Matilda. Luca Paci

They said God is dead, but I’m alive. I can still breathe see eat pray piss, I’m no dead body.
Last week this man came, fairly long hair thick glasses well dressed and sat stayed there for a minute or a year I don’t remember.
That’s my problem, I don’t retain information everything comes and goes up down above beneath beyond yonder (!) who uses yonder anymore.
And I’m less than a traffic light I don’t give off colors or noise I just sit like this chap in front of me trying to be smart with his briefcase who the fuck he thinks he is with that phony smile and his professional breath of minty fresh something.
I bet he gets a lot of money just for sitting here and … yes he’s ready to say something I guess but no is rummaging in his brief case again. Soooo….
So I go. Pause. It could be minutes it could be years I’m growing nervous and didn’t have my pudding last night. A fucking yogurt instead – you’re overweight Matilda, crazy nurse she puts her watch on the front pocket of the shirt and she smells of rotten cheese if I may say. I left the dinner in the oven and enzo is alone and peppiniello is alone too. I told the nurse but she won’t understand she keeps on talking I want to eat and she talks I want to go out and she wants me to stay.
I’m wearing my wig now it’s a blond wig I look like a Hollywood star but I lost my earrings they were there by the bedside table someone must have stolen them I told the nurse and she smiled nobody steals anything here Matilda is it a fucking church and I saw people stealing candle holders in the church they kneeled pretending to pray and they run away with takings. But I don’t care I could kill them almighty as I am I leave them in peace instead.
A man who’s like enzo visited me yesterday morning, good try I was almost taken in and I went along for a while then I got bored and I started to yellow at him and he got angry and pretended to be upset and began to cry and I knew he was faking the more I shouted the more he cried and then the nurse came asking whether everything was all right her plum face made me angrier and then all I remember is a cold bed me trying to reach my wig and my earrings.
Enzo works like a dog from morning to night and I wait for him killing time, watching TV, doing my job, ironing, preparing supper scrambled eggs he likes, we don’t talk too much but I can read his thoughts and I know what he wants well before he speaks.
I decide and I am. I can be this old battered chair in front of me or this doctor examining my reactions or that neon light sir the one over there, or that cigarette end left by the social worker. Everything and nothing doesn’t matter really. Any kind of shape or voice or wind sitting on the branch like a magpie look at me pa look ma uardame. Always me close to pa, the dearest, my sister is jealous I don’t know where she is now what she does I don’t know leave me alone. Watch me coming down the tree watch me pa! Sit down quiet Matilda, I’m not your fucking dog you know, and I can yellow ahhhhh! There is just a bed in this room, white room.
I prepare food for peppiniello but he never eats, he lives on air that child, always outside playing games often he comes in while I’m working and he seats quiet like me with my ma. I switch on the TV he likes cartoons we seat together talk sometimes we shout cause the TV is loud. My son is bello he doesn’t cry doesn’t eat but I prepare a lot of food for him. Too much food here enzo goes we are two and you cook for hundreds. He doesn’t count the creature he doesn’t talk to him like my father with giuseppe.
The neighbour came once who are you talking to can you turn down the volume.
He’s a pimp that man I can tell it from the way he looks and the curtains in his house are always drawn he seems afraid of light, not even in sunny days he opens them always dark down there what he does there I wonder. The fringe stuck on his forehead always smells of garlic he spies me watch me on TV but he doesn’t fool me with his subliminal messages. How do you feel what does he tell you Matilda why are you softening your voice you think I’m mad don’t you, come on don’t play with me. I’m shouting now he framed me any word I think and say everybody thinks I’m mad was the virgin Mary mad when she said the son of God was in her womb was she mad when the angel lifted her and showed the colours of the summer from the heights of the sky did Josef believe her then or did he only pretend? Enzo entered the room in silent sat on the sofa and changed channel he looked at me waiting for something. His eyes are the same as they were forty years ago fierce and beautiful but his aquiline nose has now become a hook and his hands those of an ogre. I was fifteen when took me behind the shed past the field of the olive trees he knew he had to take by force if he wanted to flee with me. My sister was combing her hair at the window and she saw everything cause I saw her putting her hand on her mouth and running when she realized she was looking and enzo was on me and it was a mixture of disgust an pain then my belly warmed and I felt better and I watched the belt and his Sunday trousers covered in mud.
I never throw food away, it’s a sin, I leave it for a week or two sometimes a month and I eat it myself because peppiniello doesn’t eat he’s choosy like my brother that son of mine. I don’t tell enzo I eat the food I keep it in the store and after a week or a month, when I remember I have it. It stinks and has little animals but I love my child and I’m good mum. I open the cupboard and I stuff my face, I want to get sick sometimes but a mum has to sacrifice herself for her beloved. Didn’t Mary did the same?
Enzo had just married me and got free tickets to work here, they need a lot of workers here, they pay for everything, for the house and the garden and the view on the valley and the chimney and the smoke that at times cover the sky like a thick fog. I can stay in the garden and plant flowers and vegetables when it doesn’t rain I see the fumes of the factories here and the workers at times.
Peppiniello does not exist the doctor said you are imagining it you can’t have children and I get upset I want enzo but he looks away and I’m sure now he’s an impostor cause he doesn’t understand Neapolitan or Italian.


