Antonio Moresco - Living in an abandoned village in order to “disappear,” an unnamed man encounters a mysterious light across a deep ravine

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Antonio Moresco, Distant Light, Trans. by Richard Dixon, Archipelago Books, 2016.

A man lives in total solitude in an abandoned mountain village. But a mystery disturbs his isolation: each night at the same hour a distant light appears on the far side of the valley. What is it? Someone in another deserted village? A forgotten street lamp? An alien being? Finally the man is driven to discover its source. There he finds a young boy who also lives alone in a house in the midst of the forest. But who really is this child? The answer at the secret heart of this novel is both uncanny and profoundly touching. Antonio Moresco’s work is a moving meditation on life and the universe we inhabit. Moresco reflects on the solitude and pain of existence, but also on what man shares with all around him, living and dead.

Living in an abandoned village in order to “disappear,” an unnamed man encounters a mysterious light across a deep ravine.
Italian author Moresco, in his English language debut, creates a ghostly landscape imbued with a gentle creepiness, in which the man’s “ears buzz in the total absence of sound” and yet furniture creaks, badgers rustle, and swallows screech and crunch on insects. Every object is alive and restless. The man marvels at plants sapping life from other plants and spores yet to “invent” themselves. Trees bend under the weight of chestnuts and the Earth itself shakes. Dwelling on the nature of “vegetal torment,” its perpetual birth and rebirth, Moresco’s story is slow to begin and slow to end, preferring a meditative quality, heaping questions upon questions, occasionally a beat longer than necessary. The story picks up with the man’s investigation of the distant light. A stranger shoveling manure posits the light’s source is alien, saying his goats ascended into a luminous, egg-shaped UFO. Instead, the man discovers a small boy living by himself in the woods, apparently self-sufficiently, and begins to visit him every few days. Their hesitant, budding relationship uncovers the pain of loneliness, the ephemerality of life, their insignificance in the universe—and the necessity of human connection. The story grows eerier as the man learns of the boy’s night school, his frustration at being unable to read, his exercise books full of nonsensical text. Their mutual loneliness and the dreamlike quality of their world begin to suggest a kind of purgatory. Though the ending is appropriately inscrutable, it is somewhat disappointing in its tampered uncertainty. Despite this muteness, the imagery and language glow throughout.
An unsettling and strangely tender novel. - Kirkus Reviews

“I have come here to disappear,” begins Italian writer Moresco’s mysterious new book. And indeed, its hermit narrator seems to have come to the right place: a desolate and abandoned village in an unspecified forest where his only companion is a crippled dog, and his only conversation is with the swallows. But he may not be as alone as thinks he is; an inexplicable light in the wood leads him to pay a visit to a leading UFO expert in search of answers. But instead of extraterrestrial visitors, he finds a young boy called Putty, who also lives alone, seemingly unsupervised in the forest’s heart, fretting over homework from a school we never see. As Putty and the narrator begin an enigmatic friendship, more questions come to the fore, as the narrator’s house is frequently rattled by tremors that, combined with the apocalyptic weather conditions, seem to indicate the story might be set at a precipice between worlds. Finally, an investigation into Putty’s past alerts the narrator to just how far off the beaten track he has strayed. Despite its fable-like structure and brevity, Moresco has Kafka’s power to unnerve, and Walser’s genial strangeness. Something like a supernatural modernist story, Distant Light’s real territory is dreams, where readers may find the book’s imagery still lingering. - Publishers Weekly

The unnamed narrator of Antonio Moresco’s Distant Light is uncommonly attuned to the natural world. Fleeing from his past for reasons that are never fully explained, he settles in an abandoned village and embarks on a monastic existence. He spends his days wandering through the woods, carrying on one-sided conversations with badgers, wasps, and toads. After dinner, he sits outside and watches “the first stars come out.” Gazing across a valley one evening, he sees a light emerge from a seemingly uninhabited hillside. Certain that he’s the only person within miles, he resolves to find its source. 
Moresco’s fiction has won prizes in his native Italy and abroad. His most celebrated work is L’increato, a trilogy of long novels. In this ethereal novella, ably translated by Richard Dixon, Moresco demonstrates a talent for succinct scene-setting. It takes him just a few pages to sketch the contours of his main character’s circumscribed existence, and within this context, his humble quest comes to feel like an epic undertaking. 
After a comic detour involving a farmer who believes the light is from a UFO that abducted his goats, the protagonist discovers a neglected path leading to a stone hovel. The building, Moresco writes, is “little more than a ruin that had perhaps once been an animal stall.” Inside is a young boy. Polite but somber, the child is dressed like a preteen from another era and has a vaguely spooky mien. He’s an orphan, he tells the narrator, and he lives alone. The light is his; he leaves it on all night because he’s scared of the dark. Over a series of subsequent visits, the two develop a rapport based on their shared sense of isolation. The narrator, we learn, may be recovering from a romantic mishap: he wonders if animals also “have that short, cruel dream that has been called love.” If this detail is telling, those that emerge about the child’s past are nothing short of astonishing.   
At times, Distant Light reads like a straightforward fable, an elegant rumination on the mysteries of the soul. But there are a number of grave and surprising subplots in this story, each of which Moresco explores with great care. Brief but often quite moving, this enigmatic tale of solitude and companionship abounds with humanity. - Kevin Canfield

There’s something I don’t quite trust about light. Maybe it’s the disconnect between the seemingly arbitrary speed at which it travels and the fundamental role that speed serves in physical laws; maybe it’s jealousy of how much stuff a photon gets to see as it whips around the universe at that speed. Or perhaps it’s just the fact that if you look right at it—meet it eye-to-eye, as it were—you’ll go blind.
In fiction, of course, light is even more shifty, even harder to pin down on the continuum of thematic meaning. It can rise up and do battle with The Dark, which always looms somewhere deep within a character’s (and reader’s) psyche. It can sterilize, rendering an environment with unsettling clarity that exposes even that which would be better off hidden. And it can beckon and call with tantalizing promises of revelation. Or, as is the case with Antonio Moresco’s new novel, Distant Light, it can do all of these at the same time.
Distant Light is an enigmatic book. It begins with an unnamed narrator declaring that he has moved to an abandoned house in an abandoned village in order to “disappear.” With no electricity and an almost total absence of modernity, our narrator wanders listlessly through decaying streets. He talks to the trees, to the bees, to a dog that briefly shadows him on his daily walk. None of them respond, of course, but he keeps at it anyway, relentlessly pestering them with far-reaching, conceptual questions about their existence. “‘How do you live like that?’” he asks a tree that appears to be slowly dying. “‘For humans it’s not possible: either they’re alive or they’re dead. Or so it seems at least…’” In another chapter, he watches a buzzing bee go about its business, and asks, “‘But what sort of life do you have? […] What happens, day and night, in your savage nests?’”
It is regarding questions like this—questions that probe at the very nature of life itself—that the narrator is insatiable, and his desire to understand his place within this strange environment is the core dynamic of the novel. Every element of the village is an opportunity to consider the purpose of continuing on. Like Hamlet in his famous soliloquy, this is a character who doubts the assertion that the benefits of life outweigh the slings and arrows it is forever hurling at us, and yet is desperate to be convinced:
All these lives that become entrapped with each other, this continual creation of colonies to occupy more and more portions of territory and to take it from others. Why? Why? To perpetuate our DNA?
The persistence of doubt—which is itself a curious mix of light and dark, of insight and blindness—slowly emerges as a kind of villain in Moresco’s novel. It has the upper hand on our hero for much of Distant Light, wearing him down and breaking his spirit. As it does, the questions he asks of his surroundings become more pathetic, more hopeless. Rather than doubtful curiosity, his musings betray only defeatism:
Who knows if the matter the universe is made of, at least the little we’re able to perceive in the sea of dark matter and energy, isn’t inside another infinitely larger matter, and the dark matter and energy aren’t also inside an infinitely larger darkness? Who knows if the curvature of space and time, if there is curvature, if there is space, if there is time, aren’t also themselves inside a larger curvature, a larger space, a larger time, that comes first, that hasn’t yet come? Who knows why things have ended up like this, in this world?
This question of “Who knows?” is a refrain that recurs throughout the second half of the novel, when the metaphorical light he craves seems only to recede and never to approach.
Light, however, is not merely deployed metaphorically. The titular distant light is very real: Every night, the narrator lies in bed and gazes out his window at a single point of light that breaks the sweeping darkness of the river valley. As days turn to weeks, he becomes obsessed with it, and the question of who or what is the source, of why it is there at all, provides purpose and relief from the crushing nihilism that plagues his days.
The nice thing about these questions, as opposed to the ones he stubbornly demands of the bees and trees, is that it they can be answered. And so, with tepid resolution, he decides to trek across the valley and investigate the light source.
Though modest in length, Distant Light is a dense and thoughtful book that should be lingered over, rather than burned through. It dwells on esoteric questions, but also provides unsettling insight into the darkest depths of the human condition, as well as a uniquely complex rendering of its polarity. There are secrets to be uncovered here, it seems to whisper, if only you can pluck them from the shadows.
The bizarre nature of what Moresco’s narrator finds across the valley does little to alleviate my distrust of light. Yet it also reveals an unexpected gentleness seemingly at odds with both the violent explosion furnace at the heart of every star and the eternal metaphorical war between the hope’s quaint assurances and the blank nothingness of despair. To his credit, he meets this distant light eye-to-eye and doesn’t blink, let alone go blind. Perhaps it is through this act, of a disappearing man reaching out to touch the very thing from which he hides, that some of his questions might be answered.
