August 5, 2018 – Gillette, Wyoming
I have a very strong antipathy towards weapons.
I think I have no constructed opinion on whether or not a state should authorize its citizen to carry weapons. Although I know that as a matter of fact weapon control decreases mortality, so if a country values the fact that its citizen stay alive, it should probably be implemented.
What I do have a constructed opinion about, is that people should not want to carry a weapon. Not because it is prohibited but rather because it is not advisable. Indeed the worst thing that you could do with a weapon is to use it. I can’t imagine how one could survive finding out that his son used dad’s gun, or knife, on himself.
I believe that if one knows how to behave, he’s going to fit comfy even in hell. There’s nothing that can’t be done with the correct attitude. And there’s no circumstance whatsoever in which extracting a weapon is the right behaviour. Showing aggressiveness can only result in increased tension and someone getting hurt. There’s no case in which the person you might hurt with a gun “would have been dangerous anyway” and plenty of cases in which a butchery could have been avoided with more reason and less testosterone.
No need to say that this opinion is not universally shared here in the USA. Walking around in Yellowstone we saw more than one person with a gun hanging from his belt. While on the road to there, we read on a car sticker “PRO GOD; PRO LIFE; PRO GUN”.
I don’t think that this is crazy, although I’ve been told it has crazy consequences. For instance, Auguste, who lived here for 6 months, told us “Trump has been elected by farmers that want to keep their guns and don’t know that his economic policies are strongly against them”. I have no clue on whether or not this is true but if it is, it’s surely an unpleasant consequence (for the farmers) of guns culture in the USA.
Still, the fact that gun’s culture is a thing here is perfectly understandable, given the historical development of this country. Such a huge and undense place was practically impossible to control vertically. Therefore social order was obtained by arming everyone. It is a dumb system but it is a system and it worked. Personally, I wouldn’t have had an alternative to it, back in the days. Often a dumb system is the only one I can think of, like democracy, for instance.
It is not a surprise that with such a past these people keep having this attitude towards weapons. Of course not all of them are like this. We also read a sticker saying “I’m already against the next war”. Still, the very fact that some people walk around in a national park proudly showing a gun was sort of astonishing. It showed me almost violently that guns culture is really real, not only something I studied in some highly-biased anthropology university course.
I didn’t really feel less safe. As I said, what’s not recommendable is carrying a weapon because it’s a temptation for unwise behaviours. There’s no risk of being surrounded by weapons, as long as you know how to behave. At least no more risk than being surrounded by cars. If one really wants to hurt me, she doesn’t need a gun and there isn’t much I can do about it anyway.
Rather than unsafe I felt, as often, uneasy. Seeing that triggered in me few paternalistic thoughts and feeling of intellectual superiority that I hate at a deep level. Still, I couldn’t help by feeling smarter and better than those people and that I could teach them so much. Something that is of course bollocks, I’m a result of my cultural ground no less than them and just as biased.
Obviously, I extend my strong antipathy towards weapon to any kind of weapon. Basically I believe one should avoid carrying any tool potentially hurtful towards others. I tend to be reasonable with respect to cars and nail guns and kitchen knives because, as a matter of fact, certain environments require those things. On the other hand, I strongly discourage going around with a knife.
Leïla used to carry a knife.
She didn’t bother giving it a name so I will just call it “Leïla’s knife”. It’s a switchblade with a wooden handle. The blade is no more than 8cm with one edge.
Her father gifted it to her when she was young(er). Apparently he wants to preserve the tradition of every member of the family having his own personal knife. That I presume was typical in the French countryside, from where he comes from, as much as it was in the Italian countryside. At some point, Leïla showed me proudly the knives of her parents and sister and described them to me with quite a few details.
She didn’t consider Leïla’s knife for quite a long time. Then she started taking it with her when leaving for camping and hitchhiking and, later on, she started having it anytime in her pocket.
She used it to cook for her family and for the people she loves and loved. More than once I saw her extracting it rather than using some kitchen knives around her. She’s got more than one scar provoked by that very knife and perhaps also some other people do.
Since I’ve known her, they have never been separated and she started crying and panicking at the thought that even for a second it was lost.
I think it is fair to say that, together with a ring with two rubies hugging a shiny diamond it’s the dearest object she used to bring on her. This is a mere hypothesis of mine because she never explicitly said that but the way she told me about it some months ago, very similar to the way she spoke of her ring, made me think that the hypothesis has ground.
All this might seem a good reason to carry a knife after all. And moreover, as you probably understood, I am deeply in love with this woman, therefore basically anything she might do looks reasonable to me. Still, Leïla’s knife managed to make me uneasy from time to time, because of my very strong anti-weapons policy. Upon seeing it, I couldn’t avoid remembering a story that an art professor told us about Caravaggio back in the days. Perhaps it was bollocks but I still remember it and, after all, one doesn’t need to say true things to properly teach.
