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TEDxLakeComo 2010 - Moni Ovadia sul vivere l'utopia

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Good morning, or good evening: I don't know at what time of the day you'll be watching this short contribution of mine. I'd like to send a special salute to all of you at TEDxLakeComo and to express my regret for not having been able to be there with you in person; unfortunately I didn't manage, despite many attempts, to acquire the gift of ubiquity and this virtual medium is somehow assisting me in sharing the meaning of this day with you. I was asked to share my toughts on the topic of living an utopia. Allow me to make some preliminary remarks. The last century, the dreadful Twentieth Century, the impetuous and terrible short century, appears to have decreed a capital sentence against utopias. Utopias have brought along themselves some ideologies that turned out to be destructive as well as promises that turned out to be nightmares. The greatest promise, the one that I still consider to be the greatest ideal of redemption of the human beings, without references to the transcendent, or to religion, was communism, but it not only betrayed its promises, it has also displayed aspects of a totalitarian nightmare: and not only in Stalin's Russia and in Pol Pot's self-genocidal regime. Nevertheless, communism hasn't been just that: it has been communism and its connection to the working class movement, which promised social justice, equality among humans, and more: it has been the driving force of great struggles, great emancipations. Yet it has displayed that horrible and pernicious aspect. Other utopias have fell through as well. What does that mean? Should we give up utopias? Should we scotomize Utopia from the outlook of our future? I don't think so.I think an human being devoid of utopia is merely a cog of a sociobiological mechanism and nothing more. Surely, one can live more or less well, have a better or worse life, one can accept a décalage in ideals, accept a democracy that no longer is a democracy, that merely has the semblance of a democracy. But without an utopia driving humans toward the highest horizons that characterize them as a specie, which are equality, social justice, universal brotherhood, abolition of violence in human relations as well as in relations with the animal kingdom and with the planet: when human beings are not driven by these utopias, life becomes a mechanism similar to the following: you produce, consume and later on die. Ethical-spiritual tensions become pure consumption in absence of an utopia, in absence of a dream propelling them. So how is it done? How can utopia be combined with great values, without utopia becoming nefarious, turning out to be tyrannical and homicidal? Professor Magris has written a really important article, within one of his collections of essays, named after this opening essay entitled "Utopia and disenchantment". I think that Professor Magris, in a wonderful manner, as he always does, has explained the reasons behind our not expunging utopia from our horizon, thus becoming pure servants of the stuff and mechanisms we created - such as the market: we say that the market is presently the dominating ideology. After all Milton Friedman and the Chicago boys, the last great ideologuers of the last century, maintained that the market is always right: now such a statement is a Stalinist statement, as the market is a structure created by humans within their socioeconomic relations, therefore this statement isn't one by God and it's the equivalent of stating that "The party is always right". I think that that is a nonsense and a dangerous one too, as we have witnessed in the last crisis. Nevertheless, I am digressing. Utopia and disenchantment. Utopia needs to constantly measure itself, living a nagging doubt, with disenchatment. There is a very beautiful image in the Hebraic mystical literature, in which the holy blessed, the Ominipotent and Eternal, is represented as being in a state of permanent restlessness moving from the throne of Justice to the throne of Mercy, so as not to let Justice become a stiff exercise - lacking the mercy one needs to judge a frail humanity, but also so as not to let Mercy become an accomplice to crime, as some sunday forgivers would like to. Should we forgive? Surely, one needs to forgive, forgiving is a sublime sentiment: yet one can't forgive on behalf of somebody else and one can't forgive before justice has been served, as that kind of forgiving is a form of abetting crime. So we should have this continuous bedeviled relation. As soon as utopia displays its dangerous and tetragonal characteristics, we should at once engage disenchantment and with the weapons of irony and humorism we shall deconstruct the totalitarian aspects of utopia. Yet as soon as utopia has been restorted to its proper place, we