Then again, who knows. - Cory Johnston

Every evening an unnamed man, the only inhabitant of an abandoned village, sits in front of his house on a metal chair. As the chair’s legs sink ever deeper into the dirt, darkness engulfs the world. “Only at night in the moonlight, can you really understand what the trees are, these columns of wood and froth that stretch out toward the empty space of the sky.”
The man seems to have a normal, if unusually located, life: He eats pasta, washes clothes, fixes the valve on his toilet, and has a charming encounter with a pair of badgers. But one night, as he stares into the dark across a gorge to the far ridge, a pinprick of light appears. Is someone there? What does it mean?
So begins Distant Light by the Italian author Antonio Moresco. It’s the first of his novels to be translated into English.
The man’s apparently idyllic existence is broken when he encounters a huge drooling Rottweiler deep in the forest. Frightened, his house half an hour away, he turns back. The dog follows, relentless and silent except for rasping breath. But when the man notices that the dog’s legs have been smashed, compassion joins his fear.
Although he reaches home safely, this incident darkens the man’s perception of his surroundings. Previously, his observations have been bucolic — “this immense dark and forgotten space full of avalanches of stars” — but now he begins to experience nature as an unfathomable, uncaring force with menacing swarms of birds and insects; even the surrounding plants have ferocious roots. After a tremendous earthquake, he imagines himself crushed by his house, “dying alone, in that sarcophagus of debris, far from everything, unseen, forgotten, unable to move…”
This novel, written in language that encourages the reader to slow down, is an anomaly in an age of fast-paced stories. Akin to Anais Nin’s sensual explorations in A Spy in the House of Love, Rilke’s The Notebooks of Malte Laurids Brigge, which limns depression, and Woolf’s attempts to capture the incandescence of existence, Moresco’s story delves into life and death, and the spaces that occur between the two.
Surprisingly, the man has an automobile. When he drives to a neighboring town to ask about the persistent light, the villagers laugh at the idea of someone living in such wilderness and send him to an Albanian who talks about extraterrestrials, telling a strange story about his goats and a pod of light.
The man remains unsatisfied, and every night after “the plant world becomes invisible and black like a great nocturnal sponge,” the light comes on. He must know what it means.
Finally he crosses the perilous ravine and discovers a bramble-covered path. Hesitating “at the unknown world he was about to enter,” he follows the trail to a little stone house owned by a boy who also lives alone, feeding himself, washing his own sheets, and doing homework for school. Now questions multiply. The boy’s schoolmates call him Putty and he says he’s failing. He also says that he’s dead. The state of death doesn’t seem to matter to either of them. The more the man learns about Putty — following him to his night school, talking to the janitor about the other dead children — the more the mystery deepens.
Unpublished until he was in his 40s, Moresco is now well known in Italy, principally for a mammoth trilogy, The Uncreated (Gli increati). One of his stories, “The Pigs” ("I Maiali"), is online, though Distant Light is his only novel available in English. The translator, Richard Dixon, has said that “Moresco’s language has a stark beauty and urgency...the original Italian is disarmingly simple, but that simplicity was perhaps what I found hardest to maintain.” Dixon succeeded well; his rendering avoids the awkwardness which can occur when concepts and rhythms are forced into a foreign vocabulary.
Distant Light is not a book that will appeal to everyone. It demands patience and attention, and the direction of the story isn’t always clear. Moresco’s magic is that he is able, through words, to bring the reader to the ineffable. Anyone willing to absorb the language will find many hints about what lies beneath the surface, and thus be prepared for the last chapter, when the tenor of the writing changes and the mystery is revealed.
The final unveiling is completely satisfying, even though it is likely that each reader will have a different, personal understanding of the events. Most will put down the book haunted by its beauty and full of lingering questions about the progression of life toward death and our place in the world around us. - Terri Lewis

This is a short yet powerful book that raises many more questions about the mental state of the main character than it answers.  We are led to understand from the beginning that the narrator is living alone in the mountains in what is now an abandoned village.  The only time he has interaction with other human beings is when he drives his car down the mountain to another small village.  He seems to do this only when he needs food or supplies.
The narrator spends quite a bit of time interacting with nature and even talking to the swallows, the fireflies and the trees that surround him.  Since he lives in complete solitude without an trace of another human around, he is captivated by a light he sees in the distance at the same time every night.  He spends a lot of time speculating what the light could be and it takes him a while to work up the courage to investigate the light.
I won’t fully give away what he finds when he investigates that light, but I will say that it brings him into contact with another person.  His interaction with this person makes us question the narrator’s mental state and what circumstances have brought him to live alone on that isolated mountain.  There is one sentence, which one could easily miss, in which he does say that at one point he was in the military but now chooses to live in complete solitude.  We are left to speculate if was his experience as a soldier that forced him to reject all human contact.
The book has an eerie and mysterious feeling to it, especially when the narrator figures out what is causing that light in the distance.  I would go so far as to even categorize the book as magical realism.  The narrator seems calm as he is relating his matter-of-fact existence among the foliage and animals on the mountain.  But there is an underlying uneasiness about him the punctuates the story and keeps us turning the pages to finds out what happens to this strange narrator.
This is a very quick read, one that can be finished over the course of an afternoon. I would love to hear what others think about this story since there is quite a bit of symbolism in this book that would make excellent topics for discussion. -

Distant Light is a brief, austere novel, or better, novella, by an Italian writer best known for a monumental trilogy written over 20 years and counting more than 3,000 pages, L’increato (The Uncreated, meaning roughly “the divine”).  Meanwhile this small, vivid tale, the author writes in his preface to the Italian edition, began as an episode in volume three of the trilogy, but then took on a life of its own: a “little moon that broke away from the yet-to-coalesce mass of my new novel”. “Had I dropped dead the day after writing it, this would have been my last will and testament,” he says. Not that it’s his most meaningful or significant work, he thinks, but because it is “so keenly private and secret.”
Although the voice of the novel is as clear and unambiguous as those words in the author’s preface, there is nevertheless much that is secretive and enigmatic about Distant Light. The story is told by an unnamed man living alone in an abandoned village that is gradually succumbing to brush and vines, wasps and bumblebees, bats and swallows, mice and voles, badgers, stray dogs and other non-human species. The landscape is something like that glimpsed in photos of Chernobyl taken thirty years after the accident, or like the planet depicted in Alan Weisman’s The World Without Us, where an unexpected variety of plants and animals flourish when homo sapiens suddenly disappears from the Anthropocene. Human beings are absent but the earth is teeming, crawling, with life.
As unreal as Moresco’s ghost village might appear, it is neither an entirely imaginary nor artificial setting. There really are swathes of Italy, places shaken to their foundations by earthquakes or small villages near hard-to-farm land on the slopes of the Apennines abandoned when the farmers moved to the cities to work in the factories after World War II. Some of these places have been reclaimed by investors and foreigners buying second houses, but many still stand empty. Memento mori to hikers in the hills--Antonio Moresco is himself a great walker and once hiked with a group from Mantova to Strasbourg to deliver a petition to the European Parliament--these ruins are natural Gothic settings, and it is surprising how few novelists and filmmakers have taken advantage of the fact.
Moresco, born in Mantova in 1947, is not only a prolific novelist and dramatist but the author of numerous works of reportage and opinion. As a young man he studied in a seminary, then became a far left militant, experiences treated in L’increato and other works. His style and subject matter were so eccentric that for many years he went unpublished, but in 1993, Clandestinità, a collection of stories, appeared and subsequently many more books, and today his fiction, despite a reputation for being “difficult,” is published by Italy’s largest trade and commercial house, Mondadori, and he is considered one of Italy’s most original and accomplished writers.
“Sometimes,” the narrator of Distant Light tells us in his plain, precise way,
I stop and I talk to animals, insects, trees, all the mighty vegetation that springs up everywhere as far as the skyline. To wasps that drop angrily onto the gaping cracks in the figs rotting on the trees, thrusting their rostrate heads into the crevices full of putrefying seeds and juice. Going up close, perhaps too close, so that one day I was stung on the hand by a wasp. I felt its barbed sting penetrating the tender flesh between one finger and the next.
“But why are you always so angry” I ask. “Why do you drop headfirst into the pulp of unpicked fruit that’s rotting on the trees in this deserted unearthly place? So that sometimes, when I split one open to eat it, I find one of you inside, and you fly off in a rage, covered all over with dead liquids and the juices in which you were wallowing. Where do you live, where do you go to sleep? What happens, day and night, in your savage nests?”
But they never answer.
To toads, when I catch sight of one motionless, filthy, half-submerged beneath a veil of earth, with its fat body entirely covered with larvae, in a spot where there must once have been a vegetable plot, since there are still tangles of growth that produce unrecognizable vegetables.
“But what sort of life do you have?” I ask them. “Buried in the earth with your stores of fat larvae that you gorge down there in the dark. Your bodies like a soft leathery bag bursting at the seams, closed off by the earth and the darkness.”
But they never answer.
The quiet, conversational voice of the narrator, the finely observed natural surroundings, and the slow, unruffled pace of the tale all belie any Gothic coloring, and yet there is always some uncanny or suggestive detail: eerie traces of a bygone human past, the wasp that stings a tender piece of flesh, another time a stray Rottweiler that silently trails the narrator down the road. Even the plants are not passive. In the woods “a savage undergrowth” tries to engulf and smother larger species. A half-dead chestnut tree sprouting fresh shoots makes the man wonder why a human being, unlike a tree, cannot be both alive and dead.
    At night he sees “a little light” far across the hills, and wonders how this can be when the place is uninhabited. Apart from the grave lights marking the tombs in the cemetery, most everything is dark here. One day he struggles across the valley and makes a surprising  discovery.  The light comes from the window of a house, the house is inhabited; a boy, his head shaved, wearing short pants, is all alone inside washing his laundry in a tub.  
