Wednesday 12.5.2021 - University of Torino, Cavallerizza Reale, Aula Magna
Comparative Literature, Lincei, University of Rome “Sapienza”, Italy.
I prefer the Latin word principium (or the Greek arkhé) to the vernacular origin (Latin origo). Origin or origins, like primordia, seems to refer to a beginning or source not precisely identified, whereas principium points to the exact initial cause of a phenomenon or chain of res both in general theory and in works about general theory. The ancient world has left us a number of models for the principium, and these are reviewed by Aristotle in the Metaphysics. They are basically ‘material’ causes, and Aristotle himself will suggest a model with an immaterial Prime Cause. He had been preceded by Plato with the Demiourgos in the Timaeus, and by the Pre-Socratics and Hesiod. He will be followed by at least three great Roman writers – Lucretius, Virgil, and Ovid. Each one of them, like each one of their Greek predecessors, formulated a cosmogonic model. All, however, were eventually made superfluous by the Biblical Creation model, which has dominated Western culture for nearly two thousand years. Darwin’s Origin of the Species and the Big Bang theory have dealt mortal blows to the Creationist imaginaire. What do contemporary poets do with the Principia? The lecture starts with Haroldo de Campos and his Máquina do mundo repensada, but ends with Ernesto Cardenal, Francis Ponge, Raymond Queneau, and Italo Calvino.
Astronomy and Physics, University of Yale, USA.
Conceptions of Cosmos from Then to Now
The profound question of how and why we are here has always captured the human imagination. In this keynote plenary talk I will trace the evolution of our ideas on the origins of the physical universe. The collision of ideas and instruments has continually and radically transformed our cosmic view. Starting from the ancients' origin stories from around the world and their attempts to connect the terrestrial and the celestial; to the separation of mythos and logos that catalyzed new explanations to our current view of the universe and its contents, I show that mapping has shaped knowing. Using a set of iconic maps that encode our evolving understanding, I will trace the shifts in our conception of the cosmos.
Indology, University of Torino, Italy.
The Origin of the Universe as Narrated in “Old” Texts of India
The paper concerns the origin, or the “coming out” (sarga) of everything that exists - and is conditioned by space and time - according to a very important upa-purāṇa, namely the Narasiṃha-purāṇa “Old narration by Narasiṃha”. The text deals with the subject in chapters 1 to 5, considering both the primary (sṛṣṭi) and the secondary coming out (pratisarga); anyway, these texts show that old Indian people didn’t have any idea of “creation” (creatio de nihilo) and this was consistent with their conception of reality, unequivocally affirmed by the Bhagavad-gītā (2, 16a). Rudra dedicates himself to the actual creation after producing the status of female (strībhava) and male (puruṣatva), both distinguished in eleven ways, and “after doing a terrible penance in the water” (tapaḥ kṛtvā jale ghoram): this is the “primary creation”. The “secondary creation” (anusarga), made by Marīci and the other ṛṣi-s, is described from verse 16 onwards.
Philosophy and Education Sciences, LabOnt, University of Torino, Italy.
Archeology as Teleology
Origins are not there from the origin, but arise from their narrative. In this sense, archaeology manifests itself through teleology. Within each origin, thus, is enclosed a philosophy of history.
Anthropologie et Histoire des Mondes Antiques, École des Hautes études en Sciences Sociales, Paris, France.
Narration des origines de la femme: la naissance d’Êve et la création de Pandôra en comparaison différentielle
Dans son Histoire de la sexualité, Michel Foucault entend offrir une « généalogie du sujet de désir » et des « arts de l’existence » par l’expérience de la chair dans le passage comparatif entre paradigme gréco-romain et christianisme des premiers siècles. S’appuyant sur philosophes, moralistes, médecins et Pères de l’Eglise, il ignore les récits que nous identifions comme « mythes fondateurs » tout en focalisant son enquête sur un sujet de désir entendu au masculin. Par une démarche d’ordre narratologique et dans une perspective de comparaison différentielle, on aimerait revenir sur les deux récits fondateurs que sont, du point de vue de ce qui est devenu pour nous la sexualité, d’une part le récit vétérotestamentaire de la naissance d’Êve, d’autre part le récit hésiodique de la création de Pandôra. Il s’agira de les envisager autant du point de vue des valeurs qu’ils figurent que de celui des relations de genre qu’ils mettent en scène et de leur pragmatique poétique, pour revenir en conclusion sur l’une des apories de l’enquête de Foucault.
Maria Teresa Giaveri
Comparative Literature, Accademia delle Scienze, Chevalier des Arts et des Lettres, Italy and France.
