A tribute to weakness. Yes, these lines are meant to be a praise of what we are most ashamed of: our fragility. The pandemic every day shows us how our belief of being eternal and indestructible is a foolish illusion. We believed we were invincible, we pay motivational courses that teach us that “you’ll make it”. They teach us that we must be ashamed of the tear we shed when faced with pain or defeat.
But the reality is that sooner or later “you won’t make it.” And that your greatest wealth lies precisely in that tear you will shed.
In art and literature we find the right solution to the discouragement that can come when beliefs crumble before us. There is a beautiful book by Alessandro D’Avenia “The art of being fragile: How Leopardi can save your life” which tells how in the words of the great poet of Recanati many answers can be found.
But we can also read the Odyssey to find a similar answer. Homer waits 5 songs before presenting Odysseus. And how does this legendary figure, this great warrior, this great hero returned from the mythological Trojan war is presented? Calypso finds him on the shore, “his eyes were never dry of tears, and his sweet life was ebbing away, as he longed mournfully for his return”.
We would have expected him with a sword in his hand, his chest covered with the blood of his enemies. Instead the great hero cries and pines for his pain, for the lack of his affections.
On the other hand, it will not be a coincidence that one of the most interesting events that the visual arts have immortalized is that of David and Goliath. The little son of Jesse, who grazed the sheep. But who manages to kill the Philistine giant Goliath only with a slinger and some smooth stones.
The David of Donatello, the David of Michelangelo, those of Caravaggio …
Artists have always known that the secret lies in fragility. And that’s why they too praised weakness.
Featured image by Janko Ferlič on Unsplash