According to the story Caravaggio had to run away from Rome because he stabbed to death the son of some cardinal. He was in a brawl three versus one and didn’t understand a thing because of the punches. It could have been just a terrible headache the next day but he had a knife. He extracted it completely stoned and just stabbed in the group because he wanted the pain to finish immediately.
The moral of the story is: never carry a knife because, even if you think you can control yourself, you never know when you can end up in a situation in which you do something brainless.
I’ve never felt paternalistic towards Leïla regarding her knife but somehow seeing it made me trigger thoughts similar to the one I have towards certain Americans and I disliked it.
You probably remember that writing last note I was panicking with respect to what could have happened in there. I think it is fair to say that all my worse paranoias turned out to be true in these days. We ended up in a loop of suffering. She slept with Auguste on the first night, I freaked out, she understood and told me she wants to give me the whole of her but it will take her time to recollect all the tiny pieces of herself she distributed all around and give them to me.
Instead of understanding her and accepting this promise as it is I kept pushing for more because I was hurt and I couldn’t see anything else but my pain. So, instead of calming down the situation, I kept increasing the tension till what I’d call the peak of this crisis.
At the peak of this crisis I was deciding to leave Yellowstone. To go away from her, calm down and try learning to be careless with respect to us.
Leïla wasn’t ok with the idea. She wanted me to keep loving her and wait just a bit more until she would have managed to be mine. ‘Cause she really want to but that includes a huge life change and it can’t happen in a day.
I was completely out of my mind (and pretty drunk). I said I was ok with the idea but I would have needed a huge act of love to prove me her determination.
So she took her knife and gave it to me.
As you probably understood I am a very dramatic person with a love for good stories. In fact, I’d like my life to be a good story.
In Italian we have a word which is “pegno” that Google translates to “pledge’’ in English. A princess gives a pegno to someone as a proof of her love. He holds it in the storm and burning flames and survives all the difficulties and all the pain thanks to it. Such a gift must be an incredibly personal and dear object she wouldn’t ever separate herself from otherwise.
Leïla gave me this knife as a pegno of her love. She asked me to wait for her and stay in love with her as I am now until she will be able to love me back. That knife means I am The One for her and even though it might not look like so, she is in fact mine and I am at the first place for her no matter what.
And this is the story of how I ended up carrying a knife.
You will read from the next notes that that wasn’t quite the end of the story and things became messier as time passed. I can say it already because this isn’t the first version of this note. In fact I wrote three versions already, one of which is 18 pages long and was written in a drunk furious night the day we left Yellowstone.
I should have been ok with the knife but, as a matter of fact, I wasn’t. Leïla tried her best and I did too but we haven’t managed (yet) to get out of the loop. I like to think we are somehow still trying but let’s keep this narration linear.
As I said Leïla told me about this dream of her of creating a community outside this great uneasiness. We spoke of this again and this time I had the feeling I wasn’t welcome in that dream anymore. I would say because when we spoke of it in Berlin I tried to focus my concentration on practical concerns. For instance, I noticed that such a community should have doctors or money to make its citizen go to a hospital, if needed.
For some reason this conversation made me think of Arianna.
Arianna studies political science because she wants to enter an ONG in Europe and improve the education policies for young and super young people. She does volunteering for the red cross every week and went to Africa, also with the red cross, to give a contribution.
Arianna is scared of the cage and feels a bit into it. She would like to leave Milan and enter an international master on her field but she’s hesitating. When she broke up with me I understood she did it because she was getting very much very involved and distance and lack of physical proximity was hurting her.
Recently she wanted to meet to get sure I am not angry at her. I couldn’t have been, of course, how could you be angry at someone leaving you because she loves you so much that it hurts?
She told me a story different from the one I depicted, and similar. She said she feels surrounded by judging people. That when we were dating, most of her friends spent their time asking “So you are with Dani now? And what about Fede (her ex)? Does this mean you never loved Fede?”.
This kind of pressure was hurting her at a deep level. I tried back in the day to be a non-judging person in her life but that wasn’t enough to compensate the kind of pressure that the cage was dropping on her. She indeed broke up with me for loving me too much and flirting too much with the idea of running away from the cage that I was trying to push. Still, everything happened in a way completely different from the one I thought.
When we met I told her she should leave Milan. I told her that practical matters can always be fixed and if you have will, you’ll find a job to sustain yourself. I told her that people saying that to move abroad is to run away speak out of their butt, mostly because there’s nothing bad in running away from the cage.
Arianna is a person I loved that I let go away for carelessness and ego. For some reason, she didn’t trigger in me the will of walking in the fire that Leïla is provoking in me. Don’t ask me why, I’ve never been honest, I don’t see why I should start now and with myself.
Arianna is a person concerned with practical matters. She’s got a long list of ethical principles and a long list of things she can personally do to make the world a better place. She’s planning, in her way, to help people and herself out of the cage, as much as she can.
