31 Jan. 2021

I always thought that ideas, at least the really good ones, come to us (as opposed to us generating ideas) from some outer multi-dimensional region placed between the universal reality and our minds and hearts. Intuition is therefore the moment an idea – one of those floating around this outer region like pollen or winged seeds – bump into us and find fertile ground in which to spread roots, develop and blossom. Which would explain why some ideas are sown into more than one head, generating inventions or discoveries that come out almost at the same time. If all this is true, then what we need to do to catch ideas is to set our nets widely and open our inner world to invite (lure?) them in. It might sound easy, but preparing the ground is the most difficult part of the hunt and it requires long, patient work hoeing, plowing, feeding the soil, making it receptive for idea-seeds to grow and bloom.

Sometimes the seeds drop into our mind-field inconspicuously, almost unnoticed, much ahead of their time, and we don’t recognise them until the tiny stem becomes a huge tree, impossible to miss. Then all we have to do is to hug its trunk, like some people do in forests, or climb it and eat its fruit.

Something similar happened with my old script Winter [formerly Inverno, in Italian] optioned by the Merchant/Ivory Production. The last time I spoke to Ismail (without knowing it was our last conversation) in London, in 2005, after quite a long interval in the development of our common film project, he encouraged me not to abandon it, but to resume work on the script “because when an idea is relevant it’s worth the effort and the pain“, he said. Three weeks later I lost my good friend Ismail, perhaps the best producer I ever met as a film-maker, and I could not force myself to go on with that particular script. Too many memories were attached to it and, somehow, I thought the story was outdated. Only now, over fifteen years later, I started to understand what he meant and I realised that the advice he gave me was… well, relevant. And I want to take that script out of the drawer where I kept it buried all these years, and rewrite it, if nothing else, in memory of Ismail Merchant, perhaps turn it into a novel like I did with The Paper Man. Because Winter, albeit a period drama, was about technology v humanity. What could be more relevant now, when we came so far in terms of innovations, inventions and scientific applications, that our own human nature is at risk of being lost in “progress”. As one of the leading characters questioned: Is this really progress?

Among the stars

Tonight, the splinters

Of my broken heart


All winds whirl together

Over troubled seas.

Who wiped the stars out, who stole the sun?

2020. The year the world plunged into madness and became a very dark place. The year before all peoples raised like one against the demons. The battle of battles begins…

A white raven and a black dove

Peck the crumbs I spread on my windowsill.

A strange summer.

August 2019

Trees weep after the rain,

Ponds in emerald fields

Una strana estate.Trees weep for the rainy summer,ponds in emerald fields

smile back at the sky.

June 2019. The calendar says it’s summer, but it feels like March. Irish weather at its mischievous best. But the countryside has never looked so green, you could plunge and swim and roll in the grass like in a magic sea.

Just finished a new portrait (Vanessa), nearly finished writing the first draft of a new script for a feature film (Whispering Place) and working on The Yellow Dress film as consultant and production designer. Time for whatever else next to zero. As usual. How did Leonardo manage the million things he did in a short lifespan, I wonder. He must have invented a time-machine, but left no notes on how to build one…

Over the wintry forest,

winds howl in rage

with no leaves to blow

(Natsume Soseki)

Japanise writer (1867 – 1916)

November 2018. Back to Ireland, at last! The lawn in my back garden is hidden under a thick carpet of rusty leaves. The winds have played enough and now the trees, with their black branches, look like arms raised to the sky.

I return to my paintings, impatient to finish “Nicholas I” of the Glorious Ghosts series and start a portrait. I have a line of portraits in waiting and so little time! I wish my day consisted of 48 hours (at least).

Autumn is coming,

birds fly away, fishes fill with tears

their ponds.

October 2018. Summer in Italy is holding on to its last days, defying winter. Winter will come, nevertheless. But (as Shelley said) if winter comes, can spring be far behind?

Longing for my easel, I spend the nights reading towers of books: history, biographies, even Darwin’s “The Origin of Species”… All for my own book, to be precise with facts, to build characters (both the historical ones – kings, queens, tsars, councillors, grand dames, conspirators, assassins – and those who exist in my imagination, but interact with the real ones), most of all to have a feel of those times, 1860-1880. How did people think? How did they live, travel, eat, suffer or dream? They were like us, or rather we are like they were. A hundred, five hundred, a thousand or even three thousand years ago. The only real difference is technologies. Such a leap forward in science, yet so little progress in humanity. As if evolution never touched our mindset or our hearts.

The summer ends,

the nights grow longer.

Time to read.

There is a special character in the new story I am writing. A crow. After some thinking, I came to the conclusion that his inner flow of thoughts can only be expressed in a very simple, yet poetic way. I started researching and reading haikus and fell in love with this form of poetry. My crow produces haiku monlogues.
Through observation I became convinced that most animals are not only capable of feelings and of forming thoughts – sometimes even complex ones – but also of perceiving beauty and meditating.