    He returns to see the boy again and again, sits and watches him as he does his school work, or meticulously lays the table with an ironed cloth and prepares dinner, then washes the dishes. The child confides that when he is afraid of noises outside and fears large, dangerous animals, he bangs two saucepan lids together to scare them away. In time, the man understands that this child he likes to visit is no longer alive. One day he sees that the boy is preparing a place for him next door to his own house.
    In this liminal world where the narrator finds himself, life is strong and vital--but not human life. The cells of plants…
continue to struggle away desperately, continue silently reproducing and duplicating themselves, and they will carry on like this even when humans are no longer here, when they have disappeared from the face of this little planet lost in the galaxies, there will be just this whole torment of cells that struggle away and reproduce, for as long as some light still arrives from our little star. They will carry on relentlessly breaking and pulling apart the walls between whose stones their roots are clinging, the floors, the ceilings, they will burst out through the gaps in the broken windows, they will smash the few panes of glass still intact with their irresistible soft vegetal pressure, sending out ahead their tender waving pedicels into space in search of a place to land, they will smash and bring down roofs, they will overrun the paths, lanes, roads, emerging with their miniscule shoots looking up to space for the first time…
I spent the whole day getting ready. But first I tidied the house. I washed the floors, made the bed, threw away the ashes from the fireplace. I washed the plates, cleaned the top of the cooker, inside the oven, the door handles, the panes of glass in the few windows. I also washed myself and put on clean clothes.
Before going up to bed, I banged the saucepan lids for a long time to scare away any animals.   
The dedicated way the narrator (and the boy) do their household chores and pay patient attention to small details helps undercut any grand metaphysical designs or creepy otherworldly atmosphere in the novel. And yet the world of Distant Light is not of this earth, nor is it a place where humans can thrive, we are made to understand. The writer Valerio Evangelisti, like Moresco a far-left militant for a time, and today known for best-selling fantasy novels such as those about a cruel Dominican Inquisitor of the Middle Ages, has suggested there are paradoxical likenesses between fantasy literature and that of  Moresco, both hard to classify by current literary standards. “Antonio has a quality—unique in our domestic literature—derived from Leopardi yet similar to the fantasy genre’s comparable vision so disdained by critics. His story line is always turning cosmic…Moresco’s prose is the antithesis of minimalism.”  Yet as in Leopardi, l’infinito, the infinite, is not so much an overarching perpetuity as something sensed beyond the hedgerow. Moresco’s insistence on silences and his fascination with the point where the prosaic suddenly meets the otherworldly, are themes that run through his fiction.
Translator Richard Dixon has done an excellent job of reproducing the simplicity and colloquial quality of Moresco’s prose. He’s unafraid to use verb contractions and stays neatly clear of cognates, leaving the text free of those Latinate words that so often sound too elevated or abstract in English translations from Italian. The strange, vaguely metaphysical import of the story is offset by the simplicity and clarity of the register, and he never betrays that.  
If there is one small misstep in the translation, it is perhaps the book’s title, Distant Light. The Italian title La lucina is one of those diminutives so easy to create in Italian, meaning “a little light” or “a small light.”  It sounds deliberately small and insignificant, whereas “distant light” is more weighty and literary. Another problem Dixon had to face was that the text is mostly written in the present tense, a choice more common in Italian fiction than it is in English. Translators will often substitute a simple English past for the Italian narrative present, which can sound gushy when translated in English present. Here, there is a logic for the use of the present beyond simple immediacy, for the story, apart from what’s antecedent to the unfolding narrative, takes place in a sort of eternal present, beyond life.  
At times, though, the present tense gives birth to expressions that an English author wouldn’t write. Mangio qualcosa, says the narrator. “I have something to eat” sounds awkward, vague. And why use the present perfect to open the story (I have come here to disappear, in this desolate and abandoned village where I am the sole inhabitant) when the Italian sets the action firmly in the past (Sono venuto qua per sparire, “I came here to disappear”).
In Moresco’s dark universe with its gleams and pinpricks of light, the simplest questions have a way of deflating human pretensions. His are not esoteric philosophical problems but the sort that come to all of us (perhaps even to other species, one can almost imagine) when looking up at the night sky.
Who knows if the sky has another sky above it? I ask myself as I sit looking out from the precipice. The sky that I can see from here at least, from this gorge, above this group of houses and abandoned ruins. Who knows if the light itself isn’t inside another light? And what kind of light is it, if it’s a light you can’t see? Even if you can’t see the light, what else can you see? Who knows if the matter the universe is made of, at least the little we’re able to perceive in the sea of dark matter and energy, isn’t inside another infinitely larger matter, and the dark matter and energy aren’t also inside an infinitely larger darkness? Who knows if the curvature of space and time, if there is a curvature, if there is space, if there is time, aren’t also themselves inside a larger curvature, a larger space, a larger time, that comes first, that hasn’t yet come? Who knows why things have ended up like this, in this world? Could it be like this everywhere, if there is an everywhere, in this maelstrom of little lights that pierce the darkness in this cold night and in the deepest obscurity?
- Frederika Randall

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The trilogy consists of the following novels: The Beginnings (Gli esordi), Songs of Chaos (Canti del caos), and The Uncreated Ones (Gli increati). To the best of my knowledge, only the first novel has been translated into another language. Aufbrüche, the German translation of the book by Ragni Maria Gschwend, was awarded The Leipzig Book Fair Prize in 2006. As for English-language readers, for the time being they have to content themselves with Moresco’s slim novel Distant Light (tr. by Richard Dixon), the only work by the Italian author that has appeared in English so far.
For the most part of its gestation, Moresco referred to the main literary project of his life as The Uncreated (L’increato), but eventually, when it was time to reissue all three novels as parts of the greater whole, he chose the title Games of Eternity (Giochi dell’eternità), which is the expression we come across on the first page of The Beginnings when the narrator describes how he is polishing his boots trying to catch the moment when the shoe polish disappears, and only “shining light” remains instead: “I play this and other games of eternity”. The entire opus is 2,760 pages long, and it took Moresco more than 30 years to create it: from 1984, when he started writing the first novel of the trilogy, to 2015, the year when the final volume came out. This long stretch of time comprises the four years it took the unknown author to write the first novel and eleven more to get it published with considerable revisions, as well as the fifteen years spent on writing the second novel. Not to be overwhelmed, I have decided that the best way to tackle Games of Eternity is by looking at one volume at a time, and, having accomplished that, to draw some general conclusions bearing on the entire trilogy. Stay with me — it will take me a while.

The Beginnings (Gli esordi)
In the second edition of the novel we can find a rather unusual document, one of those professional texts from the world of publishing that common readers usually don’t get to see. It is the synopsis of the book written by Italian writer Tiziano Scarpa for the publishing company Feltrinelli at which he was working as an editor. I would like to quote some sentences from this synopsis, which, in my opinion, accurately reflect the ambition, scope and anomalousness of Moresco’s novel as well as give us the idea why the literary establishment of the 1990s Italy was not ready for this bold and uncompromising work.
Let’s say that we deal with writing which is completely imbued, soaked with images. Come to think of it, Kafka comes to mind, but a Kafka completely stripped of any explicit argumentation or metaphysical discussions. […] in this writing any psychological drift has been removed; what is left is an animal, creatural, physical perception of the events. […] We are thrown into some kind of uninterrupted pre-Socratic dawn or, better still, into an atemporal tour in the claritas of the creation. […] what happens is, so to speak, aion, not chronos. […] I do not hesitate to say that The Beginnings is the cornerstone of our literature of the second half of the century. It resolves a myriad of aesthetical problems being neither mimetic nor fantastic; it gives a definitive word on the destiny of the individual in our time, on his prospects of finding an existential posture, a mark of his calling, a space of political expression, a connection between I am and I do. It is a book that will remain a literary event, the work of a lifetime.
A 600-page novel totally devoid of character psychology and blatantly unforthcoming with the motives for their actions is an uncomfortable read, to say the least. It would be easier to accept the book if it was a slim nouveau-romanish exercise in form and style, instead of an epic narrative spanning more than 20 years of Italian history in which the minutiae of everyday life and surreal episodes of brain-searing intensity are recounted in the same dead-pan, unreflective tone. There is some affinity between The Beginnings and Mircea Cărtărescu‘s latest novel Solenoid: both novels integrate the fantastic, bizarre and extraordinary into the mundane to a stunning effect. Both are ironic subversions of the Künstlerroman and both contain a heavy dose of autobiographical material. But Solenoid is all about the voice and attitude of its main character, who obviously serves as the mouthpiece for Cărtărescu’s own ideas. By shutting down this “channel” for his characters, Moresco heavily sacrifices the readability of his book: it’s as if he had chosen to show a sound film without the sound. Out of the two novels, Solenoid is by far more enjoyable, whereas The Beginnings is more iconoclastic in the uncompromising pursuit of its artistic principles to the detriment of readerly comfort.
The three parts of Moresco’s novel show us the three main stages of the unnamed narrator’s life: his studies at a seminary, involvement in the political activities of a left-wing extra-parliamentary group, and the period of uphill battle to get his novel published while living a lonely life in an apartment block in Milan. Moresco himself, of course, went through all these stages. He was a seminary student, spent a decade fighting for such leftist organisations as Servire il popolo and Autonomia operaia, and, having discarded the youthful illusions and maximalism, set out on a long and gruelling journey of becoming a writer.
