Sotto la Mole 1916-1920

Antonio Gramsci

CAPODANNO

Ogni mattino, quando mi risveglio ancora sotto la cappa dei cielo, sento che per me è capodanno.

Perciò odio questi capodanni a scadenza fissa che fanno della vita e dello spirito umano un’azienda commerciale col suo bravo consuntivo, e il suo bilancio e il preventivo per la nuova gestione. Essi fanno perdere il senso della continuità della vita e dello spirito. Si finisce per credere sul serio che tra anno e anno ci sia una soluzione di continuità e che incominci una novella istoria, e si fanno propositi e ci si pente degli spropositi, ecc. ecc. È un torto in genere delle date.

Dicono che la cronologia è l’ossatura della storia; e si può ammettere. Ma bisogna anche ammettere che ci sono quattro o cinque date fondamentali, che ogni persona per bene conserva conficcate nel cervello, che hanno giocato dei brutti tiri alla storia. Sono anch’essi capodanni. Il capodanno della storia romana, o del Medioevo, o dell’età moderna. E sono diventati cosí invadenti e cosí fossilizzanti che ci sorprendiamo noi stessi a pensare talvolta che la vita in Italia sia incominciata nel 752, e che il 1490 o il 1192 siano come montagne che l’umanità ha valicato di colpo ritrovandosi in un nuovo mondo, entrando in una nuova vita. Cosí la data diventa un ingombro, un parapetto che impedisce di vedere che la storia continua a svolgersi con la stessa linea fondamentale immutata, senza bruschi arresti, come quando al cinematografo si strappa la film e si ha un intervallo di luce abbarbagliante.

Perciò odio il capodanno. Voglio che ogni mattino sia per me un capodanno. Ogni giorno voglio fare i conti con me stesso, e rinnovarmi ogni giorno. Nessun giorno preventivato per il riposo. Le soste me le scelgo da me, quando mi sento ubriaco di vita intensa e voglio fare un tuffo nell’animalità per ritrarne nuovo vigore. Nessun travettismo spirituale. Ogni ora della mia vita vorrei fosse nuova, pur riallacciandosi a quelle trascorse. Nessun giorno di tripudio a rime obbligate collettive, da spartire con tutti gli estranei che non mi interessano. Perché hanno tripudiato i nonni dei nostri nonni ecc., dovremmo anche noi sentire il bisogno del tripudio. Tutto ciò stomaca.

Aspetto il socialismo anche per questa ragione. Perché scaraventerà nell’immondezzaio tutte queste date che ormai non hanno piú nessuna risonanza nel nostro spirito e, se ne creerà delle altre, saranno almeno le nostre, e non quelle che dobbiamo accettare senza beneficio d’inventario dai nostri sciocchissimi antenati.

(1° gennaio 1916)

Under the weight 1916-1920

Antonio Gramsci

NEW YEAR’S DAY

Every morning, when I wake up again under the vault of the sky, it feels like a new year to me.

That’s why I hate these fixed-term New Years that end up turning life and the human spirit into a sort of business with a final statement and a balance sheet and a budget for the up-and-coming management. It makes us lose all sense of continuity, both in life and in spirit. We end up actually believing that there is an interval between one year to the next, and that a new life is about to begin; and we make resolutions, and regret our past mistakes etc., etc.. In general, that’s what’s wrong with dates.

They say that chronology is the backbone of history; and I admit it is. But we must also admit that there are only four or five fundamental dates that anyone actually has stuck in their head, dates that have marked history. They, too, are New Years. The new years of Roman history, or of the Middle Ages, or of modern times. And they have become so overwhelming and so fossilizing that sometimes we are shocked when we find ourselves thinking that life in Italy started in 752, and that 1490 or 1192 are like mountains that humanity crossed in an instant to find itself in a new world, in a new life. So the date becomes an obstacle, a wall that stops us from seeing that history actually unravels along the same, fundamental, unchanged line, with no sudden stops, like when the reel of film breaks at the cinema, and there is an interval of blinding light.

That’s why I hate New Year’s Day. I would like every morning to be a new year. I want to come to terms with who I am every day, and innovate myself every day. No scheduled periods of rest. I want to choose my breaks myself, when I am drunk with frenetic activity and want to draw on my animality to regain strength. No spiritual *’travettism’. I would like every hour of my life to be a new one, and yet in continuity with the preceding hours. No festivities played in collective compulsory rhythm, to be shared with total strangers I could care less about. We don’t have to be festive just because our grandfathers’ grandfathers, etc. were. It is sickening.

I look forward to socialism for this reason also. It will throw all these dates into the trash, all the dates which no longer make an impression on our spirit and, even if we invented new ones, at least they would be ours, and not the ones we are expected to accept without reservation from our extremely foolish ancestors.

(January 1, 1916)

Translation by ©Matilda Colarossi

Antonio Gramsci, (1891, Sardinia – 1937, Rome), was an intellectual and politician, and the founder of the Italian Communist Party. The party was outlawed by Mussolini, and Gramsci was arrested and imprisoned. At his trial the fascist prosecutor argued, “We must stop his brain from working for 20 years.”

*Travettismo (which I translate with the word travettism): This term was coined to remember the protagonist of the film of that same period, by Vittorio Bersezio, “Le miserie ‘d Monsù Travet”. The protagonist, in fact, is a grey, boring little man, mistreated by all, who is always waiting to receive recognition for his work, a recognition that will never come.

Many of his propositions became a fundamental part of Western Marxist thought and influenced the post-World War II strategies of communist parties in the West.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

One thought on “Antonio Gramsci on New Year’s

  1. Reblogged this on parallel texts: words reflected and commented:

    “…That’s why I hate new year’s. I want every morning to be new year’s for me. Every day, I want to come to terms with who I am, and renew who I am every day. No scheduled holidays. I want to choose my holidays myself, when I feel drunk with intense activity, and I want to delve into my wild side to find new strength. No spiritual time-serving. I wish that every hour of my life were new, yet drawn on those that have preceded it. No festivities in collective compulsory rhythm, to share with strangers I couldn’t care less about. We don’t have to be festive just because our grandfathers’ grandfathers, etc. were. It sickens.”

    Like

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