
Dying is an artPlath asserted: perhaps yes, there is something personal and peculiar, almost an eloquent style, a recognizable figure, in the fussiness with which at times the method is chosen and the act is put into practice, the gesture is performed the final, almost never a sudden and irrational impulsebut rather a preparatory itinerary of the mind, of the psyche, a progressive, prolonged clash between lucidity and madness, head and heart.
“The only thing that matters to me is what I never get: the assurance that my words have touched the heart of the world,” wrote Stig Dagerman in 1952. Two years later, just thirty-one, he locked himself in his car to breathe the exhaust gases. Previous attempts, perhaps uncertain, ineffective, had failed. When he decided to disappear, he was a talented young man, at the height of a perhaps hated success, with an excellent poetic, literary, theatrical, cinematographic production, but obviously dissatisfied or devoured by the doubt of not being able to keep up to expectations. Unlike the case of Morselli, who did not touch glory: capable of evaluating the quality of his works, which he continued to propose to publishers with reiterated obstinacy, almost masochistic, moving, changing the register of his stories every time, as versatile and multifaceted as Dagerman , he was never given the exhilarating sensation of impressing the reader. An adverse fate or the misfortune of not being understood because it was too original, mocked him, consecrating him entirely post mortem.
It is said that nature can sometimes constitute a consolation to disappointments, and the two writers, restless, refractory to humans, even phobanthropic (Morselli), tried it, following the example of Thoreau who at least “had the Walden forest”, as he recognized Dagerman: “I can walk on the beach and suddenly hear the frightening challenge of eternity to my existence in the incessant movement of the sea and in the unstoppable flight of the wind. So what is time if not a consolation because nothing human can be perennial? ” (Our need for consolationitalics ours).
Even Morselli, who loved the game of parenthesizing the existence of his fellow men imagining himself as the only thinker in a deserted reality, he dreamed of a pulsating nature with himself and for himself alone: ”I would get up from among the grass and embrace the larches, which I also happened to do as a boy and with the same precise purpose: to let their vital force penetrate me”. In the crazy challenge to time, to eternity, told in Dissipatio HG, a surreal hypothesis transforms suicide into the disappearance of mankind: «The fabulous night between 1st and 2nd June. That night, I was determined, I would kill myself. Because. For the prevalence of the negative over the positive“. Isn’t suicide a withdrawal from the world, or making it empty of human beings, condemning oneself to perennial loneliness? Or on the contrary, is it not of the dead, of the shadow of the disappeared, the restless wandering among humans without being able to have any real contact with them anymore? Guido Morselli shot himself with a revolver, the famous “girl with the black eye”, at the end of the summer, just when he received copies of Dissipatio, his last completed work, returned to the sender. After Our need for consolationDagerman wrote little else.
The prevalence of the negative over the positive, the impossibility of touching the hearts of men with the Word: for Guido Morselli as for Stig Dagerman there was no possible consolation. «Burning hearts – wrote Dagerman – Who cares more about hearts now? And the poets? ” (The politics of the impossible, 1943). Their tragic and useless death, like the one suffered, not sought, of Albert Camus / Sisyphus, dear to both of them for the indomitable tension of revolt against existence, has made their Scripture eternal, ancient dream of immortality. If in both cases it was the word that betrayed them, the Word that hasn’t touched the heart of the world, it is inevitable to think what consolation it is for us – now – to read and reread the works of these two giants of the twentieth century, an antidote to today’s mediocrity. It is with such classics that it is worth feeding our souls.
Cover – Andreea Popa via Unsplash
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