And on the eighth day he created the book. Stories from the other world by Mauro Giancaspro

from Fiorella Franchini

A book dreams. The book is the only inanimate object that can have dreams and continually wants to be kept alive”wrote Ennio Flaiano and Mauro Giancaspro is well aware that in his decennial activity as library director, in Cosenza, Bari and, above all, at the National team in Naples, he has taken care of vast book collections with which he has cemented a friendship imperishable. From this experience were born stories, pamphlets, praises, little essays and fairy tales that continue to explore the book universe through the point of view of the writer. Therefore, the history of stories, or how books were created, could only come from his erudite pen. “And on the eighth day he created the book”, edited by Francesco D’Amato, narrates the real “genesis” of books. In the worlds of hyperuranium the atoms of books navigate: ideas, ideas, plots that the currents push into the universe and which fall to the earth like rain. If they invest who treasures these atoms, the writer, they are transformed into books. They fall in the countryside, on the mountains, in the deserts, on the sea, on the rivers, and with the evaporation they come back up and rejoin the souls of the books that have not yet fallen and patiently await their turn. When they wet the head or knock on the heart of a human being, they pervade his mind and body, they take possession of him and the unfortunate person feels, as they said a long time ago, “inspired”, through the brain and the hand reproduces in written letters the atoms rained down on him. At the beginning there was only one book and there were scribes to copy them. The monks spread the word and from up there there was strict control of what happened down here, then from the depths of the infernal circles. Lucifer and his cronies thought of widening this use and resorted to Gutenberg: printing spread, prohibited books were disclosed. A great confusion arose, not only due to the multiplication of stories but also due to the innumerable diabolical stratagems implemented to confuse men and destroy the book and the reading. Lucifer, who also possesses an extensive library, knows well how dangerous knowledge is for the discernment between good and evil. And yet, Giancaspro tells us, despite the numerous expedients, stories hidden in drawers or in dark caves, men gone astray, books burned, the distractions of television and the thousand inconveniences of writing via the Internet, the atoms of the books survive attempts to cancel and they keep coming to humans. The “story catchers” are everywhere: we find some of them among oral storytellers, bards, storytellers, troubadours, shamans, jesters, street poets, others reach more aware and trained minds. Thus, alongside the great works of Manzoni, Leopardi, Heminguey and Dostovjesky, scientists and philosophers, Mauro Giancaspro tells us about simple characters, capable of instinctively recognizing stories and knowing how to collect them spontaneously to preserve them and tell them even to the humblest , like Pellegrino who waits for the atoms at night under the stars and keeps them in pumpkins to take them out and give them to the children of his village, or Rafà who finds them in old furniture and offers them to his friends in the tavern, or Marinetta who helps lost characters returning to the Hyperuranium and the librarian Occhitinti who speaks to us with books, takes care of them and protects them. A fantastic and lyrical story which, in addition to the author’s inspiration, shows his great culture through quotations and titles and a chapter entirely dedicated to an accurate narrated bibliography. A fairy tale that could not be without its philosophical and satirical moral. If it is difficult to escape this rain of ideas, ideas, characters, stories that rain continuously from the sky and that even the saints in charge of regulating it struggle to keep at bay, what merit do the writers who flaunt an exorbitant pomposity, showing off his own creative talents? The term literally means “breathe on”, the link with the divine breath that creates and gives life is immediately evident. The topic has been a subject of philosophical discussion since the days of Plato and Aristotle. The Greeks believed that a poet was inspired when he fell into ecstasy and was transported into contact with the thoughts of God. This interpretation as a mystical phenomenon is present in many other cultures and they all consider inspiration to be the action of a divine spirit acting and manifests itself through visions or revelations to man. Is it really a gift that suddenly arrives to a lucky chosen genius, who has to do nothing but sit back and wait for this moment, like the protagonists of Mauro Giancaspro’s story? Or is it a path built with study, dedication, many attempts and above all errors, which culminates in the moment of creation? In the Renaissance art was considered a means of knowledge of the world, and as such it could be rationalised, taught and verified; hence the birth of the first Academies. A duality that has worn many artists and seventeenth-century intellectuals separated science and art again, since painting, sculpture, poetry, all the artistic forms which, in their own way, told “stories”, not being subjected to objective and exactness criteria, had to once again relegated to the sphere of subjectivity, fantasy, sentiment and emotion, and sensitivity interpreted as a residue of rational thought, the idea at the basis of all Western culture. We need to get to modern psychoanalysis to humanize inspiration again. But even if from Freud onwards it is seen as a process that takes place within the human psyche, inspiration still remains something mysterious and Mauro Giancaspro’s beautiful fairy tale cloaks it in its supernatural aura, a sort of “genius” , a particular ability of special individuals predisposed to perceive and bring to light the great secret of the world of ideas. A poetic and philosophical reflection that of the author who argues with the arrogance of many intellectuals who complain of the excessive book production and feel they are the custodians of an elective knowledge. Sure, theCreativity and for it the rain of the atoms of books, demands that we stop every now and then, asks for breaks to gather strength, like the sleepless nights of the “story catchers”. Inspiration calls for patience to listen, to cultivate emptiness and nourish silence, to satiate itself with poetry and beauty, it sometimes also means stopping and not doing, like a shaman who listens to the spirits, or a troubadour who collects travellers’ tales. “Every book – wrote Carlos Ruiz Zafon – every volume you see has a soul, the soul of whoever wrote it and the soul of those who have read it, of those who have lived and dreamed thanks to it. Every time a book changes ownership, every time a new gaze touches its pages, its spirit gains strength”. After reading “And on the eighth day he created the book”, we will no longer think of writing and Art as before. Mauro Giancaspro’s fabulous theory confronts us with the vital breath of every story, even those that no one remembers, those lost over time. All of them live up there waiting for the day when they can return to the imagination of a new storyteller and a new reader. “I have always imagined Heaven as a kind of library”wrote Jorge Luis Borges. We buy them, listen to them, look at them, tell them but, in reality, stories in whatever form they materialize, never belong to us and creativity remains a gift that we must know how to make good use of, indeed, to paraphrase Albert Einstein : “The creativity it is contagious. Let’s pass it on.”

And on the eighth day he created the book. Stories from the other world by Mauro Giancaspro –