Sur l’Ébauche d’un serpent. L’origine selon Paul Valéry
Été 1915: La Jeune Parque est presque terminée, et Paul Valéry (revenu à la poésie après vingt ans de silence) se surprend “en état de virtuosité aiguë”; c’est un “état chantant” inattendu et irrésistible, où l’écriture poétique multiplie les avant-textes des Charmes futurs. Parmi les brouillons, voilà “une ballade à la blague faite pour agacer Pierre Louys” : une Chanson du Serpent, dediée au thème de la séduction de la femme, et envoyée à l’ami comme un clin d’oeil complice... Mais la blague se revèle plus féconde qu’il ne pensait. La seduction que le Serpent déploie envers Ève devient la séduction d’un rythme qui envoûte le poète: un octosyllabe sautillant, malicieux, qui transporte Valéry de la scène biblique jusque à ses souvenirs de jeunesse, à l’époque où il appellait ses amis les plus chers “mes cathares” et il s’adonnait à la lecture de Plotin et des Gnostiques. Le Serpent de la Genèse semble devenir l’Ouroboros – on trouve dans les manuscrits des tentatives de vers tels que Mordre éternellement la queue/Éternellement le bout mordre - pour s’enrichir enfin de la métaphysique des Ophites de Irenée et apparaître comme un “ophidien parleur”. Ainsi le thème de la séduction devient celui de la création. En 1902 Valéry avait noté dans un de ses Cahiers: “Tout le temps n’est qu’un léger défaut dans le bloc éternel – comme tout l’univers n’est qu’une bulle dans la pureté générale de l’espace. L’univers n’est qu’un oiseau dans l’étendue.” Maintenant la Chanson du Serpent - devenue entre temps Ève, puis Les Doléances et enfin Ébauche d’un Serpent - reprend la note pour l’enrichir des réflexions dispersées dans les Cahiers sous la lettre Theta (Autour du Divin) et nous reveler Que l’univers n’est qu’un défaut/ Dans la pureté du non-être.
Thursday 13.5.2021 - University of Torino, Cavallerizza Reale, Aula Magna
Neonatal Care Unit of the University, City of Health and Science Hospital, Turin, Italy.
Nature or Nurture? Where Inequalities Begin.
It is well known that the first 1000 days of life (the period between conception and 2nd birthday) offer a unique window of opportunity for growth and neurodevelopment of every child, and infants with pre and/or postnatal growth restriction could have long-term auxological, metabolic and neurological impairments. But to what extent could we sway growth and neurodevelopment? That is, are they influenced most by genes and hereditary factors (nature), or by environmental variables (nurture)? Ethnic background could be regarded as primary factor in determining biological differences, yet recent studies show that most genetic variation occurs within populations: differences between ethnic groups are minor compared to differences among people overall, because the course of human migration is too recent to establish subspecies features (Stepanov VA. Genomes, Populations and Diseases: Ethnic Genomics and Personalized Medicine. Acta Naturae 2, 15–30, 2010; Rosenberg NA, Kang JT. Genetic Diversity and Societally Important Disparities. Genetics 201, 1–12, 2015). The International Consortium of INTERGROWTH-21st researchers recently evaluated 1,307 healthy 2-year-old children of urban, well-nourished, educated mothers enrolled in early pregnancy in Brazil, India, Italy, Kenya and the UK, and demonstrated that attainment of neurodevelopmental milestones (relating to cognition, language ability and motor skills) is similar among children across diverse geographical and cultural settings: 10% of the variability is based on the child’s genes (nature) while the rest is environment (nurture) (Villar J, Fernandes M, Purwar M, Staines-Urias E, Di Nicola P, Cheikh Ismail L, Ochieng R, Barros F, Albernaz E, Victora C, Kunnawar N, Temple S, Giuliani F, Sandelis T, Carvalho M, Ohuma E, Jaffer Y, Noble A, Gravett M, Pang R, Lambert A, Bertino E, Papageorghiou A, Garza C, Stein A, Bhutta Z, Kennedy S. Neurodevelopmental milestones and associated behaviours are similar among healthy children across diverse geographical locations. Nature Communications 10, 511, 2019). Implications on global health and social policies are evident, and INTERGROWTH-21st Project has created new international growth standards for fetuses, newborns and children, which perfectly match, after 6 months of age, the existing WHO Child Growth Standards: INTERGROWTH-21st Charts could be considered as instruments to guide and monitor interventions aimed to improve the well being of mothers and infants at a global level, to narrow the gap between high and low income Countries (Villar J, Cheikh Ismal L, Victora C, Ohuma, EO, Bertino E, Altman DG, Lambert A, Papageorghiou AT, Carvalho M, Jaffer YA, Gravett MG, Purwar M, Frederick IO, Noble A, Pang R, Barros FC, Chumlea C, Bhutta ZA, Kennedy SH. International standards for newborn weight, length, and head circumference by gestational age and sex: the Newborn Cross-Sectional Study of the INTERGROWTH-21st Project. Lancet 384, 857–868, 2014; Villar J, Giuliani F, Bhutta ZA, Bertino E, Ohuma EO, Cheikh Ismail L, Barros FC, Altman DG, Victora C, Noble A, Gravett MG, Purwar M, Pang R, Lambert A, Papageorghiou AT, Ochieng R, Jaffer YA, Kennedy SH. Postnatal growth standards for preterm infants: the Preterm Postnatal Follow-up Study of the INTERGROWTH-21st Project. Lancet Glob. Health 3, e681–e691 2015).