Leïla too has got a long list of ethical principles but, rather than doing things to make the world a better place, she dreams of it. She seems to consider a ruiner of dreams a person like Arianna, concerned with the practical things she can do. She will probably evolve together with her dreams, keeping them the same while changing them. I think with such strong ethical principles she will manage to do something very different from what she thought originally and still beautiful.
I think both these girls are way better than me. I mostly lack ethical principles and consider that everything is relative and it’s all a point of viewpoints. I plan to just run away from the cage for myself because I don’t feel good in it. Perhaps I will try bringing with me the people I love but just because I feel like taking care of them and it is natural to me to be kind and helpful with them, not because I think is right.
I didn’t plan on leaving anything to humankind to eliminate this uneasiness. I just wanted to save me and my fellas and leaving the others to their own biases (and hoping I will be left to my own biases). This is what I take to be non-judging. I’m not entitled to say that any gun lover in Wyoming is making decisions worse than mine and there’s no reason why I should give a duck about it. I have opinions on what one should do in general, pretty utilitarian as you saw, but I couldn’t care less of what people actually do.
Somehow both these people made me think of this part of me.
Since I and Arianna split up, I tried (without success) to donate blood and I thought more than once of joining the red cross to give a contribution. Two things which, presumably, make me a dreamer as well, as opposed to a person actually concerned with practical matters. When Leïla told me about her community I sincerely started flirting with the idea that such a thing could be a good legacy.
That conversation made me find out that people like Arianna (and even half-practical people like me) aren’t welcome in Leïla’s dream. I don’t know whether or not Arianna’s dream would be compatible with Leïla’s, I never stopped asking that to myself.
Both their dreams, as opposed to mines, are guided by strong ethical principles and have as a goal helping other people and make the world a better place. They are different. One is very abstract and I believe will concretize in something very different from what it was originally (and hopefully beautiful). The other is very concrete and I hope will concretize in something very similar to what was originally thought (I doubt it though, dreams aren’t like that).
Still, they are both admirable, as opposed to me, and, as I found out with great surprise, incompatible with each other.
I really don’t know at this point what I should do with these two dreams I flirted with. A part of me would perhaps just come back to carelessly and run away. Most probably that’s what I will do. Still, I can’t help but admire both these women. Because they both don’t find Rick and Morty a funny cartoon. Because they are good people, as opposed to me, guided by strong ethical principles.
So that’s maybe the lesson I should learn from this whole mess. Perhaps I don’t feel ethical principles as I should but I could make myself a long list of rules to be a good person. That would be a beginning, isn’t it?
The problem is that, a bit like Leïla, I am a dreamer. I like to think of joining the Red Cross but I still never did. Perhaps I will just dream of becoming a better person but I never will. Or perhaps there’s a hope for both me and Leïla to be a bit more practical, although not too much, and realize something, probably very different from what we dreamt of at the beginning.
Speaking of Yellowstone and Grand Teton. I can say Grand Teton was amazing, or at least the walk we made to that lake was amazing. It was quite demanding but I’m convinced anyone with a tiny bit of will can do it. Although I might be ignoring the actual size of some people around here.
In Yellowstone we mostly made very short walks to pretty pointless sublime points. We travelled by car, saw a few interesting things and quite many boring ones. For some reason, people are obsessed with ponds. There are plenty of ponds in Yellowstone: some erupt water, others contain boiling water, other contain calm water and finally some are full of mud.
I saw one that was very pretty and quite a few that weren’t ugly but I didn’t understand why so many people were crowding to see those ponds. Or to be fair, I thought that it must have been a huge marketing work to make them crowd like that.
Also, people love to take pictures of wild animals. Like there weren’t enough on the internet. I somehow understand it can be exciting being close to wild animals of during a walk but just couldn’t stand the taking pictures thing. Did I say I’m not a judgy person? I think I also said I don’t carry weapons.
The falls in there were very pretty and climbing the rocks close to them was lovely. Also, I loved the canyon. Or at least I would have loved it in other circumstances. But it is never fun to say things about pretty things so I’d recommend you to just take a look at Andre’s pictures.
I hope in a while the feeling of having a rock on my belly will fade away at least a bit. I hope I will stop waking up with the image of Leïla half naked while Auguste makes her coffee. I hope I will come back wishing to dream of her rather than seeing her in my nightmares. But maybe I will instead step back to some sane carelessness or maybe she will send me away, which would be the easiest option.
Whatever will be I trust next note will be back to regular overthinking. I shall carry on… carry on… as if nothing really matters. We are driving to Chicago where we’re meeting a friend of Andre and I will do my best not to ruin the atmosphere with my mood.
Andre says that if after what Leila’s making me go through, she does not change behaviour, he is going to drive to Amsterdam and burn her house.
Queen – Bohemian Rhapsody
I’ll just catch Dani’s last few words as a hook for the song this time, as it’s a favourite of ours and there have been plenty of times already where we found ourselves singing it out loud.