The first part of the novel is called Scene of Silence (Scena del silenzio). It gives an account of a certain period in the narrator’s stay at a seminary in an unidentified Italian region interrupted by a short trip to his relatives in a country estate called Ducale. The boy has taken a vow of silence, and doesn’t utter a word until the very end of the first part. Everything we see and hear is channelled through his consciousness; he acts as an observer and chronicler of the events taking place in the seminary and its environs as well as in the Ducale estate. Although the events are narrated in the most neutral and objective tone possible, it would be rash to call the young seminarist a neutral observer. From the very beginning we are trapped in the ambiguous position between accepting the wild flourishes of surrealism as the inherent feature of the novelistic world and shrugging them off as the mental fabrications of the protagonist. As we proceed, we realise that there won’t be any resolution to this issue and the best way to act is just let the outlandish imagery wash all over us without looking for the underlying cause. The narrator contemplates with the same detached curiosity a can of shoe polish and the head of his fellow student covered in a translucent gelatinous crust with a whole shimmering city sprawling underneath, complete with an airport from which miniature planes take off. In the same matter-of-fact manner the protagonist describes how the calluses on his uncle’s foot grow into a complex structure of ramifying calcified protuberances which are expertly cut off by a chiropodist to be later used as animal feed or how a recently married woman goes through pregnancy and enters labour in the matter of hours.
A distinctive feature of The Beginnings worth mentioning is that the characters are not called by their proper names. They are mostly referred to by their occupation (i.e. the prior), their relation to the narrator (i. e. the Uncle) or by a nickname. Among the many eccentric personalities we encounter in the first part, the most prominent are the Cat (il Gatto), the senior prefect at the seminary who is about to get ordained as priest, the Black Sister (la Suora Nera), a mysterious black nun with a passion for knitting whose long hair completely wraps her body like a cloak, and the Peach (la Pesca), a strabismic girl at the Ducale estate who, as can be surmised, is the narrator’s love interest. The cat, as we know, is anything but an angelic creature: we’ve got centuries of folk and traditional literary forms depicting the animal as the faithful companion of witches, warlocks and other malicious entities consorting with the devil. For example, it’s not without reason that one of the members of Woland’s retinue in Mikhail Bulgakov’s The Master and Margarita has the appearance of a giant cat with the fitting name Behemoth. There is something diabolical about the senior prefect in Moresco’s novel, although we are not given any clear indication of that. But the way he can hardly contain laughter during a religious service or the fact that his newly tonsured scalp reveals an ugly scar that he constantly tries to hide from the narrator gives us an early hint that the Cat will not remain in the service of God for long. Neither will the narrator, for that matter, although the first part ends with him uttering an emphatic “yes” after the prior asks the boy whether he stands firm in his calling.
Fast-forward to the 1970s, the years of social unrest and political violence in Italy. In the second part of the novel titled Scene of History (Scena della storia) we catch up with the narrator as a young man performing various agitation tasks for an underground organisation whose agenda remains obscure despite the detailed descriptions of its members’ frenetic activities. The boss of the main character, known simply as the bald man, makes him in charge of a certain zone that comprises several rural towns. His duty is to travel from town to town (first in a plastic car, then in a small yellow Fiat) equipped with a loudspeaker and a portable stage, disseminating leaflets and holding political rallies. The sheer absurdity of the task becomes apparent as we realise that most of the time there is no audience to listen to the protracted political rants of the young man. Moreover, the content of his speeches is never revealed. The empty squares of Italian towns harking indifferently to the lonely voice of the narrator remind us of the eerie town squares depicted by Giorgio di Chirico in his famous series of  metaphysical paintings. Gradually, the agitator picks up a company of collaborators, who might have easily migrated from the works of Beckett: a blind man with extraordinary hustling skills, a constantly yawning man with rotten teeth called Drowsiness (Sonnolenza), a factory worker with a blank face — literally blank: no eyes, no nose, no mouth — and an eye-seeing dog that eventually gets pregnant. By some feat of accommodation the whole crowd fits into the interior of the little yellow car together with the rally equipment, and in this composition they continue conducting their cryptic mission for a little while. In one of the rare episodes featuring a crowded square, the Black Sister, wrapped in the mantle of her long hair, reappears as the ringleader of violent protesters clashing with the riot police. The brutality of the confrontation stands in stark contrast to all the vacuous agitation errands run by the narrator and his companions. Stunned, he watches the Black Sister murder a police officer by driving a knitting needle through his nostril.
The folly of the whole pseudo-revolutionary enterprise reaches crescendo when the narrator is dispatched on a new mission in the fictional town of Bindra. His task is to join one of the regional headquarters of the organisation situated in an imposing three-story building. When he arrives at the site, he finds out that the building has long been abandoned and fallen into neglect: its spacious rooms that still contain some duplicating equipment and the cell’s documentation are now hung heavy with cobwebs and infested by rodents. In the same expressionless manner in which he does everything else, the newly arrived undertakes the futile task of reviving the local cell by tracking down all the people who at some point applied for the membership in the organisation. But the more he tries, the more conspicuous becomes the scale of the entropic dissolution that has permeated the activity of his group and, in fact, the whole cause of the radical left. Apart from the small boy remaining as the deputy head of the deserted HQ, the only other faithful member of the cell proves to be an eccentric old man called the Fop (il Gagà) who, when confined to sickbed, recounts a wildly delirious tale that cries to be included into any major anthology of weird literature. The story is about his early years of apprenticeship to a wandering embalmer who one day receives a commission to go to Vladimir Lenin’s residence in Gorki, a locality in Moscow Oblast, and carry out around-the-clock surveillance of the half-paralysed Communist leader. Their secret mission is to catch the moment just before Lenin’s demise and to carry out, as swiftly as possible, the initial steps of the embalming process. A considerable obstacle to the venture is posed by Lenin’s chambermaid who proves to be none other than Anastasia Romanov, a daughter of the assassinated Russian czar: the girl develops an uncanny affection for the wheelchair-bound leader, which is consummated in a hallucinatory coupling ritual involving a double split on cupboard tops and a sudden change of seasons. Like the previous part, this one ends with the narrator saying “yes”. This time the answer is given to the bald man’s proposal for him “to become a warrior”, i. e. a revolutionary terrorist. Next thing we know, instead of a Che Guevara there is a frustrated writer living on his own in one of Milanese tower blocks.
Scene of Celebration (Scena della festa) is the final part of the novel and is perhaps the most Kafkaesque. The parallels with The Castle are all too obvious. The narrator’s continuously forestalled efforts to meet the chief editor of a publishing house, who has expressed unbridled enthusiasm about the manuscript of his novel (actually, the first and second parts of the book we are reading), are only matched in their doggedness by the surveyor’s single-minded quest to enter the Castle. In the course of numerous phone calls, enquiries and visits to the publishing company’s offices, the writer on many occasions seems to be tantalisingly close to meeting the editor, but at the last moment some circumstance gets in the way and the cherished encounter has to be postponed. When the narrator gets through the web of chicanery and finally confronts its sleazy architect, he is surprised to see none other than the sinister Cat from his seminary days who, fittingly enough, has acquired a devilish limp. According to the Cat’s skewed logic the best way of dealing with such an extraordinary novel is to destroy it, to consign it to flames. I see here an obvious nod to The Master and Margarita with a very peculiar twist. As you might remember, Bulgakov’s Woland utters the proverbial phrase “manuscripts don’t burn” before conjuring up the restored novel about Pontius Pilate that was earlier burnt down by its author. The Cat as if refashions this famous saying into something like “truly remarkable manuscripts must burn”, for only then they will forever remain pure and intact.
After participating in a literary-themed variation on Walpurgisnacht that takes place in a roadman’s house and is attended by famous writers and book characters (i.e. Alexander Pushkin, Emily Dickinson, Giacomo Leopardi, Bartleby, Smerdyakov), and where he is briefly reunited with the Peach, the narrator goes for a walk with the Cat for the last time. In the final scene, imbued with Faustian undertones, the writer and his dark companion end up on the roof of Milan Cathedral, which they call “the cathedral of foam”. The third “yes” is in order, yet we do not hear the narrator pronounce it. This “yes” is embedded in the Cat’s wicked proposition: to take a leap into the uncreated. Although it appears that the Cat wants them both to do that when he says “let us throw ourselves headfirst into the uncreated” (gettiamoci a capofitto nell’increato), he nevertheless suggests that the writer should be the first to step off the roof of the beautiful building so that he can see “how worlds re-open” and enter “the realms where one appears and disappears at the same time”. The Cat is praying to God that his former seminary schoolmate make the fatal step into the void even before his mouth utters the third “yes” — the limping plotter seems to be well informed about the two previous assents of the narrator. However, the reader is left in the dark as to whether the writer will fulfill the wish of his diabolical editor by giving the expected assent and immediately acting upon it.
Moresco builds his strange world not only by the unexpected injections of the surreal, but also by the orchestration of the recurrent motifs and symbols. Mirrors, ladders, and, especially, fire, play as important a role in creating the effect of estrangement as more bizarre objects like the severed cat’s paw, which keeps appearing on different parts of the Peaches’ body or the glass reliquary in the hothouse at the Ducale estate containing a stuffed golden pheasant, grey heron, and toucan. There is a lot of confusion about the Peach’s ascending and descending the ladder: sometimes it is difficult to say whether by going down she is  more likely to reach the ground or end up upstairs. Depending at which angle the Peach places the mirror, the topography of the estate suddenly changes to correspond to its skewed reflection. As for the fire, one of the key scenes in the whole novel is the conflagration of the enormous pile of dry leaves at the Ducale, which utterly mesmerises the narrator. No less fascinating to him is the Fop’s description of the fireplace in Lenin’s villa in Gorki, which he comes to see as the metaphysical double of the Ducale estate.  And, of course, the narrator’s games of eternity consist primarily of his interaction with fire and light. At the seminary, he is fascinated by the shoe polish turning into pure light on his boots. Later on, he discovers the ability of splitting candle flames with his finger. The real purpose of these and other games could be getting a glimpse of or maybe even an access to what lies beyond everyday reality. Could it be that his unconscious search for the uncreated has already begun at an early age?

