with a carol by Francesco Urbano Ragazzi.
A solo exhibition by Invernomuto.
Opening reception: 13.12.2023, h. 18-21.
Pinksummer Contemporary Art
Palazzo Ducale, cortile maggiore, Genova.
A carol by Francesco Urbano Ragazzi
I was alive, to begin with. There is no doubt whatsoever about that. But the reason I knew it, that I was alive, was sadly unpleasant. For the past few months, every day around six o’clock in the evening, my eyes began to water – both copiously and as soon as the sun set behind the buildings. Drops that I perceived to be elastic and somewhat viscous would descend unceasingly to the sides of my nose, rest on my lips, descend again to the tip of my chin, in the center of which they would accumulate. And from there, they would then fall, finally, beyond the surface of my skin.
Since every day that unstoppable dripping lasted for more than a few hours, at first, I tried to stop it by dabbing the end of the tear ducts with a handkerchief. But then my hand began to get sore; gradually, I grew tired of exerting that slight pressure, and I was forced, in spite of myself, to give up. I would then let the rivulet of tears flow as it came, trying to lick up with my tongue as many drops as I could, occasionally wiping away the many that escaped with the sleeve of my sweater.
The tearing was not painless. Already within the first few minutes of that weeping for no reason, my bulbs began to inflame, giving me an uncomfortable tingling sensation that grew in intensity as time passed. It was as if the surface of my eyes gradually became a large lake into which endless lighted appliances fell.
Here was the painful proof of my existence! It was enough for a Cartesio a little well skilled in ophthalmology to prove it. From the time it began at six o’clock in the evening until it ended many hours later, all the time I was thinking and rethinking that tearing. I was tearing, and therefore I was alive; I was alive as long as I was tearing. Under those conditions, I could only think of myself incessantly.
As always happened when the inexplicable phenomenon occurred again, that evening I was sitting in front of the computer doing some unimportant work. I then began, once again, a meditation exercise that granted me some peace, making me forget my tearful ego. It had now become a ritual. The exercise was not complicated nor had I been taught. Rather, I was instinctively doing what so many human beings do when they want to lose track of time and of themselves. I used to open Chrome full screen on my computer monitor and start searching, and searching, and searching.
After many hours, the research would lead me to beat unimaginable territories, but the starting point was more or less always the same: I would randomly type words corresponding to the symptoms I felt I had and read the results on the search engine, jumping from page to page at an increasingly impatient rhythm. I don’t know whether due to too much concentration or too much distraction, but within minutes I no longer sensed that I had a body, and with it those two wet, burning eyes. Without realizing it, I became nothing; the world around me became nothing, while the information I accumulated ended up coinciding with the world, with everything.
The routine was more or less the same. What had changed, as the days passed, was only my writing style. In the early days, I would randomly type rather generic headwords: tearing, eye pain, eye disease. Then the descriptions had become more precise: persistent tearing with burning eyes. Verbose: unstoppable tearing with concentrated inflammation on the perimeter of both eyeballs, sporadic telangiectasias. Almost poetic or shamelessly hermetic: watery eyes flare up in the evening. All the way back to the initial simplicity but with some pro-searcher tricks: persistent “tearing” + “inflammation” + “eyes” + related:humanitas.it. And so I had ended up believing myself to be a discreet expert on at least twenty disorders and malformations, which, however, never coincided, for one reason or another, with what I was suffering from.
Conjunctivitis (viral, bacterial, or allergic), blepharitis, keratitis, retinal detachment, glaucoma, uveitis, Sjögren’s syndrome, orbital cellulitis, hay fever, herpes, blepharospasm, ocular surface disorders, corneal chondropathy, ocular or palpebral tumors, pterygium, trigeminal neuralgia, dry eye syndrome. I knew all about these topics, but this all was of no use at all. I had switched from consulting popular portals such as my-personaltrainer.it, medicitalia.it, farmacoecura.it, starbene.it, to reading pages devoted to homeopathy, phytotherapy, yoga, and Ayurveda; from there, to frequenting forums whose scattered and paranoid users proposed risky natural remedies or the massive use of hallucinogens. Having arrived at the fiftieth page of results offered by the search engine, I no longer distinguished the plausible from the false. The information I was foraging for blended into a single plane of unreality that suspended my judgment. By searching, I was finding everything except the solution I was looking for.
Going to a doctor was out of the question. Not because I was afraid of facing a potential inauspicious diagnosis, but because of laziness or a strange form of forgetfulness. During the day, when the clinics were open, my eyes returned to normal. They stayed in place without bothering me, as if they disappeared from my sight. I, therefore, forgot the urgency of seeing a doctor until the effluvium started again at the first darkness of the evening.
The meditation exercise I practiced in front of the computer was very effective, but it caused a rather predictable side effect. Involving a fair amount of eye strain, the many hours spent staring at the monitor would indeed make me forget the pain for a few hours, but at the same time, make it worse. The more I lost myself in the glare of the screen, the less I felt my condition; the less I felt my condition, the more my eyes wore out. Punctually, after a good half-hour spent in a state of unconscious impermanence, a new painful jolt would force me back into the world.
That evening, as the last twinge still burned under my eyelids, it came back to me that I had read somewhere a philosophical phrase that perhaps suited me. Actually, it seemed to me to be about toothache, but I was sure it centered on what I was experiencing. The sentence in question, in broad strokes, ran something like this…