Life, they say, is a bitch and then you die. But before you do, it always has a few good surprises in store. For me, there is a special friend I met some 15 years ago and whose company I have been enjoying ever since: Eugenio Alberti Schatz, a Russian-Italian bespectacled ad (gentle)man and artisan of writing. This post is just a small attempt to express my gratitude for his intellectual generosity and his continual inspiration.
Listing all the projects Eugenio has been involved in would be definitely too long – from literary translation to book authoring, from filmmaking to transcontinental travelling. Somewhere on the web there’s a curriculum vitae in italian. More importantly, on the web there’s also his über-highbrow short stories website whose title, Øspite ambiguo (“The Ambiguous Guest” ), is somehow inspired by Nathaniel Hawthorne (?). In the past I’ve occasionally contributed a couple of texts, like the Italian translation of my Marinetti: l’accident à la mode (2005, republished in French on February 2009 in this post of Bodyspacesociety.eu).
More recently, he’s been working (along with Italian artist Marco Vaglieri) on a peculiar anthology of pre-postumous epitaphs called Meglio qui che in riunione (“Better off here than in a meeting”, where “here” obviously refers to the afterlife). The book was issued by Rizzoli on November 1st 2009 – the “Day of the Death”. Italian writers (Umberto Eco), art critics (Achille Bonito Oliva), morally questionable politicians (Giulio Andreotti), musicians (Rocco Tanica) – and sociologists like myself – are among those who were invited to take part into this sort of “Spaghetti Spoon River”.
It was a pleasure and an honour to be in the number of “those who are about to die”: not everybody’s given the opportunity to write his own epitaph. (The only creepy part was when I had to sign the release form yielding the rights to exploit it commercially to the Italian publisher – but, hey, what do you wanna do? I don’t always manage to put every bit of what I write under Creative Commons license).