31 thoughts on “Matilda. Luca Paci

  1. Matilda…Matilda! I love this little piece of prose. I too, had the pleasure to read this before, and liked it a lot. Congrats Luca…will stop by for a more insightful comment when the sun sets in Glasgow…..

  2. Bravo! E’ molto ben scritta.
    Questa e’ una “miniatura” alla Hemnigway.
    Ci sono molti punti da apprezzare.
    Ritrovo forti influenze alla Gertrude Stein: Three Lives, “Melanctha”, il racconto, and the stream of consciousness…ma bravo, anzi bravissimo! dovresti pubblicare questa roba.

  3. Three Lives (1909) was Gertrude Stein’s first published work. The book is separated into three stories, “The Good Anna,” “Melanctha,” and “The Gentle Lena.”

    The three stories are independent of each other, but all are set in the fictional town of Bridgeport.

  4. Luca – As I wrote in asking you if this was a ‘transcription’, it strikes the reader as a strange, even horrifying encounter with madness (whether or not it is re-imagined or not, which, no doubt, it is …) … Madness stalks itself … What also strikes the reader is the brutality of the exposition — the style … It is a merciless rendition into language of a merciless thing that plagues Humanity, not merely this poor woman (who may be more sane in her state than nominally sane people …) … GK …

  5. Thanks a lot for your very sympathetic comments William and Gavin.Very difficult to trans-scribe things for those, like us, who have the cheek to write..
    Hemingway? Maybe Fitzgerald who notoriously and secretly taped people at dinner parties ..
    Matilda stays with me as tangible example of ‘unruffled wisdom’. The stillness of her manic mind would have made jealous a Buddhist monk.

  6. Yes, it feels both like a transcription and something carefully worked. Stillness, even qualified by manic, is not a term I would apply though. It’s a reastless, questing, curious mind. The clash between the two ‘realities’ is very well done. To add to Will’s list, I’d suggest Virginia Woolf’s devastating account of madness (her own?) in Mrs Dalloway.

  7. restlesness has always fascinated me. Madness is indeed a a kind of restlesness ( irrequietezza in Italian) or maybe THE Irrequietezza par excellence..

  8. Thanks for rem inding me about FS Fitzgerald taping people. I’ve often thought of doing it myself, especially now that digital dictaphones are about as big as a matchbox.Dangrous territory, though, alas.