Songs of Chaos (Canti del caos)
 The second novel of the trilogy came as a shock. Based on a handful of the reviews in the Italian media, I had naively believed that I was ready for it. Not only because I had read the first volume, but because I had read François Rabelais, Jonathan Swift, the Marquis de Sade, Herman Melville, James Joyce, William Burroughs, Gertrude Stein, Günter Grass, Thomas Pynchon, Robert Coover, Joseph McElroy, Carlos Fuentes, Paolo Volponi, Alexander Goldstein, Alberto Laiseca, Miquel de Palol and, more recently, Mircea Cărtărescu. So, I thought nothing could surprise me anymore, there was no weirdness left that would be too weird for me, no imagery so violent and outlandish it would be scorched into my brain to haunt me for weeks, no narrative and language idiosyncrasies that would leave me infuriated, appalled, dismayed and, at the same time, intoxicated with the unexpected exhilaration of being in the presence of something significant, albeit extremely disturbing, being synthesised right in front of my eyes. Man, was I wrong! Songs of Chaos seems like a book from another dimension, written in some inconceivable language, which has been smuggled into our world and clandestinely translated into Italian. It doesn’t belong in this time and space. Yet it is here. I am far from declaring this flower of evil the greatest work of Italian literature — God forbid! But, if Earth was invaded by aliens and I was responsible for selecting just two Italian books for their museum of human culture, I would choose without hesitation Dante’s The Divine Comedy and Moresco’s Songs of Chaos.
This novel represents a drastic shift in the Italian author’s poetics, comparable to the leap from Newtonian mechanics to Einstein’s relativity. Despite being a direct continuation of The Beginnings, the second book is a whole new world in itself and there is precious little in the first novel which can help the readers stranded in the chaosmos of Songs of Chaos to find their bearings. The arduous task of disentangling the complexities of this depraved world will rest solely on their shoulders, and even if they manage to reach the final page, none of them will walk away from this experience unscathed.
Before I even start discussing this 1,000-page opus, I would like to quote Moresco himself who throws some light on the research that went into the making of the book in the brief note at the end of the novel:
Manuals, encyclopedic entries, scientific books and articles on astronomy, computer science, genetics, anthropology, human, pre-human and post-human biology, artificial intelligence, religion, history; travel accounts, fashion show reports and catalogues, but also first-hand investigations, inquiries, private meetings in the world of advertising, sperm banks, publishing, economics, pornography etc. … have been merged in an autonomous and unpredictable way in this adventure in the shape of a book that lasted for fifteen years.
The first remarkable thing about the novel is that while reading it, you wouldn’t have noticed all this insane amount of research. This is because Moresco, unlike many lesser writers who go out of their way to appear encyclopedic, does not parade the tremendous knowledge gained while writing Songs of Chaos — he seamlessly integrates it into the fabric of the text, modifying and transforming it to fit the purpose of his poetic vision.
The novel starts with the preface written by the Cat for the as-yet unwritten book by the narrator of The Beginnings,  who finally gets a name, or rather a nickname, from his Mephistophelian editor: from now on the writer is going to be called the Madman (il Matto). Please note that in Italian their names differ only by the initial letter: Gatto/Matto. (I owe this and some other insights to Raffaele Donnarumma’s brilliant essay La guerra del racconto: Canti del caos di Antonio Moresco). As was to be expected, the Cat refused to publish the Madman’s first novel, The Beginnings, because it did not correspond to the new spirit of our materialistic and information-saturated global society. Now the author is expected to write a new book, which is apparently destined to become the Songs of Chaos we are reading at this very moment. The problem is that the first pages of the new novel, in which the narrator finds himself lying in the grave and listening to the voices on the surface, do not satisfy the editor at all. The Cat is sure that the Madman is experiencing writer’s block and, therefore, he sends him to the Muse for inspiration.
The Muse is a prostitute moonlighting as a hard-core porn actress who receives blocked authors at her home and instills in them the cherished inspiration by a variety of manipulations, not all of which are of identifiable sexual nature. She introduces the first characters of the Madman’s future novel by telling their stories and thus sets in motion the erratic and unpredictable narrative-spouting machine which Songs of Chaos proves to be. The characters rapidly multiply and most of them have stories to tell with more characters in them, and then some of those characters unexpectedly show up at the principal narrative level to tell more stories. The violation of the diegetic hierarchy is perhaps the only constant in the highly volatile environment of this book. The narratives are created by a variety of ways: as oral tales, as written texts, as visual storytelling, as drug-induced hallucinations. A very important form of narrative is the song. In the novel, a song (canto) is a character’s incantatory monologue midway between prose and poetry embellished by rhetorical sweeps, rhythmic patterns, fixed epithets and recurrent motifs. It is through the songs that many of the characters reveal their backgrounds and the major events in their lives. And most of these characters are rather strange, to say the least.
There is a programmer who also happens to be a sperm donor. He is developing software for a video game whose main theme is the conflict of generations. The idea springs from the never-ending feud between his father Pericles and sister Grace. In the game, the young generation is represented by hoodlums zipping around on roller-skates, whereas the old one by geriatric stilt walkers. Both groups are wearing stylish helmet masks of the designated colour. There is a woman called the Interface (L’interfaccia) who is artificially inseminated with the programmer’s sperm. She gets inspiration and instruction by pressing her vagina to the screen showing the Muse’s vagina broadcast via a private TV network. There is the hit-and-run driver (l’investitore) whose hobby is driving through the city streets at night and running over pedestrians. Mind you that investitore also means “investor”. There is Inspector Lanza who has no previous experience of solving crime cases but aspires to become a writer and is responsible for a few exciting narratives in the novel. There is the old man suffering from a masturbatory paresis, who is constantly trying to foist on the Cat his manuscript. The editor eventually borrows its title for the Madman’s novel: Songs of Chaos. There is the woman who screams. There is the priest, who is addicted to heavy drugs. He keeps a cut-out picture of the Muse’s vagina in the tabernacle alongside the Eucharist and gets to meet the fugitive Pope Elvis II whose first edict was the dissolution of the Roman Catholic Church. There is a Bantu prostitute called Princess who falls in love with the mover (il traslocatore): a man in possession of a truck who almost daily moves to a new place completely removing not only all the furniture but also all the fixtures of the previous place of residence and installing them in his next domicile. There is the girl with the sanitary pad with an unnaturally copious menstruation flow and the girl with acne, who proudly proclaims that it’s the first sign of leprosy. There is the tamer (il domatore) whose principal task is to break the recalcitrant girls dragooned into hard-core pornography. He sports a world map tattooed on his penis, which reveals unexpected details during tumescence: an ancient sailing ship, Napoleon with his general staff atop a hill, a bas-relief depicting archers on the palace of Assyrian King Ashurbanipal. There is the prepuce trumpeter who sounds a prepuce like a trumpet. There is a snake involved in the making of underground porn movies. There is the lady with a tail, who is also an emissary of the world of underground porn. There is the spastic gynecologist. There is the rapist of pregnant women. There is the man who steps into shit. Gradually, different geological layers of the substance on his foot soles coagulate to form some kind of flexible stilts and allow him to cover great distances and step over buildings. There is the sky of shit. Yes, it’s a fully fledged character with its own song! There are the signs: people who got completely squashed on the highway and then unstuck themselves from the tarmac and started moving and showing directions. There are the flag wavers whose flags are anatomical extensions of their muscular bodies. There is stylist Lupus suffering from lupus who copulates with his own dogs. There are three men on the bridge of a ship traversing the ocean: in profile, who sees only the waves in transit – the present; from behind, who sees only where the waves end up – the future; in front, who sees only where the waves come from – the past. There is God who appears to humans as a man with a hoarse voice wearing a porcelain mask. And many, many others.
In Songs of Chaos to narrate often means to create, and once a character is mentioned he or she cannot be cancelled and might turn up at any place any time. The competition for the right to be the main narrator runs through the whole novel. If in The Beginnings all the events were filtered through the Madman’s consciousness who was the only first-person narrator of the highest level, in the second novel this position is contested, fought over, and usurped. The Madman maintains this high status until he decides to save his beloved the Meringue (la Meringa), the Cat’s secretary, who is kidnapped by an unknown cyber-biological terrorist group that first demands that a novel should be written for their heinous purposes (and again, it is quite possible that Songs of Chaos is this novel), and then hands the girl over to an extreme pornography syndicate. The Meringue is wrapped in tinfoil with only two holes cut out (and those are not meant for her mouth and nose) and is carried from one secret porn set to another by a laryngectomised thug. If that wasn’t bad enough, there are preparations for brutally murdering her on the set of a snuff movie. The Madman sets off on a long quest to locate and rescue the girl, which is at the same time hilarious and shocking. Moresco is so over-the-top with all the naturalistic details of the porn set activities that at a certain point one stops perceiving all the accumulating intercourses as proper sex scenes but rather as conceptual elements of a greater surrealist collage. All the fornication and violence that pour onto us also have distinct Rabelaisian undertones and could be considered as the ultimate triumph of what Russian critic Mikhail Bakhtin called “the material lower body stratum”. Sperm, blood, shit, and other bodily substances gush on the pages without restraint. There are animals involved you would never think could be cast in bestiality porn: a crocodile, an ant-eater, and the already-mentioned snake. The Madman, guided by a mysterious and powerful ally named Lazlo, tracks the syndicate all the way to Los Angeles, to a decommissioned tower for space simulations, to save the love of his life with the help of a flamethrower. However, in order to do all that, the Madman becomes just one of the characters, and the privilege of narrating the frame story passes over to the Cat. It is also the Cat who takes the responsibility for writing the novel which the Madman failed to produce.
