Rock of Calde – Italian Fable

3 February, 2009 at 14:42 Leave a comment

Jayati Ghosh wrote a piece in the Deccan Chronicle today titled “Economies sinking, but nations focus on corporates”. Well, her observations and statements are history repeating itself and is folklore now but they are good material.

    Maybe, I will tackle them one of those never-to-materialize days but I was mesmerized by the ‘Rock of Calde’ Italian fable told by glassblowing storytellers as recounted by Dario Fo (the Italian playwright, author of the brilliant satirical play ‘Accidental Death of an Anarchist’, through which he won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1997). It goes like this…

    “Many years ago, way up on the crest of that steep cliff that rises from the lake, there was a town called Calde. As it happened, this town was sitting on a loose splinter of rock that slowly, day by day, was sliding down towards the precipice. It was a splendid little town, with a campanile, a fortified tower at the very peak and a cluster of houses, one after the other. It’s a town that once was and now is gone. It disappeared in the 15th century.
    ‘Hey,’ shouted the peasants and fishermen down in the valley below. ‘You’re sliding, you’ll fall down from there’.
    But the cliff dwellers wouldn’t listen to them, they even laughed and made fun of them: ‘You think you’re pretty smart, trying to scare us into running away from our houses and our land so you can grab them instead. But we’re not that stupid’.
    So they continued to prune their vines, sow their fields, marry and make love. They went to mass. They felt the rock slide under their houses but they didn’t think much about it. ‘Just the rock settling. Quite normal,’ they said, reassuring each other.
    The great splinter of rock was about to sink into the lake. ‘Watch out, you’ve got water up to your ankles,’ shouted the people along the shore. ‘Nonsense, that’s just drainage water from the fountains, it’s just a bit humid,’ said the people of the town, and so, slowly but surely, the whole town was swallowed by the lake.
    Gurgle… gurgle… splash… they sink… houses, men, women, two horses, three donkeys… hee haw… gurgle. Undaunted, the priest continues to receive the confession of a nun: ‘Te absolve… animus… santi… gurgle… Aame… guuurgle…’. The tower disappeared, the campanile sank with bells and all: Dong… ding… dop… plock…
    Even today, if you look down into the water from that outcrop that still juts out from the lake, and if in that same moment a thunderstorm breaks out, and if the lightning illuminates the bottom of the lake, you can still see — incredible as it may seem! — the submerged town, with its streets still intact and even the inhabitants themselves, walking around and glibly repeating to themselves: ‘Nothing has happened’. The fish swim back and forth before their eyes, even into their ears. But they just brush them off: ‘Nothing to worry about. It’s just some kind of fish that’s learned to swim in the air’.
    ‘Atchoo!’ ‘God bless you!’ “Thank you… it’s a bit humid today… more than yesterday… but everything’s fine’. They’ve reached rock bottom, but as far as they are concerned, nothing has happened at all”.

      The joy of old folk tales is that they can be used, interpreted and understood in so many ways. So while this old Italian tale still has much to teach us, it is likely that different people will draw from it different meanings.
      For example, this tale could apply to the financial crisis (as Ghosh applies). Or the ignorance of Indian policymakers. Or just about any human walking this planet because you see, no matter what, one just cannot change the opinions of another person. Everyone goes about their stupid little blissful worthless life – like the many billions who have walked this planet and a few more in the coming years.

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      Entry filed under: Economy, Energy, India, Life-Theories, MCe2, News-Media, WebXP.

      Web, Google and Wikipedia Education and Energy in India

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