Grateful to Zerocalcare, since the Dolce Stil Novo there hasn’t been a similar debate on language

It was not since the time of the Dolce Stil Novo that there has been no such debate on the language. Also for this we must be grateful to Zerocalcare and its “Strappare along the edges”, Netflix series today in first place in Italy and most commented on on the supergreenpass social networks. Too bad that almost everything revolves around one thing: the pervasive use of Roman dialect. Which, for the uninitiated, is in any case and always the linguistic and psychological figure of Zerocalcare, understood as an author & character, who in fact doubles himself, because more than dubbing his hasty, imperfect, accelerated and anxious voice is part essential of the story and its rhythm. A sort of sound equivalent to his graphic novels, which are more or less all immersed in Zero’s unconsciousness and constitute one of the most dazzling Italian publishing successes, with over a million copies sold and the rocky love of an audience. affectionate that goes far beyond the audience of comic book lovers (if he were a writer with a million copies, however, the tone of the debate and the deference of the media would be very different …).

From whom “boh, that dialect is not understood” to whom “eh, but Gadda”, to whom “enough with the Roman dialect, enough with these Romans, who believe themselves, still the Empire?” more or less we have heard all of them, concluding that, in large part, the problem of those who criticize (even very acidly) is not with the Roman but with the zerocalcaresco. They say that his language is “arrogant and self-referential”, as well as obscure, because it is that narrative that sounds like this to them. Too bad that it is precisely that, the absolute merit of the art of Zerocalcare: it makes you enter its flow, which mixes unconsciousness consciousness, indeed various types of consciousness, as demonstrated by the armadillo, the inverted Superium, the funniest antigrillo speaker in circulation (in the series he is voiced by Valerio Mastandrea, which makes his soft and insinuating nature very well). The conscience of Zerocalcare, the pain in the ass cricket is actually him, it is his thousand doubts, his neuroses, his difficulty in dealing with others, his feeling out of place in any place, his programmatic maladjustment (which is not , or it is not alone, a generational thing: I could be his mother – hello colleague Lady Cocca – but I recognize myself perfectly), his self-irony bordering on self-harm, being curiously self-centered and empathetic at the same time. And everything else – the friends, the neighborhood and the spaceship-house, the micro or macro-vendors, whether it’s the choice of a pizza on the menu or the zombie invasion of the capital – revolves around him, in the most coherent and perfect way. autofiction operation of current literature (which also on autofiction, but much less amusing, “s’ingarella proprio”).

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He speaks as he is, Zerocalcare (which is not Michele Rech’s name but his narrative project), torrential, Romanesque, without borders, even if he seems to feel good (ok, well is a big word) only confined in his house-spacecraft of the its nest-quarter of Rebibbia. And this, curiously, is another of the things that are stigmatized by social (but not only social) detractors, when it is one of the most powerful features of its construction, to which the language is perfectly functional. It is well known that language is the rhythm and profound syntax of the narrative, reveals its metaphysics. The same thing as Gomorrah: the most impenetrable Neapolitan dialect was not chosen just to be plausible and not to grant any simplification to the viewer (coherently with the whole system of the operation), but also to immerse oneself in the deep flow of that world, the whose contracted or drawn speech is a kind of breath. The subtitles may not make you miss any words, but they don’t really give you back the sense of things.

Finally, in Zerocalcare it is that alternation of acid and poetic – very rapid, sometimes instantaneous, and all the more volatile in an animated sequence – that conquers, the more adolescent self-harm (which is carried throughout life, sometimes) and the momentum, self-reported neurosis and sensitivity to the great injustices of the world (to say, one who lives on a sofa in Rebibbia then went as far as Kobane, to tell us about the tragic beauty of a utopia), all in the usual marvelous chaos of references pop, metaphors, epithets, personifications, high, low and medium quotes (you could make a whole textbook of rhetoric out of it, and it would become an irresistible subject for any student).

So learn it, the zerocalcaresco. As the armadillo would say, “statece”.

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