Ivan Della Mea 1940-2009

Here is a rough translation of Io so che un giorno, from the 1966 LP of that name and once said by him to have been his favourite. It anticipates, in its way, cognitive capitalism.

I know that one day
he’ll come to me
a white man
dressed in white
and he’ll say to me:
‘My dear chap, you’re exhausted’
and with a smile
he will offer me his hand.

He will lead me
amongst white houses
the walls will be white
the heavens will be white
he will dress me
in coarse material, harsh and white
and I will  have a room
a white bed for me as well.

Come that day
and all those people
including youths
dressed in white
will speak to me
about their dreams
as if this were
reality.

I will look at them
unblinkingly
and I will tell them
about freedom;
that same man will come
with all those others strong and white
and to my bed
they’ll tie me fast with straps.

‘Freedom,’
I will say, ‘is a fact,
though you may tie me
still it resists.’
And they will smile:
‘My dear chap, you are bonkers,
freedom
does not exist, not any more.’

And then I’ll laugh:
this world is great
here everything has got its price
even the brain.
‘Sell it, my friend
sell it with your freedom
and you can have a place
in this society.’

Three cheers for life
bought on the never never
along with the Fiat 600
the washing machine
three cheers for the system
which renders equal and makes happy
those who do have power
and those who on the contrary don’t have any.

(It’s probably worth mentioning, as a sort of footnote, that his brother Luciano, 16 years his senior, was interned in a German concentration camp in 1940 and in the ’70s worked with Franco Basaglia’s colleague Agostino Pirella in assisting those deprived of their freedom under Italy’s former mental health legislation.)

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