The cunning editor narrates the second part whose main focus is the greatest business transaction of all time: the selling of the planet Earth. It is God, of course, who has grown tired of his creation and wants to fob it off to somebody else. He commissions an advertising agency to plan, develop and carry out the media campaign for selling the planet, appearing to them, as we already know, as the mysterious man in the porcelain mask. It is worth noting that the chief members of the agency, the art director, the copywriter and the account executive, come from a short story written by the inept Inspector Lanza. Moreover, the book that the Madman was supposed to write and the video game developed by the programmer/sperm donor are all part of the advertising campaign. The course of the campaign is discussed by the Cat and the advertising agents during an interminable briefing somewhat similar to the mad tea party in Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.  All kinds of absurdities and common sense violations thrive as more guests join the meeting, which is supposed to end with the announcement. This announcement, pre-heralded by the lady who screams and given by God, will declare the birth of the redeemer, the baby girl of the Interface artificially inseminated by the programmer’s sperm. The announcement should immediately follow the selling of Earth to the highest bidder in the heretofore unforeseen global auction. But what does it mean, to sell Earth? And who would buy it? As becomes clear from a conversation between the masked God and the account executive, this could only mean that the global market will buy itself. This situation is not unlike the destiny of a star collapsing into itself and becoming a black hole. And indeed, something of the kind happens in the third part of the novel. But let us not run too far ahead.
Among the first to join the briefing is the programmer with his computer. He continues working on the software, tweaking some details and following the multiplying storylines, while the advertising campaign is gathering momentum and the borderlines between the video game and reality are getting ever more tenuous. Some of the characters appear to operate simultaneously in the video game and in the real world. Moreover, by changing the code of the character on a computer, the programmer inevitably changes the appearance of the respective person in real life. His main concern is the safety of the Interface pregnant with his child, the future redeemer. The notorious rapist of pregnant women whom the programmer himself created for this game (because the Cat mentioned him, and anything which is mentioned in Songs of Chaos comes alive) is intent upon raping the Interface and thus thwarting the whole advertising campaign. The man who steps into shit is designated as the Interface’s guardian angel and saves her from several insidious encroachments of the rascal, ultimately bludgeoning him to pulp with a car jack.
The large office in which the impossibly long briefing is taking place is a convenient environment for the participants to tell various stories, which provide entertaining digressions from the immediate business matters. The place serves as the modern analogue of the abandoned Florentine villa in The Decameron or, more appropriately, the remote mountain castle of The 120 Days of Sodom. One of those tales stands out in particular. It is the story told jointly by the girl with acne and her boyfriend copywriter, in which the girl recounts her terrifying experience of working as a model for stylist Lupus and the copywriter recounts his thrilling mission to rescue his beloved from a most horrible fate. It’s one of the greatest surreal set pieces I have ever read. I’d put it at the same level as the story of Byron the Bulb in Gravity’s Rainbow. If only fifty pages out of the whole novel could be translated into English, it must be those containing this story, which showcases in a condensed way, as if reflecting its subject matter, all the abilities of Moresco the stylist, the story-teller, the satirist, and the innovator. The main object of the Italian author’s satire here is the world of fashion with its detachment from everyday life and common people’s needs as well as its commodification of the female body. A similar critical attitude could be found in Robert Altman’s film Prêt-à-Porter, at the end of which the models saunter down the catwalk without any clothes on. But, Moresco, of course, goes well beyond that. In this narrative the models strut about without skin, which has been abraded with sandpaper so that the girls’ bodies can have a closer contact with space. The depraved and disease-ridden Lupus, always surrounded by his barking pack, chooses for his unusual fashion show only girls with perfect bodies but deformed or blemished faces. At first they are even allowed to wear some shreds of clothing on the catwalk. Soon enough, they walk completely naked, for, in Lupus’ words it is “cosmos” which they are trying to put on. Then come the sandpaper and more grisly stuff. The real purpose of Lupus is to make his models tear down the invisible wall between their bodies and space itself, by pushing the latter to the point of absolute concentration, which will create a pocket of completely immobilised space, a present-day inferno. And it is from this inferno that the copywriter has to save his girlfriend, with the help of a jackhammer and guided by an unlikely Virgil in the person of a porn actress.  No retelling will ever convey the inventiveness and decadent poetic charm of this episode, and therefore I will stop here. It has to be read to be believed. The least I can do is to offer my translation, no matter how inadequate, of a passage in which the girl narrates her peregrinations as a member of Lupus’ entourage, couched in the typical for this novel style of a cascading litany:
And also other cocks and other shapes flickering in the dark, during the relocations, here and there on earth, in front of the tumultuous turreted cities we were traversing in the jeep, in the midst of the exploding bodies, all that detached live matter which swarms in the interstices of the confronted plane of space, the obtuse masks of faces, flashing teeth, turbans, those blind fissures of eyes riddling the entire space with holes, limbs moving over the gravitational line of the horizon, cities suddenly coming into view, at night, against the space, crenellated walls of mud and water in front of which we could make out the magnified shapes of the flag wavers stirring against the tumultuous celestial vault, while we were travelling beyond, tossing between sleep and wakefulness in the tundras, in the savannahs. Cities never seen, places almost imagined and dreamed about, our flayed, inflamed faces poked out the windows, we felt the air of the night teeming with starlight dust on a one-way journey through space wash over our projecting faces. The noises of the running engines, the convulsed barking of the perfumed dog pack running at large around the jeep and the cars, when Lupus unleashed the dogs in the dead of night and let them trot along by the vehicle column, in the cloud of red dust lifted by the large wheels crossing desert territories. Inside the cars more and more distinctly could be heard the sounds made by the girls who continued to sandpaper the egg-yolks of their bodies half-dormant in the seats, injecting the space with the yawns of what was remaining of their mouths and tongues. And then other relocations, and other journeys, rushing blindly in a confronted and retreated space. Other cities in turmoil, other skies, while we were racing through the cavity of the vertiginous and animate space. Other undulating bodies against the backdrop of the nocturnal structures of other cities of glass and steel. The bodies that were snapping into motion as we were passing by, greeting us with their incredible banners fluttering in the night wind, against the backdrop of other skies, retreated and ruptured, the jets of decorticated matter, the ignited, nebulous stars on a one-way journey in the massacred matter of the confronted universe, with their orbital movements, the shapes glimpsed in the wind raised by the flags, by the flag wavers. Their gestures silent, concentrated, solemn. In the night there was nobody to watch them but us. Their banners, glimpsed in the dark, appeared to make up a whole with the musculature of their flag-waving bodies. But what flags were those? Who could be those flag wavers?
Meanwhile the avalanche of economic transactions is rapidly growing as the moment of the announcement and of the selling is approaching. The Ashanti sovereign, riding a bicycle across Africa and simultaneously travelling in time all the way to the Quaternary Period, has been designated as the symbolic driving force of the deal. By pushing the pedals he is dragging the economic avalanche towards the grandiose culmination. Lanza, who has become a TV presenter now, arrives at the briefing with the camera crew to live-broadcast it. At this point, the interpenetration of the various media harnessed for the purposes of the sale reaches the apogee. Everything and everyone is connected, and there is only one to narrate it all! For some time, the programmer usurps the right of the first-person narrator from the Cat, for it is his video game which gave the initial spark to the campaign and it is his sperm, which fertilised the Interface: “My semen and my video game have been explosively fused into one thing, here inside. Your figures have been thrown beyond themselves into that new uncreated space.” This fusion illustrates one of the overarching concerns of the whole novel: the impact of computer and information technologies on biology. But it’s not the software developer who will have the final say in the second part. He loses this privilege to the Meringue, the Cat’s secretary and apparent éminence grise, thus re-establishing the supremacy of the printed word embodied by her boss’s publishing house. That doesn’t last long either. Finally, the buck stops with the creator of the highest rank, as God himself sits down to give the announcement. And what an announcement is that! The man in the porcelain mask proclaims that from now on spacetime will become immobile, for his time has come and theirs is over. And it is in that frozen domain, also known as “the uncreated space” that the final part of the novel is set.
In the third part, which is radical even in comparison with the most off-beat passages in the previous two, Moresco undertakes to represent the unrepresentable: the uncreated space, which appeared as a consequence of time grinding to a halt. For that purpose, he invents a new language. He doesn’t introduce a lot of neologisms to achieve his goal, but rather manipulates grammar forms to approach the most suitable linear representation of a situation in which the past, the present, and the future are no longer relevant, which results in a progression of ambiguities when the characters themselves are not sure whether something has already happened, is happening or will happen. The resultant prose, repetitive, redundant, yet utterly mesmerising, reminds in equal measure of Gertrude Stein’s iterative narration in The Making of Americans and of the most rampant swirls of verbosity in Günter Grass’s Dog Years. The paradoxical statements enveloping all temporal possibilities permeate the text to such an extent as to make it extremely disorienting and difficult to understand, but far from rendering it illegible as some of the book’s detractors have complained. It just takes a bit of patience and perseverance to follow the final stage of Moresco’s visionary enterprise.
