(Though I guess we're feeling somewhat blessed to be inundated with water rather than with fire, as has been happening in Greece.)
Tomorrow there will be another general strike: trains, buses, postal services, schools, pretty much everything will be completely shut down for four hours. Air traffic, however, will be unaffected, in case you're planning to fly over here.
But in tomorrow's manifestazione, there will also be a literary presence: lo "sciopero dell'autore" -- the authors' strike.
When asked to participate in this year's edition of RomaPoesia (a literary festival sponsored by the city of Rome), a group of authors, after a great deal of thought and soul-searching, said No. I'm sure you've been reading about what's happening here in Italy. These past elections served as a kind of death knell for the Italian left. There are now armed soldiers patrolling the streets of Rome and other Italian cities. Shops owned by immigrants have been broken into, vandalized. The only measure that's being proposed to prevent the increased incidence of gay-bashing is the installation of surveillance cameras in areas where there are gay bars and clubs. Funds for education and research are being progressively reduced. The strong sense of curtailment of free speech and discourse, as well as the ubiquitous economic anxiety, have caused students and professors alike to take to the streets in numbers that I guess we haven't seen since 1968.
And so, this group of writers has instituted an “authors’ strike.” They have written a mini-manifesto setting forth their commitment "not to participate as authors in any event that is sponsored by the center-right coalition until it reforms its attitude concerning constitutionally determined civil rights, particularly in the fields of education and work." They also suggest that writers and artists of all stripes work together to revitalize the sense of community, and to establish alternative spaces, public and private, in which to present books, read poems, make music, organize art shows, show films, and so on.
If you're in Rome tomorrow, join the writers at 9:30 a.m. in front of the Asahi restaurant in via Santa Croce in Gerusalemme. And, since we're still out of town and can't be there, please greet for us Marco Giovenale, Giulio Marzaioli, Vincenzo Ostuni, Michele Zaffarano (the authors of the authors' strike), and the others. Resistere!