Text Gian Paolo Serino
The embrace of strangers awakes me at dawn. I see two boys at the end of my room: they greet me. I don’t know how old they are, they have satchels on their backs. I think they must go to school: I still have to make peace with myself. I can’t remember why they’re here. I can’t remember anything: I feel I’m sinking into an infinity of suspense.
My bloodshot eyes see neon sirens that stare at me as if they were the hull of a ship in a storm. I have a strange sense of peace. My heart is anchored to Argos, the dog who waited twenty years for Ulysses to return: as soon as he saw him, dressed in rags, so that he wouldn’t be recognized by the Proci in his own home, Argos dies. The magnificent Odysseus, my constant companion, and many were the men whose cities he saw and whose mind he learned, aye, and many the woes he suffered in his heart upon the sea, seeking to win his own life.
Ulysses, if only you were still known by someone – your Greek name, Odysseus translates as No one. If I had been you, I would have had them untie me, in order to dive with the sirens and lose myself in their song and more. I am No one – so I get up, the room falls onto me like fetal fluid. I made myself a cocoon of my own bitter solitude. I float and breathing through my gills takes me away from my life, bringing me gusts of deranged, sublime disappointment.
I’m the only one who can besiege me. I am more critical of myself than of others. I am only and solely Magnificent. Lorenzo the Magnificent, but there’s also Abdullah al-Barri and Abdullah al-Bahri from my copy of The Thousand and One Nights. Suleiman enclosed the Ifrits in lamps of stamped copper and then threw them into the watery abyss. The first American dictionary is entitled Our Magnificent Bastard Tongue: The Untold History of English.
I’m the only one who can create and destroy, taking that womanly face in my hands and stroking your hair, resting your head on my chest, the sea finally calmed. You’re here. Now. With me. Don’t be afraid. I’m not saying I love you – in its etymon it means I promise you – and I, furious Angelica beloved of an Orlando, I cannot promise you anything, except that you will find me here. It doesn’t matter with whom or where you may be, to whom you will be promising the words that I taught you, brushing your lips with my inky fingers. After me, you will only be able to repeat them. Because every time they are spoken in the voice that has made you a woman, you will look back and I will be there.
You who are reading have understood how a woman is able to wear the most sought after clothes, mantles of dimpled beauty; is able to inhabit the most personalized perfumes as if they were the invisible contact between you and the world; is able to reside amongst the most beautiful make-up, but it will only ever be made up, it’s useless to call them by French names. Every weapon of attack is a weapon of defense. You try to escape me. I put you back behind the wall of your past, that you seek out as a safe harbour to dock at. There are no safe harbours. You can only dock on the open sea. At least for us, we who have experienced weariness and desire without finding the enthusiasm of childhood dreams.
Between the storm and your uncertainties, between the breakers of those questions to which you will never find an answer. You look around. You breathe. You look for something in your bag, as if rummaging through the portable belongings of a walking house could cheer you up. The voice of the bald soprano surrounds the eunuchs in a starry paradise. Look at the stars – you will find me. Where you live, they say that I’m dead – but I dwell in your spaces, the meadows – the wind moves your rebellious hair in a moorland the end of which you cannot see. Do I have to take your hand to make you understand?
For many, too many, only the voice remains. No more body, no more soul, on the edge of their youth. On the brink of how it should have gone. Where are the maestros, the geniuses – where did they go? Where is humanity’s luster? Perhaps they went back to the streets, grumbling in their workshops, igniting themselves with their works, which rid them of their wits. The magnificent writers? With the exception of Arbasino, in Italy, they will all end up being discovered posthumously if we don’t seek them out: Edgardo Franzosini, the true Arbasino if Arbasino were Arbasino. Raymond Isidore e la sua cattedrale – the true story of a man who, over decades, built a cathedral from pieces of scrap: today the cathedral is in Chartres, in the country of Rimbaud’s birth, and is among the beautiful treasures unknown to us, yet among the most visited in France. Mattia Signorini comes to mind, together with Francesco Maino of Cartongesso fame: not a book but a miracle of writing. To be the future without knowing it. In the United States: Tom Wolfe, Don De Lillo, the rediscovered Auster, the new Bret Easton Ellis who left writing to write films such as The Canyons. Ben Lerner is a genius, who will live on for centuries. Well, Mongiardino, beyond good and evil … Who today? Me. Of course– because I believe in a journalism that I didn’t think we would ever see again. I must say that I feel in great shape.
The sirens’ song. On the one hand salt, on the other wax. Leave your past to the frost of memory: a day will come when you will be more alone than you are now. Why are you reading me? Perhaps is someone forcing you? Oh, forgive me, forgive me. I didn’t do it deliberately! Order me to do any penance! I’m so good, I truly have a heart of gold and there are no others like mine. I have no friend who knows how to tell my story. Ah, yes, a nurse! A nurse for the love of art, that just grants her kisses to the dying. As if! Later I will be accused of having set a precedent. I cannot see a girl in tears. Yes, because making a girl cry is more irreparable than marrying her.
The man inside me freed himself in unprecedented violence. I lost myself in the shadow of genius in order to come and look for you. I searched in castoff clothes, I searched for you in the insanity of my nights where there was nothing if not an arm buried deep within me. At a standstill. Candles and ashes. Belts and chastity. Whips and handcuffs. I swallowed penises at the dawn of my non being, I sucked them down to the marrow, no longer of bones but of my blood-soaked brain. I was auctioned off on a television shopping channel in which new sirens, new titans, offered me to noblewomen, obstinate lovers of young flesh and neurons. They trampled on my intelligence with heels of uncommon elegance. Steel, red, blood.
You too can be the magnificent. Clearly not as a mirror from the 1980s – but unique, ingenious, magnificent. The problem is not wanting to be magnificent – how artists and nobles might have been magnificent – making everyone equal, everyone wonderful. The desire to be and the conviction that you are magnificent are the first doors to open in order to be unique, without bar codes. I want a magnificent life. Not like a life out of Vogue. It is the freedom to make magnificent.
What is Beauty? We are born astride our tombs. Me, I am Odysseus. I am No one. The doorbell rings, my children return from school. They hang their backpacks in front of me. I see two boys at the end of my room: they greet me. Their mother is not here. Mum, where are you? Why are you dead? You left us alone with dad. I would like to never correct my mistakes. You are the siren that awakes my dreams at dawn, you made me into a gigolo of anguish who takes a different nightmare to bed every night.
I get up, I get undressed. I’m ready for another day. I go out into the street. I am the magnificent who can only live within the eyes of a woman. You, as Angelica or less furious, are our last real chance to reveal to the world that magnificence still exists. It means forgetting ourselves, taking advantage of ourselves. We leave indelible traces in everyone, as we pass. It is the price of magnificence. We are on the brink of how it should have gone. We are music without a score in an ink ruined by the sound of time. Let’s untie ourselves from the tall mast of Calliope’s ship and hear the sirens, chase after them, lose ourselves in them. Only then will we understand the magnificence of being No one.
Photography and Creative Direction
Editing and Coordination on Set
using ColorfulHair and
Serie Expert by
using Tatouage Couture
by YSL Beauté
estetica Lazzate / Monza
Emanuele De Rossi
Special thanks to
Siki Red Fins
Wake up, it’s spring – take a flower and back to sleep, #Google says. We want to introduce #Izia, the new perfume by #Sisley on the first (actually, second this year) day of #Spring.
All your posts will appear listed with us and #SisleyItalia. #Izia the new fragance by #SisleyItalia, conceived from a childhood memory by Isabelle d’Ornano #IziaStory.
Photography by Alexander Beckoven in The Fashionable Lampoon