New characters appear, and most of them carry the names of Asian cities: Benares 2, Chongqing 3, Tokyo 4, Shanghai 5, Semarang 8. We follow the vicissitudes of their travels and encounters, with the special focus on the love story of Chongqing 3 (male) and Shanghai 5 (female). The symbolic mainstay of the whole part is the phenomenon of the Asian megacity, that sprawling conurbation with its towering skyscrapers, tangled multi-level stack interchanges, gargantuan shopping malls and the tiny flecks of its human population, hustling and bustling inside this cyclopean infrastructure not unlike nimble spermatozoa in search of the ovum. And, in fact, this is what they are: all these characters fulfilling their minor missions, narrating stories and interacting with the participants of the briefing, because the briefing cannot finish when time has stopped, are just gametes each dreaming about its own potential provided they end up as zygotes and then get born. Chongqing 3 and Shanghai 5 are a potential couple that due to the paradoxes of immobilised spacetime has never met, but, at the same time, has met, fallen in love and had children. The situation gets even more complicated when the megacity dwellers/gametes, while trying to reunite/meet for the first time and also running away from a group of hostile creatures that want to merge with them, get unexpected assistance from their parents who are also their children: Shanghai 5’s fatherson (padrefiglio) and Chongqing 3’s motherdaughter (madrefiglia).
The final destination of these characters as well as of numerous other people/gametes is the ultimate megacity: the splendid city of sperm. And in order to get there, they have to break through the wall of immobilised spacetime. To that end, if we are to believe him, Chongqing 3 has created a Trojan virus, which is at the same time a huge wooden Trojan horse, in whose dark belly billions of spermatozoa attempt to reach the genetic utopia, the City of God for the information age. The foggy stainless steel megalopolis with the constant temperature of -80 °C is an enormous cryopreservation facility, and once its dam protecting the ova is burst by the deluge of the spermatozoa, the ovulation process will begin. This is how the process of “uncreation” takes place. As a result of the global collapse provoked by selling the planet and the subsequent immobilisation of spacetime, all the humanity has been reduced to genetic material. The cycle of the creation has come to an end, and the new one is about to begin. The hope for the regeneration is offered by the city of sperm, but this time all the creation will be artificial and maybe even the masked God will not be able to predict the consequences. As he himself declares: “I am the shadow of the spermatozoon of God who will dream, who will be”.
All the while, the characters continue to sing, revealing more clues not only about the chaotic developments in the uncreated space, but also about some of the significant past events narrated in the first volume of the trilogy. In his song the Cat unequivocally admits his diabolical character, which was just hinted at in The Beginnings, by referring to himself as “the demon”. What is more, in his torrential, cadenced monologue he recounts a new version of the Gospels in which Jesus Christ appears as a donkey-riding man/spermatozoon called Jerusalem 9. Just like the biblical Satan, the Cat leads Jerusalem 9 to the top of a temple. However, if in the Gospels the Devil urges Christ to throw himself down alone, the Cat suggests that he and Jerusalem 9 jump together “headfirst into the uncreated”, which brings us back to the episode on the roof of the Duomo at the end of The Beginnings. As you remember, that time, the scenario was more similar to that of the Bible, although the Cat did say “let us throw ourselves” he wanted the Madman to do it on his own. By looking at the final scene of The Beginnings in the light of the devil’s temptation of Christ, we can surmise that the Cat was tempting the Madman as well, and that it was not the uncreated dimension he really wanted the writer to jump into, but something else.
The video game is finished, and the next step in “uncreating” is the wholesale massacre of the characters of the novel as the briefing continues inside the hit-and-run driver’s car. The right to destroy is contested as ardently as was the right to narrate. Despite all the violations of narrative hierarchies, when even God could be handled as just another character, there is one authority who can still effectively exercise his power: writer Antonio Moresco. His alter ego Madman, who even declares in his song “my name is Antonio Moresco”, regains the control over the narrative, pushing the tail of the ouroboros into its mouth. We get back to the story of the Madman buried alive, which was discarded by the Cat as inappropriate for the novel he commissions him to write. Only this time, the indeterminacy of uncreation has taken hold. The Madman’s monologue refers simultaneously to the past and the future, the epitome of which is the neologism “beforafter” (primadopo). He vaguely remembers being run over by a car and wonders what will be made of the manuscript of Songs of Chaos left on his desk: “No one will be able to understand anything, to decipher it, let alone discern its projections, incarnations.” Now, almost ten years after the novel’s publication, we know that this prediction is valid only to a certain extent, for more and more serious readers and academics tackle this fascinating and formidable novel. And so, just as the Madman deliriously shares his impressions of the uncreated dimension and its ramifications, declaring, paradoxically, that his time is over and now his time has begun, we brace ourselves for the final volume of this incomparable lifetime undertaking.

The Uncreated Ones (Gli increati)
It would have been hardly possible to surpass the feral energy of Songs of Chaos, so the final novel of the trilogy offers, understandably, a more subdued narrative, written in a more limpid language with fewer stylistic embellishments. Yet, it’s the most radical part of the trilogy. With this one, Moresco throws readability to the dogs, not at the lexical level like Joyce did in Finnegans Wake, but at the level of constantly reiterated and recycled phrases and sentences which pervade the text in such frustrating profusion as to drive nuts even the most patient reader. To make matters worse, there is no lack of painstaking recapitulations of many episodes from the previous novels, which might serve as useful reminders for those who read them a long time ago and forgot most of the evoked details, but prove to be a mind-numbing chore to read for those who, like me, have been reading all three novels in close succession. Although there are enough moments of original brilliance in this novel which do not allow me to call it a failure, it is definitely the weakest book of the trilogy: exhausting and not often rewarding. Who knows, maybe that’s the price Moresco had to pay for the faithful representation of the uncreated universe.
The challenge of the third part of Songs of Chaos now passes on to the whole of The Uncreated Ones: how to describe by linear and sequential means the situation inside the uncreated dimension, in which time has lost its relevance. On the one hand, the author cannot just dispense with the plot as this would render the novel too chaotic and incomprehensible. On the other, it should be obvious that we are no longer subject to the laws of everyday reality. As in the previous book, the ambiguity of the situation is conveyed through the employment of mutually exclusive tenses (i. e. something happened and is happening now, something happened and will happen later) as well as through the characters’ constant confusion with regard to the time of the events: how can something be happening for the first time now if it has already happened? There is no shortage of time warps, doppelgängers, and bilocations either. The basic categories of our logical universe are reversed by the main tenet of the novel according to which death always comes before life. So, the main character’s death is just the beginning of his journey that will take him to the world of the living and then beyond to the state of uncreation. This might seem like a typical linear progress from one point to another, but we shouldn’t forget that this is not what actually happens. This narrative is just a convenient approximation of the ineffable and unrepresentable process to which none of our criteria and none of the known terms can be applied, including the word “process”.
Like the two previous books, The Uncreated Ones consists of three parts. The first one, titled Preface of the Dead (Proemio dei Morti), follows the Madman, who is still the main narrator, on his journey across the continent of the dead where he ends up after being killed in the above-mentioned road accident. It’s worth noting that the nickname “Madman” has been revoked, and the protagonist once again turns into the nameless first-person narrator, just like in The Beginnings. The narrator travels through the enormous cities of the dead following the elusive Peach, who is there to show him the way out of the dark reign of death into the world of the living. The cities of the dead are similar to the sprawling megalopoli of our world, but they are constantly being shaken by tremendous earthquakes which inevitably cause the skyscrapers, in which most of the dead reside, to crack, crumble and ultimately collapse. The reason of the cataclysms scourging the dead cities is the waves of the new arrivals from the continent of the living. This process is called “overflowing” (tracimazione). When people die they “overflow” from one realm into another. At the same time there is the contrary movement  of the dead who “overflow” into the continent of the living. Some of the dead choose first to resurrect inside their realm and only then to overflow, and others prefer to get to the other side while still being dead. Thus, the two continents are caught in the perpetual collision.
On his journey, the protagonist meets a bunch of colourful characters, both familiar from the previous books and completely new. For some time he is accompanied by Lazarus, who is actually Jesus Christ, who resurrected Lazarus, lay into the tomb instead of him and then refused to get resurrected himself. While the Christ aspect of this character remains entombed and unresurrected in the biblical Bethany, his Lazarus aspect in the reign of the dead wants to resurrect as well as to trigger the “vortex” of resurrection on the whole continent. Things get more complicated when another Lazarus, identical to the first one, joins them. This one, on the contrary, is against resurrection within death and proselytises remaining dead within death. This and many other situations of that kind reflect the recurring mantra of the universe subject to uncreation: “everything is split in two”. Thus, for example, there are two gods: the God of the living who is dead and the God of the dead who is alive. Both are wearing a porcelain mask, naturally. The encounter with the Black Sister allows the narrator to fill in some of the gaps left in The Beginnings. While driving him to the next point of his itinerary in a stolen truck, the woman reveals to her passenger that she was having an affair with the Cat at the seminary. It also turns out that after she joined the left-wing terrorist organisation which can be easily identified as the Red Brigades, she was in charge of kidnapping the former Italian prime minister Aldo Moro.