Mythology and Religions of the Classical World, University of Milano, Italy.
Machine célibataire is an image used by Lyotard to comment on Duchamp's famous work “Le Grand Verre” (1915-1923), a glass diptych that shows a young woman facing her suitors, who are separated by the lead wire that surrounds the transparent surface of the work. Machine célibataire is also very useful to describe the first woman in Greek myth (Hesiod, Theogony and Works&Days), conceived by Zeus as an artificial prototype, modelled on the iconic image of a virgin, a parthenos. The model of this genesis, both non-human and post-human, is that of Athena, to which the god has already successfully set his hand when he devotes himself to the creation of woman. The technique of “producing” the “chaste virgin-like” figure, as Hesiod describes it, has already been tested and is as far from nature as it is possible to be. The woman, therefore, is already born as an experiment in surpassing biological generation towards a mechanization of the production process that can also give rise to supernatural births, made possible by a manufacturing defect: a sort of underlying opacity that does not make explicit the indispensable contribution offered by the female body at the moment of creation.
Friday 14.5.2021 - University of Torino, Cavallerizza Reale, Aula Magna
Alessandro Vitale Brovarone
Romance Philology, University of Torino, Italy.
La création: de la Bible au Roman de Renart.
Sometimes a god is at the origin of the world. Sometimes he works alone, sometimes other creatures collaborate, whether they have the right skills and projects or not. God and his staff sometimes are rather clumsy, and the results can be unexpectedly bad or fun; or they can be realistic, as in the case of the woman and of the fox in some manuscrpts of the Roman de Renart.
Lihi Turjeman and Francesca Referza
Visual artist and Art Historian; "Quartz Studio", "Project Space", Torino and Tel Aviv.
Within the occasion of ESCL conference, the visual artist Lihi Turjeman (Tel-Aviv, Israel, 1985) will give an overview of her work spread over the last past decade focusing on her personal motivations. She will present a body of work which stems from multiplicity of origins and sources: fictitious, archaeology or specific locality, be it cultural, historic, geographic or mythologic. The artist will show how her works are deeply influenced by her surroundings, the opportunities and limitations of her immediate space. Alongside with Francesca Referza, director and founder of Quartz Studio, Turin, the artist will focus on her last project presented in Turin entitled “Unearth” while creating a bridge to a past iconic project taken place in Tel- Aviv (2010-2014). The artist was working and living in a house destined to be demolished. Its walls served as a substrate for her work, she made paintings that mapped its history. Striving for other space-time dimensions whose existence is suggested by the very actions of excavation and exploration, she worked as if the entire universe model lay on a local, temporary infrastructure, at the heart of our urban life.
Castello del Valentino, Salone d'onore.
Architecture and Design, Politecnico of Torino, Italy.
The Day after the Seventh Day: The Origins of Western Architecture and its Changing Narratives.
Architecture seems to be obsessed with the myth of its own origins. For ages, those who have written about architecture, whether they were architects or not, have felt they had to start their narrative where it all began, in search of the deepest roots of their own nature, their own culture, their own practice. It is quite an unusual phenomenon. It is almost as if every writer would be forced to question the first languages, or every musician would wonder how his or her talent could be traced back to the first sounds. Perhaps one part of the problem lies in the literally artificial nature of architecture, a human product par excellence, originally the result of Adam and Eve's stay in the Garden of Eden. The Creator, who not by chance will be later described as the Great Architect of the Universe, conceived everything up to the seventh day: after that, the responsibility of inhabiting, i.e. possessing that Earthly Paradise for all eternity was entrusted to man and woman, with their own limits but also their own imagination. From ideal huts to primitive settlements, from the first Vitruvian explorations in the classical age to the first architectural histories at the dawn of modernity, the architect has started almost every single discourse from the beginnings, describing with great accuracy and dedication what happened in the aftermath of that glorious seventh day.