May 21st, 2006

Dych chi’n siarad Italian?


I take a certain amount of encouragement in life from the fact that I don't speak Italian. Perche? Well, I have tried to learn, a little bit. I spent a few days in Rome years ago wondering why all those street signs with arrows on them all said 'Unica Via', and I can put together some simple phrases like 'No me piacce il calcio', ' Dove c'e musica' and 'Oggi ho fatto qualcosa nostra', but I don't I know if I'd be up to, say, having a short conversation about il tempo meterelogico. So how can my lack of basic Italian conversation skills be a source of encouragement, even pride?

Well, Signor Nessuno, what it is is that I like knowing that it will always be an opzione. If at any point I ever have cause to become really bored or despondent, like per exemplo if we ever get to the point where newspapers stop asking asinine rhetorical questions like 'is it too late to prevent global warming' and start accepting that we really are actually finito nella merda, then at that point I can always invest in a cheap grammar book and a copy of 'La Republica' or whatever the most left-wing daily newspaper is and comenzare (a?) aprendere.

See, it's easy to learn Italian, and it's fun and makes your brain grow. To the size of an Italian's! If I ever get really interested in it I could always go and live there for a while, although one less radical option would be to find an intercambio. Recently I put an ad on the gumtree site 'cause of wanting to practice those few languages in which I can have a short conversation about the weather. Italian wasn't one of them, obviously, which is why it was a bit of a sorpresa to recebere una risposta from una ragazza Italiana. Ma no voglio praticare mi inglese! I protested in reply. Alguni personi sono idioti.

I'd recommend this nozione of Learning Italian as Potential Life TherapyTM to anyone feeling down, bored or even suicida.

If you're ever faced with someone – friend, family, or even someone you work with but don't actually like – who is entertaining thoughts of topping theyselves, just ask 'parle italiano?' If by any chance they answer 'Ma sono italiano!', you could always try, I dunno, 'Dych chi’n siarad Cymraeg?', although that might actually not work in quite the same way. If you're for any reason having this conversation with Berlesconi or Paulo di Canio, just tell them, in all seriousness 'Penso, come amico, que la migliore cosa que le puoi fare è suicidaresi. Stronzo fascista'.

Damien Hirst: "Fuck all there at the end of the day"


A Dead Shark Isn't Art, Stuckism International 2003

In addition to being worth over £100 million, Damien Hirst is, according to today's Observer, the most powerful figure in the art world today. His new work will cost between £8-£10 million to produce, but when it is complete it will be worth a hell of a lot more:

Damien Hirst's work in progress is a small, delicate object: a life-size human skull. Not just any skull, mind, but one cast in platinum and encased entirely in diamonds - some 8,500 in all. It will be the most expensive work of art ever created, costing between £8m and £10m.

'I just want to celebrate life by saying to hell with death,' said the artist, 'What better way of saying that than by taking the ultimate symbol of death and covering it in the ultimate symbol of luxury, desire and decadence? The only part of the original skull that will remain will be the teeth. You need that grotesque element for it to work as a piece of art. God is in the details and all that.'


Of course, diamonds are, for some people, as both Kanye West and Miss Dynamite have been keen to tell us, more than just a symbol of 'luxury, desire and decadence':

In many African countries, including Angola, Sierra Leone and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) diamonds have been, and continue to be linked to terrible human rights abuses either by insurgent groups to fuel conflict and carry out atrocities against innocent civilians or by unscrupulous government who are equally brutal. Collapse )