The meeting with the Muse takes place underground where the narrator discovers vast subterranean cities quaking and rumbling on account of millions of bodies of the dead denizens engaged in sexual intercourse. All the sperm spilled as a result of that activity forms a turbulent river. The protagonist and the Muse have to swim in it in order to reach the upper regions of that realm. From there the narrator, alone again, passes through the sky of the underworld and back onto the surface to find the dead and the resurrected clashed in a furious battle that inaugurates the commencement of the Third World War between the living and the dead. The growing army of the resurrected is considered to be the fifth column of the living who are continuously overflowing into the continent of the dead, and there is no one better to perform the task of slaughtering the resurrected cohorts than Napoleon himself. But he is the dead Napoleon, of course. Moreover, the commander of the dead troops is Napoleon with a female womb, as the genitals were removed from his corpse on the island of Saint Helena. Another significant historical personage met by the narrator before he is temporarily reunited with the Peach is Vladimir Lenin accompanied by Anastasia Romanov. The Soviet leader’s mission is to foment the revolution of the dead, whereas the resurrected ones are dismissed by him as the equivalent of the Mensheviks. In order to get to the continent of the living, the dead have to jump down from the tops of tall towers, and that is what the Peach and the protagonist do. Following his beloved, he overflows into the world of the living, having resisted two temptations: that of resurrection within death and that of remaining dead within death. The Peach, his Beatrice, guides him to a different destiny, which, as we suppose, can only be uncreation.
The second and the longest part is Preface of the Living (Proemio dei vivi). It recounts the wanderings of the solitary narrator on the continent of the living, which are at the same time a journey into his past and the revisiting of some of the events narrated in The Beginnings and Songs of Chaos. In the course of what seems like a time-travelling adventure, the narrator keeps losing and finding the Peach again and again until their final reunion in a royal palace.
As the world war between the living and the dead rages on both continents, and, as the new belligerent force of the immortals enters the scene, the protagonist becomes a small boy and retrieves his family home in Mantua. As he keeps searching for the Peach, he grows up again and revisits all the most important places featured in The Beginnings as well as re-encounters all its major characters. At the same time, his quest is a fictional recreation of the main stages of Antonio Moresco’s life. The “everything is split in two” principle becomes especially evident when the protagonist meets himself two times: his younger self studying at the seminary, and his older self — a disillusioned writer who is about to die in his Milanese apartment. The narrating voice shifts from one self of the protagonist to another, which is yet another approximation on the part of the author to show that all the events take place in a timeless dimension. What is happening now has already happened in The Beginnings, but it is also yet to happen in the future.
Besides the well-known characters already seen in the first and the second books of the trilogy, the narrator interacts with an array of martyrs, rebels and the revolutionary heroes of his youth. He receives Letters to No One (Lettere a nessuno) (Moresco’s memoirs about his struggle to become a published author) and the Peach’s love letter from Saint Lucy, a Christian martyr who carries her torn-out eyes on a plate. She now acts as a letter-carrier between the worlds of the living and the dead. At the seminary he meets the first cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin, an icon of the Soviet atheism who, we could also say, has become the new martyr of the space age. There are also appearances by John Fitzgerald Kennedy, Malcolm X, Marilyn Monroe, Che Guevara, Pasolini, Jan Palach, a Czech student who committed self-immolation in protest against the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia, and Mao Zedong, “the obese idol”.  The upheavals caused by the attraction of all matter towards the uncreated have affected not only human beings, but also man-made images. There is, for instance, a captivating digression about the love affair between Che Guevara and the funerary effigy of Italian noblewoman Ilaria del Carretto. At one point, while traversing the war-ravaged Milan, the protagonist sees Leonardo’s Vitruvian Man engulfed in flames.
The Cat doesn’t remain unaffected by all the transformative processes either. Being just the devil in the world of the living does not appear to be enough for him anymore, so he has embarked on an evolutionary journey of his own. When the narrator sees him again at the seminary, the young Cat has become the prior and is now in charge of the derelict place with just a small cluster of students remaining under his supervision. In contrast to the narrator, who has just overflowed into the world of the living while still being dead, the Cat has been resurrected. The next step for him is immortality. But he will not become a mere immortal, of course, he will change his demonic status to the divine one by becoming the God of Immortals. The duality of everything is also reflected in the religious, or rather pseudo-religious, services held by the new prior. First he celebrates the mass of the living, and then the mass of those who have overflowed (la messa dei tracimati). During the latter, conducted on the Christmas Eve, the Cat is assisted by three people: the protagonist as a young seminarist, the protagonist as an adult, and Yuri Gagarin. The mass gets interrupted all the time by the appearance of Biblical characters, such as the prophet Micah and the angel Gabriel, as well as God himself, who impugn the veracity of the canonical account of the saviour’s birth.
Meanwhile, the character of the global war undergoes an important change. It is no longer a conflict between the dead and the living, but between the immortals and the joint forces of the living and the dead, as death and life turned out to be the same thing: lifedeath (vitamorte). The final destination of the protagonist is the city of Milan heavily bombarded by the immortals using missiles with genetic warheads. The blaze of explosions illuminating the city’s night sky brings to the narrator’s mind TV broadcasts of the US forces’ missile strikes against Baghdad during the invasion of Iraq. Most of the loose threads are tied here as the narrator undergoes his final test, which is inextricably linked to the Cat’s temptation at the end of The Beginnings. Escorted by a crowd of human torches led by Jan Palach, the protagonist enters, one after another, two identical palaces. The first one is hosted by the Muse and is the portal to immortality. There, the Cat as the God of Immortals tries for the last time (or perhaps for the first time, since there are no temporal coordinates anymore) to trick the narrator into accepting immortality. This harks back, once again, to the episode on the roof of Milan Cathedral in The Beginnings. When the Cat suggested jumping “headfirst” into the uncreated, he was tempting the protagonist with immortality, pretending to tempt him with uncreation. Such a tangled explanation would be in keeping with the perplexing character of the whole trilogy. Not yielding to the temptation allows the narrator to enter the second palace where the Peach awaits him. There he embraces love and uncreation. Finally he is ready to take the jump into the uncreated from the roof of the Duomo. But this time, the magnificent cathedral is wrapped in flames, and it is the Peach who jumps together with him, leaving the frustrated Cat on the burning roof.
The last part, Preface of the Uncreated Ones (Proemio degli increati) is just about 100 pages long. It consists of three chapters that finally take us to the point where there is nothing left except the uncreated in its pure state. The characters of the final part somewhat resemble the ones in the first two, but it is impossible to ascertain whether we’re really dealing with some transformed versions of the Peach, the Cat, and the protagonist; rather, these are archetypes that demonstrate at a much higher and more abstract level the progress towards uncreation made by the main characters of the novel.
The chapters are tellingly titled The Creator (Il creatore), The Destroyer (Il distruttore), and The Uncreator (L’increatore), and can be regarded as some sort of holy scripture of the uncreated ones. The creator is similar to the biblical God who creates the earth, the first man and the first woman. However, the borderlines between the creator and his creation become blurred as the god falls in love with the first woman (who proves to be none other than the Peach), and as the first man (who in many aspects resembles the Cat) takes over the narration from his creator as he moves on to a more advanced stage of creation: that of destruction. The destroyer espouses the supremacy of destruction over creation, for the latter is comprised by the former, until reaching even higher ontological state and becoming the uncreator. What is interesting, it is hinted here that the main precondition for accessing the uncreated is the merging of the destructive and creative potentials personified respectively by the Cat and the protagonist. The great meeting of the creator, the destroyer and the uncreator accompanied by their spouses that takes place in the same royal palace in which the protagonist has been reunited with the Peach can inaugurate only one thing: at last nothing and nobody have any relevance, even the figure of the uncreator, the last link in this chain of transformations, as there is nothing left but the uncreated itself.
So, what is, after all, Games of Eternity, and why did the author decide to discard The Uncreated, the initial title of the trilogy, putting thus emphasis not on the destination but the journey, not on the result but the process, not on the findings but the search? This message, so simple and yet hard-earned, derives from looking at the development of the main character, which mirrors the development of Moresco the writer. After all, what is any creative writing if not a game, and what is any good creative writing if not a game of eternity? The protagonist escapes from the rigid systems of religion and ideology to break through to the pure essence of creation only to find himself trapped in yet another system: that of the predominant literary aesthetics upheld by the leviathan of the publishing industry. Only as the Madman he is capable to fully liberate his creative potential, which in equal measure proves to be destructive. This results in the emergence of Songs of Chaos, the terrifying masterpiece that threatens to engulf its own creator-turned-destroyer. It becomes clear that despite its immense appeal, destruction is not really what the protagonist has been looking for. Since there is nowhere he can move on further, the protagonist does not really move forward, but re-traces and, actually, re-assembles his previous life with a view to finding what he now firmly believes to be his Holy Grail: the state of uncreation predicated upon his love for the Peach. Perhaps, plunging into the uncreated is equivalent to reaching the Nirvana in Buddhism or returning to the One in Neo-Platonism. It is quite possible that Antonio Moresco, the greatest living Italian writer and one of the greatest writers of our time, eventually realised, along with his protagonist, that no matter how sweet and coveted the moment of achieving your goal could be, which is the dissolution in the uncreated for the latter and international recognition for the former, it is the boldness to play the games of eternity despite the odds that counts above anything else. And this whole trilogy, massive and messy, splendorous and horrendous at the same time, is nothing more and nothing less than an immortal paean to those who dare to play games.
Some final words about Songs of Chaos. Even if Moresco had not written the other books of the trilogy, even if it was the only book he had ever written, that would have been enough to secure him a prominent place in literary history. Riccardo Dal Ferro, a writer, philosopher, YouTube personality, and a fervent promoter of this novel, has said: “Songs of Chaos is perhaps the only contemporary work of Italian literature that will be studied in 200 -300 years from now.” It was this statement that goaded me into reading the novel in the first place, and I have to admit that it’s not an exaggeration. The Anglophone trendsetting in innovative literature is over. If Ulysses was the pinnacle of modernism, and Gravity’s Rainbow of postmodernism, it is the Italian Songs of Chaos that is the next big thing for which we don’t have a name yet.