should return to walk in its path, so long as the utopia doesn't again display its tyrannical and totalitarian vocation. It's quite important, for this purpose, to know a few things. What's the use of utopia in these conditions? Sebastiao Salgado, the great photographer of the misery and desperation of the human condition, states that "utopia is like the horizon. One never reaches it". So what is it needed for? "To walk". To walk! If we were in front of a wall, we wouldn't walk. The horizon shifts, but we walk toward it in order to reach it. The utopia should be like that. It must constantly propel us with the understanding that we must keep a distance while being inspired by the desire to reach it with vibrant passion. I modestly have built a benign utopia (as not all utopias are totalizing and palingenetic. Some are more benign, more limited). Which utopia have I lived? When I was four years old I came to Italy as a little refugee from Bulgaria, my motherlanguage is the Italian language, and I was brought up in this country, I am entirely Italian. But I also have a cosmopolitan origin, an half-breed, as a Sephardic Jew born in a Slavic country with Slavic maternal grandparents and Turkish paternal ones from Smirne with an Hispanic-Sephardic ancestry, from the glorious Spain before the reconquest, with relatives all over the Ottoman empire and a vibrant passion for all the cultures of exile - so I have choosen, so as to create an utopic space for my country, the culture of a nation of exile, a beaming and great nation, that the savagery of an unresolved West, the West in which the tyrannical vocation of power has produced the greatest monsters in the history of manking (colonialism, nazism, etc.) has destroyed: the Yiddish culture. I knew that in that nation of exile, that inside that culture of exile there exists an extraordinary energy that could have been used to teach about utopia, because - what's the utopy of the Yiddish nation? It consist of its having been able to build the identity of a nation, a nation entirely devoid of exclusions, of borders, of barbed wires, of armies, of bureocracies and of police forces, yet a nation, and in having shown that nationalism doesn't build a nation and that, instead, it is built by a spiritualy connected to the great humanitas that is both individual and universal, which knows how to express itself in a specific culture, yet also knows how to turn this culture into an universal value. This is the utopia I have brought to my country, by bulding a theatre of exile, a theatre of ethics and a theatre of musicality, of words, of sounds and of singing, that is able to glorify and tell the stories of frail humans in exile. Why? Because we are getting ready to live in a globalized world: borders are getting less defined, relations change colour in a world - yet there are some very violent, histerical counterthrusts, localist,nationalist, racist ones. So the purposes of the theatre of my small benign utopy is that of telling a great story, of demonstrating that we can be much better than what we are told we are, because there once was a population that built this truth of exile, this nation of exile. It is not a fantasty. It was a real humanity, alive, pulsating, made of men and women that were normal, but that also had an extraordinary spirituality, an extraordinary freedom and, above all, an extraordinary human kindness. So, which one is the utopy, where does the utopic aspect lie? That my theatres are fully booked, I have hundred of thousands of spectators that entered this utopy of mine and somehow they started resonating, many of them wanted to be part of it, they wanted this culture, this lesson, to become a lesson for their lifes as well. So there are some utopies that are able to compel positive energies, the creative, not destructive ones: the energies that bring peace about among the human beings. Thanks for listening to me and thanks again for inviting me. (Traduzione: Gianluca Finocchiaro, [email protected])

Video Details

Duration: 13 minutes
Country: Italy
Language: Italian
Producer: TEDx
Director: Gerolamo Saibene
Views: 141
Posted by: tradottiinitaliano on Dec 22, 2010

Moni Ovadia è oggi considerato uno dei più prestigiosi e popolari uomini di cultura ed artisti della scena italiana. Il suo teatro musicale, ispirato alla cultura yiddish (che ha contribuito a fare conoscere e di cui ha dato una lettura contemporanea), è unico nel suo genere, in Italia ed in Europa. Tra i suoi spettacoli: Dybbuk, Ballata di fine millennio, Il caso Kafka, Mame, mamele, mamma, mamà... Il Banchiere errante, L'Armata a cavallo, Le storie del Sig.Keuner, fino al recente Shylock, il Mercante di Venezia in prova. Il suo pubblico abbraccia tutte le generazioni. È anche noto per il suo costante impegno politico e civile a sostegno dei diritti e della pace ( ).

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