  9. There is a brutality in the non-transcription that hides in/behind the matter-of-fact manner of its presentation … Is this the inalienable right of the writer at work? Or, is it what I actually suspect — i.e., a mirroring of the brutal reality that the Real might represent when un-mediated? ‘Matilda’ is wise beyond words because she sees and knows how things are constructed; and as victim of this, she also seems witness to that brutality … As ‘author’, Luca had several choices and chose the one that relays this brutality most directly … As for taping conversations — we have an inborn tape recorder that records what is said as well as what is NOT said … What is not said cannot be recorded by a tape recorder (digital or otherwise) … That said, it is highly suspect terrain to secretly record such things as pass casually across our radar … Or, it is, for me, a premeditated ‘crime’ against civility itself and can only be excused by someone doing/conducting ‘research’ and/or espionage for a greater cause … Is a novel a greater cause? … GK …

  10. True Gavin, mental alienation brings one to uncharted territories & blank spaces, silences are essential to the text/conversation (from Mallarme’ to Blanchot passing through Lacan). My ‘choice’, I guess, was dictated by the situation. The site was a madhouse with all the (irr)rational signes of confinement (padded walls electro-shock, nurses wearing a wristwatch on the front pocket of her white shirts) . The situation required rawness..

  11. A novel is a much greater cause than that for which most espionage is conducted. Yes, rawness is required in this context. Did Luca actually record the piece? If so, his function as a translator excuses the intrusion. The translator’s function is to present the words of the patient to the people who wish to observe her. So, the translator becomes a mediator between the external signs of the internal reality of the object and the collective realities of the subjective readers. Much like a piece of art.
    When we demand authenticity from an artwork we demand exactly this relationship. We want the artist to ‘reveal’ the truth about him/herself or characters he/she depicts – the objects of his memory/fiction. We prefer our writers to have ‘lived’ the book. Suffering is more authentic if described by sufferers.
    In this sense we demand that writers/artists exploit their own and other’s sufferings. Taping conversations is much the same as photographing our friends or strangers, or writing about their lives even in a fictionalised form. the act of taping, because it is mechanical, is what we find odious.

  12. As a matter of fact I didn’t tape a word in a technical sense- my mind taped it…
    However, I’ve always been fascinated by ‘automatic writing’ which requires the withdrawal of the writer’s ego. Joyce & Bourroughs, I guess.

  13. Thanks for the clarification, Luca. Your alibi is accepted! However, the question arose in relation to Fitzgerald. And i confessed to having had a desire to tape conversations – although my espionage fantasies tend to focus on conversations overheard in buses when I had no pen or notebook handy.

  14. Bill,
    I think you should describe a bit our long attempt of transalting Q, and of beeing Q1 and q2.

  15. Will is talking about a longish poem that I’ve worked on for years, always in the strange circumstances of a hospital, usually under the influence of various prescription drugs, including very high does of steroids and/or morphine-based painkillers. It relates to the disability I’ve suffered from since childhood – Still’s Disease, a form of Rheumatoid Arthritis – and to the various sem-hallucinatory states caused by the drugs.
    When Will first translated some poems of mine he expressed an interest in Q, and I was delighted, but confidently expected that he would be as puzzled as those critics here in Ireland who noticed it. It is a poem that is easier to understand at a reading.
    To my surprise Will immediately understood it. Over time it turned out that he too suffers from a disability that requires treatment with steroids from time to time. We began, in our correspondence over the poem, to call each other Q1 (me) and Q2(Will).
    We’ve been working on this poem for a long time now, and Will tells me it is ready, but cunningly he hasn’t sent me the final version yet! Non vedo l’ora.

    For me the process has been a fascinating one. I’ve enjoyed the process of negotation and the attempt to find our way to equivalents to my bizarre experiences and colloquialisms. Maybe Will would like to say something in addition to that.

  16. Just something that came to my mind while trying to keep track with your debate…there is an Australian popular song called ‘Waltzing Matilda’, where this means roaming restlessly though the bush…of course, it ends quite sadly (as most popular ballads do), you can enjoy it here:
    love to all s.

  17. As Bill, said I was intrigued by Q. I was wondering who Q was? just to discover that Q was myself, our disease and pain since childood. Like Bill have been living since childood with steroids/cortisone to cure my eczema and allergies “costituzionali”, a nice word to say DNA based or that your disease is born with you, is in you. You are your disease and cannot escape. This also invoved others related problems with the “psiche” and problems “comportamentali”. And allucinations have been part of my life too.
    if Bill agree we could publish the poem on rizoma!?

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