i-ItalyNY - 5thBirthday Special Issue. The Best of i-Itay - page 24

24 |
i-Italy Magazine
| Special Issue | Winter 2017-2018
focus
with
Fred Plotkin
and
Piero Bassetti
ww
FredPlotkin:
Mr Bassetti, first of all, Iwould
like to define somewords so that we are clear
about the meaning of everything. What makes an
Italian, and an
Italic
?
PieroBassetti:
An Italian is an Italic who lives on
the peninsula, and is a citizen of the Italian state,
which is a territory that has been defined as such
for little more than 150 years. For example, Dante
was an Italic; hewas not an Italian because during
his lifetime, the “Italian” dimension only existed
through linguistics and culture, but not politically.
An Italic is a person who has chosen to adopt “the
Italian way of life,” as an expression of one of the
greatest civilizations in the world. Just how a civi-
lization can become a subject of history, is a topic
open to debate after the crisis of the nation states.
FP:
When I readLet’sWakeUp, Italics! something
immediately came to mind. Tell me if you don’t
agree withme. To be an Anglo-Saxon, a Hispanic,
or an Italic, one must know the language of the
country that this culture comes from.
PB:
Yes, but the language of the culture is not re-
ally the language of the country. Some say that if
the language dies, the culture dies. That’s not true
because the Italian culture is made of more than
just the official language. It’s made up of different
dialects and even cultures. This is a delicate sub-
ject. If youwish tounderstand Italy youmust grasp
its internal diversity. A uniform italianità does not
exist.We shouldn’t sell just risotto and pizza to the
world—it’s the richness and diversity of the Ital-
ian cuisine that we must sell instead. This is the
difficult point about Italicità, or Italicity. The true
Italic is a bastard: they must be, because bastardy
is better than purity. This idea that purity is worth
less than bastardy goes against the grain, and it
isn’t easy to put it as the foundation of a political
discourse. This is the purpose of my book and of
my battle: let’s wake the Italics up to their values
based on integrating the values of others.
FP:
I completely agree. When I teach the history
of Italian cuisine, this is bastardization, because
of its use of ingredients from around the world.
Truth is, the Italians knew how to make the best
use of these products! But is the Italian mindset
itself something that can be called Italicity? That
is, something that can be learned, absorbed, and
used to make beautiful things.
PB:
Yes, certainly. I’m personally convinced that
it’s not true that all anthropology comes from
genes. It also comes from learning. I’m convinced
that in a world of such great mobility, this hybrid-
ization isn’t genetic, but rather operative, and al-
ready being seen. Just look at fashion produced
in New York. By now it’s organically soaked with
contributions from Italian fashion, and French, of
course. That’s why I say that the awakening of the
Italics comes from contact with the whole world.
With the “Glocal” concept the central idea is that
everyone locally is part of the global society, but the
global permeates all local environments in differ-
ent ways. This means that the problem of Italic-
ità, of Italicity, is not a problem regarding Italy’s
relationship with different countries like France
and the United States. We need ways of cultural
education that emphasize hybridization. You don’t
grow just by talking, but you do grow by becom-
ing equal through a common experience. All these
problems need to be studied deeply.
FP:
I’m just afraid that in some cases, identitymay
become diluted rather than enriched …
PB:
If you say that communication between 7 bil-
lion people is, in a certain sense, entropic in that it
reduces differences, this is true. But the challenge
is being able to extract the best qualities from
inside an organic global system. We shouldn’t be
afraid to increase communication. We should be
afraid of also not doing anything in order to extract
the best from each culture.
FP:
...and to study and learnmore fromthem. And
to love being Italian, Italic, or…Italian by osmosis.
We could go on for hours, but we have to stop here.
Thank you!
ww
Italy Beyond Italy: The Italic Way
We sat down in our home with an old
friend of i-Italy, industrialist Piero
Bassetti, during his recent tour in
New York to promote his latest book ,
Let’sWake Up, Italics!
Interviewing
Piero Bassetti was another old friend
of ours, writer and critic Fred Plotkin,
a quintessential “Italic” who was
famously defined by the
NewYork
Times
’ Frank Bruni as “the most
Italian of all New Yorkers.”
ww
TWO SPECIAL “ITALICI” JOINED US AT
LA CASA DI I-ITALY
(FALL 2017)
PieroBassetti and Fred
Plotkin on i-ItalyTV
Piero Bassetti with Fred Plotkin at the
i-Italy headquarters in Manhattan
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