Yes…. I’m quite lazy in this period… So I’m plundering that mine of wisdom of Giancarlo Livraghi’s site where I found this piece by Edmondo De Amicis… De Amicis is well known in Italy as author of (horrible) Cuore, where he painted a sweetened world where “goods” are polite, patriotic and honest and “bad” are cowards…
You can find the original version (in an antiquated italian from XIX century) at Giancarlo Livraghi’s page – here I tried a translation… I’m afraid you’ll lose the ancient aura of the languge… but I think you’ll find it interesting… And it confirms my opinion that “everything had been written yet“.
Well, De Amicis was a snob – if this word means anything – but it’s interesting to underline how he describes the process moving from an initial annoyance due to intrusiveness of advertising techniques, passing from a kin d of acceptance (“Growing insolence, as often, minimized the disagreeable perception which had been produced by the first discreet appearance“) to ends accepting the epiphenomenon of a society:
oppressed by the matters, crowd by whims, longing for clamour, hungry for pleasures, tormented by impatience, swept away by the fury to devour time and gulp down life…
It was in that lapse, when my joyful studies were disturbed by a vexation, brief but a strong one. In those times the custom of external advertisements aboard the bandwagons (tram – T’s N) was beginning and widening quickly. Those bandwagons had been overrun inside for a while: inscriptions and pictures painted on the windows, announcements of any form and color sticked on the ceiling and on the walls. They affected you like a peeving discordant buzz, as they demanded to crowd you with offers and invites to dress and to wear you, to lather up and perfume you, to make you change your house, to make you subscribe to a newspaper and undergo to a hydrotherapy… whatever the cost.
In those days, announcements was added on the long planks nailed on roof’s two sides, dyed by gaudiest colors, with black and white enormous letters, true hotel and store signs, readable from hundreds of feet, disturbing for eyes like ramshackle laugh are for ears, out-of-tune for the streets colors like shriek sour notes in a hushed chorus.
Oddest thing: the City Council debated if it had to be allowed that offense to the good taste, after it had allowed a worst and more barbaric one, on theaters’ curtains. I was really furious for a while.
Getting on a bandwagon it seemed to me to go into a bazar where I had to negotiate the ticket too, and I couldn’t get out from without an armful of packets. Oh poor poetry! Admiring on the window the poetic profile of a beautiful lady announcing relaxing pills, watching two young lovers carrying idyllic attitudes below rat poison, indulging in fantasy on a young lady turning eyes at the top, lost in a love imagination, but realizing she is reading the announcement of a new mixed compost!
Oh trafficker’s rude furore which exploits, overruns, overlays, disguises, brands, bargains every thing! When do we see mineral waters and tonic liquors announcement on staues’ forehead and flags’ palls? But civil man is so malleable to accept everything. Growing insolence, as often, minimized the disagreeable perception which had been produced by the first discreet appearance.
At the beginning I put up of it; later I became insensible to it; later, little by little, those scarlet, yellow, cyan stamps almost gladdened me, flying on all sides like unfurled flags; and I liked those mobile wall which remember rooms for mad men; and those flying human cages which, inside and outside, with words and colors and drawings, offer you to drink, to eat, to read, give you hygienic advices and invite you to medical consultation, and call you to races, to regattas, to bicycle competitions, to play soccer and to painting Expo, they enticed me like an alive and strange image of the merry and restless spirit of a great town fin de siecle. A town oppressed by the matters, crowd by whims, longing for clamour, hungry for pleasures, tormented by impatience, swept away by the fury to devour time and gulp down life.