di Antonio Devicienti. Via Lepsius



Un mio (temerario) omaggio a John Berger e a Baruch Spinoza, versi che direttamente scaturiscono dalla pagina di Berger, che nutrendosene pretendono di “tradurla”:


(da John Berger, Bento’s Sketchbook, Verso, London/New York 2011, pp. 5 e 6) 


The philosopher Baruch Spinoza (1632-1677) – generally known as Benedict (or Bento) de Spinoza – earnt his living as a lensgrinder and spent the most intense years of his short life writing On the improvement of the Understanding and the Ethics, both of which were only published posthumously. We know from other peoples’ souvenirs and memories of the philosopher that he also drew. He enjoyed drawing. He carried a sketchbook around with him. After his sudden death – perhaps from silicosis, a consequence of his grinding lenses – his friends rescued letters, manuscripts, notes, but apparently didn’t find a sketchbook. Or, if they did, it later got lost. 

For years now, I have imagined a sketchbook with his drawings in it being found. I didn’t know what I hoped to find in it. Drawings of what? Drawn in what kind of manner? De Hooch, Vermeer, Jan Steen, Gerard Dou were his contemporaries. For a while in Amsterdam he lived a few hundred metres away from Rembrandt, who was twenty-six years his elder. Biographers suggest the two probably met. As a draughtsmann Spinoza would have been an amateur. I wasn’t expecting great drawings in the sketchbook, were it to be found. I simply wanted to reread some of his words, some of his startling propositions as a philosopher, whilst at the same time being able to look at things he had observed with his own eyes.

The last year a Polish printer, who is a friend of mine living in Bavaria, gave me a virgin sketchbook, covered with suede leather, the colour of skin. And I heard myself saying: This is Bento’s!

I began to make drawings prompted by something asking to be drawn.

As time goes by, however, the two of us – Bento and I – become less distinct. Within the act of looking, the act of questioning with our eyes, we become somewhat interchangeable. And this happens, I guess, because of a shared awareness about where and to what the practice of drawing can lead. 



Un tipografo polacco (amico del mio tipografo bavarese)
mi regalò un taccuino rilegato in pelle:
ancora intonso -
                          è quello di Bento! lo riconobbi subito.

.         .         .         .         .         .         .         .

Bento Spinoza si guadagnò la vita 
molando lenti

dedicò i suoi anni migliori
alle opere filosofiche 
(pubblicate postume).

Amava disegnare.

Gli amici ne salvarono i manoscritti
- ma non il taccuino.

L’aveva portato con sé ovunque
- e sempre ho coltivato il sogno di ritrovarlo.

I disegni
sarebbero quelli delle cose che osservava.

E abitava a pochi passi da Rembrandt 
(certo si sono incontrati).

… disegni, parole,
il suo pensiero, il suo sguardo,
s’accavalla al suo il mio
s’inoltra nel suo il mio
lo legge
e conversa con quello di Vermeer, di De Hooch...

E ora, disegno dopo disegno,
lo sguardo interroga il mondo,
sguardo condiviso,
chi saprà distinguere me da lui?